Both startups and corporations choose to outsource parts of their business functions. Tech development, most notably, is one of the most common outsourced jobs today.
The number one benefit outsourcing tech offers is the convenience. However, just like hiring offline workers, there are a number of things you should keep in mind.
If you’ve decided to outsource parts of your software development, you’ll find that some companies and freelancers you work with tend to be more reliable than others, depending on your budget.
In other words, you get what you pay for.
The online gig economy is constantly growing. Right now, there are more freelancers than ever (with 53% of U.S. companies using flexible workers, according to Upwork).
Though it is too soon to say if the field is saturated or not, there are still some precautions you should take when outsourcing tech. For example, it goes without saying that you shouldn’t hire just about anyone you find online.
Every project is different and so is every tech developer.
It’s a good idea to set your expectations beforehand and let it be known to the person you’re outsourcing your work to.
With a limited amount of time, it’s hard to truly get to know someone on the other end of the screen, so it’s best to get down to brass tacks straightaway.
Some of the more obvious things you should be looking for in an applicant is if they’ve worked on a project similar to yours, what tech they specialize in, and some of the other essential details (how long it’s going to take, how much it’s going to cost, and so on).
Be sure to also consider the “soft skills” in a developer. Communication is crucial to any successful project and can make or break how well it’ll go. Set clear boundaries with your workers beforehand and define how and when you’ll be communicating (Slack channel, phone calls, etc.).
There is nothing worse than not being able to contact your employees on demand. Simply setting clear working hours (so that your timezones match up) when they’ll be available can save you a lot of trouble down the road.
Remember: proper planning prevents poor performance.
To start, it’s a good idea to have some ground rules defined (in terms of what you’re looking for and how you’ll be working together).
This way, you’re saving yourself a lot of trouble in case things go wrong. You’re also making it easier for your outsourced employee as well. If you already have certain guidelines to live up to, they’ll know what to expect on your part.
It’s better to have certain onboarding material ready for your online employees than to be forced to meet them halfway through and figure things out as you go.
Quality is conformance to requirements.
Once you’ve set clear expectations and defined how your outsourced help will be able to integrate into your current workflow and organisation, the next step is taking a look at some of the core factors that you might want to take into consideration when outsourcing tech.
This is where it all starts.
Can I afford it? How much will it cost?
These are some of the most first and the most important questions you might be asking yourself when considering hiring online work.
To give a more detailed breakdown of what it means to be cost-efficient, you need to consider time, quality, and money (or the triple constraint).
One of the most important benefits of outsourcing tech is being able to get work done at a relatively lower cost than hiring in-house in a more efficient way.
Though, this largely depends on where you’re outsourcing your work.
It might be tempting to hire a worker from a country where the cost of living is lower, because their wages would also be lower. But there are other factors you need to take into consideration here as well – such as the quality of their work, work-culture, time barriers and more.
All of this usually has a direct or an indirect effect on their cost as well.
For example, if someone has a lot of experience in communicating with tech startups and also specializes in app development, chances are, they’re going to come at a higher rate as well.
This would be backed up by their experience and expertise, which once again goes to the “defining your requirements” part.
On the other hand though, just because they’re willing to work for less, doesn’t always mean the quality will be high as well. There is a huge difference in the wage pattern between the developed and the developing countries, and a lot depends on the cost of living. The type of work you can get done in the West may come at a much higher price than in a developing country.
Though, this might be reflected in the quality of their work as well.
Finding that sweet-spot between cost and quality is never easy. You shouldn’t be looking at outsourcing only from a financial standpoint.
Depending on how things are going until now, you might want to continue working with your online employee on additional projects, or cut your losses and start from scratch.
Ideally, it’s the former but either way, you should be prepared for both cases.
If things have been going well with your outsourced help, be sure to document everything and note down what made it work so well for the future. For future projects, you’ll already have experience on how to approach tasks and you’ll waste no time preparing.
If you’re going to be working with the employee – that’s even more convenient as you both will know what to expect. If you want to take things to the next level to scale up – you could look into hiring an agency, instead of single freelancers.
Hiring a tech agency might come at a relatively higher cost but that’s the option most startup entrepreneurs go with.
Of course, as mentioned above, a lot depends on your work and what you’re trying to accomplish. It goes without saying that you should do your research first.
When considering an agency, you should also take into consideration their work culture and vision. If it aligns with yours (e.g. you’re both focused on Android development as a startup) – the process is likely to be a lot smoother.
Additionally, with an agency, it’s more likely to know what you’re getting yourself into, as opposed to a mere freelancer. But there are also other things you should be looking into when considering outsourcing to an agency.
Look for any testimonials and past projects that make them stand out, what their work process and approach is like, their vision, target market, and more. If they already have some experience with working on projects similar to yours, everything is much more likely to go smoother.
Well-done scaling up campaign, especially when it comes to tech, can skyrocket your firm to success. If you’re going to go with an agency, be prepared, consider your options and know what you’re getting yourself into.
An essential part of any project management is deciding on a development methodology you’ll use.
This topic gets a lot of discussion and because every software development process is different, there is no right or wrong answer. Instead, a lot depends on your work process, deadlines, and quality control.
Generally, the two most popular methodologies are waterfall and agile, both of which have been tried and tested but have two different work uses, with their own strengths and weaknesses.
When it comes to outsourcing tech development, you need to take a step back and look at your project management within the bigger picture to find the methodology that best suits you.
What you will find is that the process from vision to launch depends a lot on your flexibility.
For instance, the waterfall methodology is a linear approach to tech development and each of its stages must be finished before the next one can begin. Because the design is decided on early in the development lifecycle, this approach is better suited for projects where multiple software components must be designed.
Agile is based around rapid delivery of the tech functions – on sprints, in other words. Rather than creating tasks and schedules, development is defined within sprints (usually in weeks), where most work is completed. And if it’s not done, planned work is reprioritized for future sprint planning.
Agile relies on a high level of customer involvement throughout the project and a lot of back-and-forth communication.
Once you’ve decided on which methodology to use, you can then refine the process to best fit your project goals. Though this isn’t to say your development process must follow either of the above methodologies, it’s still a good idea to define them beforehand to make the process easier for everyone involved.
All in all, if you’re thinking of outsourcing tech development, you should first have an overall idea of what you’re after and what your project management approach will be like.
As long as there is active participation (from you and your employee’s side) and proper communication established – the development process is bound to go better when everyone is involved.
Regardless of the model you choose, it’s just as important you don’t forget regular communication and exchange of feedback. These soft skills, along with a sense of personality, work culture and a vision can go a long way.
Once you’ve set your requirements and expectations, one final thing you should do to decide if outsourcing is the right choice for you is to actually talk to and get to know who you’re taking on for outside work.
The testimonials and reviews can only say so much. The best way to actually know if who you’re outsourcing your tech to is the right fit, is by learning more about their work approach and vision.
Chances are, there are a number of online workers who can help you get your work done. However, the number of people who can do so while keeping your brand and your approach in mind – much less.
Every project is different and it’s very likely for your requirements and work process to be unique to you.
As such, when outsourcing any kind of work online, being prepared and flexible are some of the best ways to go about doing so, and to bring your ideas to life – you need help from someone who truly understands your approach.
Here at Scale3C, our approach is something we like to call entrepreneur–centric. We always keep your needs in mind and go from there.
We know what it is like to be a startup and we specialise in providing an approach that is based around flexibility. So, first, we have a brainstorming session with you to get an idea of what the desired product is like and then take the weight of product development off your shoulders.
This way, you’re involved in our step-by-step process to launch your product, and receive constant updates each step of the way. Our weekly sprints consist of daily status updates and a constant feedback loop with you to make sure everything is working as intended.
Afterwards, each of our developed features goes through quality assurance, during which a QA specialist, a UX/UI designer and product owner validate the deliveries.
In the end, we do a final review with the customer and release after your GO decision.