The Hazards of Outsourcing
I recently wrote a post called The Hazards of Outsourcing (Mobile Apps and Beyond). After I wrote it I realized that nearly 1,400 words may be a bit too long to hold the attention of the average blog reader. So I wrote this condensed version that is about a third as long. Keep in mind that if it seems like I am glossing over points here it's because I am.
The Hazards of Outsourcing REMIX: The Condensed Version
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If you are looking to build an app (or other tech project) but lack the technical skills to do it yourself, there are two common routes you can take: outsource the project (pay a programmer to build it for you) or form a strategic partnership (share ownership of the project with a true partner who will work with you to build it). I generally advise that if you can find a good technical partner and avoid outsourcing you should. And here's why:
The two biggest issues I've had with outsourcing are bad incentives and bad communication.
1. Bad Incentives
A strategic partner's personal success is directly and fully related to the success of the app he is building. Therefore he is much more likely to pay attention to details and put all of himself into every aspect of the app. The outsourced developer, on the other hand, is likely to get paid even if he only builds a mediocre product, and he is therefore unlikely to go the extra mile-especially if he has multiple projects on his plate at once. And when you (the client) lack technical expertise, you will have very limited ability to hold your developer accountable for doing high quality work.
Strategic partners tend to have good (or at least amicable) relationships and are therefore likely to communicate directly, with few barriers and little pretense. And because both partners are project owners, the stakes are essentially equal. Client-developer communication, on the other hand, is a cat-and-mouse-like game that requires constant laying on of niceties, tactful political maneuvering, and significant effort to get the most bang for your buck out of your developer. This can lead to big issues.
When deciding whether to form a strategic partnership or outsource your project you'll have to consider many variables specific to your own situation. Though if you do decide to go with the outsourcing model here are six tips for making it work well for you:
- Find a developer who has experience building apps similar to yours.
- Don't necessarily go for the cheapest developer. Quality varies greatly and is very important.
- Set extremely clear and detailed expectations from the start.
- Insist on working with your developer to solve complex problems together.
- Be flexible with your developer. Understand in advance that there will be bugs.
- Never be overtly rude to your developer but know when to be forceful. If you have issues bring them up in a direct and professional fashion.
Finally, always remember that relationships are a two-way street and when something goes wrong both parties are likely responsible to some degree. Good luck with all your projects!
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Posted in Web Design Post Date 02/14/2017