Every startup or startup wannabe has outsourced development work to India, the Philippines, or Eastern Europe. It is more than half the cost of having it done in Australia or the USA the savings mean more funds to direct to building your business. It’s easy right? Well no, outsourcing can be a world of pain if you don’t get it right. I have outsourced small development projects and here are some tips to stop it going off the rails.
1. Define your scope clearly
Make sure you define what you want very very clearly. The combination of language barriers and opportunism means that you may not get what you want and have to pay extra because the developer is pretty clear that she delivered what you asked for. Create a list of every requirement and go through it during the quoting phase to make sure it is well understood.
2. Get a written quote
When you put a job up on elance.com or freelancer.com a bunch of developers will respond with seemingly random quotes without so much as a hello, nice requirements. For some very small jobs this might be ok, but for a full build you need better attention than this. Send each developer a message to make an appointment on Skype to go through the requirements and get a detailed quote. Get references from the developer and follow them up to make sure your developers as the skills to do the work.
3. Schedule regular meetings
To make sure your project stays on track schedule a nightly 10 minute catch up with your developer to go through their progress, action points, and any outstanding tasks you may have. Your relationship with your developer is a collaborative one and needs to be nurtured. If. You ignore it and meet infrequently you will not get what you want.
4. Always pay using escrow
The escrow payment offered by elance.com is realIy great. If for some reason something goes wrong and you need a refund the escrow service allows you to file and complaint and perhaps get some of your funds back. If a developer asks you to pay them outside the standard escrow service you need to dump them fast.
The last tip is to have fun. Building a new online business is exciting and having access to highly skilled labour at the fraction of the local price is a privilege. Services like elance.com and freelance.com have also provided people in developed countries access to a global market. Man developers and designers have lifted entire communities from poverty simply by having access to skills, a computer, and the Internet.