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