So, you’ve decided to outsource a portion of your business. The good news is that you've made an excellent decision, especially when the reinvestment of money and time is so critical. Outsourcing is a great way to complete tasks and grow your business, which makes deciding to incorporate it into your strategy a straightforward no-brainer. The next bit of news? Choosing an outsourcing provider won't be as easy as making the decision to outsource in the first place.
It's an important decision that will require careful consideration, which can be tough for leaders with a workload that already demands a fair bit of their time. Choosing the wrong vendor can set you up for difficulties down the line. That's the last thing you want from a growth model that's intended to streamline your workflow. You need more than a provider – you need a partner.
More: The Three Biggest Mistakes Businesses Make When Outsourcing — And How To Avoid Them
We've partnered with our clients for over 35 years to help create solutions that unlock true efficiency, and we've learned a great deal along the way. Here's what we've found are the top five most important things to look for in a partner. They're a perfect starting point if you're just starting out– follow them to ensure that you're working with a true partner committed to your success.
Find An Outsourcing Provider With Experience
In outsourcing, as in most industries, there's just no substitute for experience. Work with a company that can provide proof of a positive track record and a roster of satisfied clients. More than anything else, this experience will bring you the peace of mind you need to get started right away. You'll know that you're in good hands from the very start of the partnership.
It's critical to find a provider that has worked to maintain legacy partnerships. This is the time to look to others for guidance – even a single client that's chosen to remain with the outsourcer for a decade or more is an excellent sign. It helps build the trust that's necessary for you to move forward. Look for testimonials, quotes and case studies, and ask for referrals.
Beware though – just as a company that can't provide a single client referral is a bad sign, one that hands over client information without facilitating an introduction first may be an indication of poor boundaries around client privacy.
Make Sure Your Company and Corporate Values Are Aligned
The company you choose should share your values, understand what motivates you, and care about your measures of success. This applies to all parts of your business from metrics and goals to employee engagement and retention. When your mission and vision are united with your provider, they not only become an extension of your team but are also are invested in your growth.
At Personiv, we understand that it's not enough to be an expert in the outsourcing industry. We have to be an expert in our clients, as well. We always start from there – we know the ins and outs of the daily work that our clients do, what their goals are and even what challenges they anticipate facing. This philosophy keeps us in lock-step with our partners from day one of the outsourcing relationship. It also lets us do something else our competitors may not: we write critical KPIs directly into the service level agreements we draw up at the outset of the relationship.
Staying in-tune this way from day one keeps everyone mutually emotionally invested. You won't just be ticking boxes or making deadlines this way – you'll be working toward a common goal and constantly improving in tandem.
Evaluate The Quality Of Outsourced Talent When Choosing an Outsourcing Provider
There's a piece of conventional wisdom in the construction industry: a builder is only as good as the contractors it hires. The same is absolutely true of the outsourcing industry. Your provider is only as good as the talent it employs.
Ask potential vendors how they find top talent in your function and industry and find out their recruiting and hiring process. While you’re at it, look at their company and employee profiles on LinkedIn and ask for the bios of top managers and leadership to make sure their backgrounds will work well with your business.
There's a common misconception about outsourced talent. You may have heard that it's subpar, especially compared to the stateside counterpart. That doesn't have to be true at all. The secret is determining whether or not your provider has a U.S. presence, including a dedicated point of contact. If they do, they're likelier to use global standardization protocols and likelier to use stateside talent as the yardstick to measure the work quality of their own employees by.
Find out About Infrastructure and Technology
If the infrastructure, including hardware, software, and systems are not reliable, you’ll be in for a lot of frustration. Make sure that not only are infrastructure and technology in place but also that backup plans are ready to go in case of any technological breakdown outside of the outsourcer's control.
If you're looking for a finance and accounting outsourcing provider, ask whether or not they're "technology-agnostic". Providers that are won't require you to confine yourself to proprietary software and can work within your existing ERP. That's especially important if one of your outsourcing goals is cost containment. Your money is much better spent on growth initiatives than on costly data migrations that you wouldn't otherwise be pursuing.
Finally, check for important data security certifications, like those provided through ISO, and don't be shy about getting the onsite security procedures and training protocol your provider uses. A reputable provider will be happy to show you how they ensure data privacy and keep your information safe.
Visit the Facility When You're Choosing Between Outsourcing Providers
Although it’s a time investment to travel to the outsourcing site, especially if they are offshore, the perspective you get from being there, seeing the employees and the processes at work is priceless. It will also put you at ease knowing just where your program will be carried out.
These visits give you a chance to actually get to know the people that you'll be working with. The best outsourcing provider is one that functions as an extension of your existing team, not an entirely separate agency. Don't miss the opportunity to put faces to names and make sure that you're completely aligned – you won't regret it.
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By following these tips when choosing an outsourcing provider, you can feel ready to engage with a new partner and move on to the next steps of a long-term relationship. We've put together a library of resources for businesses at this stage of the outsourcing process that has even more information.
A great place to start is our Ultimate Guide To B2B Relationships That Last, where you'll find Personiv's actual approach to client relationships. It features insights from our own VP of Account Management, John Nichols, for a crystal clear picture of what to expect from a partnership with us.