Archive for delegation

31 Tips For Successful Outsourcing

Posted in Business start up, Outsourcing, Virtual Assistance with tags , , , , on December 18, 2010 by virtualcitypa

Here are 31 tips to make your outsourcing experiences as smooth as possible.

Come to an Agreement

One of the most important elements of subcontracting is making sure you and the subcontractor are on the same page and that there are no surprises. Keep these things on your list to help facilitate a smooth working relationship:

1.  Use a contract
2.  Make sure you agree on payment terms up front
3.  Don’t pay in full until the job is complete
4.  Be clear on how and when you plan to pay the subcontractor
5.  Agree on a timeline for the work
6.  Include a non-disclosure/non-competition provision in your contract
7.  Determine how you will receive project updates
8.  Clarify confidentiality expectations
9.  Build in a “de-bugging” provision that identifies a specific period of time the subcontractor will be on call to fix potential problems that arise
10.  Clarify the ownership of the project in writing

Protect Your Business

When you outsource, you are giving up some of your control over the project. Consider these tips to help you protect your business, interests and reputation:

11.  Check references
12.  Review the subcontractor’s portfolio
13.  Verify skills
14.  Consider a small test project first
15.  Be prepared to review all work before turning it over to the client
16.  Be very clear about expectations
17.  Don’t leave any details out when relaying the project request to the subcontractor
18.  Send all work requests in writing
19.  Schedule an initial call and regular check-ins, if necessary
20.  Be available throughout the duration of the project
21.  Track all payments for your books

Client Relations

The goal of the project should be to meet and exceed the client’s needs. In order to do that, follow these tips to manage your relationship with your client:

22.  Be the middleman
23.  Tell your client you are using a subcontractor, if appropriate
24.  Pad the time estimate provided by the subcontractor in your estimate for the client
25.  Don’t forget to add in time for your management role
26.  Be accountable for your work AND your subcontractor’s work

Aside from the Work

Remember the importance of the personal side of your subcontractor relationship. Here are some ways to do that:

27.  Don’t overlook the importance of complementary personalities
28.  Respect the subcontractor’s time
29.  Make sure there are no communication gaps
30.  Give praise and appreciation for a job well done
31.  Ask the subcontractor how it went at the end of the project and provide feedback

What other tips would you add to this list?

Successful outsourcing will not only allow you to focus on what you do best, but also find other ways to satisfy clients and expand your business. By building relationships with your subcontractors that are based on trust and respect, you will be able to create a team that can accomplish just about anything…and give you a day or two off in the process.

http://www.sitepoint.com/blogs/2009/04/09/31-tips-for-successful-outsourcing/

Alyssa Gregory is the owner of avertua, LLC, a full-service virtual assistant firm. She has been designing websites since 1995, and has a passion for supporting small businesses. Alyssa provides business tips, advice and news through her Small Business Idea Generator blog.

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The emergence of Virtual Assistants

Posted in Outsourcing, Virtual Assistance with tags , , on November 19, 2010 by virtualcitypa

Virtual Assistants are typically professional level people who have left the confines of corporate business to start their own businesses. Virtual Assistants are independent contractors who work from home providing a variety of services to businesses.

This trend allows these highly skilled professionals to bring their knowledge to bear for a whole range of companies that would otherwise not have access. While VA’s were once limited to more administrative tasks, they now encompass the entire spectrum of professional skills. If it can be done from home, there is a VA doing it.

What companies are starting to appreciate is that Virtual Assistants cost companies a fraction of the cost of actual hires. A company employing Virtual Assistants can utilise the services of a whole range of professionals instead of having to choose which specialty is needed most as the company grows.

For the cost of one salaried Administrative Assistant, a business owner could utilise approximately 1400 hours of assistance divided among any number of top professionals. Utilising Virtual Assistants allows businesses access to the exact services that they need, it also allows businesses to shift gears more quickly and efficiently by investing in growth rather than payroll because they are paying only for the time spent on their project. There is no longer a reason to worry about taxes, benefits, vacation pay, and time wasted by the water cooler.

More and more businesses are coming round to the idea of Virtual Assistance; it’s a win-win for everyone involved. It gives businesses the help that they need without the hassle of hiring a full-time employee.

www.powerhomebiz.com/082005/va.htm

Be more successful – Delegate more

Posted in Lifestyle Management, Management / Leadership, Time Management with tags , , , , on July 22, 2010 by virtualcitypa

There is only so much time in the day, so it is important to delegate tasks as the managementstudyguide.com reports:

A manager alone cannot perform all the tasks assigned to them. In order to meet the targets, the manager should delegate authority. Delegation of Authority means division of authority and powers downwards to the subordinate. Delegation is about entrusting someone else to do parts of your job. Delegation of authority can be defined as subdivision and sub-allocation of powers to the subordinates in order to achieve effective results.

Elements of Delegation

1. Authority – in context of a business organisation, authority can be defined as the power and right of a person to use and allocate the resources efficiently, to take decisions and to give orders so as to achieve the organisational objectives.

Authority must be well- defined. All people who have the authority should know what is the scope of their authority is and they shouldn’t misutilise it.

Authority is the right to give commands, orders and get the things done.

The top level management has greatest authority. Authority always flows from top to bottom. It explains how a superior gets work done from his subordinate by clearly explaining what is expected of him and how he should go about it. Authority should be accompanied with an equal amount of responsibility.

Delegating the authority to someone else doesn’t imply escaping from accountability. Accountability still rest with the person having the utmost authority.

2. Responsibility – is the duty of the person to complete the task assigned to them. A person who is given the responsibility should ensure that they accomplish the tasks assigned to them. If the tasks for which he was held responsible are not completed, then they should not give explanations or excuses.

Responsibility without adequate authority leads to discontent and dissatisfaction among the person.

Responsibility flows from bottom to top. The middle level and lower level management holds more responsibility.

The person held responsible for a job is answerable for it. If they perform the tasks assigned as expected, they are bound for praises. While if they don’t accomplish tasks assigned as expected, then also they are answerable for that.

3. Accountability – means giving explanations for any variance in the actual performance from the expectations set.

Accountability can not be delegated. For example, if ‘A’ is given a task with sufficient authority, and ‘A’ delegates this task to B and asks them to ensure that task is done well, responsibility rest with ‘B’, but accountability still rest with ‘A’.

The top level management is most accountable. Being accountable means being innovative as the person will think beyond his scope of job. Accountability ,in short, means being answerable for the end result.

Accountability can’t be escaped. It arises from responsibility.

For achieving delegation, a manager has to work in a system and has to perform following steps : –

1. Assignment of tasks and duties
2. Granting of authority
3. Creating responsibility and accountability

Delegation of authority is the base of superior-subordinate relationship, it involves following steps:-

1. Assignment of Duties – The delegator first tries to define the task and duties to the subordinate.

2. Granting of authority – Subdivision of authority takes place when a superior divides and shares his authority with the subordinate. The subdivision of powers is very important to get effective results.

3. Creating Responsibility and Accountability – The delegation process does not end once powers are granted to the subordinates. They at the same time have to be obligatory towards the duties assigned to them.

www.managementstudyguide.com/delegation_of_authority.htm

Top 10 Tips for Outsourcing Success

Posted in Outsourcing with tags , , on January 26, 2010 by virtualcitypa

Entrepreneurs and small businesspeople are always looking for creative ways to accomplish more of their business goals for less money. One strategy that can help you save time, money and frustration as you start and build your business is to outsource as much work as possible to skilled, but cost-effective, external service providers.

Following this advice can help you get the most out of your relationships with external vendors or contractors — whether you use the web to find service providers or are requesting and evaluating quotes from vendors the “old fashioned” way.

1. Clearly define the scope and schedule for your project
This might seem obvious, but any successful outsourced project always starts with a clear statement of what you are hoping to accomplish. Define your project requirements up front. Service providers need accurate, complete information to present you with realistic proposals and to quote you a reasonable price. Be specific about the deliverables you expect the vendor provide. Give vendors as much information as you can about what you need delivered and the way in which you need the work done. Also, be clear and realistic about your schedule requirements – project schedules can have a huge impact on project costs.

2. Evaluate a service provider like you’d hire a full-time employee
When you’re evaluating proposals from service providers, don’t be afraid to ask questions. Just like hiring a full-time employee, selecting a vendor is a very subjective experience. Check their references and ask for feedback from other clients who have used their services. Engage in a dialog – if you have any concerns about a vendor’s specific capabilities, voice your concerns. Don’t just stew about it and hope for the best.

3. Look for specific experience fit
Ideally, the service provider you select will have specific experience with the type of project that you’re undertaking. You don’t want to be somebody’s “guinea pig.” This is especially crucial when outsourcing complex technical projects such as software development. For example, if you’re looking for someone to develop an application for the Palm PDA, make sure they’ve actually completed commercial projects on that platform for other satisfied customers. This advice holds true for other types of projects as well. If you need a business plan for opening a retail store, you’ll get best results if the consultant you hire has verifiable experience in the retail sector.

4. Don’t choose a vendor based solely on price
Though it might be tempting, never select a vendor based solely on price. Experienced buyers who have outsourced many projects and evaluated hundreds of proposals almost always recommend discarding the highest-priced and lowest-priced bid. Buyers report that their most successful projects are the ones where they felt the vendor offered a balance of good value and quality results.

5. Review portfolios and samples
Examine the vendor’s previous work (their “portfolio”) and make sure that their previous work meets your expectations for quality and style. If you’ve evaluated a vendor’s portfolio, references and previous experience and are still unsure of their capabilities, consider asking them to do a quick mock-up or provide a basic outline of a work plan. A service provider who really wants to win your business might be able to give you a rough concept so you can better understand their approach to solving your problem. But never cross the line between asking for a mock-up and insisting that a vendor provide you with finished work “on spec.” No qualified professional expects to work for free.

6. Start small
When engaging with a service provider for the first time, start with a project that is relatively small and simple in scope. This will give you a better idea of the provider’s style and capabilities before you entrust a “mission critical” project to them.

7. Tie payment to clearly defined project milestones
Just as you should be clear about project scope, make sure that you define a work plan for your outsourced project with clearly defined milestones. Having scheduled checkpoints where you review the status of the project as it works toward completion—is an easy way to ensure that you meet your final deadline and that the final product meets your standards. Tie the vendor’s payment to these milestones. A good guideline for IT and software development projects is to pay no more than 20% to 30% of the total project price up front, with the rest of the payments awarded based on the completion of 3 or 4 milestones.

8. Negotiate ownership of work up front
For any type of outsourced project, make sure that you are clear about who owns the resulting work product and any important components of that product. Make sure the service provider understands how you intend to use the deliverables that they are agreeing to provide. For example, the development of a custom software application for your personal use would be substantially different from the development an application that you intend to package and re-sell.

9. Don’t forget about support after the project is complete
For technology projects, it’s a good idea to specify a warranty or support clause so that you are assured of some amount of continuing support from the vendor after the project is complete. It’s much easer to negotiate a support clause before the service provider begins work, rather than after the completion of the project. Even creative or business services can benefit from a support clause. Suppose you need some changes to a business plan based on feedback that you get from potential investors. Or maybe you find that you need that snazzy new logo delivered in a new type of file format. Specifying some amount of free support or negotiating discounted prices for future modifications can save you time, money and headaches later on.

10. Get it in writing
During the course of a service engagement, the scope of the project, deliverables or even the agreed upon price may change. Make sure that you clearly communicate any schedule, scope or payment changes to your service provider and get confirmation from them – in writing – that they understand and agree to the changes. Similarly, keep a record of any agreement changes requested by the service provider and whether you accept or reject those modifications. Save copies of any email exchanges that you have.

You can access top-notch expertise any time you need it without the overhead of hiring full-time staff. By staying focused on your core competencies and hiring expert freelancers for your other needs, you can compete with the delivery capabilities of larger organizations while maintaining your independence.

http://entrepreneurs.about.com/cs/beyondstartup/a/uc041003a.htm

Tips for outsourcing your small-business needs

Posted in Outsourcing, Virtual Assistance with tags , , , on August 1, 2009 by virtualcitypa

Yes, small businesses can benefit from outsourcing too. More and more of them are turning over parts of their operations to outside experts, allowing owners to focus on critical needs and growth.

Following the trend of larger companies, small-business owners are outsourcing a range of services, from HR to finance and accounting to customer services. But the outsourcing process requires some time and investment to find the right vendor, build a working relationship, and allow your employees to adjust.

First, define your core

Generally, the smart strategy is to hold on to operations or areas that define the core mission of your business. Then, consider outsourcing the other operations that are not as strategic.

If, for instance, your point of difference is customer service, make sure you have enough friendly and attentive full-time employees to make good on that. If, however, you promise rock bottom prices, then relying on an outsourcer, such as a Web-based virtual assistant, an automated phone system or an overseas call center, might make more sense.

..Virtual assistants, or independent entrepreneurs who provide administrative, creative or technical support, are a growing phenomenon. They work on a contractual basis via online or electronic communications, handling functions, such as keeping your schedule or your files or your customer intelligence database up to speed. You can find out more by visiting the nonprofit International Virtual Assistants Association (www.ivaa.org).

Expertizing, based in Newton, Massachusetts, uses virtual assistants for a variety of projects. “We’re a small company that helps people achieve media attention for their businesses, and have outsourced a lot of work to several virtual assistants,” says CEO Fern Reiss. “It completely changed the way we operate. We meet ‘live’ once a month for a long catch-up, and in between correspond via email and occasionally by phone. We have increased productivity by about 30% to 40%, and have finally gotten many of our back-burner projects out the door.

http://www.microsoft.com/smallbusiness/resources/management/recruiting-staffing/tips-for-outsourcing-your-small-business-needs.aspx#Tipsforoutsourcingyoursmallbusinessneeds

Management Styles – which suits you..?

Posted in Management / Leadership with tags , , , , , , on July 30, 2009 by virtualcitypa

Sometimes its interesting to take a step back to review where you fit in the text book world of business. Where am I now and how do people see me..?

Democratic Management Style

A democratic manager delegates authority to his/her staff, giving them responsibility to complete the task given to them (also known as empowerment). Staff will complete the tasks using their own work methods.

However, the task must be completed on time. Employees are involved in decision making giving them a sense of belonging and motivating individuals. Because staff feel a sense of belonging and are motivated the quality of decision making and work also improves.

Although popular in business today, a democratic management style can slow decision making down because staff need to be consulted. Also some employees may take advantage of the fact that their manager is democratic by not working to their full potential and allowing other group members to ‘carry’ them.

Autocratic Management Style

In contrast to the above an autocratic manager dictates orders to their staff and makes decisions without any consultation. The leader likes to control the situation they are in.

Decision are quick because staff are not consulted and work is usually completed on time. However this type of management style can decrease motivation and increase staff turnover because staff are not consulted and do not feel valued.

Consultative Management style

A consultative management style can be viewed as a combination of the above two. The manager will ask views and opinions from their staff, allowing them to feel involved but will ultimately make the final decision.

Laissez Faire Management style

A laisses faire manager sets the tasks and gives staff complete freedom to complete the task as they see fit. There is minimal involvement from the manager. The manager however does not sit idle and watch them work! He or she is there to coach or answer questions, supply information if required.

There are benefits, staff again are developed to take responsibility which may lead to improved motivation. However with little direct guidance from the manager staff may begin to feel lost and not reach the goals originally set within the time frame.

http://www.learnmanagement2.com/leadership%20styles.htm