This blog post is written for small business owners who are convinced that virtual service outsourcing is the right route to follow as the next step towards their business success.

Although there are significant benefits to outsourcing (see The Top 8 Ways Small Business Owners can Benefit by Outsourcing), some problems may be experienced that you may not be prepared for.

1. Ineffective communication

This is the largest problem when it comes to outsourcing.  The importance of effective communication cannot be overstated.  There may be natural communication barriers such as language barriers or cultural differences which need to be considered.  But even in the same culture and with the same mother tongue misunderstandings can occur.

Steps to avoid communication problems include:

  • State your expectations explicitly in the contract.  You need to spell out your exactly what you envisage and how your virtual service provider will meet them.  This is not a time to provide broad guidelines in an attempt to allow for flexibility.  Be very specific.
  • Schedule a weekly Skype chat, or something similar based on your needs, in which detailed report-backs can be given by your virtual service provider.  You can give immediate feedback and discuss problems experienced and potential solutions.
  • Expect daily contact either via phone, e-mail or web portals from your virtual service provider to keep you up to date on progress, any problems experienced, etc.  A good idea is to have a project management platform on which all information is shared, so that all the relevant parties have access to it.

 2. Outsourcing before you are really ready for it

You need to prepare and plan to outsource before actually doing it.

  • Make a list of what your needs are and how you envisage outsourcing will address these needs
  • Think about your small business’s strengths and weaknesses, and look for someone who will complement these.
  • Decide who will be responsible for managing the virtual service provider.
  • Do you have an outsourcing strategy?  If not, this is a good time to compile one.  It is difficult to succeed without a written plan.

 3. Having unrealistic expectations

Outsourcing will not solve all your business problems overnight.  You are ultimately responsible for your small business’s success.  A few points to remember are:

  • Your virtual service provider does not know everything about your business that you do.  They will function better as they gain more insights into how your business works, and how you like to operate.  Be open about your business and share whatever information is necessary to achieve their optimum performance.
  • Although most virtual service providers are professionals who will hit the ground running, you may have to provide some training or guidelines in certain aspects of the work you expect them to do.

 4. Choosing a virtual service provider for the wrong reasons

Going for the cheapest option can lead to disaster.  Although it makes sense to get a few quotations before choosing someone, keep the following in mind:

  • Ensure that the virtual service provider is able to meet your specific needs.
  • When comparing quotes, make sure that you are comparing apples with apples.
  • Evaluate the potential service providers’ responses to your queries.  Are they enthusiastic?  Do they follow up within a reasonable time?
  • More pointers to find the right service providers for your needs can be found in my article 6 Steps to Find the Best Online Workers.

 5. Providing unclear specifications

Take time at the beginning of your working relationship to ensure that your specifications are thorough and accurate.  This will save trouble later.  For instance, if you realize only after starting a project that you need to change the scope, you will affect both your cost and the time it will take to complete it.

Start a positive outsourcing experience today, and see what a difference it can make to your business success.  Whether you need to outsource administrative tasks or human resource related tasks, feel free to contact Virtual Productivity Solutions to make your outsourcing experience a positive and unforgettable one!