Outsourcing services is a proven way of maintaining profitability even during periods of economic difficulty. When business conditions become volatile, more companies turn toward outsourcing as the primary development strategy.
But success is never a given in outsourcing. Despite its high success rate, there have been arrangements that end in failure. Unless you take a mindful and strategic approach, your outsourcing arrangement could fail as well.
Here are 7 ways to ensure your outsourcing services program is consistently improving:
1. Hire Based on Right Fit
Outsourcing is not about technology. Outsourcing is not about processes. What outsourcing is about is people. The success of your campaign starts and ends with the people who are on-board.
And the biggest mistake outsourcing service providers make is hiring based on technical and fundamental proficiencies instead of cultural fitness. Anyone regardless of level of education or experience can be trained.
But if the person’s attitude or personality is destructive to the culture, it doesn’t matter how good he or she is. The campaign will fail.
The outsourcing partner should get people who are right-fit for your campaign. Right-fit means having values that are aligned with yours and those who subscribe to your purpose and vision.
The interview and a test focused on decision- making are effective in determining the right- fitness of a candidate. But right-fitness can only be truly determined under actual work conditions.
Conduct monthly evaluation on work ethics, attitude and observe behavioral patterns that could either be complementary or destructive for the organizational culture. Eliminate those who exhibit destructive behavioral patterns.
2. Set Realistic Goals
With every new endeavor, people go through a learning curve. Its steepness will depend on the current level of competencies and how it slopes will depend on the level of comprehension. Every individual has their own learning curve to overcome.
This is why goal setting is important. It gives people a target to focus on but it has to be realistic. If your average sign up is 500 subscribers every month, do not expect the team to hit that in their first month.
Set a modest target of 25% or 125 signups for the first month then a progressive increase of 25% after the second full month of operation. If the targets are within sight, the team will be encouraged to surpass it.
Every time the team exceeds expectations, it boosts morale and inspires everyone to work harder and do better.
3. Be Involved
Even if the contract states the role of each party, as the client, you should remain involved in the operation. Involvement does not mean to micromanage the campaign. It also does not mean lack of trust toward the outsourcing partner.
In an outsourcing arrangement, you should be kept updated and informed on developments. Reports must be sent to you on a regular basis. There must be frequent correspondence and if possible, you should sit in during business reviews or process improvement sessions.
For your part, you should conduct random audits on operations. Find out if the outsourcing partner is operating efficiently. Require them to submit a monthly Profit and Loss Statement.
You should do your own evaluation and assessment on the performance of the outsourcing partner. Conduct quarterly business reviews so both parties have an idea of how the arrangement is performing.
4. Study the Technological Profile
The role of technology in running successful operations cannot be understated. If people are the crux of effectiveness, technology is the crux of efficiency. Make sure the technological profile of the outsourcing partner can do the job.
If you hired the outsourcing services provider to conduct outbound marketing activities, check the system they are using if it ensures efficiency:
- Do they have a predictive dialer?
- Is the dialer programmable?
- Does the system have call recording?
- How many seats have licenses?
- Is there a call forwarding feature?
- What is the distribution of licenses between callers and QA?
- Can the system generate reports and provide statistics?
There are outsourcing service providers that claim they use dialers but these are freeware; downloadable programs with limited and unreliable features. Yet they’ll charge you as if they are using a programmable, predictive dialer.
5. Establish a Development Plan
In the context of goal setting, you should also establish a development plan for the first year of operations.
The purpose of the development plan is to see how the campaign is progressing with respect to your long term goals. It will give you a reference point to assess the strengths and weaknesses of the outsourcing arrangement.
An example of a development plan is as follows:
1st Quarter – Assessment and Improvement of Operational Systems
2nd Quarter – Implementation of All Improvements from Quarter 1
3rd Quarter – Fine-Tuning of Systems and Identification of Core Management Group
4th Quarter – Assessment for Expansion of Operations by Year 2
This type of development plan will help you budget for training and other capital expenses as you fine-tune operations.
6. Invest in Training and Development
In order to succeed the various systems of operations must be dynamic. There must be an effort to consistently improve functionality and performance. And this includes the human asset.
Invest in the training and development of the people managing your campaign. Update their competencies in the various skills required. Include leadership training programs to inspire people to become future managers of the company.
Personnel development also means personality development. It is not enough to work on the intellect. You must also work on the behavioral aspect. Cultural fitness is a consistent activity because the culture itself is in a constant flux of change as more personalities come onboard.
7. Proactively Build Relationships
One of the biggest mistakes made by clients is to establishing an arm’s length relationship with the outsourcing partner. Some clients are insistent on firmly observing a demarcation line; real or imagined, in the outsourcing arrangement.
These clients believe that by maintaining distance they are able to remain objective and not let emotional ties influence decision making. But this approach sets up barriers in communication and cultivates distrust between parties.
On the contrary, by discovering who your partners are, you will develop a better handle on managing the relationship. On the side of the outsourcer, they will have a better understanding of your purpose and vision. It will motivate them to maintain or improve the quality of work.
Outsourcing is a process and all processes take time. Outsourcing is a powerful tool for building your business but you must learn how to harness its power to maximize its benefits.
Keep in mind that in a contract there are always 2 parties. The success of your outsourcing arrangement relies on the ability of both parties to work together and deliver on its obligations.
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