Outsourcing: Finding the Right Vendor

As we said at the start of this series, outsourcing simply means hiring outsiders to perform tasks that would be done internally if the time and/or talent were available.  

Outsourcing often goes against the grain, since most founders believe that no one can do it as well/better than they can, so your first act is to put your ego in the closet until further notice.

Your outsourcing success will be based on the effort you expend finding the right partner, not the cheapest, and the strength of your communications.

The cost, complexity, scope and deadlines are your most important criteria when deciding whether you want the work done locally, domestically or off-shore.

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Finding vendors, whether individuals or companies, to do whatever work you want done is easy; identifying the right one to hire is the difficult part. This is even more critical when outsourcing technical product development (software or hardware).

Start by asking trusted advisors (as opposed to your drinking buddies), preferably those who have outsourced themselves. It’s good to ask your network, just remember to consider the source of the recommendation along with the rec itself.

There are dozens of sites, such as Upwork (was Elance), CraigsList and Outsource.com, where you can browse the talent, but be sure to read the comments, too.

Obviously, you need to develop a detailed description of the skills and experience you need, just as you would if hiring in-house.

And, just as obviously, you need to do more than check their Yelp rating.

Time spent reference checking and actually speaking to previous clients can be the difference between a brilliant match and a mediocre one, because along with the technical skills for whatever the project, the human interaction needs to be positive, too. The last thing you need is arrogance that doesn’t listen or a contact who won’t ask questions to clarify something.

Once you identify a vendor you like, query your network to see if anyone has used them and talk to them (the same for other references) — it’s amazing what you can find out in a conversation as opposed to a text or bunch of yes/no questions.

The effort to successfully outsource is much like a marriage — finding the right partner and completing the courtship are the easy parts; the real work starts when the contract is signed.

Here are more resources to help you do it right.


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