When you start outsourcing, it’s almost certain that you will encounter a bad outsourcing partner at one point or another. If you don’t do your research and you don’t prepare for outsourcing, it’s easy to fall into the sales pitch of these horrible vendors. And sometimes good vendors can also go bad. This usually happens when your vendors aren’t ready for growth or they lack the infrastructure to ensure the quality of their deliverables.
As veterans in the outsourcing industry, we’ve heard all the stories about bad outsourcing vendors. We’ve rounded up the top 10 worst. We’ll show you how to spot them, how to avoid them, and tips on how to deal with them if you do encounter them.
- Captain Slow. For some reason, it always takes them time to deliver on a project. It’s not that they’re not good. It’s just that it seems that they take too much time to work relatively easy tasks.
This usually happens when an outsourcing firm subcontracts their work to someone else. The long turnover could be the result of quality control processes they have to undergo before delivering the product to you.
If you’re working with Captain Slow, breaking ties with him over turn-around time may not be the best solution, especially if they do great work. What you can do to deal with vendors like this to is to set clear deadlines and insist on penalties when these deadlines are not met like refunds or rebates.
- Pinocchio. They looked so good on paper. Then weeks down the line you discover that they don’t know how to do most of what they claim to do. Pinocchio outsourcing firms are usually newbies in the industry. They’re so desperate for work they’re willing to say anything to get a job and get it fast.
What can you do to avoid working with a Pinocchio? Ask for their portfolio. Have they done this project before? Who will be working on your project? What were the results? If they can’t answer these questions, it’s best for you to move on. If you want to take the risk, make sure you give them a test task first to prove they can do what they promise before you commit.
- Miss Understood. You were clear about your instructions. You did every communication trick in the book to make sure that your message is coming across, but they still doesn’t get it.
This is a common problem, especially when you outsource to countries that don’t really speak your language or understand your culture. It can also be a case of niche mismatch. Entrepreneurs with highly technical businesses often have a hard time outsourcing to companies that offer creative services or vice versa.
How to fix this problem? Be clear about what you want and provide as many visual examples as possible. And for processes, provide flowcharts of how you want things done. Most visual cues transcend language barriers which makes communication easier for most cases. But if they still can’t understand you even with the flowcharts, videos and images, it might be better to change vendors.
- TMI (Too Much Information). Being able to communicate with your outsourcing partner is great. If your outsourcing partner finds it easy to communicate with you that’s even better. But when they start sharing too much information; that can be a problem.
You’d want your outsourcing partner to respect the information you share and treat it as confidential. The smart move would be to have the offshore firm you’re working with sign a NDA as soon as a project starts and even during the test task phase.
- The Rookie. It’s tempting to work with rookies. They’re hungry for work and they offer rock bottom prices. But the problem with rookies is that they’re inexperienced. And you might end up spending more time training them than getting any work done.
Some of the best outsourcing vendors start out as rookies. If you find a great one you could end up with an amazing outsourcing partner that can provide you great services at great value. But remember that having a working relationship with rookies requires more time and training than working with experienced professionals. So if you don’t have the time and patience to work with rookies, better stick with professionals.
- Deaf Leppard. Is your outsourcing partner refusing to listen to your input and insists on only doing things their way? If that’s the case, you may be working with a Deaf Leppard.
Undeniably, they’re experts in their field. The problem with this though is that they’re so full of themselves they refuse to allow their clients any input. They believe they know best, and nobody has the right to tell them otherwise.
Before you dismiss a Deaf Leppard and start your search for a new outsourcing partner, ask yourself this question first: Are they really unreasonable or is this a case of micromanaging a project? This situation happens when somewhere along the line a collaborative project turns combative, with one group trying to exert dominance over the other.
How do you tame a Deaf Leppard? Have a meeting to discuss each other’s expectations and needs. If you need to be kept in the loop, tell this to your outsourcing partner. If your partner needs some breathing room to help them get their work done, give them the space you need. Sometimes a little compromise goes a long way in helping turn a bad working relationship better.
- The Yes Man. Here’s the total opposite of the Deaf Leppard. The Yes Man doesn’t seem to have any opinions of their own. They’re great workers if you give them task. But they have no creativity and very little initiative. They’re more than happy to just follow orders because it helps absolve them from any of the blame when an outsourcing project goes south.
If you’re the type of person who likes to micromanage or you want complete control over the tasks that you outsource, the Yes Man would be the best person to work with. But if you want someone who can share their expertise and help make your business better, the Yes Man would be extremely frustrating to work with.
- Smooth criminal. Yes, there are scam outsourcing companies out there. These companies either take your money without delivering on a project or they hold your projects hostage in exchange for more money.
This is when it pays to have a great relationship with the outsourcing community. To avoid scammers, ask for referrals. Legitimate vendors shouldn’t have problems providing them.
And when working with an outsourcing vendor, protect yourself. Don’t pay in full outright. Pay a deposit but hold on to the rest of your money until after they give you their deliverables. Have a contract that clearly defines which products you own and how it would be given to you.
- The Wallflower. Communication is extremely important when outsourcing. But what if you have an outsourcing partner that avoids talking to you? It’s not that they’re not doing their jobs but getting updates from them is like pulling teeth.
And for a business owner, this can be infuriating. You want to know if projects are progressing as they should. And having a partner who refuses to communicate makes the process harder.
So how do you work around this problem? Make regular reports and updates as part of their deliverables. Be clear that part of their job is to let you know how the project is going. If they don’t provide updates as agreed, it is within your right to impose penalties since their deliverables are incomplete.
- Mr. Right Now. There are outsourcing vendors out there that are almost perfect except for one small thing. Maybe they’re great at local search engine optimization but they don’t have someone who can manage social media for business. Or they’re great web developers but they don’t have search engine marketing packages.
This doesn’t mean they’re not great vendors. It’s just they can’t provide everything you need right now and you need more. Or their services are so limited you can’t hire them for long projects even if you want to.
If you find an outsourcing provider like this, it’s best to maintain a relationship even if you’re not working with them. Maybe you can refer a few clients to them or you can ask them for referrals on other tasks you need to outsource. Just because they’re not perfect doesn’t mean they can’t help your business. In fact, they just might be the connection you need to find the perfect one.