Updated: Wed, 11/28/2012 - 01:02

Ask SCORE: Successful outsourcing

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Outsourcing has become a widespread practice among small business owners. They use outsourcing for a variety of reasons such as handling work overflows, marketing, IT, or administrative tasks. This saves business owners valuable time and attention that could be placed on valuable tasks.

The decision to outsource certain functions requires a professional approach, particularly since the small business owner may be understandably leery about relinquishing control over a task he or she has handled from the outset.

Developing a successful long-term relationship with an outsourcing partner requires effort on both sides. It’s important to treat it like a partnership because that’s what it really is. A vendor who supplies a vital service for your business is like part of your staff, so you should go through a similar interviewing and reference checking process before you “hire” them.

Using outside service providers who have experience working with your particular type of business is important. You’ll also want someone with the technology and expertise to deliver cutting edge services.

Be sure to ask detailed questions about the service you will receive and your access to someone who can answer questions and solve problems as they arise. For most small business owners, this kind of accessibility and service are top priorities. If the firm you are considering won’t be available when something goes wrong, look elsewhere.

Also ask your candidate firms for current and past clients who received services of a scope similar to what you’re looking for. If possible, ask for clients similar to yours to properly gauge how well the company understands your needs. And, always meet with the service provider’s leadership as well as the people who will be working directly with you. You don’t want to have any doubts about their ability to handle what may be critical tasks for your business.

The “go-to” resource for help is the Outsourcing Institute, the world’s largest professional community dedicated solely to outsourcing. The Institute’s website (www.outsourcing.com), provides a wealth of information about outsourcing trends, articles on securing IT and business processing services and tips for ensuring your outsourcing partner delivers the level of performance you want.

To learn more about outsourcing successfully, contact America’s free and confidential source of small business mentoring and coaching.

SCORE is a nonprofit association of more than 12,000 business experts who volunteer as mentors.The Savannah SCORE office offers free mentoring and low-cost workshops, call for information or get an appointment by calling 912-652-4335 or visit online at www.savannah.score.org

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