Outsourcing on oDesk

We do some outsourcing on oDesk, mostly in an attempt to reduce our costs.  So far, the results have mostly been disappointing.  Here’s the major hurdles we have faced:

  • issues with language – comprehension of the English language isn’t that great
  • issues with following specific orders – even breaking down work point by point hasn’t worked all the time, so expect to go through one or two revisions to get it done right
  • work not as advertised – let’s just say that sometimes the portfolio’s provided aren’t the same as the work you’ll get

In general, take the amount of time you’d expect a job to take if it was done properly the first time round and multiple that by 3. If you’re lucky.  Now, most of the time you’re paying 1/10th of the cost of doing it in-house or in the West, but it’s still a lot more hand-holding.

In addition, here’s a few tricks that the oDesk contractors have come up with:

  • Applying with 1 contractor profile, then after you are ready to award the project asking you to push to profile 2.  If they do not meet your expectations, when you review them normally – their main profile isn’t affected by the lower than expected work
  • Harassing you via Skype to give them a better review
  • Overstating their qualifications then bumming around on work to run up hours
  • Taking on more projects than they can handle, then providing constant excuses

Overall, there’s a few projects I’d outsource and a ton that I wouldn’t. Here’s what I’d do via oDesk:

  • basic installations & theme designs. If you’re not interested in particularly high-quality themes and just need a basic website, it’s not a bad place to go
  • basic graphic design.  Great for simple banners, posters, advertisements, etc.
  • writing help.
  • basic web-research.

Now, here’s some recommendations to working on oDesk or its equivalents:

  • always use the main profile, never work with someone on another profile
  • consider doing multiple small jobs to find a few good workers.  Then expand it into that job
  • always break down your work into parts and give the work in parts out
  • check immediately.  So if you need an excel sheet fixed, have them do 5% of it, then check. Or 50 lines, or whatever.  Then check.  Re-check during various stages
  • pay more.  Don’t work with the lowest cost producers – you want to work with those with a higher price because they’re generally better and have more experience
  • consider individuals from Eastern Europe.  They charge more, but the quality is often significantly better