How to choose your outsourcing partner

How to choose your outsourcing partner

Throughout this series of posts, I’ll discuss the process I went through when I outsourced my first project and share some advice. In the last post I discussed reasons why would you want to outsource your project.

So, once you’ve decided to outsource your project’s development you next need to decide…

What are your options when choosing to outsource your work?

So you’ve made the decision to outsource your next project’s development. That’s great! But…now what? This was how I felt when I got to this stage. There are a multitude of options and you’re probably scared of getting things wrong. But, to be plain, you need to accept that you’re learning and you will make mistakes. There’s a learning curve to everything new and the more you learn and the faster you recover from your mistakes, the better you will work in the future.

Who?

The two big options I felt that I needed to decide between were:

  • Hire an individual contractor
  • Hire a company

Where?

To find suitable partners, you can go to sites like Fivver, Elance and Upwork (formerly known as odesk). Or if you know the engine you want to build your project with, you can try posting on their forums as there’s usually a forum for contractors.

My Experience

Now in my situation, I had had some experience dealing with individual contractors through sites like Fivver and the Unity forums. Unfortunately these weren’t the best experiences.

Using the cheapest designers didn’t produce or execute the mid-quality ideas as well as I’d of liked. I’ve found the saying “you get what you pay for” is completely true when it comes to contractor sites. The same occurred with an individual programmer that I tried to hire via the Unity forums. They had less experience than they claimed and the delivery of the project dragged on so long due to “technical issues” I eventually didn’t pay them because they never completed the work. I was left after weeks with nothing to show for it.

Let’s try a company for hire!

After these negative experiences with individuals I decided to use a company. They would deal with the contractors and I would just interact with the project manager. But which company to use? You could Google “app development companies” and get a list of professional companies able to provide you with app development services, but you’re then left with the question of how reliable are they to work with? With this question in mind, I decided to contact a company for hire that was recommended from a podcast I listen to about app businesses.

I contacted them for an itemised quote. Not all features were important and when you’re working on a budget every penny you can save counts. The quote came back within a couple days and I decided to go ahead.

I’m sure not everyone on Fivver and the Unity Forums aren’t bad to work with. It’s only the experiences I’ve had with a couple individuals that have left me more wary of using these channels.  But if I had better processes in place before, who knows what could have happened.  Trust is an important factor during this time. Ensure you build up a process to minimise challenging situations.

Finalising the contract

After the scope has been finalised, reiterate what’s been agreed in a detailed newly titled email (it’s easy for long email chains to occur and drag on). Get a confirmation and set a deadline. This way everyone is on the same page at the same time.

Takeaway Tips

There were some teething problems, but all in all, I have enjoyed working with an outsourced team and would do it again.

So how would I minimise these problems that arose? To tackle this you need to get all the information together before you begin and that can be easily gathered during an interview.

Interviewing

At the end of the day you’re hiring someone for a job so getting them to interview should be expected. During the interview dig into their experience, what have they previously worked on, when they are available to begin, maybe even ask for references if it’s a particularly long project. At the end of this step you should come away with a detailed picture of the applicant’s skills, how they communicate and how well they’ll work. This should mean you can make a more informed decision on whether to hire them or not.

Keep a record of the name of the candidate, their skills, contact details and which site you got their information. This will help you keep track of what sites you are finding your good candidates from.

The best laid plans…

Going through these steps will never guarantee a great candidate. Sometimes life just gets in the way of people, and that’s all everyone is. So be prepared for and aware of issues that may arise that could derail your project’s development.

Good luck on your projects!


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