IT projects can be overwhelming, especially if you have a limited team. Most business owners and managers get stressed when they cannot get IT tasks done in time and as required. If you have had several instances pending tasks, it is high time you outsourced.
While outsourcing has numerous benefits, including higher profits margins and freedom, it can be a daunting engagement, especially for a newbie.
So, how do you outsource your IT projects successfully? Here’s a complete guide.
6 Outsourcing Steps for Complete Newbies
Step 1. Establish the Tasks You Want to Outsource
You cannot outsource everything. Outsourcing is only sensible and economical in the long run if you delegate tasks you cannot complete within the stipulated time, or effectively as needed. Before thinking of what to outsource, you should have a clear breakdown of the overall project, tasks your team isn’t perfect at, aspects you want to do, and tasks that need delegation.
Delegating any tasks should come as a last resort. What business sense will it make outsourcing a developer when you have an in-house one? Remember, it is not advisable to outsource unless your team lacks the skill and resources needed for a given IT project.
For example, you can opt for custom programming outsourcing if you don’t have enough team for your program project, or if your team is engaged elsewhere. The idea behind this strategy is to ensure your team does tasks they are most productive in.
Step 2. Prioritize the Tasks
By the time you are done with step 1 above, you should have a list of tasks to outsource. The next step is to establish what comes first. Select from the list at least 3 most urgent projects, and make sure you are comfortable delegating them. Besides, create a brief outline of what the person you are outsourcing to should do.
The best approach is to have a few action steps and break them down into much simpler steps that anyone will find easy to understand. However, if the item you wish to delegate is too technical, only focus on the project use case and a brief overview of why you need it.
Here’s an example of an online store development use case:
- Customer to browse products
- Add products to the cart
- Include a wish list
- Make payments
- Open help ticket
- Submit claim
However, if you are looking for a software developer and you are not competent in the entire process, just define what you want to be done and leave the rest to the expert.
Step 3. Profile Your Ideal Experts
Your next step should be to identify the kind of contractors you would want to engage in for the task. Get as specific as you can with the profile of your targeted experts.
The following are a few pointers to help you determine the best-suited person or team for the task you want to be done:
- Make a list of the skillset needed for the given task
- Estimate the approximate level of expertise the team should have
- Required timelines
- Language fluency
- Quality level in the basis of communication, creative thinking, problem-solving, and independence
- Calculate the disposable income available to the specific task
This list should help you narrow down your search to the right team or company to outsource your IT project. For instance, if you have three cotenants, disqualifying two and choosing one is easy based on the above elements.
Step 4. Set Smart Objectives
Objectives are essential for the success of any IT project. Setting clear objectives ensures the entire team works towards the same goal.
Have a project dashboard to help monitor the project’s progress towards your set objectives. Just like goals, your IT project objectives should have some KPI metrics. For instance, how long will the project take, what is the expected quality level, and how much money is available for the project?
So, how do you set effective objectives for your IT project?
Follow the SMART (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and Timely) criteria.
- Be as specific as possible when setting the objectives.
- Have a plan to track the objectives as the project progresses. This allows you to ascertain whether your baseline expectations are being met.
- Your objectives should be achievable; otherwise, you need not set them. However, as you consider this, ensure they fall within the needs of your business.
- Set deadlines for your objectives. It could be in terms of days, weeks, or months.
Here is a project objective example to help you with yours:
If your business is a bank that needs to improve customer satisfaction, you may want an online ticketing system.
So, your objective could look like this:
To develop an online ticketing system in 2 weeks that lowers the customer response time to no more than 30 seconds.
The objective follows the SMART criteria.
- It is specific – you want an online ticketing system;
- It is measurable – should lower the response time to under 30 seconds;
- It is realistic hence, achievable;
- It is time-bound – should be completed in 2 weeks.
Step 5. Choose the Most Appropriate Company
The success of any outsourced work depends on a variety of factors, including the team’s knowledge and expertise, the methodology used, as well as the technology platforms the team uses.
For example, does the company use Waterfall or Agile methodology, and whatever the choice, will it meet your expectations? The rationale is that you should choose a team that has the right resources for your specific task.
So how do you choose a reputable partner to outsource your IT project?
- Make a list of prospective companies
- Evaluate them based on the IT skills of their teams, projects they have done, and turnaround time
- Check for any testimonials on their website
- Evaluate what past clients are saying about their services on review sites such as Yelp, Angie’s List, and Better Business Bureau
Step 6. Hold a Briefing Meeting
The briefing meeting, often termed as the kickoff meeting, is a very important step in any IT project. Once you have chosen the right outsourcing company, you will need a briefing meeting to discuss the way forward regarding the completion of the work. Here, the main focus should be on the purpose and goals.
Generally, during the kickoff meeting, take the time to learn the team that will be in charge of your project. Besides, this is the time to have a feel of what success in the task looks like, get a clear guideline on all the necessary tasks to be handled, as well as agree on a few terms and conditions of work for the project to be successful.
Even though the needs of the projects differ from one client to another, you must get the following basics right during a project kickoff meeting:
- Introductions: get to understand the teams from both sides.
- Company background: here, both teams need to learn more about the involved companies.
- Project: tell the outsourcing team why you are doing the project.
- Scope: provide in-depth information about the project at hand.
- Approach: the outsourcing team can provide information about how they will do the project
- Roles: define roles and responsibilities for different team members. It helps everyone know where to get certain information whenever needed.
- Discussion on how to keep the momentum.
- Have a Q&A session where everyone seeks clarification on certain aspects of the project that were not clear during the presentation.
Every company needs to outsource a project in the course of its operations. This is especially the case when you have an IT project that requires expertise that is unavailable among your team members.
If you are outsourcing for the first time, it might appear to be a daunting task. However, understanding your needs and choosing the right partner to outsource to can help you complete your project successfully and effortlessly.