Online Outsourcing Horror Story – Is outsourcing jobs to India really that cheap?

Firstly, I would like to clarify, we are not against outsourcing to India or Asia – outsourcing online jobs to India and other places offshore can be a very fruitful experience – some of our best work is done via outsourced workers.

Whether you lead a Virtual Team or you operate an online Virtual assistant business you can greatly benefit by outsourcing online. Outsourcing online can save you a lot of time, money and effort. In fact, if you’re clever about outsourcing online, you can actually increase your profit substantially.

Let me ask you, have you ever…

  • Hired a contractor from India and found that you were not happy with the result?
  • Wasted time and money and got no results for your outsourced project?
  • Had to pick up the tools yourself and finish the job?

You will be surprised to know that the problem is 90% of the time, NOT skills related – it is communication related. Let me make this statement and then explain it “just because someone reads or speaks English it does not mean they understand what you want”.

To illustrate – While discussing some technical issues, I once asked a client in the UK for access to her “backend”. After the deathly silence on the line, I realized I had said something wrong, and came to understand her idea of that term was different to mine. In Australia this is a common IT term, but in the UK this means something a little different :-).

See how mis-communication can happen even between two people of very closely related cultures? Now take a person who is brought up in a vastly different world to ours. They have studied the English language and may have even studied your culture but they do not SEE things through the same eyes as you might.

I once dusted $300 on outsourcing the design of a Joomla template. The project was an absolute nightmare and ended up being a total waste of time. I didn’t achieve close to what I wanted. In my specification process, the online IT Company said YES to everything I wanted. I thought I had followed a strict outsourcing process, but in reality I handled it very sloppily. I also went for the cheapest operator thinking I had found the secret river of gold. Well, all I had found was the public sewerage source and not much more. I eventually gave up and so did they after hours of wasted time trying to get the site template to look half decent and work like it was promised.

The failure was not the company I employed. It was in my online outsourcing processes, job specification and decision making process.

After my experience I learnt a few things about outsourcing online to India. First of all, be clear about your job specification.

Here are some of the steps I now use when preparing to spec a job for outsourcing online:

  • Be specific about what you want in exact terms
  • Give samples of what you like or what aspects you like of a site or product
  • Give samples of what you DON’T like
  • Advertise for small operations or individuals not large companies
  • Make sure you deal direct with the contractor
  • Ask for specific examples of work performed that directly relates to the work you want performed.

Now if you use Elance, Freelancer or oDesk, you will be flooded with applications, so the culling and shortlisting process is important.

Here are some tips for selecting your next virtual worker:

  • Do not be tempted to go for the cheapest one, no matter how good they look.
  • Only shortlist those who have directly answered all of your questions and given examples of their work
  • Make sure you have a verbal conversation with your potential candidates
  • Ask if they will do a test to demonstrate their skill in an area.

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