Hiring others to help you deliver services and complete projects is risky, which is why you need quality assurance for outsourced work. Otherwise, you'll end up doing the work yourself, which can lead to delays. You also risk losing key clients, who will get frustrated and go to competitors with a "real" staff. Avoid disasters with these quality assurance tips:
Sign a Legal Agreement
A legal agreement signed by you and your team members is key to quality assurance for outsourced work. It sets a professional tone, but it also lays out the expectations of all the parties in writing. For example, issues about invoicing, reporting and deadlines can be included in the agreement itself or in addendums. The contract should include:
- Payment terms
- Non-disclosure and confidentiality clauses
- Ownership of copyrights and other intellectual property that arise from creating deliverables
An agreement may also protect you should a customer sue you for negligence or liability based on deliverables, and it's proof that your relationship is not an employer-employee relationship.
Define the Project in Writing
It's best to include the project definition in the agreement. The definition should include:
- Scope of the project
- Milestones with deadlines
- Deliverables with deadlines
- Itemized project costs
- Potential problems that may arise prior to project completion, with proposed solutions
When the project is well defined and detailed, there won't be much room for confusion down the road.
You're only inviting conflicts, unfinished projects and customer dissatisfaction if you don't set milestones. It requires more planning on your part, because it forces you to think through the details of each project, including the interim deliverables, deadlines and payments required to keep everyone happy. Use project management software to help you plan these out, and the contractors you work with can enter in the milestones they reach if the software has online features.
Problem Solving Procedures
You will encounter problems on projects whenever there's outsourced work. It shouldn't hamper the project, as long as you have procedures in place to solving common problems. When you're first starting out, it may be hard to anticipate what those are on your own. Research common mistakes and problems that pertain to your line of work, as well as how other project managers and business owners solved those problems. Modify or keep "as-is" the techniques that you find would help you with quality assurance. Add to the list as you gain more experience with outsourced work, and share your problem solving procedures with contractors after they sign an agreement.
If you're not a detailed oriented person, or if you don't have the time to manage projects effectively, you should consider making project management a part of the outsourced work. That won't take you out of the equation completely, but it's important to delegate that role if it's not your strength.
Daphne Mallory, Esq. is the co-owner of Mallory Writing Services and has written more than 100 articles helping home based business owners and entrepreneurs start and market their business. You can learn more about her here.