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A better way to outsource a process or a function

Almost all medium and large-sized enterprises opt to outsource some of their functions and processes. While the reasons may vary, the core objective remains the same — get things done, cost-effectively.

Relying on that metric alone is a recipe for disaster. It clouds your judgement while pressurising your partners to meet unreasonable expectations. I firmly believe the following points should be considered while outsourcing a process to a vendor/agency:

1. Know what you want to seek the vendor’s help to clarify what you want. This might rub against the conventional thinking that “vendors will rip you off.” No vendor would like to work more for less money or vice-versa. They want to add value to you/your organisation and asking them to clarify the objectives, challenges, and potential solutions is a great way to nurture a partnership between you and the vendors.

2. Trust them to do their work well. Procurement folks, in general, suck at trusted vendors. For some reason, they can’t help but evaluate vendors with suspicion and communicate it further to their internal clients. Hence, everyone’s convinced that vendors, in general, are out for blood! It’s a baseless assumption as every business is a vendor to some other business. That’s how the world works. What gives a larger enterprise the right to judge a small business provider? Corporate stupidity, perhaps?

3. Clarify the scope of work. If you don’t have it in writing, you’re at fault. Vendor services are almost always focused on execution than strategy, and it’s important to communicate expectations on paper. Don’t make the mistake of putting a generic scope of work template with some modifications and dictate everything else verbally. That’s a recipe for disaster. And that’s precisely why #1 is so important. You get to work with them and document the scope of work much more thoroughly, thus drastically reducing any chance of miscommunication or error as the project goes along.

4. Let them follow their own processes. You aren’t the only one with so much respect for systems and processes. Everyone’s got one — even the smallest of start-ups and one-person companies! And chances are, your vendors’ methods are more robust else they wouldn’t be equipped to provide you with their services. So, it’s important to not put unnecessary pressure on them when it comes to timelines, service level agreements, and cost. They’re aware of it and are trying their best to deliver on their promises. Just have faith — sometimes that’s the most important thing besides paperwork.

As with any relationship, a vendor-client relationship largely depends on communication, trust, and autonomy. Yes, it’s a chance you take on others who might not have a track record, but that doesn’t mean you will override everything that the vendor is as a business. Merely taking a chance doesn’t mean anything at all. You’ve got to trust them to do well.

P.S. I’m not sure if you’re aware of this… but Vendors have an assumption about their clients as well. And more often than not, you made a case for them!