How To Manage Outside Partnerships

There is always a fine line when deciding what you can, and should, manage in-house, versus what could be outsourced. Throughout the years, One Click has managed work both in-house, and through other companies, working with some amazing partners of third-party vendors along the way.

If you’re looking to start outsourcing work to a partner company, you might question which service to use, which partner will be the best fit, or if you should even be sending the work anywhere at all. From making the decision to outsource work, to figuring out when a partnership is no longer beneficial, here are a few tips on managing partner companies.

Manage In-House or Outsource?

The decision whether to outsource a project or keep the work in-house is often a difficult one, but always begins with one question: what is the need? From there, you’ll need to work with any appropriate team member to discuss what the possibility would be of delivering that need in-house and what downfalls could arise. At the end of the day, you want to ensure the ROI is there before taking projects out-of-house.

Looking For The Right Fit

First, look for referrals from people you trust in the industry and do your research. After you’ve made a few connections, make sure to get a feel for what it would be like to work with them and make sure there is a value alignment. We personally have had some of the best experiences with smaller third party companies that match our size and are a bit more scrappy, like us.

Initially, the biggest red flags tend to arise when there is a disconnect or huge delay in response. We act fast and appreciate companies that have that same attitude. But again, this is all about how your company operates. If this is not a big deal to your team, then perhaps the company could still be a good fit.

Another key element is trust, and building it quickly. Especially if you are a company with a tight-knit culture, like us, it may be difficult initially to outsource work. Developing some type of relationship early on is all the more important so you can build trust with the company you are hiring. That being said, make sure that there is a crystal clear alignment on expectations and goals for both teams. Once expectations and goals are agreed upon, it is the responsibility of both teams to deliver.

The Advantages to Outsourcing

Advantages of outsourcing range from a bigger team working on a project to more specialized experts being able to take point. You may also have great success by learning from third party companies, taking their advice and guidance, and then using it internally. As stated before, we are scrappy and love the opportunity to learn from the experts in these specific areas, and have found their guidance as an added benefit to the work the company is doing.

The Disadvantages to Outsourcing

There is always a chance that disadvantages can occur when you decide to outsource the work, as opposed to take on the project internally. It is much easier to be misaligned when the teams are not working under the same roof. Miscommunication is also more likely to happen. My advice is to always set clear expectations from the get-go to try to prevent as many disadvantages as possible.

Reevaluating the Partnerships

There are countless circumstances that can arise when you decide that it is time to cut ties with an outsourced company. No matter the amount of research and time talking to partners, some relationships just don’t work well. When expectations are not being met by one of your partners (which, for us, is extremely rare because we have such strong partners), make sure that your team works hard to provide real-time feedback on what isn’t meeting expectations and agree on a plan with your partner to correct the issues that have surfaced. In the event that the partner cannot deliver on expectations following clear communication from your team and sufficient time to resolve the issue(s) present, it might be time to move on from the partnership. Additionally, value misalignments may lead to the disbandment of a partnership.

Ultimately, the decision whether or not to outsource should not be taken lightly. Do your research and know your stuff. I can honestly say that I would not be happy with the outside vendors we work with today if we had not taken the time upfront to do the initial research, get to know the company we would be working with, and drafting candid expectations and goals. Also, do not be afraid to be transparent. If you can only afford or are only interested in working with the company for a short-period of time, let them know from the beginning so both sides can ensure they are getting the most out of the partnership. Outsourcing can seem daunting, but when executed correctly, sending work elsewhere and learning from very intelligent people can be extremely successful to your business.

Randy Stocklin is the CEO and Co-Founder of One Click