Outsourcing and Overseas Offices

Outsourcing and Overseas Offices - website

In the last few years I have not only had a relatively big building here in the UK with designers, art workers, programmers, photographers and other staff dedicated to delivering marketing across all different media channels, I have also tried my hand at having building teams overseas in places like India, Romania, China and now the Philippines with varying degrees of success.

The other thing that I have done is used crowdsourcing service like 99 Design, Fiverr, Freelancer and Odesk and the previously know sites like Rent-A-Coder and vWorker too. The internet has made all this possible and I have often read about how easy it is to use this new world resource, how fantastic the results are and how inexpensive things can be, I want to share my own experience, reviews, tips and thoughts on this subject.

The first thing I will say is that I am quite focused on what I want to achieve and have experience in what should happen, having people in my own building, so I may differ from other people in because of this set of expectations and understanding of the industry.

The other thing is that having worked with people form all across the world; the one thing that is truly more important than anything else is culture. The other statement I would like to make is that even though my team in the U are not perfect, the speed, efficiency and ability to spend time with them, makes things far easier than any distance worker has ever done, it’s not to say the distance workers are bad, but nothing beats going downstairs to my studio to go though things on screen and get it absolutely right.

Let me start by giving you my general experience of the sites where you post a project and have people bid on it, like Freelancer. In general the theory, I have found, is better than the practice, to give you an example, I had a project that I wanted to do that was administrative back in December 2012 and it should have taken, at my estimation about 3 – 4 weeks for somebody to do, as I write this, it’s August and the job has now been cancelled because its not been done fully yet.

I think one of the biggest issues is that people on these sites make promises and compete on price and even though I try very hard to evaluate the individuals, they always seem to fall short of my expectations. The other issue that always occurs is that the budget you agree is something that once the project s underway they want to renegotiate, as well as the timescale.

So I guess is you can be flexible, particularly on the time it will take to complete then this is a potential solution. The last point to note, is that with these sites, because people seem to be doing several jobs at once, you need to constantly chase and check things, otherwise they drift form what you want, my personal opinion now is not to use this as a method of getting jobs done, maybe I’m too demanding, maybe I am not able to give these people as much time as I need to (I have other things to be doing), but the pain and hassle is far greater than any benefit for me.

What about sites like 99 Designs or even Fiverr? Well I have used these sites too and I have to say that there are some real advantages for certain people and projects. If you are not design orientated, then the are a great place to have logo and stationery ideas developed, they are also really useful for things like setting up a WordPress site and simple functional tasks like that, but don’t assume that the work you get form there is original and all too often.

Now comes the idea of setting up an office or having full time people work overseas for you, which I first explored and did over 10 years ago in India and most recently have done in the Philippines. In India, both in programming and print production work, the initial results were excellent, but as time progressed the advantages were evaporating as each month at least one of the team there wanted a pay increase and another one left for another job after we have invested significant time and money in their training and the standard of work kept declining.

Most recently, I have opened a facility in the Philippines and this is proving to be a better resource and it’s all based around the culture of people there, they also have fantastic communication skills.

If I was to give any advice to entrepreneurs on outsourcing, I would say that you are best to find the right person and have them fully focused on what you need for either the duration of a project or as I have done, employ them full time, that way they get to know you and visa versa, and using a service like Virtual Staff Finder, which is run by a British guy, who is a true expert called Chris Ducker, makes things much easier and structured. The crowdsourcing I think are more suited to those with simple needs and a short-term goal.

We always have people ask us what do we use on this site, so here are a few of the most relevant service providers:

  • To manage our audience and email communication we use: Infusionsoft
  • For most of our images, we use: Shutterstock
  • Our web hosting and domain registration is done by: 123-reg and Realhosts.
  • To automated and centralise our social media we use: HootSuite
  • To help with SEO and lead generation we use: Webfire
  • Video on this website is hosted on: Wistia

If you would like to find out more about any of the providers listed above, we review them honestly, provide details of alternatives (as they may be more suitable for you) and also other services we use in our resources section.

By Adrian Fleming