Small businesses and entrepreneurs always benefit by outsourcing their services to professional service providers or freelancers as this saves them time and money. The money saved due to outsourcing can be effectively and successfully utilized to focus more on strategic and core business functions.
This article will help small businesses and entrepreneurs in making the right decision in choosing the correct service provider for them and managing their projects.
Tips for Finding and Choosing the Right Freelancer or Service Provider for your Services
- Where to find a Service Provider
You can find service providers or freelancers through online outsourcing marketplaces. All you need to do is submit your requirements. Service providers whose skills match your criteria will submit bids/proposals. Alternatively, you can search for providers through search engines and directories – this step is more time consuming.
- Confidentiality Agreement
If your requirements contain some confidential information, then do not give all the requirements to the service providers. You can give them a short description of your requirements and ask them to sign a Non-Disclosure Agreement (NDA) before you provide them all the information.
- Provide clear Scope, Schedule, and Deliverables
Clearly define the scope, schedule, and deliverables for your project. It is recommended that you give service providers as much information as you can in order to allow them to submit realistic proposals with reasonable rates.
- Evaluate Proposals
Evaluate service providers’ proposals against your evaluation criteria. An evaluation criterion is a measure that you will use to evaluate proposals, e.g., experience in similar projects, approach and methodology, price, etc. Always find the key differentiators between all competitive proposals. Feel free to ask them any questions to learn more about them. One of the important questions can be about what kind of support will be available during and after the project is finished.
- Review Portfolios/Sample Work and Feedback from Previous Clients
Short-list the service providers whose proposals satisfy your evaluation criteria (cost, approach, etc). Check their references and get feedback from their clients. View their samples and completed projects or portfolios to understand their quality standards and work capability. Do not choose a service provider based solely on price: you need to take overall quality apart from price into consideration.
- Choose a Service Provider
Finally, compare the competitive bids to make the right decision.
What next after you have chosen a Service Provider
- Service-Level Agreement
It’s good practice to get everything in writing from the service provider, who will provide the agreement and project plan. The agreement must have the project plan attached which outlines a project’s scope, deliverables, timeline, and payment terms. This will help in avoiding disputes during the project. You should also ask the service provider to give you a list of deliverables/milestones with tentative dates of completion.
Ownership of work must be stated and included in the agreement.
- Releasing Payment
Service providers always demand advance payment. This should be 20–30 percent. The rest of the payment should be dependent on agreed deliverables. Only release payment when a deliverable/milestone is met.
Tips on Managing your Project
1.When a project starts, introduce yourself or your team members to the development team. Specify meeting, reporting, and feedback timings.
2.Project scope, deliverables, and price can change during the course of a project: it is highly recommended that all these changes be agreed upon, documented, and signed by both the service provider and you.
3.If your service provider is located offshore, the greatest challenges of successfully managing offshore projects are overcoming differences of language, culture, and geography. All the processes must be well documented to avoid any confusion. These processes may include: resolution of problems, reports, feedback, discussion timings, etc.
4.Depending on your flexibility, ask the service provider to submit daily or weekly progress reports to see the actual performance in comparison to the plan initially submitted.
5.Make sure the service provider understands how you intend to use the deliverables that they are agreeing to provide. It must be clear about who owns the final work.
6.Save all information from the chats, emails, messages and discussions between you and your service provider. It may be helpful in resolving disputes.