Outsourcing is the reality of today’s business. Whether you are producing tangible goods or digital experiences, you can find people who can do it cheaper, better, and faster. The combination of these three is the sweet spot for any entrepreneurship. Aside from the circumstance beyond our control like physical lack of technical talent in your location, the leading cause of outsourcing is optimizing the quality-to-price ratio and building a better product for less cash. So if all the checks and balances are named and known, why do so many startups and enterprises fail in outsourcing and what happens to the ones, for whom outsourcing is the only option?
Why Outsourcing Is Difficult
Let’s say you’ve spent a huge chunk of your life mastering a skill that eventually got you to the point where you can start working on yourself and establish your own business. Your professional skillset in the industry is beyond doubt. However, running a business requires knowledge in different fields, like taxation, recruiting, financial reports, economic section, marketing, feedback management, and so on.
We’re addressing the aspect of your business’ online presence and digital experience. This could easily be one of the most important tools in brand promotion today. Chances are, you are generally a non-technical person in terms of knowing the web and mobile frameworks and stacks of development technologies. Add to that UI/UX design, promotion, and optimization, and you’ll have your hands full. If you can naturally manage the latter, the technical aspect requires a solid background in coding and building software architecture.
It makes total sense that you start testing the waters and look for someone to delegate what seems to be the hardest and uncharted part of your website development. The US-based developers make over $100K a year, which means their hourly rate is over $50. At the same time, developers overseas charge $10 or less. No brainer, considering the same technologies, fairly good portfolios, and communication. But that’s the catch. Can you really count on the less than 10 bucks/hour developers? Or is a 100 bucks/hour developer really that much better or just moving at the rate of flow? How do you evaluate their performance, efficiency, and talent?
Chasing the lowest cost will most likely turn out to be a Fool’s Gold. Reaching for the stars, you might gas out. By trial and error and relying on the experience of CTOs and PMs familiar with coding, you can find balance and pave the way that will be your unique. However, with some of the insights on the industry, you can mitigate the risk of failure.
Defining Project Scope
The abundance of startup strategies, guides, and case studies makes launching a startup much easier. If you are a non-technical person but have an idea and a business vision, you can succeed if you do things right and surround yourself with the right people.
There are multiple single-source solutions for everything. WordPress with hundreds of plugins allowing you to introduce multiple services. These things teach you about the industry and help you build something from the ground up. However, this is more of an amateur approach and if you are really interested in a flexible scalable digital product with full control over its operation, protected signature features and code, you will need your own stack, build specifically for you with the technologies that fit best for you.
Now there is a huge community of freelance developers, web studios, and digital agencies, all offering similar service at various hourly rates. The real problem is finding the right people to implement your idea. And not just put it in code but build a product with performance in mind. How to decipher what’s it going to be like working with them before you start? And how to project whether the product will load you with money, or bury you under its wreckages?
It starts with simple things like laying out your supplies. Depending on your initial budget you have several options to start outsourcing developers. Starting at the $10/hour rate with either beginners or the low-skilled, you can go up to $100/hour developers with outstanding reputation and performance. What helps here is a strong current phase project definition.
Over a hundred complete outsourced web and mobile development projects have taught us how important it is to estimate the cost of implementation. We don’t ever want to exceed the budget and ask for more money for no apparent reason. So there has to be a clear vision of what has to be implemented first and what are the results to expect at every stage.
We also recommend to settle the following matters:
- Internal website maintenance. This includes administrative work and requires a special role in the client’s crew.
- CMS operation. How the existing content and media, if any, will be transferred and who’s going to take care of it.
- Contributors. We can provide the initial content to guide your creation in terms of UX and content, but someone has to handle that on a daily basis.
- Any custom and signature features that have to be either converted or created.
This might be a grueling and boring part, but it saves a ton of time and effort in future. Once you lay down the upfront details, it becomes much easier to get started. The scope of a digital product changes with time, so it is of utmost importance when working with an outsourced web development team, to be on the same page in terms of goals and tasks at every stage.
Finding Outsourced Web Development Talent
Once you are settled in on the project scope, know your ins and outs, you can figure out the types of resources your project has to deploy. If you are down for an outsourced team, it’s time to start evaluating the partners with the abilities to contribute to your project. How do you evaluate the candidates? Do you go for freelancers, or hire a team. Is it going to be a dedicated office or a time & material outsourcing?
This is the critical step. If you don’t pick a partner wisely, your project will get a substantial delay and might lose all the momentum. The choice you need to make after the outsourcing decision is whether you are hiring a freelancer or an agency.
Why (Not) Outsource Freelancers?
Most of our developers have freelance experience. For some reason they gave it up. No doubt, there are some great freelance developers out there. The thing is you need to be a hell of a project manager to be able to sync a UI/UX designer, front-end & back-end developers, QA engineers, etc. If you feel like you can handle that along with the paperwork, business development strategy, hiring, and dealing with a bunch of organizational stuff, well… you are a rockstar.
In reality though, you can leverage and grow in certain parts and cave in in the other ones. Your fresh outlook on things, business vision, and clear perspective are the prerequisites of a successful product development. A project needs high-level overlordship, not the jack of trades approach.
Why Outsource Agencies?
Dealing with a team is better on so many levels. First, you rule out all the communication shenanigans and personal bs. You get a committed person in charge of your project and a clear hierarchy and succession of tasks. Multiple teams can work simultaneously and without your personal presence.
Being in charge of the project means having the perspective and the power to enforce the parts of it according to the progress rate. On top of that, you get a 360-degree coverage of an outsourced, yet close-knit team of professionals with no ego issues between one another and a much better communication.
You want to run a team that is dedicated to your project, financially disciplined, excited about our project, and brutally honest about it at times.
Outsourced Web Development Agency Casting
If you don’t have a nose for talent, ethics, and commitment in developers (and people), the safe path to take would be in testing them. The core of such testing is the technical one. There are 3 major way you can do it:
- Automated testing. There are several trusted automated testing platforms like Tests4Geeks with a library of tests to choose from depending on the technology stack you are planning to use. This approach might be a good way to test outsourced developers, however, you can’t rely on them completely, as some might use assistance, and others just don’t have time for that.
- Programming questionnaires. Unlike automated testing, you can’t cheat here as the questions are generally aimed at figuring out a programmer’s problem-solving skills and professional intelligence. This type of testing takes little time to complete, but gives no coding perspective. The Fizz Buzz test is often referred to as a good example.
- Live coding. This type of testing is the most illustrative, as it can evaluate coding skills along with the problem-solving abilities, teamwork, toughness, concentration, etc. No wonder live coding is logistically hard and difficult to set up in an outsourced environment. However, there are platforms like Hackathon that specifically do live coding events.
Whichever way of outsourced developer screening you choose, you have to be familiar with basic terms of web development, know the workflow, and some industry insights in order not to fall out of place.
Succeed In Outsourced Web Development
You made it to the next stage, your outsourced web development partner has been defined and given credence to. You envision your product and start plotting your launch speech/post/tweet. I hate to kill your vibe, but your work is far from being finished. In fact, it is far from being started. The success of your product as well as smooth and beneficial development process all depend on the way you and your outsourced team set up the workflow.
Be Realistic About The Costs
Part of the decision to outsource web development is cost efficiency. Screening agencies relies on technical aspects backed by pure numbers. By now you have a rough estimation, but don’t be complacent about it.
“It’s clearly a budget. It’s got a lot of numbers in it.”
George W. Bush
As the picture becomes brighter and more detail pop up, the project direction might change drastically. An ethical outsourced web development agency is honest with their client and themselves about what it takes to reach the desired result. The Agile methodology approach clarifies the process as it is based on the product delivery in workable chunks with payments coming accordingly. It’s a good way to establish the relationship of trust, get a feel of your outsourced partner workflow, and stay within the budget.
Be Consistent With Project Direction
Clear communication and precise wording are the prerequisites of a hassle-free work and satisfaction. Creating shared mindset within the outsourced team and a consent with a client are the two objectives you can’t set aside. The PM’s job is to investigate all the detail of the project, bring forth the functionality expectations, restrictions, and concerns a client has.
“Efforts and courage are not enough without purpose and direction.”
John F. Kennedy
It’s important to create an environment where the client is 100% comfortable with sharing their vision and perspective. We approach the problem of trust on multiple levels and ensure clients in the ethics and dedication we have for the project. This creates the best opportunity for a productive outsourced work and gives the consistent vision of the path a project is set to take.
Be Within Reach Throughout The Project
You can’t expect discipline in delivery and deadline observance unless the culture of meetings and punctuality is established right away. Our common practice is setting the time that works best for our clients and is equally effective for us as well. Whatever sync policy makes our clients feel comfortable about their project and does not affect our productivity, is acceptable for us.
We’ve come to a number of collaboration tools and practices that we’ve been effectively incorporating in multiple projects. And it’s our duty to try to leverage their best features for new projects. However, if our clients feel comfortable with whatever tools they use, we are open to introduce them to our workflow as well.
“The art of communication is the language of leadership.”
Every single product we contribute to is a valuable asset not only in financial sense, but in terms of our growth on many other levels, communication being one of them. For an outsourced team, reputation is everything. An impeccable portfolio and long-term relationships with clients sometimes mean more than monetary values they provide, as this is a long run that requires a solid foundation. Staying vibrant and quick-to-react on all the touchpoints of a project is an integral part of an outsourced web development agency success.
Be Honest With Your Feedback
Everybody likes comfort. You work and feel better in a harmonious environment and comfortable setting. that , however is not always an option. Most products are born in the fire of holy wars. A good thing about outsourced companies and agencies is the fact that they are build as teams. Unlike a lot of freelancers, developers in teams keep their egos in check or manage to sort things out in private without harming the project.
The same concerns a product owner. He, who pays the piper, calls the tune. Yet if you are passionate about the quality of the tune, you want a piper being on your side with their heart. We appreciate honest, evidence-based, and forthright feedback, while accepting constructive critisizm and just repercussions for our deficiencies.
“I can’t change the direction of the wind, but I can adjust my sails to always reach my destination.”
Keeping in mind the objectives and the ambitious goals of the project might help you to speak up early, make pivotal decisions before a lot of work is invested the wrong way. For this, pay attention to the wake-up calls, be honest about your concerns and be vocal about your impressions.
Make Web Development Outsourcing Your Strong Suit
Outsourcing web and software development might be quite a task early on. Like anything worthwhile, it takes some time and effort to succeed in, but the benefits of it have literally changed the way our world works.
It’s not rocket science to figure out the common theme and the main advantages of outsourcing: pay what you can afford to people on the other side of the world, for the service you can’t afford here.
The true challenge and the real win is in finding the vibrant team, building the relationship, adapting to one another, and navigating between the Scylla and Charybdis of communication, finance, distance, skeptisizm, and politics to reach the level of partnership that will solidify your legacy without making havoc of your pockets.