How to Outsource without the Headache

May 30, 2014

11:30 am

This post includes extra content from Startup Mixology, my upcoming book on starting up – including how to prepare yourself for the harsh reality and celebrate positive moments along the way. Go here to pre-order the book (due July 8) and subscribe to updates!

Yesterday, I wrote about the pros and cons of outsourcing. If the pros outweigh the cons for you, how do you go about doing it?

If you choose to outsource development or other production roles, you can start by getting recommendations or searching websites like Elance, oDesk, or Crowdspring. As with potential hires, you could pay an outsourcing team to complete a short project first. This is a great way to get a sense of how you work together and the quality of their work.

Keep in mind that you can look in different geographic areas for different skills. For example, recommends the Philippines and India for PHP and WordPress, and the US or Eastern Europe for UX/UI design. Others might consider South or Central America due to the proximity, similar language, and timezone. It just depends on what you’re looking for.

It may be your first impulse to hire a rockstar developer from a consulting company. I’ve learned the hard way that some outsourcing marketplaces have loads of listings for one “rockstar developer” (posted as a single profile) who actually represents an army of average or lower-level developers working behind the scenes. These lower-level developers take more time to complete tasks, so in reality it costs you more money. So dig in to find out who you are actually getting.

Finally, be sure that the company you hire has done something similar to the project you want them to complete – it should help save you time and money since they’ll have experiences they can apply to your work. Shop around. Don’t go to a cardiologist for heart surgery when you really need a cardiac surgeon; get the right person for the job.

Whomever you end up hiring, develop a plan for communication and tracking milestones. Without this, you may not see progress until it’s too late (more on that later). The more communication you have with your outsourced workers, the more you build relationships with them, and the closer this resembles having remote workers. This communication should show in the work that’s created.


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Frank Gruber is the cofounder, CEO and Executive Editor of Tech.Co (formerly Tech Cocktail). He is the author of the book, Startup Mixology, Tech Cocktail’s Guide to Building, Growing, and Celebrating Startup Success. He is also a startup advisor and investor to startups. Find Frank Gruber online and follow him on Twitter at @FrankGruber.

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