5 Ways to Manage an Outsourced Team on a Startup Budget
No company is built without a little outside help. At some point, you have to outsource. Outsourcing gives me a way to scale my business with experts in different fields, without needing to pay for them full time but it's not easy. It takes a lot of work to manage an outsourced team while I'm bootstrapping my company.
Here are some ways that I use outsourcing.
1. Legal documents.
With this virtual team, there needs to be signed contracts covering work arrangements, terms, expectations and all the legal measures involved in hiring temporary or freelance staff. You'll want a Non-Disclosure Agreement (NDA) in place if you are sharing proprietary information or want to claim ownership to any content that is created.
I use PandaDoc for all my contracts. They provide a cost-effective solution in the form of professional templates for all types of documents, including contracts and NDAs, as well as the capability of capturing digital signatures. This only sets me back $19 a month and stores all my documents for life.
2. Communication and meetings.
When you are on a shoestring budget, you definitely want to tap into the free resources for enhancing communication across your team of outsourced talent. For conference calls, UberConference is free or $10 a month if you want to add international calling to 40 countries.
Fuze, which is free for three participants, is another option that I like for online meeting and communication. I use the $20 plan that allows up to 25 people on the call. You get 12 video streams a month.
3. Project management and collaboration.
Getting everyone to work together on a project can become a costly nightmare due to time zones, work habits and deadlines. Rather than resort to spending fees on a massive project management platform that you really do not need, you can work with companies like Wrike, which offers various products to serve your size and budget but offers functionality to get projects done and enhance the collaborative experience in the process. Everything is located in a central hub for my entire team, including files, due dates, tasks and messages about every project that I'm working on. Best thing about them is I can individually track each individual on my team.
4. Invoice and payments.
Receiving invoices and making payments can become complex very quickly when you are working with an outsourced team. That can include employees within the same state to other employees located halfway around the world who are using a different currency and tax laws. Receiving all different types of invoices can also create a headache and lead to more resources spent just trying to pay the team on time.
While there are online systems like FreshBooks and PayPal that offer a way for your freelancers to invoice you, there are also extra fees involved in the process and not as comprehensive international billing and payment systems like what Due offers for free.
As you grow, you will need to add to your outsourced team, including everything from developers and design experts to marketing, to content specialists and SEO experts. Finding this talent can be time-consuming and can use up limited resources. While you may appreciate that people on the team can recommend others to come aboard, it is important to go about the recruitment process in a similar way, each time, to regular hires. However, numerous online and offline recruitment agencies now specialize in connecting outsource talent to new, growing, and established businesses. These include The Blur Group, Guru, Jobety, SEO.io and a few more that offer services for your business to find those with specific expertise, knowledge, and experience for a project or long-term position, saving you countless hours in searches, contacting, interviewing, vetting, and finally recruitment. I also have had a good time looking at the Moz blog and reading articles there and finding people that know what they talk about and asking them if they offer services. I've never gotten a no.
As Deloitte recently published its 2014 Global Outsourcing and Insourcing Survey, outsourcing will continue to expand at rates of 12 percent to 26 percent across numerous business functions, which means that you can continue to rely on this business model for greater efficiency. This doesn't even include the 45 percent of small businesses saying that they are going to be hiring in the next 12 months.