Just about all of us here on the iRemit blog work remotely, and we’ve written articles on why foreign companies should consider outsourcing some of their tasks to the Philippines. Not that they need persuading, it seems, given that major corporations like Chevron, Safeway, and Citibank all have business process outsourcing (BPO) operations here and that they are but a few additions to the growing list of US companies who have done the same.
Outsourcing to the Philippines isn’t a privilege exclusive to the world’s conglomerates, however. Even small to medium businesses can also benefit from them, and many Filipino migrants setting up start-ups abroad often do so.
Yet how do you make sure that the outsourcing process goes smoothly? If you’re the owner of, say, a home-based online business in Australia and you’re looking to outsource some of your business processes to the Philippines, the following tips ought to help you get the most out of it:
1. Identify which tasks you can outsource.
Web projects are the most commonly outsourced tasks since these are the easiest to coordinate remotely. Examples of web project tasks that lend themselves well to outsourcing are website design, development, and maintenance, online marketing, content generation (i.e., for blogs, online newsletters, etc.), search engine optimization (SEO, which is crucial if you want your customers to find you at the top of the search results list), and of course, social media integration and marketing (because Filipinos can do amazing things with Facebook. Seriously).
2. Determine your budget.
One of the best things about outsourcing to the Philippines is the relatively low cost of labor. It’s been said that you can save up to 80% (!) on labor costs by outsourcing certain tasks, so coming up with a workable budget shouldn’t be too difficult.
For starters, think about which tasks you’ll be outsourcing. Will you be needing one full-time writer or two part-time ones? Do you also need someone to provide illustrations and images for your website’s blog posts? Are you considering hiring someone to supervise your remote staff on your behalf? Once you’ve narrowed down the tasks you want your virtual staff to do, check out the average compensation for each one and then finalize your budget accordingly.
That said, don’t let cost be your sole criteria for selecting people for your team either. If an outsourcing company charges rates that are a bit higher than what you’re prepared to pay but can also offer you a better selection of candidates, you may want to consider adjusting your figures a little.
3. Shop around for your outsourcing partner firm.
Because of the high demand for virtual staff, many outsourcing firms have emerged in the Philippines. A quick Google search for “Philippine outsourcing companies” ought to supply you with a list complete with contact details. Browse their websites, pick out the ones that look the most promising, and get in touch with each one of them. Don’t just make it about canvassing for prices either: talk about your goals and expectations with the assigned contact people and try to get a feel of the company’s values to see if they match yours.
Also, select people from their pool of talents as carefully as you would for your team back home. You can give your candidates take-home questions and then schedule face to face interviews (this is where Skype or Facetime would come in handy), so you have a better grasp of their personalities, capabilities and communication skills (and more importantly, how these fit in with your existing team back home) prior to hiring.
4. Specify the details of your project.
Once you’ve decided on an outsourcing company to partner with, hash out the details of your project. At this point, you should clarify the scope (how big or how small the project is, how many people you need to handle it, and for how long) of your outsourcing contract.
If there are specific tools or software that you want your virtual staff to work with, it would be best to mention these as well. You should also indicate the level of proficiency you’ll be requiring, such as whether you’ll need someone with expert level skills to work on a project or if a couple of experienced beginners will do. Knowing that you prefer people who are beginners or experts with Google Docs, WordPress, or Adobe Photoshop will help your partner company narrow down the list of candidates for the initial screening.
5. Get everything in writing.
Payment terms (how much you’ll be paying the company, due dates for the said payments, methods through which they are tendered, and so on), work schedules, project scope, the degree of service support after the project is completed, and other pertinent service details should be carefully laid out in a contract between you and your partner outsourcing company.
The more specific your service contract is, the easier it will be to address any issues pertaining to the quality or the completion of the work delivered later on, if any.
You may also want to have a non-disclosure agreement (NDA) in place before the project starts in order to safeguard your company’s trade secrets.
6. Pace yourself.
Lastly, if it’s your first time to outsource work, do start slow and small to test the waters. Have your initial hires work on a few minor website projects, such as coming up with promo images or blog posts. This accomplishes two things: 1.) It allows you to gauge the quality of workmanship they can actually deliver (and see if you’ll be retaining or replacing them), and 2.) These tasks serve as their training ground in figuring out the sort of output you require.
If you’re happy with your virtual staff’s initial output, then you can start scaling up to bigger projects. By that time, their work could very well have driven more traffic to your website in such a way that you can actually afford to pay them a bit more for the extra work.
Done right, outsourcing can take your business to the next level without breaking the bank. A far more valuable advantage, however, lies in the access it gives you to a whole new set of untapped talent and entirely different perspectives fresh from the other side of the world.