Whoever said, “If you want something done right, you have to do it yourself,” wasn’t a business owner. It’s impossible for a business owner to do everything herself. Sure, at the beginning, limited cash flow means DIY for some tasks. But as soon as possible, it’s time to outsource tasks that don’t make money, or are best left to a pro, like IT and accounting.
When you start looking to outsource, your business needs reliable vendors that address your business needs, deliver as promised, and don’t create headaches. So where are those reliable vendors, and how do you find them?
Follow these four steps to get the right vendor and stop the DIY:
- Check and Compare
Talk to other business owners about vendors that they use. Look on industry association and Chamber of Commerce websites for preferred or endorsed vendors. Selecting a vendor based on the lowest cost could end up costing more. Develop a Vendor Selection Scorecard to help compare terms, services, and other performance factors. Consider checking on prospective vendors’ financial soundness to make sure they will still be in business when you need them.
- Define Expectations
Documenting expectations helps to hold the vendor accountable and avoid misunderstandings. Agreements should include how the vendor will address deadlines, quality, and other essential success factors for your business. Be sure to document your business’ responsibilities, too, such as providing necessary information and approving deliverables. Nailing all this down can also help you figure out all the details you might not have thought through before.
- Get Updates
Vendors should provide periodic work status updates or statements so you can track their progress against the agreement, budget, or project plan. Vendor invoices are another update opportunity. Invoices should include enough details to show what was being billed, the price, and any other terms that impact the total amount. Verify that purchased goods and services were received as expected before paying the invoice.
- Track Performance
Use agreement terms to develop a simple Vendor Performance Scorecard. Follow-up if performance starts to trend below acceptable limits. Status updates and scorecards don’t replace direct communication. If something changes or doesn’t seem “right”, ask what’s going on and why. Follow-up if the answer doesn’t make sense. Ignoring red flags could cost you money and your reputation.
Tired of DIY and looking to outsource? These four steps will get your business on track to find reliable vendors to address its needs, without the headaches.