How to outsource better

Outsourcing is a great way for firms to save money or time or both. It is a great option to keep handy and will work wonders if done right. So lets begin on how we can outsource better!

Firstly, you have to decide which tasks you need to outsource. There could be a number of reasons to outsource, lack of in-house skills, cost saving and and time saving to name a few. The best tasks to outsource would be those that require specialized skills or equipment which your firm does not posses. For example, if your photography firm needed image editing but you did not have staff trained to edit images, then you outsource the image editing to an image editing firm.

Try not to outsource tasks which are unique to your firm. Only outsource tasks which can be done to a similar quality by anyone outside the firm. Simple or repetitive tasks, such as data entry or infrastructure development, are a good place to start.

A good way to begin is by outsourcing small tasks first to see if the quality meets your standards or if the task cannot be broken up into smaller sections then try outsourcing on a weekly or monthly trial basis.

While looking for the right outsourcing partner, it’s essential to keep in mind to find someone who is fully capable of performing the tasks which will result in an increase in your firms efficiency but not hinder your firms progress. Always set realistic expectations on what quality of work you are going to receive in the designated time.

Look towards local chambers of commerce, associated businesses and even google. Pick out a list of possible candidates who fit all the criteria you are looking for. Shorten up the list by only including firms who are reputed to provide good quality work and a good customer support service. Don’t forget to check out the firms’ previous work and the list of clientele they have worked with.

Extending your search overseas might be a good option to find the right outsourcing partner if you are not content with local firms. An agency will come in handy if you do decide to take your business to firms abroad. Agencies usually assure good quality and simplify billing and communication. Odesk and Elance are a couple of the well-known outsourcing agencies.

Individually contact each of the firms you have picked out. State your requirements clearly and cut out firms from your list depending on their response. Firms with responses which are vague and hard to decipher should be cut off. Responses which are clear and seem to indicate that they understand your requirements should receive high priority. If you happen to outsource abroad, absolutely make sure your partner conforms to US labor standards.

Prepare a Request for Proposal. This is basically a document which includes your requirements and a request for their pricing rates along with a description of services they provide and samples of their work. Send out the Request for Proposal which you have prepared to the firms which have made it on your list so far. After you have received adequate responses you can further shorten your list and ultimately finalize one firm to partner up with.
It’s good to keep in mind that you should look for a firm that provides a good price to quality ratio. Don’t just look for the cheapest option at the expense of quality. If the quality of the firms is around the same range then leaning towards the lower rate is acceptable.

Establish a statement of work contract between your firm and your partner. This will specify what services will be provided, their designated time periods and payment amounts. Make sure you clearly state what work the firm needs done from the outsource partner and how much time they are allotted. Set up the contract to in a way that benefits your firm but also leaves enough wiggle room for the partner to operate optimally. Perhaps you could set up the contracts in terms of milestones or deliverables and pay accordingly. And if possible, set up a penalty for any missed deadlines or drop in quality because doing the tasks in-house or even finding a new outsource partner may be a difficult and expensive procedure.

After you have chosen the perfect firm and have gone through the contracts, you are now ready to start your journey with your partner!!
Establish convenient communication channels with your partner and make sure they are well informed on all jargons. Clear communication can only lead to a better development of the firms relationship.

After the first milestone is completed or the first deliverables have been completed, you can now assess the quality of the firms work. Check if the quality of the work they have done meets your standards and whether they have delivered on time. If their work is up to the mark then you can think about increasing your involvement with them.

If you have successfully followed all the guidelines mentioned in this article then you should have all the knowledge you require to find a good outsource partner.

Drop Shadow Tutorial

Today’s tutorial is on how you can add realistic shadows to objects in just a few simple steps. Let’s dive in!!

Isolate Object

This is the first step.

If you want to add drop shadow to a text:

Select the Horizontal Type tool from the sidebar or press ‘T’. Write your desired text and then right click on the text layer in the layer window and click ‘Rasterize Type’. This will put the text on a layer with a transparent background.

If you want to add the drop shadow on an object:

You must first separate the object from the background. If the background is transparent then you can skip this step otherwise please read our article on how to make a clipping path and copy the object on a new layer.

Creating the Drop Shadow

Now that you have your desired text or object on a separate layer, it’s time to create the shadow.

For newbies, the Drop shadow dialog box is a good starting place. Double click on the layer with the object and the layer styles window should pop up. Select the drop shadow on the options on the left of the window and then mess around with the settings beside.

Blend mode:
This is the option which specifies how your drop shadow blends into the layer behind it. A good choice to use would be the linear burn or the multiply option so that the drop shadow darkens that bit of area on the layer behind it. But do go through all the options so that you find the best blend mode that suits your image. Blend mode is also the place where you get to chose your drop shadows color. Click the black box beside the pull down option bar to select color.

This setting specifies how opaque or transparent your drop shadow is. Move the slider back and forth to find the right amount your image needs. 100% is fully opaque and 0% is fully transparent.

This option allows you to change the position of the light source and thus the position of your drop shadow. Change the position of the spinner or the change the value of the angle in the box to change the position of the shadow. It is recommended that you check the “use global light” option so that the position of the light sources on all other effects used (such as bevel and others) and so will produce a coherent image at the end.

Here, moving the slider allows you to change the apparent distance between the object and the background.

The spread option controls how much the edges of the drop shadows fade off. Usually for normal shadows, keep spread to 0% but if you require harder shadows then start pushing the slider towards 100 and see where your shadows fits perfectly.

At 0, the size of your shadow is the same as the size of your object. Pushing the slider towards the right increases the size of your shadow in 1 pixel increment. This option is also a great tool to control the softness of the shadow.

Contour allows you to control how the shadow fades off. Change the curve profiles to see which effect looks fitting. This option is only really useful if you need to make special glows so that the shadow falls in a unique shape or for abstract effects.

The “anti-aliased” checkbox, if checked, allows for a higher quality shadow falloff but at a drop in performance, but this drop is barely noticeable so it is recommended to keep the box checked.

noise is basically the amount of textural roughness. moving the slider away from 0 will increase
the roughness or noise in the shadow and add texture

Make default/ Reset to default:
The make default button will save the current settings on the effect as the default setting and the reset to default button will revert all the settings to the previously saved settings. This gives you to freedom to experiment without having to worry about losing your previous configuration

After messing around with all the settings, click on OK on the top right corner and you have yourself a drop shadow!!