Finding Outsourced Service Providers For Your Start-Up: Key Questions To Ask

Using an outsourcing partner is an important decision that shouldn’t be taken lightly. Whether you’re considering working with multiple partners or just the one, ascertaining that it’ll be a great fit for your business is vital.

Here are some key questions to ask in pursuit of better outsourcing service providers. 

How happy are their clients?

Prominent outsourcing partners in the UK such as Gamma have a roster of clients that can confirm how pleased they are with the services received. The level of happiness is important because the company must feel supported by their partner, not hamstrung by them. In the case of Gamma, they have a wide range of services to provide for the growing needs of their clients. This allows them to be adaptable to changing requirements and support businesses across a variety of industries. 

What is their unique selling proposition?

Given that providers offer many different services, judging how one provider differs from the next is tough.

One way to do so is to dig deeper into what is their unique selling proposition? Can you identify it? Do they?

Any company presentation needs to provide transparency on how they support current businesses and where their solutions will deliver results. 

Are they a generalist or a specialist?

Some providers began offering one service or solution but later branch out. This can be because existing clients asked for a broader service offering or due to a desire for expansion. 

Are they still a specialist?

If they’re a specialist provider, they could have a main product or solution that they deliver to clients. This allows them to contribute greatly in some circumstances because of the depth and breadth of their knowledge in this area. 

Are they a generalist?

A generalist provider that has many solutions is fine, but it’s important to appreciate whether they have lost something as they expanded their range of solutions. 

Is the in-depth knowledge still present? Do they have separate teams covering different disciplines, or is the same team trying to handle it all? 

If they’re a small team operating as generalists, likely they’re stretched too thin. It’s necessary to have a larger organisation to support a wider offering, otherwise, something will be lost along the way. 

Any industry recognition, awards, or professional certifications?

Outsourcing providers can be given awards for excellence in service or for other aspects of what was delivered. These are always good to look out for.

Also, certifications relating to the knowledge that the business possesses provide a necessary stamp of approval in some circumstances too. It depends on what services will be required as to the relevant professional certifications for the firm or the people involved.

Comparing providers can provide indications of the certifications at the company level that one firm possesses while another does not. 

Clarity on pricing or subscription plans

Expenses with outsourcing must be clear enough that management has confidence in costs. When replacing existing priced-in solutions with new ones, the value proposition needs to make sense.

Do their plans scale up as required, but not lock you into a multi-year contract that might be more than needed? Can the plans be adjusted or scaled up or down?

Are the prices shown all-inclusive, increase based on volume or another metric, and don’t have secondary cost add-ons? Or will third-party costs be added as separate line items in addition to the subscription?

It’s fine when expenses will rise with demand or scale, but clarity is still required to avoid billings that are unexpectedly high or poorly timed. 

What will be improved upon compared to existing technologies or services?

Every service provider with outsourcing has technologies that they like to deploy. The question is, how disruptive will a switch be from one communication technology platform to another type? Will the provider only offer certain technologies, which forces an unnecessary change?

It’s one thing to upgrade technologies or solutions provided, but companies should be clear about the line between an improvement over simply replacing what already works with a slightly better solution. In this case, it offers little value.

Therefore, what improvements can the outsourcing partner cite when suggesting a change or a switch to technologies that they provision? 

What communication channels will they use?

Lastly, it’s worth touching on communication too.

The work performed by an outsourcing partner needs to be known by your business without you constantly needing to play catch-up. This means either they wholly take over certain aspects and report what they’ve done, or direct liaison is conducted between key staff on both sides to stay current.

When communication breakdowns occur, this is when outsourcing relationships suffer. Therefore, the division of services and labour is useful to avoid bottlenecks and miscommunications.

For companies wanting to use an outsourcing partner, it requires choosing wisely to pick the right one. Using a third party to increase the capabilities of the business is often necessary, but so is picking a partner capable of supporting the growing needs of the company. Asking the above questions goes a long way to doing so.