The Outsourcing Checklist – What You and Your Virtual Assistant Need to Get Started
If you’ve never outsourced anything in your business operations before, you might be feeling confused or skeptical on where to start and how it really works. You might be hesitant if the person (or team) you’re outsourcing to will really be helpful in your day-to-day operations. Moreover, you can’t wrap your head around having someone else working for you in another country where you can’t really tell if they’re working or not, or if they’re even doing it right.
In this short post, we’ll address that concern in the simplest manner that the whole process will make sense to any business or practicing professional needing administrative assistance. Whether you’re a lone freelance consultant or a small business owner of an online store, hiring a virtual assistant (VA) is the perfect solution for you to save you time. A VA can do the dirty back-office work for you so you can focus on more important things, such as growing your business.
So, how exactly do you monitor your virtual assistant’s work?
In our present age, distance is now merely a gap that’s easily bridged by the world wide web. In order for outsourcing to truly work between the client and the subcontractor, there must be an open avenue for communication and collaboration. Fortunately, there’s now a wide array of web-based tools that you and your subcontractor (or VA in this case) can use in order to complete the tasks that you need done.
Here’s the five key things that you and your VA can use to hold your meetings through instant messenger or live calling, files sharing, keeping track of work progress, and even training:
First and foremost, the number one thing you’ll need is a communications platform to be able to talk to your team members who are half a world away. Although bigger outsourced teams would use their own internal instant messenger within their own intranet, for others it’s simply Skype. Skype is widely popular, easy to use, and light on the budget too in case you need a “virtual office phone number” that your outsourced staff can use. Email is also important for conversations that you want to keep track of in written form. There are lots of free email service providers if you don’t have an official business email to have your team members use.
Project Management Software
This is especially helpful if you are running a business and would like to outsource cascading tasks leading to a goal rather than piecemeal data processing tasks. However, this is not to say that if you’re a professional and needing more of a virtual PA then this may not be too helpful. It definitely is! Our project management software of choice is Basecamp. It lets you assign to-do tasks in nifty checklists with due dates to your offshore team members, post discussions where team members can collaborate and brainstorm, as well as keep track of progress on completed tasks of not just yours, but of the other members in your team.
Document Sharing and Synching
Since you will be working with outsourced staff and they wouldn’t be available to work with you in the same physical space (or office, as you might call it), it’s very important that your VA has access to necessary documents and files that are needed relevant to the type of work that you need to be completed. Dropbox as well as Google Drive are both popular in this application, as it lets you drag and drop files from your computer, gets uploaded into their secure servers, and your outsourced staff can simply download it from there. Your shared files would then be accessible to both you and your team members from other parts of the world.
Productivity Tools and Software
Depending on which industry you work in or have your business operate in, there’s always something out there online to help your outsourced staff to be more efficient in what they do. For example, if you need graphic design work done, you’ll have to set up your virtual assistant to have the Adobe Creative Suite. Or that if you have an online store and need assistance with orders processing or live chat, you can sign up for a web service that integrates with your website.
All you have to do is issue logins to your virtual assistant or your outsourced team members and they’ll complete their work there for you, as long as they have internet connection to connect to the customer service portal of your business. A good example would be Zopim for live chat assistance where you can have your virtual assistant help you make more sales by talking to your website visitors and converting these visitors into sales.
As your business grows, your needs for more skilled staff would also increase in terms of importance. In order to meet these new requirements, you can have your VA learn new skills and acquire a grasp on bigger responsibilities by helping them with learning resources. The internet has lots of tutorials and how-to’s on different specialised skill sets, by simply doing a well-informed search on Google.
There are many certified training programs available for your outsourced staff to take online if you don’t intend to write the training materials yourself, such as Alison Courses and Udemy. Take advantage of upgrading your outsourced staff’s skill sets, because their expansion of skills will also mean a more streamlined operations workflow for your organization.
There are many other online tools that will help you run your business more efficiently with the help of outsourcing. Contact us today and talk to our outsourcing specialists for a short chat on what we can do to streamline your processes. We’re always glad to help!