There might come a time when you’ll want to outsource some kind of technical or clerical work (for any number of reasons). Here is what I’ve learned from outsourcing many different projects to people in India, Russia, Pakistan and other countries.
- Go to a big market place You can search on Google for companies that will do the work for you or you can hit one of the big marketplaces. Going with Google is not recommended because the provider is spending money before they actually make anything so they have to raise prices just to compete. Going to one of the bigger marketplaces, like Elance.com or RentACoder.com is best because you will have a lot of different providers competing to do your work in a controlled system.
- Define your project in detail I like this step because while coming up with a full plan and project scope I am forced to think of all details and variations of the project and crystallize them “on paper”. There’s three critical parts to this: 1 What you want as the final product 2 When the final product is to be delivered and the milestones for checking along the way, and 3 Any variations, including in compensation, delivery times and defaulting. Your goal is to get the entire project covered in detail. I prefer to describe what I’m looking for, how it should be done, within what parameters, what should not be done, etc. I usually include drawings or sketches.
- Use an escrow or third party for payments in the initial agreement I usually state that 1/3 of price to get started, 2/3 upon completion and the rest upon any bug fixes, changes or clarifications. Using an escrow service allows you to have the work done before the money is paid out and the provider disappear. Even if you have used a provider many times, I would still prefer to use a third party for larger transactions because in some countries US3K is a millionaire status.
- Tie production to money – tie a schedule and production to money rewards or punishments. For instance, if the product is late by more than 7 days 10% of price is subtracted. I usually tie money to the schedule, and include a 10% bonus if the product is delivered before deadline and as described in initial agreement.
- Be available and encourage communication – Somewhere you did not explain what you meant and the provider might assume something that you don’t want if you do not encourage them to ask and get clarifications at such junctures. It is always best to answer a five minute email than to have five hours of work to be redone. I prefer email, but IM and other ways are fine too.
- Always have an agreement – because of cultural, country and technical-know-how differences, what you think you meant will not mean the same thing to a person around the globe. Having an agreement helps you to clarify what you want and for the provider to understand what you want. It will save you countless of hours of headaches and bickering later on. Declaring such things as the time used in the agreement is Pacific Standard does make a difference if the provider is from India (which is 12hr diff). Tip: If it’s programming, ask for full documentation and you’ll most likely get it without any price increases.
- Expect to be surprised – All except for one project that I have had done for me ended in a satisfactory or better grade. Some were just amazing. And this is what you should expect. Plan and take care of all the details and you’ll be pleasantly surprised by the quality and fast turnaround time you can get from outsourced work.