How do you manage tasks for your team when you outsource some of your tasks via popular Web-based platforms like Elance, Freelancer and TaskRabbit? Are there certain tasks you should leave to your local team vs. the outsourced team?

Al Chen, The KeyCuts Team,,


This is not an uncommon issue with today's virtual teams. Resources in a project-based, network or loosely coupled structure can work across many organizational structures. The project professional can have outsourced stakeholders, in-house participants and cross-divisional talent all working on the same project.

Your software for project estimating must be connected either through a SharePoint or enterprise installed system which allows all members to be assigned through a common resource pool. If you are trying to do this through stand-alone applications, great care must be used in naming resources so redundancies are not created through typos or naming strategies.

Tasks should be assigned based on who is responsible to achieve the effort. This can be made clear through a "responsible, accountable, consulted or informed'' chart, or "RACI,'' that has been agreed upon by the local team and the outsourced talent. Clearly, tasks that are tightly coupled with your firm's competitive posture should be kept in-house, while those efforts that are more generic could be outsourced.

Authority must be clearly defined and granted to the project manager so she or he can hold both local team and outsourced members accountable for project deliverables, schedules and cost.

About the author: Ernest L. Owens Jr., lead faculty for project management in the Center for Business Excellence, vice chairman of the Opus College of Business faculty, University of St. Thomas