Having trouble with your outsourcing? You could have misconceptions on what outsourcing can do for you. As I’ve been browsing a few forums lately and seeing a lot of people are having serious trouble when they outsource, while other outsourcers rave about how awesome outsourcing is.
Why the difference?
I think it is because you can break up outsourcing into two broad categories:
1) You outsource what you can NOT do. And this gets the job DONE, but at a premium cost to you.
2) You outsource what you CAN DO, but you are able to get it done a lot FASTER AND CHEAPER than you could yourself. As you can now massively scale up what you were doing before.
Which one are you?
I think most people’s problem falls into being (1) but they wanted to be (2), and they didn’t realise there is a difference when they outsource. As they think they can simple outsource to somebody in India for a couple of dollars an hour then all their problems will be solved.
There is nothing wrong with being (1) if you accept the pros and cons that come with that kind of outsourcing.
For instance perhaps you want to create an ecommerce site which you need a shopping cart and payment gateway set up. As you have no experience with this you decide to outsource it. This puts you in (2), and it can make sense a perhaps it might be very difficult for you to do and this can save a lot of your valuable time.
But if this is just the first ecommerce store of thirty that you plan to make then you should stop and think if you really are going the right way about this. As even if you still decide to outsource, simply making the first one yourself will then make the next 29 which are outsourced go by much more smoothly.
As you will know exactly how you’ll want it, you’ll be able to give much detailed instructions to your outsourcee, also you’ll be less likely to get the wool pulled over your eyes by them if you have an understanding of how to do it yourself.
It is better to waste some of your time learning how to do it right, than wasting lots of money for somebody else to eventually learn how to do it right. Because they don’t have the same incentive to learn, instead they will just “do the job” (even if you’re telling them the wrong details of the job). The feedback loop is much faster and tighter when you are doing it, as you have a strong incentive to get it right.
When it is going to cost you lots of money, do something wrong slowly (yourself) rather than fast (outsourcing)… once you’ve hit the nail on the head yourself and reaching all your goals (daily revenue / visitor numbers / google rankings / conversion rates / etc) then you can look at doing it faster via outsourcing as you’ve now ironed out all the wrinkles of what can go wrong (hopefully) and you’re now free to introduce to the mix another variable (i.e. risk): outsourcing.
Interestingly I’ve never seen an instance of a person being an outsourcing type (2) and being unhappy because they expect the results of (1)! I’d say this is because people are normally quite clear on what they can do, and don’t mistakenly outsource it thinking they can’t do it.
Of course my example of a shopping cart & payment gateway is but one example, you can apply this to anything you want to outsource cheaply:
A final point I’d like to make is those outsourcers who get the very best (in terms of cheapest and fastest) out of their outsourcing will take an active hands on approach to their outsourcees, treating them more as an employee than an outsourcee.
Your outsourcee will generally only be as good as you let them be, give very clear instructions in how/where/why/when you want it done for the best results. Teach and show your outsourcee if need be.
Sometimes you will even find yourself spending far more time on the outsourcing than if you had done the job yourself! However the same care you’d shown in carefully laying out the instructions for one outsourcee can now be used word for word with another outsourcee, and another, and another… Thus you can see how the power of massively scaling up is one of the strengths of outsourcing.
If you fall into (2) then you are much more able to give them very clear directions. If you fall into (1) then you just have to accept the cost (& benefits of not needing to learn it) or upskill yourself to be (2).
And remember the saying in poker: ” if you don’t know who the dummy is at the table, it is you!” Likewise if you don’t know if you are (1) or (2) then you’re (1)! [and at a much higher risk of being ripped off... hence you have to accept that risk or payer a higher premium for lower risk and relative assurance of higher quality]
Moral of the story: learn as much as you can, it will help you even when you’re not directly using! (such indirectly via outsourcing)
I came across one of Paul Graham’s essays again (The 18 Mistakes That Kill Startups). I thought it would be good to note down here as is relevant to this and Paul Graham is a man I highly respect. Read in particular points 5 (Hiring Bad Programmers) and 6 (Choosing the Wrong Platform).