Outsourcing is one of the best ways to keep costs down while getting work done, but it can also be a disaster if you choose the wrong outsource firm.

Today’s small business has many options when it comes to getting things done and with the economy in a slump, outsourcing is one of the preferred methods of keeping employee costs to a minimum. The difficulty lies in choosing the right outsource firm. If you choose the wrong one, you could end up paying for poorly done work that has to be fixed by yourself or an employee. For this reason, it’s very important to look at your options and choose the one that is best suited to your needs.

Choose a Country

You’ll find outsource firms based in many countries around the world; some of the more popular ones include:

  • India
  • Philippines
  • Mexico
  • Canada
  • China
  • Ireland

There are pros and cons to each country, so it helps to know a bit about them before you start looking at firms to outsource to. First, if language is important, you should choose Canada or Ireland, as it is their native language. The Philippines is another good choice, as English is used in the schools and most Filipinos are fluent enough in English that it is easy to work with them.

Where money is an issue, you should look at China and India, two of the cheapest countries to outsource to, but Mexico and the Philippines are also very low priced countries for finding workers.

India is one of the best areas to look for software programmers or any other outsource firm for IT needs. Each country has its own specialty to keep in mind when you are hiring.

Company vs. Individual

You can work with either an outsource company or just one person, but keep in mind that there are many reasons to choose a company. First, if the person working on your project gets sick, in a firm, that person will be replaced with someone else and your work will still be completed. If you are hiring an individual, you will need to wait if they take time off.

That being said, it’s usually cheaper to hire just one person. A company will have safeguards in place, training programs, etc. and so they will require more money. An individual can often drop his price and give you a better deal, but for reliability, you’re better off going with a firm.

Do Your Research

It’s rare to be able to randomly choose a company and get a good one on your first try. While you can always switch companies later, it’s best to do some research ahead of time and see what other people’s experiences are with this particular firm. Since there are so many different outsource firms available, it’s likely that you will find only a few reviews per firm. In this case, try asking friends and others in business if they can recommend a place to outsource to.

There are a few other things to consider when choosing a firm to outsource to.

  • How many employees available
  • The areas it specializes in (IT, call center, etc.)
  • English fluency of the employees
  • Availability of infra-structure
  • Fees and plans

When you have narrowed your list down, you should look closely at the pricing available. Most outsource firms offer packages so you can pay less if you need more hours. Be aware, however, that some of these packages are unnecessary. It may be tempting to buy chunks of 60 hours a week for half the price of ten hours, but make sure you actually need that kind of time. Stay away from companies that don’t allow you to go by the hour . . . if you have to pay for a package up front, before testing the services, you should probably look elsewhere.

Test the Firm

Choose a small task from the area that you will need help in and submit it to at least three different outsource companies. For example, if you plan to outsource your company blog, have the firm do up a series of five blog posts. The idea is to get a taste of how the process works.

Ideally, the employee assigned to you for the test gig will be in contact to ensure that they provide you with exactly what you need. While turn around should be fairly quick, you are looking for quality above all else at this stage and excellent communication. Use the test to give extra instructions and see how well the worker does in carrying them out.

When the task is sent back to you, completed, take some time to go over everything. If you see any problems, let the company supervisor know and request revisions. This will also let you know just how helpful the service is and can help you make your decision.

Finally, choose a company to work with and see how well things go with a larger project. This is the final test and if all goes well, you can look into larger packages to suit your needs.

Outsourcing can be a great way to save money, but if you have to redo all the work that comes in, it’s a waste of time and resources. Be sure to find the best outsource company available and make good use of them to make things easier in the office.