Outsource like a pro #4: Communicating about the project
Starting an outsourcing relationship is only recommended for those that are aware of the importance of communication and people management in business life. Providing accurate information in an ongoing manner, as well as giving and evaluating feedback play a crucial role both inside the undertaking that outsources some of its functions to an external company and in the relationship with the outsourcing partner.
If the company’s management entrusts an external partner to carry out tasks that either had always been carried out by in-house staff previously or the company could carry them out using in-house resources, this involves risks in terms of corporate morale.
Inappropriate communication could destroy employee loyalty in the blink of an eye
In case of inappropriate communication, the loyalty and commitment of employees to the company, which have been created over long years, could be destroyed in the blink of an eye, especially when some colleagues are made redundant because of the outsourcing, even if the outsourcing partner hires them. Employees may feel that this could happen to them, too, at any time. They may even think that the company is in trouble and this is the beginning of a massive layoff. If you share with your employees the reasons, the objectives, the scope and the planned schedule of the outsourcing project, and later the progress and outcome of the same openly and honestly, damages to or destruction of the corporate morale can be avoided.
Communication with the external partner also presents a number of challenges. The essence of outsourcing is that you almost certainly will have to work with a partner that is unknown to you, operates in another country, and whose staff often speaks a different language and possibly has a cultural background different from yours.
Use management tools to facilitate cooperation
An unwritten golden rule is to always communicate with your partner in writing. To avoid misunderstandings and disputes in the future, written communication is a must, particularly with regard to issues related to the key tasks. The correct communication style is easy-to-understand (simple wording, clear document structures, explanatory figures, use of images and videos), short and clear when communicating decisions (yes or no), and, where this is justified, as detailed as possible (for example, in the case of technical specifications).
When selecting the most suitable tool, it is worth bearing in mind the key features of your collaboration, i.e. of the tasks. There are websites which may help you make the right decision by using a filtering function, you might make a search in Capterra's requirement management softwares.
Requirements management tools may facilitate cooperation with your partner. According to a survey by Vanson Bourne, professionals prefer spreadsheets and text editors (i.e. written documents); the use of dedicated tools is less frequent.