Outsourcing Strategy: 10 Proven Steps and Best Practices

Discover essential outsourcing strategies for SMEs to boost efficiency, reduce costs, and scale your business effectively.

Outsourcing Strategy: 10 Proven Steps and Best Practices

Outsourcing is a strategic approach in which businesses hire third parties or individuals to perform specific tasks on their behalf. These 10 steps will help you understand the essentials of outsourcing strategy, from assessing your readiness as a business to defining a clear exit plan.

What is an Outsourcing Strategy?

An outsourcing strategy is a comprehensive plan that details how a business will hire external individuals or entities to perform specific tasks. This plan includes goals, objectives, communication protocols, and progress-tracking mechanisms. It also identifies potential risks and outlines mitigation strategies. 

For small businesses, developing a clear outsourcing strategy is vital in ensuring you get the most out of your outsourcing providers.

Related: The Advantages and Disadvantages of Outsourcing

10 Step Outsourcing Plan

1. Assess Your Readiness for Outsourcing

  • Define Your Goals: Clearly articulate your outsourcing objectives, such as cost reduction, efficiency improvement, or skill acquisition. This will guide your decision-making process.

  • Evaluate Internal Capabilities: Conduct an audit to identify gaps in your current capabilities that outsourcing can fill, ensuring you know what you need from an external partner.

  • Ensure Resource Availability: Confirm that you have the necessary budget, staff, technology, and facilities to support an outsourcing agreement. Consider assigning a dedicated outsourcing manager.

  • Gain Management Support: Engage key stakeholders early to secure their support and address any concerns. Their backing is crucial for a smooth implementation.

  • Identify and Mitigate Risks: Recognise potential risks, such as data security and provider dependency, and develop strategies to manage them effectively.

2. Define Your Project Scope and Resource Requirements


  • Set Project Objectives: Clearly outline the goals and outcomes you want to achieve with the project.

  • Specify Features and User Experience Goals: Detail the functionalities and user experience you aim to deliver.

  • Plan System Integration: Consider how the outsourced work will integrate with your existing systems, such as payment gateways and customer databases.

  • Establish a Timeline and Milestones: Set a clear timeline with key milestones to track progress and ensure timely delivery.

  • Identify Required Skills and Team Composition: Determine the skills needed for the project, such as developers, designers, and project managers 


3. Develop a Budget and Choose a Pricing Model

  • Estimate Your Budget: Research market rates for the expertise you need and set a realistic budget.

  • Select the Best Pricing Model: Choose a pricing model that fits your project:
  • Fixed-Price: Suitable for well-defined projects with clear upfront costs.

  • Time and Material: Ideal for projects with evolving requirements, billed based on actual time and resources used.

  • Milestone-Based Payment: Payments are made as specific milestones are achieved, aligning costs with project progress.

Business meeting to discuss the best practice outsourcing strategy options the business should use to identify the correct outsourced partner for them

4. Select the Right Outsourcing Model

  • Onshore Outsourcing: Outsource within your own country for ease of communication and cultural alignment, albeit at higher costs.

  • Nearshore Outsourcing: Partner with providers in nearby countries to balance cost savings with minimal cultural and time zone differences.

  • Offshore Outsourcing: Engage providers in distant countries for significant cost savings, while managing time zone and cultural challenges.

Function-Based Options:

  • IT Outsourcing: Delegate IT functions like software development and maintenance.

  • Business Process Outsourcing (BPO): Outsource backend operations such as HR, finance, and customer support.

  • Knowledge Process Outsourcing (KPO): Contract out high-level tasks requiring specialised skills, such as engineering or biotechnology.

  • Manufacturing Outsourcing: Engage external manufacturers for product production.

5. Choose a Reliable Outsourcing Partner

  • Select a Suitable Region: Choose a region that fits your time zone, cultural compatibility, and budget preferences.

  • Evaluate Track Records and Feedback: Examine the provider's history, client feedback, and case studies to assess reliability and expertise.

  • Conduct Thorough Interviews: Ensure their methodologies and offerings align with your project needs.

  • Assess Communication and Project Management: Evaluate their communication protocols and project management tools.

  • Check Corporate Culture and Values: Ensure their corporate culture and values resonate with yours.

  • Verify Financial Stability: Confirm their financial stability to ensure a sustainable partnership.

  • Ensure IP Protection and Risk Management: Check for robust intellectual property protection and risk management practices.

  • Implement a Trial Project: Start with a small trial project to evaluate performance and compatibility.

  • Confirm Legal and Compliance Standards: Ensure they adhere to relevant legal and compliance standards.

6. Establish Effective Communication Channels

  • Choose Communication Tools: Select tools like Slack for messaging, GitHub for code sharing, and Zoom for video calls.

  • Set Regular Updates: Establish a schedule for regular updates and designate clear points of contact for efficient communication.

7. Onboard and Train Your Outsourced Team

  • Host Onboarding Sessions: Introduce your company's tools, methodologies, and project goals to the outsourced team.

  • Provide Practical Demonstrations: Use practical demonstrations of project management tools like Jira or Asana to ensure efficient operations from the start.

8. Ensure Clear Contracts and Agreements

  • Master Service Agreements (MSA): Outline the project scope, payment terms, and confidentiality agreements.

  • Non-Disclosure Agreements (NDA): Protect sensitive information shared during the project.

  • Intellectual Property (IP) Agreement: Define ownership of new IP created during the project.

  • Data Processing Agreement (DPA): Ensure compliance with data protection laws, such as GDPR.

9. Monitor Progress

  • Request Progress Reports: Get regular updates from the outsourcing partner on completed tasks and upcoming milestones.

  • Use Dashboard Tools: Implement software like Tableau for real-time data visualisation to track progress and performance.

  • Define Key Performance Indicators (KPIs): Set KPIs to measure project success, such as feature completion rate or quality progress ratio.

  • Conduct On-Site Visits: If possible, visit your outsourcing team to gain insights into their operations and foster better collaboration.

10. Define a Clear Exit Strategy

  • Outline Termination Protocols: Develop protocols for smoothly ending the outsourcing contract, including knowledge transfer and asset handover.

  • Plan for Dispute Resolution: Establish steps to address potential disputes and ensure a smooth disengagement process.

By following these ten steps, you can create a robust and effective outsourcing strategy that aligns with your business goals and ensures successful collaboration with your outsourcing partners.

Next Steps

As an SME, the potential benefits of outsourcing are significant. It allows you to tap into global talent, reduce costs, and enhance operational efficiency, which can be a game-changer for your business. 

Developing an outsourcing strategy is not a task to be taken lightly. It involves careful planning and execution. Remember to approach outsourcing strategically, with a clear vision and thorough evaluation at each stage. 

For more detailed insights and to further enhance your understanding of outsourcing, we encourage you to check out our Ultimate Guide to BPO. This comprehensive resource will provide in-depth knowledge and practical tips to make the most of your outsourcing efforts.

Answer4u is a specialist business process outsourcing partner with over 20 years of experience working with companies across many industries. 

Our professional call handling abilities are backed by proven skills in developing and executing custom process workflows that either replace or complement existing systems.

Contact us today to discover why we're the
highest rated answering service in the UK