Whether you are a startup or an established business, you may be realizing the incredible benefits that the new freelance economy of over 53 million talented people (in America alone) and the other millions of brilliant minds around the world can offer you as a real asset.
If you are thinking of finding outsource talent to help on an upcoming project or for the longer term, there are some things you will need to consider just as you would when hiring employees. By having a formal set of criteria for bringing in outsource talent you will raise the likelihood of maximizing the return on such an investment. Here are some things to consider:
Short-Term or Something More?
Be sure you know how long you want to take advantage of having outsourced talent onboard. Not only does it help you understand the role they play, but they also know what to expect. For example, if you know it’s just one project, then focus on those freelancers that are just looking for quick work to fill out their schedule.
However, if you think it may be multiple projects or are sure it could turn into a longer-term deal should the right person come along, then state that from the beginning. Many outsource workers like the idea of regular assignments with a company because they can plan for a steady stream of work rather than constantly pounding the “virtual” pavement for more clients.
Although it doesn’t have to be written in stone because you could find the relationship really works and you don’t want to lose that talent, make sure expectations are stated early on to get the freelancer who is geared toward that estimated timeline.
Supercharged or General Worker Bee?
Outsourcing started more as an industry that helped to take care of many time-consuming tasks that didn’t necessarily require specialized knowledge. However, the industry has matured, especially with the use of artificial intelligence (AI), sometimes referred to as Robotic Process Automation (RPA). Machine learning changed the game to tackle the mundane tasks and allows employees to be upskilled to handle more sensitive, white glove, complex responsibilities. The employees are happier, the brands are more efficient, and the end customers are delighted with better, faster, more convenience service.
Co-Founder and President of TaskUs Jaspar Weir explains, “You will need to look at what you want out of your team – efficiency gains or empathetic high touch service. Why not both? While automation can provide productivity, we’ll never lose the need for the human touch. Technology supercharges your team and frees up people to operate at their highest potential.
Location Might Count
When outsourcing first emerged as a major force, the location used to be a consideration because it typically involved workers in faraway lands. While there is still considerable talent to be found in other areas of the world, the growth of freelancers within the U.S. and Europe has meant that location isn’t as much of a factor.
However, if you do still plan to use a developer from Eastern Europe or a help desk staff in the Philippines, then think about how the time, language and cultural differences might impact your working relationship, productivity levels, and customer satisfaction. All of these factors can play a role in how well you work together to achieve your strategic goals.
Budget and Pricing
Be aware of what you have to spend in your budget for outsource workers and research what specific types of freelancers get paid before you advertise for any or negotiate rates with them. if you plan on using an outsource agency, be aware that they may want some type of percentage for locating the talent. Plan accordingly based on your budget so you can add the talent on an as-needed basis that fits so you can get the most return on your investment and maintain the necessary cash flow to cover all costs of outsourcing projects.
Regardless of who you hire, make sure you understand how compliance issues are different in relation to outsource and freelance workers versus regular employees. Do your due diligence to understand how payroll, taxes, scheduling, job descriptions, benefits and more must be done when using outsource workers. If you go through an outsource agency, they typically can provide you with this information. However, it doesn’t hurt to do your own research.
All these are important considerations and ones that can raise the likelihood of a successful relationship with your outsource team – one that may even transform into an employee or a long-term freelance partnership due to the mutual benefits it produces. Be sure to interview them, get references or referrals from other people who have worked with them, and even provide a “test” assignment to gauge their capabilities.
Like hiring regular employees, there is no guarantee that considering these factors will turn every choice into the best one. Many will still not work out or will involve the risk of theft, turnover, or poor performance. However, as long as you are thorough in your research, you are most likely going to find some amazing talent to help you grow your organization in a measured way.