A good working relationship between your business and someone who provides you with some sort of outsourced service is not something that happens overnight. It is the fruit of both your efforts over time to build a long-lasting relationship of trust and understanding.

Psychologist Bruce Tuckman made famous the phrase “forming, storming, norming and performing”, in his 1965 article, “Developmental Sequence in Small Groups”.  This model details the various steps that a new group goes through before it can mature into a productive workforce.  This model can also be applied to an outsourced working relationship.

In the first instance, you need to be assured that the relationship will be productive and provide good value for money. Second you need to work with your outsource provider to ensure a clearly predefined process that you both can follow. You can achieve this by developing:

  • Data ownership documents – to define roles and responsibilities between both parties
  • Standard operating procedures – to detail the clients service requirements in full
  • Detailed schedules – to detail the dates/times when relevant tasks will be delivered
  • Task lists – to ensure that each task is successfully completed and checked
  • Clearly defined data transfer tools
  • Automation – reducing errors caused by manual intervention
  • An agreed change control process
  • Ensure all documents are well circulated and accepted by all parties

Communication is vital to any good working relationship, especially at the beginning of a contract. As a small business you need to be confident that your outsourcer has strong communication and relationship management skills across their organisation.

Where possible, ask for a human touch to your interactions by hosting regular Skype meetings. Ask for information about the team members who will be looking after you – they shouldn’t just be ‘a voice down the end of the phone’.

Finally, in an increasingly competitive outsourcing environment, you should be getting the best possible service. Your outsourcer needs to help you understand how you can measure aspects of performance that really matter to your business. This process can be assisted by measuring accuracy statistics, sending out questionnaires and holding conference calls to discuss accuracy and performance.