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Building a Better Online Business
Creating and managing your online business requires you to follow the same basic principals of any business - relying on sound Business Strategies. There are however, a few practices that differ or that just are unique to an online business. Here we share our views and experience with you to help you develop a more effective and profitable online business.
A trend we are hearing more about as time goes by is the concept of outsourcing your work. Initially the domain of many medium sized businesses it is now finding its way into small business and individuals, particularly in relation to IT Services.
Recently I was involved in an online discussion on this matter and fell it was worthwhile sharing here as more and more people are using or thinking of using outsourced resources for many business activities.
Where can it be of use? Many aspects of small business are open to outsourcing and many of you have been doing this while maybe not seeing it as such. We all have accountants to prepare our tax returns. This is outsourcing but with the internet we are seeing new opportunities.
Typical outsourced services these days include
- Accounts processing
- Software development
- Graphic Design
The list of what you can outsource is only limited by your need, your ability to manage it and finally locating a resource suitably priced to provide the service.
This last factor has driven the new trend to outsource to overseas resources who are very often far cheaper than local resources. The internet has been the enabler providing the vehicle for locating the resources and efficiently moving the information back and forth.
Before you rush out sacking staff and cancelling contracts with your local service providers however, tread with caution. Outsourcing does carry certain responsibilities and overheads that you may not have either the time or skills to deliver.
Before you can outsource your business activities you will need to have clearly defined processes and systems in place. You must also be able to clearly articulate what needs to be done in simple yet complete form.
Invariably the people you are outsourcing to will be from a country that operates business in a different way to you, they probably don’t have English as their first language and many of the people doing the working will be young and less experienced than what you may be used to. Also remember they will have a different culture.
This is not always the case but you must consider these factors even before you examine their ability to do the job. It will also depend on whether you are outsourcing to a company or are individual.
Obviously outsourcing works but for small business you need to approach this carefully. Just like many other web developers, we outsource our work. We don’t hide the fact from our clients and are quite proud of the quality of work we receive.
We do however spend considerable time clearly defining the requirement specification for all work. This can be a lengthy document and by nature is very detailed. We leave nothing to chance but as life has it there will always be changes and additions required.
This brings up another factor of our success. We have respect for the people we work with and have developed a strong personal relationship. In fact I have visited my outsourcers in the Philippines and know quite a few of the 93 staff personally. We work together as a team. In fact on one particularly large custom web development project, the guys have called themselves my team.
Critical to the success we enjoy also lies in the fact that the developers have their own systems and processes for managing projects, the quality of systems developed and managing the communications back and forth. We use a number of different tools to effect all this. Managing a web development projects across different teams and individuals as well as keeping the client abreast of activities would not be possible without robust systems and processes.
What it means for our clients is a far more robust and cost effective total solution. We have time to spend on important aspects that otherwise would be cost prohibitive. It works for us but not for everyone.