1. Quality standards
Often the question we are asked before we even talk about providing our services is “How will we know that you will do as good as job as us?” Putting aside cost and turnaround time, getting the right quality of work from your outsourcer is often what breaks an outsourcing arrangement.
Here are some questions to ask any potential outsourcer:
• How will you guarantee that you will do as good a job, or an even better job than us?
• How can you guarantee the quality of your work?
• What quality control mechanisms do you have in place before a job goes out?
2. Availability and location of support
By the very nature of an outsourcing relationship, your outsourced provider is unlikely to be on your doorstep. Given that the major outsourcing centres in the world are in India and the Philippines, there is no guarantee that your outsourcer will have any presence in the UK or work UK hours. (We are currently the only accounts outsourcing firm that has a head office in the UK.)
Therefore, to make sure that you get the responsiveness that you require from any outsourcer, you do need to understand:
• What office hours do they work?
• How can you contact them during the day or outside of office hours?
• Do they have a team based in the UK?
• Will your team have named contacts to contact?
• Is there the option of video calls via Skype or conference call software?
3. What software packages do they use?
In an ideal world, your potential outsourcer will be an expert in the exact software your firm uses but this is not always the case. Be aware that many outsourcers will claim they can use every potential piece of accounting/bookkeeping software, but this may not actually be the reality. The last thing you want to happen is for you to be paying for your outsourcer to learn how to use your preferred software. As well as it being costly for you, this is how very costly mistakes can creep in. Make sure to find out which software your outsourcers are qualified in and ask for certificates if you feel necessary.
4. Work flows
Every firm has a slightly different way of doing things. It’s important that your outsourcer adapts to your companies way of doing things. After all, what you are paying for is an extended team member who will work the way you want them too. Not all outsourcers have the capability to adjust to your way of working – sometimes their cost base is reliant on a certain way of doing things.
5. Quality of their English
Communication (and the quality of communication) is vital for the success of an outsourcing relationship. The English language may be predominantly the same all over the world, but how it is used, can be very different. It’s for this reason that we hired an English Language trainer for all of our Indian-based staff. We need them to understand things like how we Brits use sarcasm and what we really mean when we say things like “that’s interesting”. Therefore, before you enter into a relationship with an outsourcer, find out exactly how well they understand and speak your language so that they will be comfortable with what you are asking both in a written and verbal form.