Opinion Our Insights Post 5 mins James Marshall How to find an outsourcing partner Recent global events have forced companies to make huge changes to the way they function and operate on a day to day basis. For some this will regrettably present too much of a challenge, and businesses that in normal times would have been perfectly successful, even booming, will be forced into administration. With challenge and change also comes opportunity. For every struggling company there is another thriving in this new environment and for those agile enough to seize the initiative there has never been a better time to start that project you’ve had on hold over winter.Identifying the Opportunity Traditionally, things slow down over Christmas and as the holiday season approaches, projects that hadn’t been signed off before the festive period tend to get put on ice, usually until April when the budgets reset and plans are made to deliver them late spring and throughout the summer. However, with Europe, the US and China on lockdown, and a third of the world population currently enforcing self isolation policies, business as usual has gone out the window. For those suddenly finding their suppliers, in particular those in the digital sector, shutting down for the foreseeable future it can be quite a terrifying prospect but there are a lot of potential suppliers who can help keep things going, even for the short term if you know where to look. Summary of Key Points Supply chains being disrupted mean companies either have to shut down or adapt quickly. There are lots of companies still operating at full, even increased capacity while working from home. Knowing where to look If you have used the same digital supplier for the past few years, it can be quite stressful finding a new resource especially if you were waiting on something time critical before they closed their doors. Luckily, there are a number of sites available to help search and refine UK based digital agencies based on your requirements such as Clutch that will allow you to filter to find the agency to suit your needs. Just be aware of sponsored portfolios and full service agencies if you need a specialist. If yours is a smaller project, consider turning to a freelancer on People Per Hour. It’s an unfortunate downside to the quarantine but there will likely have been an increase in high quality but currently out of work developers looking to supplement their wages, and if you just need something fishing, or have every intention of returning to your previous supplier in future, this could be the perfect temporary solution. Provided you have a good relationship with your shutdown supplier it may well be worth getting in touch and asking them for advice or recommendations. They may be able to point you to their own developers who may want to continue on the project freelance or even another agency they could recommend who are still open or able to work remotely. The IT industry is generally quite a friendly competitive place so you may be surprised how forthcoming your supplier may be to recommend a competitor. Don’t forget that most digital agencies will be working remotely at the moment and with face to face meetings not possible, there is currently no advantage gained from working with a local agency. Therefore, don’t be afraid to look further afield to find the best match. If you’re based in London, you will also get a lot more for your money if you find an agency in the northern digital hubs of Manchester and Leeds. Summary of Key Points Go online, there are plenty of websites and tools to locate agencies by location, specialism and price. If you need something finishing or just have a small project, consider hiring a freelancer from people per hour or a recruitment agency. Ask your current supplier for advice, they may know an out of work developer or friendly agency they could recommend. Don’t let proximity hold you back. Everyone will be working from home so cast your net further than you normally would to find the perfect, and possibly more affordable team. Implementation Once you have found the agency, or short list of agencies you want to work with, prepare a brief and schedule in a few meetings with their representatives. With everyone working from home at the moment you will likely get a significantly faster turnaround than normal, as their sales team and key decision makers will be behind their desks instead of on the road, and should have little trouble booking you in to discuss your project. During each call, provide as much detail as possible about your project and make sure you are asking the right qualifying questions to help you find out if you have a good match. You should be able to find out things like team size and technologies they specialise prior to the call from their websites but If you happen to have a preferred platform or a fixed budget and/or timeline, highlight and discuss these in these initial meetings. It may seem unusual to not go through the proposal or formal presentation stage but it will significantly streamline the whole process. If you can provide the information each agency needs to work out their internal resourcing, they in turn will be able to give you an estimate and delivery date much more quickly, giving you a head start over any other potential clients they are speaking to who may be more reluctant to provide this information. It’s currently too early to tell for sure but with plenty of agencies shutting shop during the outbreak, it is likely competition for available resources will be fierce so give yourself every advantage you can. Summary of Key Points The more information you can provide during these calls, the quicker they will be able to provide delivery dates and quotes. There will likely be lots of available resources at the moment but also lots of fresh competition from companies in similar situations. Time is currently on your side. Some agencies may have closed down as part of social distancing and those still active may well have had a few clients pause their work with them. This means that there will currently be a lot of companies out there with projects that need resourcing and agencies with available resource. As others become accustomed to the new dynamics of working remotely and self isolation, these two gaps will naturally fill each other but it will happen very quickly, especially after the budgets reset in April. If you have a project you need resourcing, don’t wait until the start of the new financial year. It has never been easier to arrange meetings with key decision makers and this current climate will definitely favour the quick and the agile over the slower more traditional processes.