Here is an interview I conducted recently with Justin Meadows, Director of Evergreen Profit about outsourcing web development offshore. We covered key things to consider such as: open vs closed source platforms, CMS, outsourcing vs insourcing, using an agency vs a freelancer, going direct or via a marketplace site and choosing a country for web development.
Should clients choose an open source platform or a closed source platform?. What are the implications of either choice. If they go with an open source, which CMS is most suitable for SME’s – i.e WordPress, Joomla, Drupal or others? Why?
Going with an open source platform is a much safer and smarter choice for your business, because in the event that you have issues with your provider and wish to change, open source means that there will be thousands of options for you to move to. Closed source will mean you will have to start from scratch.
WordPress is far and away the most popular CMS. It is estimated that around 25% of all new websites are built on WordPress at the moment. Because of this, it is the easiest platform to integrate with and there are endless plugins and developers to choose from.
Should I fully outsource with both account service and development offshore or have local account service with development offshore?
There is actually a third option here, which I believe is the best. That is Insourcing. By finding a superstar overseas and hiring them full-time and investing in training them and looking after them as you would any employee, you get a much more valuable asset for the long-term of your business. But it may only be worth doing this if you have enough work to keep them going full-time.
Next best is going with a local business that manages an off-shore team. This has the advantage of a project manager with a better cultural understanding of your quality expectations and your clients needs, to make your website appeal to the target market. The cost is usually higher, but the hassles are generally less and you can expect higher quality.
Going with a fully off-shore team can be tricky, mainly because of cultural barriers. You can save a bit of money in the short term, but sometimes it can cost more to fix later. And there are a lot of sharks with no interest in long-term customers.
Going with an agency is generally speaking more expensive than some of the freelancers that you can deal with directly or via a marketplace. The pay-off is consistency and reliability. There are some absolute superstar freelancers that produce amazing work at reasonable rates, but their workload is erratic, the good ones get slammed with a huge workload and so they can burn-out quickly if they don’t manage themselves, and they have no backup.
If something is going on in their life, they don’t have someone else in a team that can cover for them, trained to work to the same standard. And it can often take a while to find the good freelancers, many talk the talk but don’t walk the walk.
Does it matter in which country the web development is done? Do they approach it differently in different countries?. I have had good and bad experiences using agencies and freelancers in India, Bangladesh, Vietnam and Bulgaria.
Where you are in the world will have an effect on what works best for you, I personally find it is much better to go with someone in a similar time-zone to make communication easier. I also think choosing a country with the smallest cultural barrier can make life a lot easier. That said, plenty of developers invest in learning about other countries so they can get work from there.
My preference is to work with people in the Philippines. I find their exposure to American culture helps with understanding Australians (there are a few differences to learn though), and they are fantastic English speakers. You can find great developers all over the world, but wherever you choose, it is worth taking the time to understand a bit about their culture so you can see where they are coming from.
Some clients prefer to initiate web development projects locally, getting the initial design and structure in place, then outsource offshore for future changes and upgrades. They believe that outsourcing works better starting with an existing concept rather than trying to get them to come up with a totally new concept.
Certainly design is something that is closely tied to culture, I find people from other cultures will come at a design from a different angle than someone from Melbourne, because how you design is influenced by what you have been exposed to. Also there are great benefits of having a designer that can really get to understand your business and customers by having face-to-face conversation and even seeing your workplace.
However, from a developer’s point of view, it is always a lot easier to work with a designer that you know, and that understands your development process. You can significantly reduce the development time by designing with the development process in mind.
This is another reason why working with a team rather than separate individuals is an advantage.
Lastly, any other things that people should consider not covered in the above.
I guess the important thing to remember is that it really is like anything in business; you get what you pay for and you will get out what you put in. If you go for the cheapest option, you can’t expect the highest quality. And if you take the time to get to know the person you are working with, communicate properly with them and give them clear instructions, you are going to get a much better result. This applies whether they are in the next office or on the other side of the world. People are still people, I know a few cases where people have been burnt dealing with outsourcing options, mainly because they didn’t consider this. They treat developers like a machine that can read minds or something.
Justin founded Evergreen Profit 6 years ago. Evergreen Profit focus on providing reliable wholesale development services to marketing agencies and consultants around Australia and internationally, as well as excellent support and maintenance of WordPress websites.
Evergreen profit was designed as a business to be run from home in Mansfield, country Victoria, Australia. The rest of the Evergreen Profit team also all work from their homes in the Philippines.
by Konrad Markham
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