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What Your Outsourcing Service Has to Have

Once you find a few bidders whose proposals make sense and whose feedback is genuinely awesome, you can engage in further discourse with each in an effort to identify the most appropriate. The outsourcing service that you work through should make the hiring process a simple one, and that process is pretty much the same across the board. What may not be the same, however, is the management process.

Supervision could be required on a daily, weekly, or monthly basis. It all depends on the intricacy of your project. But all that supervision could be for naught if it isn't managed with a good arsenal of tools, and as you research available outsourcing services, you'll notice they vary in what they offer in terms of management. Here's what you have to have.

A List of Milestones

If your project is a big one, use milestones to measure your project's progress. Milestones can help you determine whether your project is progressing as planned, or whether it requires some type of corrective action. There's really no sense in gunning toward the finish line when there could be trips and falls throughout.

Use milestones to catch potential problems and then take a corrective action. Corrective actions may be fixing existing flaws or canceling a project if it's just too flawed to continue. Two easy milestone systems I recommend are the date-based milestone system and the phase-based milestone system. The date-based milestone system checks a project at dated intervals while the phase-based milestone system checks a project at specific phases.

With either system, providers file a status report of some kind that details the work they've completed. But because milestones aren't required at every outsourcing service, you may need to require them in your contract.

A Record of Payments

Since you may want to pay your provider after each successful milestone, you'll want to keep records of your transactions. Record-keeping prevents overpayments, underpayments and outright non-payments. Your preferred outsourcing service should provide a way to do that, but if it doesn't, use a simple spreadsheet to note what was paid for, when the payment was made and how much money it cost.

A Documentary

Just like you'll want to document your project's requirements with an outsourcing contract, you'll want to document all communication about your project as well. Documenting your outsourcing adventures does two important things.

It first creates a diary of personal do's and don'ts. Anytime you want to evaluate how well (or how poorly) you performed as an outsourcer, you can find it in your documentation. Of course, the value of your evaluation depends on how accurate you are with your records. One of the great things about outsourcing through an online service is that it will log everything and automatically document things for you - even stuff you don't want to remember. And you can't help but get an honest evaluation that way.

It second creates a record of who screwed up what, which is extremely important in the event of a dispute. To support your case in arbitration, you'll need a record of documented conversations that can be verified by the powers that be (that would be the outsourcing service's arbitrators, of course).

Appropriate documentation includes all email messages, chat logs, message board postings and anything else that acts as a buffer between you and your hired gun. Don't leave anything to chance. If you don't think something is significant enough to document, file it into a 'Just In Case' folder and then bring it out when trouble rears its ugly head.