How to Ensure Quality from Your Outsourcing Provider

Being an outsourcing provider isn’t easy: you constantly struggle to prove value to your customer and to stay ahead of all your competitors.  In terms of quality, an outsourcing provider must be capable of delivering similar or better output than clients’ own internal resources at a competitive cost.

From the buyer perspective, trust in the quality and responsiveness of an outsourcing company is essential if clients are to free themselves from behind-the-scenes operational details.  That’s why providers have to earn their clients’ confidence day in and day out—providers are only as good as the last file delivered!

From the outsourcing company perspective, quality and rework costs spiral out of control, services levels and morale sink and the ability to meet contractual obligations suffers when its employees fail to execute as needed.

If you are planning to outsource a mission-critical function, here are some suggestions on what to consider.

  1. Providers should have documented processes to on-board clients and develop new services.  If they don’t, this is a major red flag because you won’t know what is required of you and your team, or how issues will be addressed when they arise.
  2. A typical component of early-stage outsourcing relationships is tests or pilots.  Therefore, providers should have defined processes that ensure they meet the expectations of prospects before they ever become long-term clients.
  3. Once the partnership is solidified, at a minimum outsourcing companies must have ongoing monitoring of quality and solicit feedback from clients in a two-way dialog to confirm expectations are met.  There should be daily, weekly and monthly reports to show progress and how any issues were solved.
  4. Steering committee calls with key members of the provider and client teams are valuable and help to clarify details and build a cooperative relationship.
  5. It sounds basic, but there should be a focus on eliminating typographical, spelling and number, email and web address formatting errors.  Some ways outsourcing companies address this area are operator-level quality orientations, refresher training sessions, cheat sheets and process checklists.  In addition, operator cross-checking and peer reviews, with metrics to support continuous improvement, are often used.
  6. Internal reporting should track the accuracy of individual team members to show the total number of transactions and the number that failed.  Reporting for error-type frequency allows operation managers to create programs to reduce specific issues and improve quality.
  7. An indicator that a provider believes in continuous improvement is that there are incentive programs in place to reward great performance.  In these initiatives, teams must work together to maintain and enhance quality, while adhering to requirements in client contracts.

Training plays a key role in quality improvement, as does ongoing vigilance to check that expectations are met on a project-by-project basis.  But the most critical factor, in our experience, is a company-wide commitment to excellence and culture that encourages teamwork in driving quality.

Ultimately, mismanaged outsourcing relationships and poor execution can cause providers to lose investments in their accounts and clients to incur high costs in switching to different partners.  That is why it is so important to understand how providers approach quality.

In the Affinity Express world, we have to strive for good design and constantly improve creativity, but no one would see our beautifully conceived ideas if headlines were spelled incorrectly!

About Ken Swanson
As CEO, Ken is focused on ensuring that Affinity Express balances outstanding delivery to clients with continued growth.

2 Responses to How to Ensure Quality from Your Outsourcing Provider

  1. Pingback: Just Launched: Affinity Express Learning Center « Affinity Express Blog

  2. Pingback: 100th Blog Post « Affinity Express Blog

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