Okay, let’s say to you have decided to hire an outsourcing company. Where do you start?
If you don’t hire the right outsourcing firm by performing due diligence ahead of time, you can leave yourself open to unwanted exposure.
A few years ago, Apple Computer (before it became Apple, Inc.) was left with a black eye.
Apple’s entire business structure is unique in that they have about 30,000 employees. Their largest vendor was a Chinese company that manufactures their equipment. That company has over one million employees. One would assume that Apple officials had done research on the vendor, but it turned out that child labor was used to assemble several of Apple’s computers. This not only caused a great deal of embarrassment for Apple, it was also a bad reflection in general on the outsourcing industry.
How do I pick an outsourcing company?
A critical step that everyone should understand before engaging in outsourcing is that there are four types of international outsourcing firms: digital outsourcing, management processes, communications/customer service, and security.
Another critical aspect is to make sure that the firm that you want to do business with has operations in the country where you live in addition to the country where the workforce is outsourced.
Why are these aspects critical to outsourcing?
Using Apple’s case as an example: If the Chinese vendor had a U.S. presence, they would have been held accountable for violations that took place within their business — even if those violations took place in their overseas operation over time.
Bring it down to a small business perspective. For example: you hire an overseas telemarketing company; the firm you hire either doesn’t know what the laws are, or completely ignores them as far as Do Not Call (DNC) compliance. DNC violations carry up to a $16,000 fine per incident. Something else to note is that this also covers anti-spamming regulations.
Note: these calls on your company’s behalf all take place from overseas to America. Whom you think will be held responsible for any violations they make? Take a look in the mirror. These are serious violations. When you have this type of exposure, you want to make sure that whomever you’re working with understands the severity of breaking the law and the penalty for violations. They must be in complete compliance.
In fact, we have had clients approach us about doing telemarketing campaigns. A few have stated in a matter-of-fact way, “We don’t pay attention to the DNC regulations.” Needless to say, we walked away from those potential clients with a, “Thank you very much, but no thanks.”
Do not call registration violations are serious issues and not something to take lightly. Make sure that the vendor you consider understands what U.S. laws are.
Keep in mind that if your vendor has a U.S. presence, it is more than likely that they will be held responsible for violations – not you.
Practicing due diligence to guarantee that your campaigns are done properly is critical to running a successful virtual team.
Outsourcing business versus bulletin boards
I hear this phrase often – “I tried that and had a bad experience.” I believe that the bad experience is most likely a direct reflection of the type of structure the client engaged in.
One common concern is that in hiring someone offshore there may not be a management system in place and no accountability measures for your virtual assistant. You might worry that after spending time and money to get them trained and ready, they disappear, never to be seen again. Unfortunately it does happen.
However, this scenario is typically a result of someone using an online bulletin board service such as Upwork (formerly oDesk), Elance, Fiverr, or Freelancer.
Frankly, these are great service providers and there’s nothing wrong with using them. In fact, I use them occasionally for specific, short-term projects. However, these sites are not primarily used for long-term contracts for day-to-day operations.
Some major flaws when it comes to these organizations are that individuals contract from their homes, so their infrastructure consists of DSL, and some type of voice-over IP setup such as Skype. There are few accountability measures in place. There isn’t a management team to supervise the work under contract, and if things aren’t getting done you don’t have a fallback.
I don’t have an issue with hiring through a bulletin board for jobs such as website development, non-critical article writing, and anything that is a one-off type of project that does not revolve around day-to-day operations.
Using someone from a bulletin board is a great, inexpensive alternative to get high-quality work done at an affordable price.
There are also differences between hiring an entire outsourcing company as opposed to hiring an individual who works independently for a living.
Using an outsourcing business provides an existing infrastructure. They know how to on-board new clients, have training procedures and practices for employees, and backup employees who can pick up the slack if another calls in sick.
Most outsourcing companies also have a training procedure in place so that your new virtual assistant can get up and running on your campaign quickly in the event that your current virtual team isn’t working out.
On the other hand, you don’t have that same kind of leverage when you use a bulletin board’s services.
These are subtle, yet critical distinctions between the two types of outsourcing that you should be aware of before you choose how to do business.
Another reason to make sure that the client company has a presence overseas as well is that some agencies literally outsource their outsourcing. They sell you on the idea of hiring a virtual team, but the reality is that they are virtual, too. They have a few salespeople and outsource their outsourcing.
Those types of companies use bulletin boards to find fulfillment partners for their clients’ projects. This type of system can have so many challenges, such as: quality control, reliability, lack of infrastructure, and lack of training.
Make sure that whomever you do business with has multiple offices. I cannot emphasize enough that being in a stable environment is how business should be conducted