8 ways to make collaboration with outsourced teams work

Outsourcing gives an opportunity for business owners to hire talent outside of their organisation while managing their costs effectively, but it can present challenges. Outsourcing is more than passing a list of your needs to someone else and expecting excellent results; it requires both teams to work together towards common goals. Here are some tips to ensure a productive partnership:

  1. Ensure everyone is clear on the big picture

Everyone on your outsourced partner’s team needs to understand your business objectives and why exactly you want to achieve them.

Share the crucial elements of your business – customers, processes and people, to align your outsourcer with your business goals. This will clarify your expectations and make sure everyone’s on the same page.

  1. Be transparent in your communication

Keeping lines of communication open with your outsourced team is vital. Keep in regular contact, especially at the beginning of your relationship, and be clear about how you manage outsourced activities daily.

Have regular meetings to ensure your project is going according to plan and keeping in line with the business objectives. This promotes a healthy working relationship and gives an opportunity to adjust plans where needed.

When working with team members whose first language is different to yours supplement any written communication with visual aids like annotated diagrams where possible. The more specific you are, the more likely you are to achieve your business goals.

  1. Use a virtual shared workspace

Keep up to date with off-site team members by using Collaboration tools like Google Docs, Dropbox, Skype, Slack or Google Chat. This will help create a solid working relationship and rapport between team members.

Pick a virtual tool that suits your needs and that keeps all project communication in one place. This will increase productivity and accountability and allows all team members to collaborate and communicate in real time.

  1. Exercise trust

You have asked all the right questions, undergone testing, checked references and done an online reputation check. Now it’s time to let them do their work.

Trust is an essential element of any relationship, so have trust in your provider. Regular meetings will allow you to monitor the project’s progress and make corrections when necessary but micromanaging will slow them down, make them nervous and can kill the creativity and initiative.

  1. Set achievable deadlines

‘ASAP’ deadlines seem to be used frequently, however using ‘ASAP’ all the time can produce unfavourable results. Overuse of ‘ASAP’ deadlines causes the term to lose urgency. It can also result in a noticeable decrease in work quality as working under stress permanently is intolerable.

Set realistic deadlines and discuss each step involved with your partner.

  1. Motivate and recognise your outsourced team

It’s important to work on your relationship with your outsourcing partner. Motivate their team as you would your own. Acknowledge and recognise good work, as it will go a long way in encouraging the team to excel in the future.

  1. Resolve problems quickly

How a team handles stressful situations and resolves problems can either strengthen the ties between the company and outsourced provider or result in missed deadlines, budget overruns and frustration.

Confront any problems before they arise by keeping your executive management, employees and other stakeholders informed about any risks and potential unexpected costs as the outsourcing project develops.

If your partner is based off-shore, cultural differences can come to play. Develop a diversity or multicultural awareness training programme which will help employees to understand the service provider employees’ norms and customs. The outsourcing service provider, on the other hand, may be trained in the corporate culture of the client.

  1. Treat your outsourced team with respect

Take some time to get to know the members of an outsourced team and treat them with respect. Putting faces to names can easily be done through an on-site visit or a video conference.

Be mindful of everyone’s time zone and use it to your advantage. Know the time difference and schedule meetings that suit both parties.

Outsourcing can be profitable for business, but only if you develop a good working relationship with your outsourced team. Always ensure both teams have the same goals and maintain a high level of communication.