It is never easy to know when you need to be expanding your staff. There are so many factors involved in this decision. Is the extra amount of work really due to growth in your business? Is it sustainable growth, or seasonal? Do you have enough resources for expanding your staff? And where do you find the best qualified people in your area?
If you would consider outsourcing your extra work to freelancers, you will not need to dig into your savings to hire your own staff on a permanent basis. You will neither need to worry on how to find skilled people locally, nor on whether the extra work is due to growth of your business or another reason. You will simply get the extra work done and rake in the profits.
#1. Getting the Freelancers for Online Outsourcing
You can find freelancers as easy as finding canned food actually. You make trip to the store, pick a can and find out at home whether it tastes any good or not. Many buyers act just as they would when buying a can of food, going to a website for freelancers like Elance.com, or PeoplePerHour.com, post their job, receive bids and pick the lowest bidder and find out later whether it was any good or not.
Outsourcing should not be a gamble on quality, while fixing the lowest price possible.
Outsourcing can be done very cheaply, but this should never be the objective when hiring freelancers as a way of expanding your staff. You should make use of the expertise offered and always choose the best quality that you can afford. After all, it is not just a can of food you are buying. This is your business we are talking about. You would not want your full-time employees to skim the surface, so why should that be all you expect from freelancers?
#2. Creating a Team of Experts
When shopping for freelancers you want to find experts, who are affordable and available to you. And if you find a gem, you want to keep him for future projects. Here are a few tips for hiring the right person and achieving that:
- You can separate the sheep from the goats very easily by writing a very detailed job description. The contractors interested in securing the job, will quickly write a proposal with a good time/price offer. However, the freelancers who are really interested in helping you and your business will use your information to check your business out and write a sharp proposal based on your needs.
- Make sure that the promo talk does have some truth and contact the bidder before awarding the job. Find out more about him, how he plans to execute the project and if you are both on the same page.
- Stay on top of things by keeping in touch with your contractor throughout the project. You can set milestones and ask for status reports, so that you do not have to be surprised when at the deadline things are not as you expected. Showing interest throughout the project also shows that you care about the end result.
- Outsourcing is giving and taking. Reward your contractor not only with prompt payment, but also by leaving great feedback and asking to work together on future projects. You could ask to keep in touch through a social network. This way you are building a relationship with the contractor, rather than only buying a service.
Over several different projects, you will find experts in different fields. By building a good relationship with them you can count on a ready team when you need it; a team of individual freelancers willing and able to help you with your project. They know what to expect from you and vice versa.
Now, you have this big project to take on. Perhaps it is a whole new web store selling camping gear, or a promotional campaign for fishing tackle, or maybe the design and launch of a new 8 man tent. How are you going to manage a project that requires multiple contractors at the same time?
#3. Tools – Online Outsourcing Tips
When expanding your staff, the most important thing of project management is communication. You need to be able to communicate to each contractor the overall aim of the project, their individual tasks, and the expected results. And some contractors may need to communicate with each other to come to the same goals.
Communication can be a tricky thing when working with contractors oversees, all in different countries, speaking different languages, working in different time zones. Luckily, there are many tools available to you to help you manage your project well. Here are a few examples:
- Jingproject.com can be used to communicate detailed instructions to your contractors, or they can use it to create a presentation of their work. It allows you to make a 5 minute video of whatever is on your desktop with running audio commentary.
- WebEx.com can be used to hold meetings with all your contractors at the same time. It is a video call/chat tool, with up to 8 people at the time in a conversation. You can watch everyone’s webcam next to each other like a round- table conference.
- Skype.com is used to make free calls around the world to other Skype members, but also very cheap calling to telephones worldwide. Sometimes it is easier to communicate by phone then sending emails back and forth.
- Freemind.com can be used to make a master plan of the project. It allows you to organize items in a treelike structure and add links to the items.
- Gliffy.com can be used to communicate expected results in flow charts, floor plans, and diagrams by dragging shapes into a picture.
These are just a few useful tools for you as a project manager, there are many more available online and offline. However, the most important tool to achieve success with expanding your staff is your own great leadership.