8 Questions To Ask Your Provider of Component Design Outsourcing
In this day and age of global providers of virtually any product or service you can imagine, there are a numerous resources, right at your fingertips. The days of high-priced recruiting fees are coming to an end, or at least they should be, if you are spending your money wisely. As a decision-maker, it is your responsibility to ensure that your company’s integrity remains intact, regardless of who is performing the task. Maybe you have unsuccessfully tried outsourcing before and said “never again”. The question becomes: How viable was the source you tried?
Much like shopping for a car or a house, rarely do you buy the first one you see. Why would you? There are so many variations out there and so much to choose from, you just know there is a better deal around the corner. The same should be true for your company’s outsourced workload.
Sometimes we do get lucky and marry our first true love and live happily ever after. Sometimes we have to be involved in many relationships before we find our marriage partner. The professional relationship in outsourcing is much like a marriage. Sometimes we just need to realize this simple fact. Tough questions must be asked at the beginning to ensure that everyone will be satisfied on a long-term basis.
Here are some questions you may consider asking your outsourcing partner:
1. Who do I already know that would recommend your service?
Note that the question is not about their references that you do not know. It is about who do you already know and trust that knows you and your company. How many times have you hired a candidate that had stellar references that did not pan out? Better yet, why would anyone put a negative reference on their resume? Make sure that you establish integrity from a source you already trust.
2. What credentials do you and your team bring to the table?
These days, there is a smorgasbord of talent out there. Problem is, the credentials may be inflated, even outdated. Software and codes have changed. Techniques have changed. Has your outsourcing partner changed with it? In any industry, there is an expected set of skills required. Make sure that at least the minimal requirements are met. If your company is expecting more, raise the “bar”. Don’t expect a lifetime “C” student to begin getting an “A”.
3. Are you licensed and insured? By whom?
Seems like an obvious requirement right? Wrong. That is like assuming all drivers on the road are licensed and insured. Hopefully they are at least sober! If you are required to carry licensing and insurance to do work with your clients then your outsourcing partner should be required to carry licensing and insurance to do work with you. Outsourcing companies without licensing and insurance simply aren’t viable and will not be around long-term.
4. What are your company’s mission, vision and value statements?
Sounds like another no-brainer right? Think again. Some of these outsourcing companies are “flying by the seat of their pants”, and have no business plan. When on a journey, it is very difficult to get anywhere without a roadmap! Detours and unplanned stops are abound. By knowing what outsourcing partner stands for, you can decide if working with them would be a good fit you’re your team.
5. How can you possibly know what my company expects?
Any outsourcing company with tenure has been exposed to various types of situations and protocols. How they define what your company wants should be the make-or-break in the relationship. Defining a policy or a protocol should be just as important to your resource as it is to your company. Would you keep buying any product (say Coca-Cola), if it tasted different each time? Will your customer keep buying from you if your product is different each time?
6. How long have you been in business? Was it a continuous timeline?
Simple, yet difficult questions. When selecting your resource, you need to make sure that they will be there for you months down the road when you need them. Ensure that they will by asking! Otherwise you may be paying them to do it now and paying someone else to do it later.
7. What is your company’s policy on Professional Development?
Stop wondering why this one should be asked and just ask! You will be shocked at the response you get. How can any viable company stay on top of their industry without it? A company that is not willing to invest in its people is not worth considering.
8. What is your capacity? How many people are on your team?
Don’t “assume”. We all know what that means! Beware of the “one man show”. No matter how hard he/she tries, they can only give 100%. Depth of quality resources should be of the highest importance. Why else would you need a resource?
After you have asked your potential outsourcing partner the questions above, ask yourself these questions.
What is the perception of others of this resource? How positive is their reputation? What is my gut instinct telling me?
As the President of a component design outsourcing company for over 7 years, I have NEVER been asked ANY of these questions during the hundreds of phone calls taken during “qualifying” stage of the relationship. I am the one asking them to my client. I encourage you to begin asking them. Isn’t your company worth it?
Click here for more thoughts on design outsourcing.
Click here for reasons in determining when you need outsourcing.
Christopher Gould – President
Gould Design, Inc.