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How to ensure continuous communication in outsourced projects

How to ensure continuous communication in outsourced projects

This article is a submission by Clark Staff. Clark Staff is an American-owned remote staffing company that has successfully operated since 2003. Its primary objective is to empower small and mid-sized companies by providing them with resources that were once exclusively accessible to Fortune 500 companies. 

Due to scarcity of materials, skills or simply because of economic reasons, outsourcing has become a reliable business strategy for companies looking to optimize their operations.

This optimization birthed a lot of partnerships and established the business process outsourcing (BPO) industry as a reliable solution to a company’s scaling needs.

In a sense, this industry has become a cultural melting pot because of the many nationalities collaborating to do meaningful projects that benefit other industries. 

Whether it’s nearshore or offshore, outsourced projects thrive through continuous communication between client and vendor teams. 

The accurate exchange of information is sometimes challenged by distance, cultural differences, zone gaps, and other factors.

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Without ongoing alignment, requirements can sometimes get lost in translation. Small disconnects balloon into major delays and rework.

However, there are BPO partners of course that put premium into making their client a priority every step of the way and ensure quality services are delivered.

How to establish effective communication in outsourced projects

To further help you realize some pain points and have an idea of what can be improved in your current communication structure with your outsourcing partner – here are some strategies to enable seamless ongoing communication across outsourced engagements:

1. Set communication protocols

Setting communication protocols by establishing project communication rules that cover preferred channels, cadence, stakeholders, reporting methods, response time expectations, and tool usage.

Set communication protocols
How to establish effective communication in outsourced projects

This is a crucial step in ensuring that everyone is onboard and goal-oriented. Along with these are the document standards for meetings, status updates, issue escalation, change controls, and knowledge sharing.

These disciplined protocols can minimize misalignments.

2. Schedule regular check-ins

Scheduling regular check-ins can help you save more time by alleviating potential mistakes head-on.

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You can do this by setting up recurring team sync-ups e.g. 15-30 mins daily and detailed progress reviews e.g. 60-90 mins weekly. This is to have consistent touchpoints to keep everyone looped in.

On the other hand, check-ins should cover prior progress, upcoming plans, roadblocks, and key decisions. Meet consistently even when things seem on track.

3. Make minutes matter

Note-taking is integral in the knowledge management of the organization and in ensuring a smooth project management system for a team.

The need for recording and circulating meeting minutes to reinforce understanding of the current updates or adjustments is crucial to outsourced projects.

A concise minutes enables review by members who are unable to attend or just simply for members to be reminded of the project targets.

Similarly, minutes provide accountability by documenting deliverables, due dates, action items, and key risks discussed. Follow-up to ensure completion.

4. Create centralized dashboards

Real-time operational dashboards with task status, milestones, budgets, risks, and dependencies create transparency for monitoring that enables data-driven discussions compared to just opinions.

This allows for a productive and results-based approach in work which proactively addresses indicators veering off track.

5. Know time zones

Map team members’ time zones and schedule collaborative work hours accordingly. Avoid late-night calls or early-morning surprises. Factor in daylight savings changes.

Dispersed teams require deliberate coordination of timing to enable real-time cooperation. However, outsourced workers are aware of the time zones that they need to work with their clients.

When choosing a candidate that can help your business, this should be discussed with them at the very beginning to avoid complications.

6. Build informal bonds

Don’t let all communications be strictly transactional.

Foster personal connections with outsourcing team members, but of course, not too personal, but something that will make them feel that you are willing to listen to them if need be.

Quick casual check-ins build trust and ease formal sync-ups. You can do these by sharing photos, introducing pets on video calls, and acknowledging events.

Build informal bonds
Build informal bonds

7. Invest in relationship builders

Bring offshore team members onsite for workshops, immersion trips, and social events when possible.

Also, Facetime strengthens bonds and can also connect dispersed groups. You can do this by setting up remote workshops with fun team-building activities

8. Assign coordinators

Designate key liaisons on each side to steer communications and coordination in your outsourced projects.

Single points of contact streamline handoffs. Liaisons proactively share status, flag risks, and head off misunderstandings before they derail projects.

These advisors ensure that you get to onboard the best talents while also ensuring that these talents are growing more to help you scale your business more.

9. Over-communicate changes

Excessive communication beats insufficient communication with outsourcers.

Explain changes to requirements, plans, or timelines to avoid confusion. Reinforce substantial updates through multiple mediums like email, screenshots, diagrams, videos, and live walkthroughs to enhance engagement in the project.

10. Automate notifications

Set up alerts on task management systems for upcoming milestones, new project documents, and status changes. Automated notifications keep people in flow.

Use collaboration tools like Slack, Trello, or Monday.com that post updates across channels like email, chat, and mobile notifications.

11. Discuss the undiscussable

Surface awkward issues and concerns early before they worsen. Although optional, bringing up these taboo-like topics reduces the likelihood of surprises.

Promote transparent dialogue around course corrections. Not addressing these hidden frustrations can torpedo morale and productivity.

12. Learn from experience

Formalize lessons learned after project milestones to refine communications approaches. Analyze what worked well and what didn’t.

Continuous improvement of coordinated communications prevents repeat disconnects.

13. Listen between the lines

Not all cultures communicate explicit concerns directly. Learn to interpret hesitations, vague confirmations, and extended silences.

Read verbal and non-verbal cues for signs of confusion or disagreement. Ask for clarification when something feels off.

Although, outsourced professionals are trained to adjust to their client’s culture, it’s also nice to share the same commitment if possible.

14. Use clarifying techniques

Employ active listening skills like paraphrasing information back to demonstrate understanding. Ask outsourcers to explain or rephrase requests. Test concepts through show-and-tell walkthroughs.

Clarifying communication prevents false assumptions.

15. Automate status reports

Leverage tools that auto-generate status reports from project management systems rather than manual efforts. Submitting static status updates becomes seamless.

Auto-generated reports provide consistent timely communication that helps spot risks early.

Communication is crucial to an outsourced project’s success

Effective communication makes or breaks outsourced projects.

Taking the time to establish structured protocols, leverage clarifying techniques, and nurture interpersonal connections across dispersed teams is an investment that pays off exponentially. 

Communication is crucial to an outsourced project's success
Communication is crucial to an outsourced project’s success

Your remote staff can transform from a BPO provider into a trusted partner through continuous coordinated communications. This alignment of objectives, plans, and priorities enables flawless execution and innovation. 

With some forethought and follow-through, companies can implement communication rhythms that bridge geographical and cultural divides.

These actions result in deeper relationships, smoother workflows, and outsourcing success.


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About Derek Gallimore

Derek Gallimore has been in business for 20 years, outsourcing for over eight years, and has been living in Manila (the heart of global outsourcing) since 2014. Derek is the founder and CEO of Outsource Accelerator, and is regarded as a leading expert on all things outsourcing.

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