Outsourcing Checklist—Things to Think About Before You Pull the Trigger

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By Nancy Bartels

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By Nancy Bartels, Managing Editor

  • Have you started with an open mind? Look at your operations and be ready to ask, “Is there a better way to do this task?” The answer may—or may not—be outsourcing.
  • Why are you bringing in outside help? To make up for missing in-house skills? To temporarily beef up staff for a particular project? To cut costs? 
  • What is your core business? What skills do you need to maintain in-house to support that core? Everything that isn’t “core” could be ripe for outsourcing.
  • How far away is your outsourcing partner? Will partner employees be on-site all the time? If not, how long will it take to get somebody on-site if necessary? Is it important that a live body be available immediately, or does the particular job lend itself to more long-distance handling?
  • Have you planned for supporting skills in-house, even if you outsource certain functions? For example, outsourcing maintenance doesn’t mean you don’t need maintenance skills on your payroll. You still need someone who can evaluate the work being done, work with the vendor to make sure you’re getting the services you need the way you need them, and, if necessary, be a resource should you decide to take the function back in-house.
  • Have you planned for changing business processes? Bringing in outside contractors is going to change the way the outsourced tasks will be performed. Are you prepared for those changes? How are you preparing your in-house team for them? 
  • How do you plan to integrate outside contractors into your work groups? How are you going to handle the questions that arise when there are different work rules for the same job? Have you talked with your union representatives if necessary?
  • Have you structured your contract with your outsourcing service provider to be flexible? Can you change the way you want things done easily? Are there provisions for bringing certain functions back in-house? What about regular evaluations and remedies for non-performance?
  • Have you made sufficient provisions for protecting your intellectual property? What about non-hiring provisions?
  • What kind of relationship do you want with your outsourcing partner? Are you planning for a long-term partnership, or is it to be a one-off relationship?
  • Have you planned your communications so that everyone at your operation and the outsourcer is on the same page? How are those lines of communication going to work, and who is going to in charge of keeping them open?
  • Does your potential outsourcing partner really understand your business? Is it a company that can support your operation throughout the life cycle of the project? 
  • Does your potential partner have the resources, financial strength and background to do the required work?
  • Is your corporate culture and your partner’s a good match? Does your partner approach jobs the same way you do? Can you see yourself and these people working together over the long haul?
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