8 Best Practices in Utilizing Offshore Resources in Your Small Business

May 31


Tom Hommrich

Tom Hommrich

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IT support is typically a large percentage of any online business. Whether it is website development or search engine optimization the costs can add up quickly. Utilizing offshore IT resources can reduce your costs by as much as 80%. In this article we explore best practices in utilizing offshore IT resources.

Tired of the high cost of IT support? If you answered "yes" you are like most small business owners. Utilizing offshore IT resources can reduce your costs by as much as 80%. Suddenly projects that once seemed cost prohibitive become feasible at these levels. Like any other service you will occasionally run across a provider you wish you had not hired. That can be said for all contractors though regardless of where they come from. With some careful due diligence and proper preparation you can make offshore IT resources work in your business and gain a competitive edge.

The following are important points that I have learned from multiple startup operations that utilize offshore IT resources. Follow these keys to success and you will dramatically improve your chances for success.

1.    If you fail to plan,8 Best Practices in Utilizing Offshore Resources in Your Small Business Articles you plan to fail. Preparation is key to a successful project. Define in your own mind what you want to achieve. You don't need to be a technically savvy person to do this. Describe it in your own functional terms what you wish to achieve in your project. For instance, you may wish to increase the traffic to your website by 20% a simple statement of that goal would be sufficient.

2.    When interviewing candidates be specific in asking how they intend to achieve the goals of your project. There is always more than one way to approach a problem but if you speak to enough providers you will see common themes and be able to sort out the contenders.

3.    Feedback is important in judging a provider and most popular freelance sites have feedback mechanisms for both buyer and seller. I typically don't go with anyone that has less than a 90% feedback. I will often entertain brand new providers though which most people stay away from. They are typically very hungry for business and will go the extra mile to make sure you are happy with your results. The key here again is in the interview process to ensure they have the commitment and knowledge to complete the project. Ambition and good intentions are not enough to pull off a good project.

4.    Don't try to take on too much in your first project. Complex projects are difficult to scope and difficult to communicate. If you have a complex project try to break it up into simpler phases which will be easier to convey and easier to manage.

5.    Freelance sites such as Elance have escrow accounts you can place funds in. This allows the buyer to place the money for payment in a third party account and then release the money only after the objectives of the project have been met. This brings security to both the buyer and the seller.

6.    Finalize your agreement with the provider by developing a checklist that needs to be completed in order for escrow payment to be release. Email this too them and ask them to confirm back by email that they understand and accept the deliverables for the agreed upon project price.

7.    Communicating on the details of the project can be difficult with both parties typically speaking different languages and potentially bad international phone connections. For this reason I prefer to text chat with providers. This eliminates the issues of bad connections and individual accents that may make communication difficult.

8.    All of the sites have private message boards that allow you to converse in private with each provider. It is a best practice to avoid providing any company specific details in the public areas but feel free to do this on the private boards. You never know when a competitor may be lurking about and you do not want to give them advanced notice about competitive plans you may have in place.

There are a number of good sites on the internet that act as brokers for offshore contractors. I have had good luck with Elance but a search on "freelance sites" will return all of the top sites available to get you started. The first few projects can be very frustrating mostly because the time difference makes it difficult to communicate in real-time. By mastering the skill of working with offshore providers though you will have a significant competitive advantage over the competition.