#01 Would outsourcing be profitable for you?
Before diving into the logistics of WordPress outsourcing, you need to determine whether outsourcing could actually be profitable for your firm. Outsourcing web development can either involve replacing the activities of existing employees or by outsourcing at the margin when the firm is at capacity instead of hiring additional in-house developers.
If you’re considering outsourcing to replace existing activities — typically to cut costs and increase margins — the key consideration is whether you or your employees can use the time freed up to create a net benefit. Many of our clients, for example, prefer to outsource front-end web development in order to invest more time in sales.
Using outsourcing to flexibly expand capacity, on the other hand, can be a valuable way to increase revenue when the deals are rolling in, without the risks of a bloated payroll weighing your firm down if sales hits a dry period.
#02 How do you make communication efficient, especially with language barriers?
First of all, many outsourcing firms actually have employees with high English proficiency. You really don’t have to settle for less, even though many assume that is one of the built-in drawbacks of outsourcing. Our own employees have extensive exposure to English — the TV watching habits of twenty-something, university-educated Ukrainians are not really so different their counterparts in the US — and we also provide formal English classes to support continuous improvement.
Another key principle that we have learned is to minimize communication by email and maximize direct communication by voice and chat. Then if misunderstandings do occur, as they are bound to occasionally, they can be cleared up immediately without causing delays or mistakes.
#03 How far away is too far away?
The magic of the internet means we can communicate all across the globe, virtually instantaneously. However, even if you can technically call someone on the opposite side of the world right now, time zone differences mean either you or they might really not want to be awake and working.
Some outsourcing firms offer that their employees will adapt to work according to your standard work times. However, requiring your developers to work nocturnally (or even semi-nocturnally) is probably not ideal from a quality standpoint. Anyways, there is an easy workaround: no matter where you are in the world, there are likely several decent outsourcing locations whose normal working hours overlap at least for a couple of hours with your own.
In our experience, you don’t need more than those couple of hours to establish a strong working relationship. You shouldn’t have to supervise them the whole time anyway (that’s kind of the point of outsourcing), but with just those few hours you’ll be able to regularly communicate directly by phone or chat without needing to wake up before the crack of dawn.
#04 What are the pros and cons of outsourcing to freelancers versus an outsourcing firm?
For some people, the term “outsourcing” may bring to mind outsourcing platforms, like oDesk or Elance. What these companies are doing is connecting you to individual freelancers.
An outsourcing firm, like our own specialising in WordPress web development, is a proper company with its own staff. The key distinction from a freelancer is that we can ensure long-term stability for our clients that freelancers cannot: if particular developer leaves, we will make sure to transfer his or her client-specific knowledge to another developer so that work for our clients carries on smoothly. If your freelancer decides to stop working with you, you will have to start from scratch with investing in an entirely new relationship.
Freelancers might be the better choice if your project really is a one-time thing. It’s also possible that freelancers might sometimes be willing to work for lower rates than outsourcing firms, since outsourcing firms also have to cover the overhead costs of the company.
#05 What can youdo to make the outsourcing process as beneficial as possible?
For outsourcing of front-end web development, carefully specified projects are the most important contribution you can make to ensure you actually get the maximum benefit. You may have a certain way that you’re used to specifying projects for in-house developers, but more detail is pretty much always a good thing when beginning an outsourcing relationship.
This doesn’t mean you have to spend hours writing page upon page of documentation. Front-end web development is a case where pictures are most definitely worth a thousand words — sometimes it can take that many words just to describe something that could be indicated instead with a screenshot and a couple of arrows.