Virtual outsourcing is an exciting opportunity that offers multiple advantages for small to mid-sized businesses, including: 1. low-cost, low-overhead work without the typical initial recruiting/hiring expenses 2. a wide and more diverse global pool of skilled freelance talent 3. a mutually beneficial pay-for-performance compensation structure 4. flexibility within a predefined project arrangement, and 5. real-time management tools. Though outsourcing managers are left with the same ultimate hiring decision when contracting freelance professionals as when hiring in-house staff, the virtual world offers the following unique human resources option... The challenge. Being confident as an outsourcing company that you're hiring the best freelance provider for the job at hand is a daunting challenge. Organizations obviously want to know that the professionals they hire are qualified, but also that these freelance providers fit within their company and its business processes. By examining provider profiles, freelance portfolios and critical feedback, outsourcing companies can get a basic feel for the type of off-site agent they may be considering hiring. But this may not be enough. There’s more to outsourcing than selecting a qualified person: Will the freelance provider work well with management? Will they meet specific expectations, time constraints and budget requirements? Will the relationship be effective and productive? The solution. There’s an easy way to sample freelance providers with little risk (especially when using a Workteam Solution such as oDesk), an easy way to answer these important questions and ease the worries that come with any new hire (one which can be of particular importance when filling a long-term outsourcing position). The solution is simple. Outsourcing companies need just to post their job and expectations normally, interviewing freelance providers with the necessary qualifications. Then, however, these outsourcing organizations need to hire the selected freelance professionals for a limited number of hours and assign them a portion of a project (or a smaller but similar project). Companies can create several small projects and test the most promising freelance providers. The cost is minimal, as little as a single hour of compensation for each freelance provider selected. The commitment is limited, but the experience of working remotely and using tools like oDesk to communicate with a particular freelance provider can be invaluable. If work samples and cover letters are the gold standard for an outsourcing company when evaluating freelance providers, then sampling is the platinum standard. Companies get to see how one (or multiple) freelance professionals actually perform an agreed-upon task, and interact with their team. More Advantages. Outsourcing organizations know that jobs evolve– goals change, deadlines and scope get modified, new ideas are introduced and new concerns need to be addressed. Sampling freelance providers allows outsourcing managers to do an initial shake-out and tighten their focus before deciding on the right approach. It may be that the position for which a company is outsourcing requires a different mix of talent than originally thought, or that the deadline or budget were too optimistic. Sampling is a great way to clarify things. Sampling by limiting hours also protects outsourcing companies from an unscrupulous freelance provider who ‘milks’ time. If a provider cannot produce a quality product within a reasonable amount of time, the outsourcing mistake has been made at a rock-bottom hourly rate. Trying before buying allows businesses to find out before committing. Finally, sampling freelance providers lets outsourcing companies filter a larger set of qualified applicants to find the best fit. By hiring several freelance providers and sampling them, the outsourcing manager can see exactly what their organization will get for their money and keep the best of the group.