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The Top 15 Common Outsourcing Problems and How to Solve Them

Updated: May 28

Outsourcing has become a popular strategy for businesses of all sizes. It allows you to access specialized skills, reduce costs, and free up internal resources to focus on core competencies.

But like any business decision, outsourcing comes with its own set of challenges.

According to a Clutch survey in 2019, 37% of businesses outsourced at least one task, and 52% planned to do so.

outsourcing problem

So, before you jump into the outsourcing process, let's explore the top 15 problems you might encounter and, more importantly, how to overcome them.

The 15 Outsourcing Problems and Their Solutions

Let's have a closer at 15 common outsourcing problems and their solutions:

1. Quality Issues

Problem: Deliverables may not meet your quality standards.

Solution: Provide detailed specifications and quality control procedures. Implement a multi-stage approval process with clear criteria.

Conduct pilot projects to assess the skills and capabilities of the outsourcing partner before full engagement.

2. Lack of Control

Problem: You may feel you relinquish too much control over the project or team.

Solution: Establish a clear project management plan outlining deliverables, timelines, and milestones.

Utilize project management tools to track progress and maintain transparency.

Conduct regular performance reviews and hold open communication channels to address concerns promptly.

3. Security Concerns

Problem: Data breaches and intellectual property theft are major concerns.

Solution: Conduct thorough due diligence on potential outsourcing partners. Ensure they have robust security measures in place, including data encryption, access controls, and compliance with relevant security regulations. Clearly define ownership of intellectual property in contracts.

Below are some key security risks associated with outsourcing:

  • Data Breaches: Unauthorized access to sensitive information can lead to data breaches, compromising client and business data.

  • Cybersecurity Vulnerabilities: Weaknesses in online systems and networks can expose businesses to cyberattacks, including malware and ransomware.

  • Insider Threats: Internal actors with malicious intent or unintentional actions may pose risks to data security.

  • Lack of Data Encryption: Transmitting or storing data without encryption increases the likelihood of unauthorized access.

  • Third-Party Risks: Security vulnerabilities in the systems of outsourcing partners can indirectly impact the security of shared data.

4. Hidden Costs

Problem: Unexpected fees, project scope creep, and unforeseen delays can inflate the overall cost.

Solution: Negotiate a clear fee structure upfront, outlining all potential costs. Define the project scope meticulously and establish a change order process to manage any deviations. Set realistic deadlines with buffer time to account for unforeseen challenges.

5. Compliance

Problem: Ensure adherence to legal and regulatory requirements in both your location and the outsourcing partner's.

Solution: Consult legal counsel to understand all applicable regulations. Include compliance clauses in your contract and conduct due diligence to ensure the outsourcing partner adheres to relevant regulations.

6. Communication Barriers

Problem: Time zone differences and cultural gaps can lead to misunderstandings and delays.

Solution: Clearly define expectations upfront, including communication protocols, preferred channels (email, video calls), and response times.

Schedule regular meetings that accommodate time zones. Consider cultural sensitivities and tailor communication styles accordingly.

7. Finding the Right Partner

Problem: Selecting an unreliable or incompatible outsourcing partner can derail the project.

Solution: Develop a comprehensive selection process. Clearly define your requirements and shortlist potential partners with proven expertise in your industry.

Conduct thorough reference checks and assess their communication style, project management approach, and cultural fit.

8. Managing Scope Creep

Problem: Uncontrolled project scope expansion can lead to delays and budget overruns.

Solution: Clearly define the project scope in writing and establish a change order process outlining approval procedures for any deviations.

Regularly monitor progress and communicate potential scope changes promptly.

9. Cultural Differences

Problem: Misunderstandings due to cultural differences can impact work ethic and communication.

outsourcing problem

Solution: Invest time in understanding the cultural background of your outsourcing partner. Be mindful of communication styles and adjust accordingly.

Practice active listening and encourage open communication to address any cultural clashes.

10. Integration Challenges

Problem: Difficulty integrating the outsourced team with your internal team can hinder project success.

Solution: Establish clear communication channels between both teams. Foster collaboration through regular meetings and joint working sessions.

Invest in training for both internal and outsourced teams to ensure everyone understands their roles and responsibilities.

11. Language Barriers

Problem: Language barriers can lead to miscommunication and errors.

Solution: Select an outsourcing partner with strong communication skills in your preferred language.

Utilize translation tools and services when necessary. Implement clear documentation practices to minimize misunderstandings.

12. Lack of Transparency

Problem: A lack of transparency from the outsourcing partner can create distrust and hinder problem-solving.

Solution: Establish regular reporting protocols outlining project progress, challenges, and milestones.

Conduct periodic audits to ensure quality standards are met.

Maintain open communication channels and encourage the outsourcing partner to raise concerns promptly.

13. Project Delays

Problem: Unexpected delays can disrupt your workflow and impact business goals.

Solution: Set realistic deadlines with buffer time. Utilize project management tools with clear timelines and milestones to track progress.

Communicate openly with the outsourcing partner and address potential roadblocks proactively.

14. Terminating a Partnership

Problem: Ending an unsuccessful outsourcing relationship can be complex.

Solution: Outline clear termination clauses in your contract, including notice periods and handover procedures.

Document all communication and performance issues throughout the engagement. Seek legal counsel if necessary.

15. Difficulty Measuring Success

Problem: Without clear metrics, it can be challenging to gauge the effectiveness of your outsourced work.

Solution: Define key performance indicators (KPIs) aligned with your project goals at the outset. These might include metrics for quality, timeliness, cost efficiency, or customer satisfaction.

Regularly track these KPIs and adjust your approach as needed.

Conduct performance reviews and gather feedback from internal stakeholders to assess the overall value of the outsourcing relationship.


Outsourcing can be a strategic tool to boost your business efficiency and competitiveness.

By acknowledging these common challenges and implementing the suggested solutions, you can significantly increase your chances of a successful outsourcing experience.

Remember, careful planning, open communication, and a strong partnership are key to navigating the outsourcing landscape and reaping the rewards it offers.


What are the 2 Arguments Against Outsourcing?

While outsourcing offers many benefits, there are also some downsides to consider. Here are two main arguments against it:

  • Job losses: Outsourcing can lead to job losses in your local economy as companies move work overseas to save money.

  • Loss of control: When you outsource, you give up some control over the project. This can be risky if you're not confident in the outsourcing partner's ability to deliver high-quality work.

Why Did Outsourcing Fail?

Why Did Apple Stop Outsourcing?


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