Here's how to maintain performance even when you don't have complete control.
Many of us in start-ups or turnarounds have a strong desire for control. So if we are the protagonists in our story then our antagonist is represented by a lack of resources. For many of us we outsource functions that we would prefer to have in-house but lack the resources to do so. As our drama unfolds we often find ourselves in a situation where we lack positive control over a key factor of our business, as a result our outsourced partners can become our protagonist.
There is nothing more frustrating than investing your time and money in a new business and as you begin to make progress find a flaw in the process that is not directly within your control that sets you back and keeps you from your goals. I am not opposed to outsourcing, in fact it is frequently necessary and when done correctly can actually enhance your business and allow for a scalable model that can be expanded or contracted as needed.
So our dilemma is outsourcing while maintaining some level of control. Here are some steps that can really help.
Try not to reinvent the wheel. Find someone who has some experience managing the process you seek to outsource. Preferably someone that can enhance that aspect of your business and bring something more to the table.
Spend time with the principal of that business or the individual responsible for managing your account. Make sure they understand where you are going with the process and ask for their input.
View the outsourced arrangement in three dimensions. That of your staff, the company you are outsourcing to and your customer. Look for choke points or areas that could threaten your business using this perspective. Also identify the key performance factors.
Build in performance metrics to you arrangement. If aspects are time bound such as handling a customer service complaint that involves them within a certain time frame have a penalty for failure. Conversely if the consistently exceed expectations that generate a greater margin or enhance your reputation then build in incentives for that.
Concentrate on the key performance factors when developing your performance metrics.
Have a regular review process where problem areas are discussed and addressed. When you start off you may not know what they are. So build in a process that allows you to amend your agreement to include unforeseen issues.
Through these steps you can have positive control over the outcome. It is dynamic so it will need to be monitored and managed closely.
GLEN BLICKENSTAFF is the CEO of The Iron Door company, which makes high-end doors and windows. Glen has a track record of turning around and managing retail, building and financial companies. @glenblickenstaf