When you outsource, how far do you push your partners on quality? When outsourcing digital work (software, digital assets, etc.), it’s sometimes difficult to determine whether your request to fix something is really a change in what you wanted in the first place. In addition, if you are easily able to make changes yourself, you may think you should just accept the work and make updates later.
In the hardware world, though, that wouldn’t happen. If a manufacturer delivers something that doesn’t work, the customer sends it right back and the manufacturer is expected to fix it at their cost. Same thing as a consumer. If your favorite i-Fruit arrived broken, you would send it back, right? You would do it right away and expect something for your trouble.
When you receive something from an outsourcer and it doesn’t meet your expectations, ask yourself: “Is the i-Fruit broken? Or am I asking for a custom color and a different case? If it’s the former, your outsourcer must fix it.
To handle this objectively and fairly, you need to consider the following when you start the outsourcing relationship:
- What is the basic technical functionality? What do you need the outsourcer to deliver for their work to just… work? This does not have to be an exhaustively detailed list of requirements, but the basics need to be communicated such as platform, file format, file size, naming conventions, etc.
- What is important to your product? Of course you want everything, but what is really important to you and your product needs to be communicated to your outsourcing partners. This will define what quality means to you.
- How will you measure quality? Even if quality for your end product is completely subjective, you will still need to figure out a way to objectively determine what your standards are and whether your outsourcing partner has met them. At a minimum you will need to provide a reference, communicate the key points of that reference and use it as a comparison to what you receive.
- How will you factor in the cost of rework? In hardware, a certain level of rework is negotiated and factored into the cost of the product. The same needs to be done even in software products. This is where it can get tricky. If the amount of rework is significantly more than expected, then a new round of negotiations will start as both sides try to push as much of the cost as they can onto each other. No matter what, if the i-Fruit is broken, and the first three points were clearly communicated, then the cost first lies with the outsourcer.
How have you handled quality issues in outsourcing relationships? What do you specify up-front? How do you factor in the cost of rework? Please share your experiences in the comments.
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