Smart business owners often use outsourcing as part of their business models. Using external resources allows owners to reduce labor and operation costs, focus on core business and incur less financial risk when expanding. Administrative tasks, customer service, and marketing are just a few of the day-to-day services that can be outsourced. To establish a successful working relationship with an external service provider, keep in mind these key points to successful outsourcing:

1. Accurately define and plan your project.

Before you approach a vendor, you need to have a clear picture of the job, timetable and expectations of the services you are contracting for. The vendors base their proposals on the specifics you provide. Sharing with potential contractors the most detailed information concerning the project’s scope and timetable enables them to submit a reasonable and accurate quote. A misunderstanding about the project schedule or work requirements now could lead to unexpected costs later.

2. Perform a thorough selection process.

Approach hiring an outside party as you would hiring your internal staff. Use all the resources available to evaluate vendors that fit your specific needs. In addition to contacting the references they provide, make sure to ask for feedback from past and/or current clients. Ask for samples of their work, if applicable, or success testimonials from previous projects. By all means, check out a vendor’s website and their social media presence.

Once the selected candidates have received your proposal and submitted their bids, choose the party that provides the optimum blend of high quality and reasonable cost. The most successful outsourcing relationship may not be with the highest or lowest bidder or even the most experienced vendor. 

3. Draw up a formal written agreement that encompasses scope, schedule and ownership.

A contract that details all aspects of the project or anticipated service is critical to a successful outsourcing relationship. Both parties, through negotiation, agree to what, when and how to provide the deliverable. Payment should align with specific markers on the timeline. However, if anything changes during the term of this agreement, such as service cost or project scope, both parties can mutually decide to update it in writing.

4. Communicate, communicate, communicate.

Finally, as in all areas of business and life, both written and verbal interaction between stakeholders is vital to a healthy working relationship. By communicating and staying involved with external vendors, you can accomplish your business goals through successful outsourcing.