Skip the Hazards of Outsourcing with These Tips and Suggestions
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Skip the Hazards of Outsourcing with These Tips and Suggestions

Outsourcing can be beneficial when done right. Also, it can be a nightmare.

How do you skip the hazards of outsourcing and avoid the nightmarish parts? 

What steps can you take to ensure success with your outsourced tasks? Find the answers below.

First, Some Background

Outsourcing was derived from the phrase, 'outside resourcing' which dates back to 1981. In recent times, the term, outsourcing has been substituted with telecommuting.

When done right, outsourcing is credited with scaling businesses and improving internal performance with savings on management salaries, insurance, and other employee benefits. 

According to the Statistics Portal,  the global outsourcing market amounted to 88.9 billion U.S. dollars in 2017 in the United States. With globalization and economic polarization, outsourcing is no longer limited to large-scale companies. Small and mid-sized businesses can partake from the benefits of outsourcing. 

Below, we provide ideas to improve your chance of success with outsourcing your writing and content development projects.

Before Outsourcing

Assess the following questions and the suggestions provided, to get an overall idea of the outsourcing process.

Use these ideas to improve your chance of success with outsourcing.

1. What tasks take away so much of my time?

Assess and reassess your tasks for the past quarter. Which of those tasks take more than appropriate time? Will they benefit from some expert help? It's okay to think that you're better off doing the task yourself. However, this may cost you time, that promotion and time for yourself.

With the trend towards a digital workplace, strategic outsourcing tends to be worth the move, only if done well. Not to forget the time savings it allows you and your company.

2. What tasks do I not enjoy doing? Can these tasks be done without my involvement?

It's safer to outsource non-confidential tasks.once a level of trust has been reached, you can outsource confidential tasks with protective agreements in place. Get a lawyer to look through your contracts or agreements before asking for a signature. You can get one on the Rocket Lawyer platform at a price of $50 for the whole month. For not-so-confidential documents, a free draft from the Lawtrades website should serve.

Tasks you can outsource include,

  • Research/Evidence Base Generation
  • Social Media Management
  • Freelancer/Consultant Management
  • Graphics Design
  • Technical Document Creation
  • Virtual Assistant Jobs

3. Skip the Hazards of Outsourcing with repeatable systems

Think back to the past few years, how do you address your tasks?

Do you give clear instructions?

Have you narrowed your process and the task itself to a system? Is the task completion process automated (steps have to be completed in a set order)?

For starters, use the free version of Trello or Clickup to create a process you can share with your freelancer or consultant.

For automation similar to the Jira platform, you can use a combination of Trello and Butler for trello. Presently, I use Plutio or Tallyfy, however, this depends on the client. These management tools help me keep all related documents, updates, and message threads clean and organized (all within HIPAA compliant systems).

4. What Pareto forces are at work in my system (80:20)?

The 80:20 principle is practical at every stage of a business. 20% of what business owners do, is responsible for a majority of recurring business.

What are the main activities that work best for you or your company? Do more of those.

5. Can I pilot test my system to make sure it works (that it's repeatable)?

Try out your systems to see if they can be understood. You can start with new internal employees or freelancers/consultants.

Request feedback to help improve your processes. This is beneficial for you, your company and future recruits (internal and external).

6. Start with one.

What will you outsource? What is your objective for that task? Communicate this clearly to yourself and the freelancer you work with.

Most employer-freelance arrangements fail due to communication gaps from either or both parties.

7. Work with milestones and request updates on these milestones.

Some employers prefer staying out of the loop until the deliverable is almost ready, others prefer to follow through the whole process. Having milestones as part of your system streamlines the outsourcing process for you. Set up notifications for milestones only, and approve subsequent steps as they are met. This allows time for you to focus on other important activities. 

8. Where can I get trustworthy help?

We can help. Also, we provide suggestions and referrals to the right persons. You may need a medical writer to help with writing tasks (CME, News Pieces, Needs Assessments, Feature Articles). If you're a small business owner, you may need some help with all things digital (virtual assistance, social media management, inbox, self-organization, funnel strategies). Send a mail to [email protected] Do let us know what you need and we will get back to you.

9. How can I pick the right person for the job?

Sometimes, outsourcing can be a hit and miss. The following tips can help. Ask for samples or decide based on the first job. Don't look down on seeming 'newbies', as these are ready and willing to learn/adapt, to your specifications, compared to those who have been in the field for a long time.

For risk-averse employers, you can invite your freelancer to work with you on Upwork on an hourly basis or at a flat rate. If you choose that route, be ready to absorb the commission cuts that Upwork enforces. I charge flat rates for projects,  and I am open to working on the Upwork platform with you.

10. How do I share documents?

A critical question. Most companies have an inhouse system for managing document sharing with internal and external employees.

Options for document sharing include SharePoint from Microsoft, Google Drive (allows document edits and collaboration in the cloud), Dropbox, Amazon SWS (needs some knowledge of coding and segmentation).

Other Project Management apps offer an all-in-one solution that includes document management. They include Microsoft apps, Plutio, Tallyfy, Clickup, Asana, Dubsado, Basecamp and other encrypted cloud sharing platforms. You can create a separate folder for each freelancer or all. Feel free to try out an option and stick with what works for you.

For managing my projects, I use Tallyfy for HIPAA-compliant projects and Plutio for all other projects.

11. How do I deal with the legal aspect of outsourcing or what kind of agreements can help me make the most of outsourcing?

Most companies have an inhouse legal provider. You can get your legal provider to look through existing contracts, agreements and all.  Also, you can subscribe to a retainer service from the Rocket Lawyer platform, free for the first month and $50 thereafter.

Your Contracts and Agreements may be out of date.

GDPR is the in-thing at the moment. What does this mean for your external and your present recruits?

Are your contracts and agreements for working with freelance consultants and writers up to date? GDPR is here

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As a company with employees, data protection and transparency related to your use of personal data is now critical (if your employee is a European citizen).

GDPR is worth looking into if you intend to store the information on European citizens regardless of their country of residence. Also, GDPR-aligned updates of your contracts and agreements should be done to save you and your company from proposed fines.

These GDPR resources can help,

12. How do I determine what to pay?

Do you have a project budget? Determine a price range ahead of time. There are available estimates per project on the Editorial Freelancer Website. However, this works for hourly pricing rates for editorials. The fastest option will be to ask the freelancer for project rates. Most freelancers arrive at a flat project rate by calculating how long it will take them to finish the project. We use the latter and find that it works better for the client and us.

13. How do I make payments?

You can make payments directly through ApplePay, Paypal, and Stripe. Both merchants take a 3% commission off the payments. You will have to agree with your freelancer on who gets to absorb the costs. 

You can tell your freelancer to send you an invoice, for which you can make payments online. If you decide to work through upwork, then expect to pay a higher commision in addition to the merchant fees.

However, for employers who have a great experience, its a no-brainer to repeatedly outsource tasks.

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Bank payments also work, though with a higher commission which increases for international payments.

I use a convenient cart solution to receive payments, the cart gets payments across all possible platforms, Stripe, Paypal and Apple Pay. For individual payments, Stripe works best for me.

After Outsourcing

14. Evaluate your experience and adjust

How was the experience? Did you achieve your objectives? What went well and what did not go well? Any feedback?

Assessments of the experience helps you determine what and where things can be done better. This can serve as a basis for outsourcing future tasks or just honing your system for personal time savings and improved processes.

Personally, I look back on the many positive points of the experience and technical glitches that may have affected turnaround times. I try to address these to improve the process for my benefits and that of future employers.  

15. Do I need a retainer?

As someone who has been on both sides of the divide, the answer depends on the employer. Business needs vary throughout the year with peak periods at funding application and close to drug launch/promotion.

However, for employers who have a great experience, its a no-brainer to repeatedly outsource tasks. For previous, not-so-great experiences, employers choose to say goodbye to the outsourcing arrangement. Now pause for a moment, consider the factors in favour of outsourcing - no liability to pay health insurance, pension, allowances, time and office space savings.

16. I have been burned once, I think its better I do it myself.

I understand. In reality, it's good to assess what went wrong. Did you contribute in any away to the 'burn'? What can you do to avoid a repeat burn. This assessment helps you know where change is needed, even if you choose not to outsource.

What can you do to avoid a repeat burn from project outsourcing?

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Other ideas include, 

  • Outsource small projects at a time or work with milestones. 
  • Clarify the instructions you give.
  • Keep the communication lines open.
  • 'Outsource the outsourcing'.

Although Ehealthwrites helps employers like you with content development for medical writing and CME or e-learning, we offer referrals to specialty-specific writers. We can absorb the frustration and the 'burn' for you by managing the outsourcing process from the project start to finish.

We can brainstorm your process and set you up with a freelancer on our platform. With clear specifications from you, we can manage the process from start to finish, with regular updates on the progress of the project. If interested in this, book a session with us here. 

Next Steps- TAKE ACTION

At the moment, what projects do you need professional help with? Let us know in the comments below or send a mail to [email protected]

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