A powerful tool for finding a contractor is an online outsource platform called www.Elance.com. Elance is essentially a virtual marketplace that allows you to post projects and tasks for completion by contractors in a wide variety of skill areas.

I have had great success outsourcing to Elance. They are not the only contractor-for-hire group online, but their interface, bidding process, communication, and billing systems work the best for me. Let me share with you some of the features of Elance that I enjoy.

Bidder ratings — Elance allows me to give each person who bids on my project/task a rating from one to five stars. I simply review the bidder’s information and then give him a rating. I then sort to have only the highest rated ones available. Here is a list of things you can look for on Elance to help you rate a bidder:

* Past reviews — this is like getting references from other professionals
* Reputation — review their feedback scores
* Amount of experience — review their validated skills
* Profile pages — look for projects that are similar to your own and review the project work they completed.

Project bids — once you have posted a project on Elance, contractors will begin to bid on the work. (I will typically leave a bid on Elance for four days maximum to make sure I get a good pool of bidders for my proposal.) Assess the quality of each bid by asking yourself:

* Does the bid meet the requested requirements?
* Has the contractor communicated effectively their understanding of the experience level, skill set and project timeline ?

While money is a factor, I highly encourage you to not select a bid on price alone when selecting a contractor.

Private Message Boards —Elance allows contractors to message job posters privately. I review these messages to see if they meet the original post criteria, if they demonstrate an understanding of what I want to accomplish, and if their communication is clear. This exercise should clear out the boilerplate messages and the unqualified bids, allowing you to concentrate on the valid ones.

Using my shortlist, I interview the bidders through the private message board. When interviewing, do not be shy about asking pointed and challenging questions. Interview them as though you were hiring them as a full-time employee. Now is a good opportunity to reinforce exactly what you need. I select contractors based on the quality of the responses and their understanding of what I need to accomplish.

Quality Test — I can request that a contractor demonstrate his or her ability in a variety of subjects and tasks. Do not hesitate to ask for examples of previous work and/or send them a small test to complete to validate their skills.

Author's Bio: 

Hugh Stewart's education is both diverse and substantial. He has two degrees from the University of Miami; an undergraduate and a graduate degree in Mechanical Engineering. He is also a graduate of the Strategic Coach® program and is currently enrolled in the Strategic Coach® Masters Program.

As an owner of several businesses, he understands how organizations flow and thrive and is able to help bridge deficits in communication and engage everyone in an organization to be able to focus on the things that are most important.
Hugh is a prominent businessman who has been involved in 17 businesses in the last ten years.

In order to get clarity about the most efficient way to ways to delegate and outsource effectively, he created the Delegation and Outsourcing workbook. It will guide you through creating a precise and clear understanding of your project goals and requirements.

The one business that he is most proud of is a money service business that was started in 2005. In the beginning, it was doing close to $7 million per year in revenue. In the last year, it is now generating up to $44 million a year in revenue. With thirteen employees with an incredibly low turnover rate, Hugh works only 10 to 12 hours a week in that particular business due to leveraged time and systems.