Choosing the right partner: outsourcing 101
When you invite potential outsourcing partners to pitch, it can be hard to know what you should be looking for. Each agency should be able to fulfil your brief – at least on paper.
So how do you choose a partner that won’t only be easy to work with, but will also add value to your business?
Connect Assist is the outsourcing partner for many organisations, including central and local government bodies and leading charities.
Here’s what we’ve learned over the years about choosing an outsourcing partner that is right for you.
Outsourcing: the basics
The reasons to outsource are many, and vary hugely between organisations.
You might be looking to plug a skills gap, particularly to increase your digital capabilities. Or perhaps you feel your organisation needs an objective and expert viewpoint when it comes to refocusing or modernising.
You could be aiming to save money or increase efficiency. Or maybe you simply need to provide out-of-hours call centre services, or meet a temporary rise in demand.
All these objectives determine the brief you draw up for your potential partners. But we believe there are several underlying factors that are often forgotten, yet can make or break a partnership. Here are four factors to consider when outsourcing.
1. Financial strength
When it comes to how to choose an outsource provider, your partner needs to be financially stable: every organisation has a tale to tell of a partner which collapsed overnight, leaving them scrambling to pick up the pieces.
So don’t be embarrassed to ask for proof that they can commit in the long term. It’s vital for your own business continuity, and for those who rely on your services.
2. Cultural synergy
The very best outsourcing partnerships are far greater than the sum of their parts. That’s what happens when two organisations really click.
Finding an outsourcing partner who ‘gets’ you is crucial. A similar outlook helps you understand each other, even though your organisations might have very different focuses and your people could have radically different skills.
You’ll be especially grateful for a shared approach when problems arise. And you really don’t want to find yourself aligned to a partner with a bad reputation.
We’re always happy to chat about what makes us tick. Check out our recent blog about our approach to consultancy: Problem-solving vs gathering requirements: our consultancy approach
3. Shared values
A lot of that cultural synergy is down to shared values.
So ask to see your prospective partner’s ethical policies. Do you share their take on issues such as sustainability? Do they care about Corporate Social Responsibility as much as you do?
And make sure they put those policies into practice! Ask for evidence that their values are embedded into their strategies and everyday actions.
At Connect Assist, we’ve got plenty to say about our values – they’re what drive us. In a nutshell, we shape everything around people, and work with clients across the third and public sector to create positive human outcomes.
4. Staff engagement
One way to tell that your prospective partner is an organisation which cares is to find out how it treats its staff. After all, if you forge a close working relationship with your outsourcing partner, those staff will feel like an extension of your own team.
At Connect Assist, we believe that highly valued staff will provide a highly valuable service. So we’ve put several measures in place to support frontline staff, including training, debriefing, one-to-ones, EAP services and counselling. Not to mention, good old team quizzes and virtual get-togethers.
You can find out how we’re supporting staff when they return to office working post-lockdown here: .CEO update: Returning to business as usual?
5.Experience and training
While all outsourcing partners will be quick to promote their unique selling points, nothing matters more than experience. Be sure to ask for previous examples of projects they’ve taken on or even companies that they have worked with. This will give you a solid grasp on both strengths and weaknesses, as well as giving you a preview into what working with them could look like for you.
Case studies and testimonials are a great thing to read through. If you’re unsure, you could even go one step further and contact the companies mentioned on your prospective partner’s website. At that point, be sure to clear up any grey areas around the partner to get a clearer picture.
This goes without saying, but in these modern times, the last thing you want is to be working with a technological dinosaur. Older companies can become complacent as time goes on, leaving them prone to ineptitude.
One quick way of judging a companies’ technical proficiency is to review their website. Does it look dated? If so, the company may be stuck in the past. This of course isn’t a definitive solution, but it does give you a quick glimpse into what their technological skills are like.
Keep your outsourcing successful
As with any business endeavour, sourcing an outsourcing partner is an ongoing project. Nothing stops at day one, and things could even get more difficult along the process. Here are a few ways you can make sure your outsourcing project is a success:
Check in frequently
These days, cross-company meetings are an easily achievable task. Remote check-ins are a weekly, sometimes daily task for businesses, allowing everyone to stay aligned and on track.
We highly recommend that you hold meetings in regular intervals to ensure everything is running smoothly. This allows both parties to adapt to any changes and re-scope project deadlines, if needed.
Set clear objectives
In business, there is no room for a vague brief. Objectives need to be clearly defined to achieve success. This same rule applies to outsourcing, so be sure to make your goals as clear as possible. Not only does this ensure you meet your goals, but it helps make the project a bit easier to understand for everyone involved.
While most companies will offer an in-depth report as to how your project is going, there’s nothing preventing you from keeping a personal log of deadlines, quotes and key performance indicators.
If you’re losing confidence in your outsourcing partner, you can even cross-reference your personal notes with those reported by your partner.
Always ask questions
An outsourcing project is a combined endeavour, with both parties liable for certain decisions and actions. If your partner makes a decision or even mentions a term you’re unfamiliar with, don’t be afraid to question it.
Remember that it’s your money funding this project, so you have every right to ensure it is being used correctly.
Read more: Our contact centre terminology jargon buster
Find the right outsourcing partner today
So, now you know what to look for in your new partner, it’s time to get you connected with the right one. If what we’ve said here resonates with you, we’d love to discuss whether we could be the right outsourcing partner for your organisation. Findout the benefits of outsourcing and get in contact today and see how Connect Assist can help.