Question: How to effectively manage outsourced/international projects

I am looking for tips on how project managers can effectively manage outsourced or international projects -- that is projects where the bulk of the work is done out of house and/or by people who are not a part of the in-house team or company culture.

Expert Insight

There are three areas that clients overlooked when outsourcing services - especially when the services are provided offshore.

1.  Due diligence.  If the service was being provided next door, managers wouldn't think twice about walking over to the service provider's site for a site inspection that includes reviewing the provider's processes for hiring and vetting of staff, training, security, and execution.  But when the service is provided far away (especially offshore), clients are often intimidated by the investment in time and dollars to perform such due diligence.
2.  Contract terms.  In the same way that FedEx grabbed the lucrative parts of package shipments and left the world's postal services with the rest, service providers cherry-pick the elements of a service that are easy and can be done effectively and often leave responsibility for the remainder to the client.  Managers need to ensure that they fully understand the limitations of the services being provided and factor in the costs and staffing required for the services they will retain.
3.  Dashboards.  Clients manage their own services using dashboards which provide them far-ranging metrics on the performance of their teams.   Service providers often prefer to provide limited visibility into their operations.  Since the client is ultimately responsible in the eyes of customers, it is important to insist on the timely and easily managed provision of critical metrics to allow the client to rapidly respond to shortcomings/failures on behalf of the service provider.