How to brief suppliers for effective outsourced or freelance work

More and more businesses today are dealing with outsourced suppliers. Lack of resources, increasing costs of recruitment and HR and rising customer demands, combined with the increasing ease of communicating at a distance through digitisation are some of the reasons for this trend.

Outsourcing work now is a very efficient cost-effective way of achieving results, however, unfortunately very often clients don’t get what they want and business is obstructed rather than facilitated. A lot of this could be avoided though simply by giving suppliers better briefs. Most clients fail to give clear instructions or draw up effective contracts. Here we take a look at some tips to help you with briefing outsourced work effectively:

  1. Understand each other:

Outsourcing should ideally be a strategic partnership, whether to an agency or freelancer. The reality is that it is rarely a true partnership. Buying should be approached with a mutual mindset. This means as a supplier, you should take the time to understand the client’s organisation and their needs through effective communication and dialogue. Many businesses make the mistake of closing a deal without fully understanding and confirming understanding of needs and expectations. This leads to a win/lose attitude, anxious and irritated clients and disgruntled suppliers who can’t deliver.

Of course, the task of adopting a mutual mindset also applies to clients. If as a client you are not open to communication and building mutual understanding and trust, you will find it very hard to build any kind of relationship and develop great work together.

  1. Be clear in your requirements:

When hiring an outsourced supplier, you must be very clear about your requirements and expectations of them. Be very transparent about the criteria your decision is based on, how many options you’re considering, and the people and timeframes that are involved in the decision. In this way, you can develop a mutual mindset from the outset. When you’ve hired a supplier through this process, you can carry the mindset into the briefing process too.

  1. Be detailed:

Be very detailed when drawing up the agreement or contract. Clearly establish what the rights and obligations of each party is, even after termination. It is of course necessary to do due diligence and define legal requirements. You should also clearly state that the outsourcing company takes legal responsibility of their employees and that you as a client have the right to check on the outsourcing company’s compliance as an employer. But whilst the paperwork is necessary, it is important not to forget that you are dealing with people and not subordinates – more on that in the next point.

  1. Don’t exert control:

When briefing outsourcing suppliers, don’t confuse them with employees of your own company. A common mistake that businesses that contract for outsourcing work make is that they are unable to set clear distinctions between their own employees and those of their outsourcing supplier.

This process of ‘subordinating’ should be strictly avoided, if you want to get meaningful work done. It’s okay for you to give regular instructions on what you need done and how you need it done, as per the contract. But overstepping the boundary into full-on control mode is absolutely unnecessary and doesn’t make for a good working relationship.

  1. Provide open and honest feedback:

Companies that offer suppliers open and honest feedback are valued. They are more likely to engage the suppliers they want, and receive better service. Providing feedback about what you like or do not like about working with them can be a valuable way to continue a successful working relationship.

Similarly, allow the suppliers to also give you constructive criticism and feedback. This will help you put better solutions in place and enjoy continuous improvement. You will further be able to improve the quality of service that you offer your customers.

Follow these tips and your business will be even more profitable, plus it will enable you to develop long-term partnerships with suppliers, from which both parties benefit.

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