We've limited resources in our lives. That's why we look for help when we can't make it to picking up kids at school, don't know how to cook something new or just don't have any idea on how to fix that leaky pipe. We look for help and most of the time we realize we could have asked for it long before. Same thing happens with our professional lives: we've limited resources (time, money, knowledge) in our business, thus we look for help to overcome an issue we can't take care of. Specifically we outsource entire projects or some tasks that came our way.

Think about this example: a client's new request that falls out of your experience but you'd still want to address it to ensure a future commitment with the client's business. Or think about this one: you said "yes!" to a work because it looked as some easy tasks, but the client made some changes and now it's a bigger one than before. Or this also: you're a small agency with no in-house resources available and a small-to-medium web project just entered the office.

You need someone to help you solve your current work situation so you look for experts that would be able to provide you with what you need. Quite often though, when we outsource, we don't fully understand what that means for our current business workflow and just think about the time when everything gets delivered to the client.

In order not to end up squandering our money, we need to learn how to get the best out of the outsourcing experience, especially from those experts we're working with.

Here are the most common problems you'd face when working with WordPress experts (they're who we know best) and tips on how to get an effective working relationship.

Note: all that's true when working with WordPress Experts could be easily applied to other CMSs and other development-related jobs or tasks you outsource.

The 5 most common problems with outsourcing

No matter how much you're experienced with outsourcing work, you might end up facing at least one "hiccup" (if you're lucky) from the moment you post your job description to the very moment in which it gets completed. Outsourcing an entire project (or part of) would bring up at least 1 of the 5 following issues:

  • Difficulty to choose the right qualified people to trust
  • Difficulty to assess the quality of the code provided (if any)
  • Difficulty with project management
  • Difficulty because of language barrier, cultural differences and no personal contact
  • Difficulty because of different time zones, up until 12 hours difference

I won't go into details for each of these issues (it's the perfect topic for a new blog post), but what you should take from this list is that when dealing with an outsourced expert, you'll be facing new situations that you might not know how to handle. Think about working with a 12-hour time span: you write a request and you get an answer half-day after. What if you didn't write correctly all the specs and you missed something? Communication is vital here.

Developers and Designers have different perspective

Let's state something that might sound obvious but it isn't: developers and designers don't speak the same language. What looks as a kick-ass new feature to a designer might actually be a trivial feature to a developer. Same story when a UX designer explains why the website should have that specific feature, while on the developer's hears it sounds a simplistic (aka not a priority) choice. In this common scenario, there's a misconception involving about how difficulty is perceived on each sides.

As Jim Pugh, CEO at ShareProgress and Director of Analytics for Barack Obama, put it:

"When developing software, some things that may seem very easy to non-technical people can actually be very hard, and some things that seem hard can actually be quite simple. So when you describe product requirements to your development team, it may turn out that some minor features will actually end up taking a huge percentage of the time to build."

You can apply the very same communication problems when you think about your client's request. In their minds, clients always need to make "just little things" to their websites and online projects. Little tweaks are, in most cases, never little as they sound. Actually they're the opposite of that because they can generate a flow of other "little things" the client wasn't aware of.

So the more you're good at communicating, the better would be the outcome. But how can you do that? No worries! Here's 7 useful tips to improve the way you work with a WordPress expert when outsourcing some works or tasks.

How to properly write an outsourced job/task description

1. Set a clear goal

It all start with what you need and the way you present it to experts. Take some time to clearly understand what you're final goal is and start listing sub-tasks that are necessary to get you there. Let's say you need to improve your website speed. In order to reach that goal, you should be able to provide as more as specific sub-tasks you can like adding expires headers, compressing components and also provide a shared tool to help the expert align with your needs (like GTmetrix or PageSpeed Insights).

2. Set a budget and a deadline

You set a budget for almost every activity in your life: lunch, vacation, clothes and the like. Working with outsourced experts shouldn't be different. If you don't include a budget (at least a budget range) you look someone insecure about what's asking and, worst, you'd look as someone looking for a cheap work not caring about quality at all. You can imagine how this would make experts feel. In addition, don't be one of those who state "you're hourly rate is already high enough" and add new requests while the job has already kicked-off. These people are called a scope creeper and they're hated by all communities, for a reason of course. The importance of setting up a deadline is quite self-explanatory: it gives both sides an objective time frame within the work has to be completed and after which it should be delivered to the client.

3. Think about what you need and not which solution you should use

Do your job and don't interfere with your experts' work telling them what it'd be best for your current situation. When you delegate something to an expert, they know much better than you about how to solve that issue. That's what you're paying them for. That doesn't mean you have to silently agree to everything the experts tells you. Just be sure to clearly share your needs and all specific tasks they might bring with them. From that point on, leave the expert work his/her magic.

4. Say all that's important and nothing more

Try to explain and communicate what you need in a detailed written job/task description to ensure all is clear on both sides. If you don't know how to say something or don't know the correct technical term, use screenshot or screen capture videos when needed. The last thing you want to do is keep repeating instructions. At the very beginning, it's worth spending some time to outline all that's relevant. But hey, don't fall for writing all it's on your mind and that has slightly any relevancy with your issue. Pay attention not to fall for tl;dr also, experts might get scared with unnecessary long job description.

5. Don't change request or project specs once the project has started

It should be now clear that, when you look for help through an outsourced expert, you have some work to do as well. While outlining your goal, together with all sub-tasks it might contain, take the time to review it at least 3 times to be 100% sure about all elements in it. Once you publish your job/task request and you pick an expert, people take it for granted. If you edit it and make some changes, even if they look "small changes" in your minds, you're going to look an unexperienced, unprofessional, bad client to work with. Most of all, you'd endanger your outsourced work and would need to start over.

6. Answer quickly so your work doesn't get delayed

Not having your expert right at your office's next door is something that makes you understand how accurate communication between the two of you should happen. When dealing with outsourcing experts, time matters even more for the completion of your job/task. That's why you should be willing to be more active with answers and feedback in a shorter period of time than you normally do. Poor detailed instructions are also something that work against your goals, since you'd eventually spend 2x time dealing with emails, chats or unsolicited meetings to asses what's been misunderstood. The more time is involved, the higher costs you're accounting for.

7. Experts are human beings, like you

The world is heterogeneous, a compound of different cultures and ways of living. This environment could bring up some misunderstandings along the way but working hard, even on your client's side is the best way to lower the chances they might affect the outcome. Before blaming on the expert's mistake and lose time writing threatening emails, be sure you have enabled them with all that's useful to reach your goal.

The quality of a developer/designer is just one part of the equation; How good are you as a client? Click To Tweet

Be a good client

The quality of outsourced developers and designers is just one part of the equation: how much of a good client are you? Answer this: did you provide all information needed to let me - the developer/designer - clearly understand your problem and not to lose any time? Experts can discard job proposal just by quickly reading them, so spend some time reviewing yours before publishing it and try to apply all tips I've outlined here. Be a good client and experienced experts will be happy to help you out!

P. S.: Why not apply what you just learned? We have hand-picked WP Experts and 98.9% of our users gave us 5/5 stars. Sound interesting? Create your first task now!

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  • Raleigh Leslie

    Matteo that is a really killer list you’ve put together right here.

    The #’s 1- 6 tips for writing a job description when outsourcing are spot-on for fostering the relationship between new client and developer. #7 though will get you the farthest with a developer everytime by just being real with your expert developer and being the enabler as the client when things don’t always go as planned.

    Like a breath of fresh air from the perspective of a WordPress developer.

    For codeable.io specifically I wrote this post about how the ‘new’ WordPress outsourcing works awesome for the client and developer: http://raleighleslie.com/considering-codeable-io-developer-qa-with-new-client/

    Cheers – Raleigh

    • @raleighleslie:disqus Thanks man, glad you find it useful. And super-thanks for your blog post :)