Communicating With Your Outsourcing Company
This month, we featured a 3 part series on outsourcing. Part 1 helped you decide "Is Outsourcing Right For You?", Part 2 gave you tips on "Interviewing An Outsourcer", and today we debut Part 3 "Communicating With Your Outsourcer," read below to learn how to achieve successful interactions with your outsourcing vendor.
This ultimately means that just because you are outsourcing does not mean that you no longer have responsibilities for your outsourced function. Below are things that will still require your direct involvement, and things to remember no matter what you’re outsourcing.
Number one is communication
Communication in any relationship is essential, but it is especially important in outsourcing. Be able and willing to provide those involved in your specialized function with prompt, regular communication.
Keep your firm informed
Your outsourcer has the best interests of your mission at heart. In order for your relationship to succeed they need to be informed and kept up to date with all information affecting your function.
Remember that this is a business relationship. You wouldn’t be late to a meeting with a million dollar donor. Don’t be late to calls or meetings with your firm. Attend the meeting armed with questions you have and notes on what you’d like to cover. Effective Meetings .com provides a great tip from George Kieffer’s “The Strategy of Meetings,” who advises you to “Envision the meeting as you would like it to take place, and determine what must be done in the way of further specific preparation to make your desired vision a reality.”
Understand your expectations
You can’t perform at or above expectations if you don’t know what they are. Be sure that you understand your expectations from the beginning. Prior to signing up, get a list of duties that you would be responsible for.
Also make sure that you’re checking in with your outsourcer regularly for feedback. Asking “what can I do to improve our relationship?” will provide you with insight, and let you know if there is something you could be doing better.
Establish clear responsibilities for all parties
You should also limit those who have responsibilities with the outsourcer. Limiting those who deal directly with the outsourcer will ensure that the correct individuals are informed. It will also cut down on the “telephone” aspect of too many people relaying information.
Your outsourcer is happy to help
Your outsourcer wants your relationship and your organization to succeed. They are more than happy to help you. If you have questions, need clarification on documentation, or want something explained in greater detail, just ask.
Remember that they are there to assist you, and explaining the processes and documents they provide is part of the service they offer. You shouldn’t be concerned that you are inconveniencing them or that they will find you less intelligent. They know that you have little to no knowledge about their subject, and will have no problem parting with theirs.
You make the decisions
This is second only to communication. Keep in mind that any outsourcing company can only act as an advisor. You, your CFO and your board are, and always will be responsible for the decisions of your nonprofit organization.
Trust that your firm knows what they’re doing
Ask questions, but don’t assume that the individual you’ve hired doesn’t know what they’re doing. You’ve chosen the firm for a reason, and expertise was hopefully among the reasons that they were your ultimate selection.
However, you should also feel comfortable asking why. If your firm is asking for something that you have questions about, ask them why they need that information. Don’t be confrontational or question their knowledge, instead ask them to improve your knowledge.
If you love working with your outsourcer, or wish there was something they would do differently, let them know. Software Business Partners states perfectly that “constant feedback between customer and outsourcer assures a clear understanding of the current issues.”
Whether you are providing feedback via email, or completing surveys through the company, relaying how you feel about their services can only improve your experiences.