As most (if not all) small business owners know, you can\u2019t do or manage everything. And some tasks (HR and accounting spring to mind) are often better left to the experts.\n\n\nOf course, not every small or midsized business can afford to outsource functions, though in many cases the benefits outweigh the upfront cost. But whether you are planning to outsource or are just thinking about it, it pays to do your homework and due diligence before giving over part of your business to a third-party. Here are six things to consider before you choose a business right partner.\n\n\n1. Understand your core competencies and limitations. \u201cOutsource functions that are time-consuming and can easily be performed by someone outside the organization,\u201d says Sara Slettebo, president, ReMilNet, which helps businesses improve efficiency and effectiveness. For example, \u201cReMilNet has outsourced [its] HR functions (payroll, w-2, taxes, benefits, etc.) since 2008.\u00a0With employees working in several states, it is more cost effective to have an external staff available to prepare, process and file our state documentation than manage it internally,\u201d she says.\u00a0\u201cAs a result, our filings are compliant and submitted on time, we stay abreast of new policies that impact our employees in each state and all our records are available online in a secure environment.\u00a0This has been the most beneficial outsourcing decision we have made.\u201d\n\n\n2. Define goals\/metrics upfront. \u201cClearly define the outsourcing goals: cost savings, quality improvement, efficiency, augmenting skills,\u201d says Adrienne Johnson,\u00a0corporate communications manager, CorpInfo, which provides cloud, consulting, infrastructure and managed services. \u201cClarifying goals, needs and expected outcomes aids in selecting the right partner and outsourcing agreement.\u201d\n\n\n\u201cSet performance metrics and specific outcomes for your vendor prior to committing to a relationship,\u201d says Aalap Shah, cofounder, SoMe Connect, a digital marketing agency. \u201cMost outsourcing relationships fail because expectations are not clear, the owner is in a hurry to get it off their plate, or the firm is too busy selling to know what to deliver on. \u00a0Working on these metrics upfront ensures a mutually beneficial, long-term relationship.\u201d\n\n\n3. Find the right partner.\u201cOutsourcing any part of your business is a big deal and not something to consider lightly,\u201d says Maria Black, president, ADP TotalSource.\u00a0\u201cIt\u2019s important to consider the company you\u2019re going to engage as a partner, not just as a vendor [but as someone] that you think you\u2019ll be able to have a long-term strategic relationship with.\u201d\n\n\nFor example, she says, \u201cIf you\u2019re considering outsourcing your human resources function, it\u2019s important to explore a potential partner\u2019s level of expertise in payroll, tax filing and employment and benefits compliance, such as minimum wage and overtime requirements and the Affordable Care Act.\u201d\n\n\n[ Related: From IT vendor management to strategic partnerships ]\n\n\nAlso, be mindful that \u201cthe process of selecting a partner may take some time,\u201d she says. \u201cDig deep on capabilities. Ask a trusted advisor, [colleague and\/or fellow business owner] what they know about the organization [and] check out [the company\u2019s] social media platforms and request references.\u201d While this will take time, it\u2019s worth it as \u201cthe right company will offer increased efficiencies and allow you to focus on your business objectives,\u201d she says.\n\n\n\u201cSeek a provider that is a good fit philosophically with your organization and that will work with you as a true partner,\u201d adds Andy Childs, vice president of marketing, Paychex. And \u201cpay close attention to their service model. Ensure that [the] provider excels at personalized, responsive customer service. The provider should offer a single point of contact and\/or a knowledgeable, service-oriented representative, accessible at any time your business needs support.\u201d\n\n\n[ Related: Request for Solution: What some enterprises really want from outsourcing providers ]\n\n\n\t\t\t\t\n\t\n\n\t\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\n\n\u201cThe partner should understand the client's business, mission and objectives,\u201d says Johnson. \u201cThe client should feel that its account is important to the partner and that the partner has adequate bandwidth to properly service the account.\u201d\n\n\n4. Make sure you have someone internally who can manage the relationship full-time. \u201cIt\u2019s critical to understand that outsourcing requires oversight,\u201d says Michael Beck, head of growth and marketing, Earth Class Mail. Businesses considering outsourcing need someone in house who can be the point person, who can provide \u201cdetailed, explicit instructions\u201d and be available to answer questions and sign off on things, so projects stay on track.\n\n\n[ Related: How to detect if you\u2019re in a relationship with the wrong software outsourcing company ]\n\n\n\u201cCommitting to a weekly or monthly schedule of meetings to review and sign off on items is [also] a must,\u201d says Shah.\n\n\n5. Maintain control\/ownership of data. \u201cWeb and mobile development can easily be outsourced, [for example,] but\u2026don't allow all of your code or product to be 100 percent controlled by an overseas [or third party] company,\u201d says Mark Tuchscherer, cofounder & president, Geeks Chicago. \u201cIf something goes wrong, you'll have no control over your product. You could also lose your code [or your website] and have a very hard time regaining control.\u201d\n\n\n\u201cGet a guaranteed SLA [service-level agreement] and determine how performance and customer satisfaction will be measured and monitored,\u201d says Johnson. \u201cThere should [also] be a predetermined transition process in the event the agreement is terminated, and comprehensive documentation should be maintained. The client should consider if it will have ownership of the tools and processes being used to support the environment.\u201d\n\n\n6. Be vigilant about the security of your data \u2013 and outsourcer. Be extra careful about outsourcing \u201canything related to the security of your website or product,\u201d says Tuchscherer. \u201cIf something is built incorrectly and you have a breach, you don't want to risk client or customer data. In the end, you are responsible for what happens, even if [an outside] company made an error. This can open you up to a legal nightmare, and cost the company dearly.\u201d\n\n\n[ Related: How to build cybersecurity into outsourcing contracts ]\n\n\nSo, again, be sure to vet third-parties to ensure that they are in compliance with industry best practices and will keep your data safe and secure.