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TECHNOLOGY

The Outsourcing Paradox - Part 2

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Last time we were discussing some of the challenges of getting up to speed to make technology outsourcing successful for your business.

We looked at the data from a recent programmer project posting which resulted in a variance of more than 250 hours and $5,000 in cost.

While we anticipated the candidate responses would turn out the way they did, the question remains, where do you go from there?

Often business owners set out on outsourcing adventures and only realize how unprepared they are when they're at the point like this one where a decision needs to be made, but they don't know how to make it.

Here are the primary things you'll need to navigate your next technical outsourcing project:

1. Know the outsourcing market — outsourcing sites have their own modus operandi and the programmers who use them have devised theirs too. It's good to know what those are so you know what to expect out of the process.

2. Product detail & clarity — all too many times we've consoled business owners who felt locked into a project costing far more than anticipated because the programmer had to go through so many iterations of (sometimes still unsuccessfully) translating their idea into a working site. The problem is if you're working directly with a programmer (and not a Project Manager, Technical Lead or other go between) that's not their job. Your programmer shouldn't be figuring out the best way for your Web site to sell your product or what pages it should have. You should work that out in advance and provide all of that information to your programmer in the form of technical specifications'�

3. Site specifications — a 3 page description of what you want does not a specification make. When you're building a site that has a certain complexity, a strategically thought out set of features that is then turned into a well written specifications document is essential to creating a site that you (and your customers) will be happy with, and your programmer will be able to do correctly the first time.

4. Technical Expertise — I know, the expertise is what you're trying to hire. That's the paradox. You need a certain amount of expertise in order to accomplish steps 1-3 for technical outsourcing to be effective. However you find it, you need someone who can effectively interpret and document your needs, evaluate & choose from candidates, manage the ensuing relationship, and evaluate the work being done to ensure it's good quality. Just looking at links to a potential programmer's work and speaking to their references is usually not enough to confidently hire for a technical project.

At the end of the day it is often a wise decision to hire an independent third party to act as your sounding board and guide to help you outline your project clearly, hire the right people, and if budget allows also assist you in managing the relationship either by being the point person or by acting as your behind the scenes adviser.

If you're not a technical person (and don't want to become one) make sure you come to the outsourcing party neither alone nor empty handed. Don't let your outsourcing dream transform into a money wasting, hair pulling nightmare — just be prepared.



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