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Outsourcing development

How do you manage your development needs

8:39 pm on Apr 7, 2017 (gmt 0)

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I'd like to ask your views on how to approach outsourcing website development.
For the moment I'm running a website where I do everything: content, software development. I'm an average software developper, so it takes me usually 3-4 time more than an expert, but eventually I manage. There is no problem that I couldn't overcome.
I'm using Drupal and there are some inherent patches that have to be applied, then there are bugs in the modules or sometimes even in the core.

I'd like to focus more on building quality content and pay somebody else to do it, but I have an dilema on how to do it.

What;s your strategy? Do you hire one person or reopen the competition (e.g. post a task on freelancer.com) for each task?
The advantage of one person/same person is that they would know much better the specificities of your product and in theory could do it faster. The disadvantage if you do not reopen the competition is that they can charge you more than they are working.
If you reopen the competition (e.g. post all new tasks on freelancer) then a new developer that will come can easily say that what the previous one did is not good/ideal and he would like to redo it.... In theory it should also take more time than with one that does regular tasks for me. For a new feature I'd have to specify it fully before posting the task, whereas with one that would constantly do work for me, I could work more iteratively which I prefer as I cannot foresee all the details from the beginning.

Unfortunatelly I earn very little now, almost nothing, so I can't hire any developer on a permanent basis. On the contary I' have a bit bigger projects (worth 2-300$) 2-3 times a year, the rest is bug fixing or invesitgations.

Have you found a winning formula?
10:00 pm on Apr 7, 2017 (gmt 0)

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Hi Ronnyy - Be specific & define exactly what you want done and the extent of your budget Then you could contact any of the web professionals listed in our Hire Expert Members [webmasterworld.com]
11:33 pm on Apr 7, 2017 (gmt 0)

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In any outsourcing KNOW THE PERSON/COMPANY. If they are working at root level and need access you best know in advance they are qualified and trustworthy. It also helps if you can require warranty and indemnification as well.

As for open bids and working with multiple persons./companies, all the above continues to apply.

More importantly you're likely to have best results if the outsourcing is in YOUR locality where, if legal action is required, you won't have borders or different laws/courts to go through to obtain satisfaction.

If your web site is important, and a source of income of any significant amount, be dang sure you know and TRUST the outsourcing.

Otherwise, go to your local high school or community college and find one or two upcoming top grade earning students and take them on as an apprentice. They do the grunt work, you control their access and watch them like a hawk. For some websites this is a good way to go in that a new gen of coders gets OJT experience and the site owner remains in control at all times.

Whatever you decide, the end result will be predicated on the amount of time and thought invested before making the move.
12:34 am on Apr 8, 2017 (gmt 0)

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What tangor said, plus let me add:

If you are going for bids make sure that your project is clearly defined with a very specific scope.

Be weary of low bidders, that is bids that are significantly lower than everyone else. Low bids are the result of one of three things:
- the bidder did not understand the scope and thus will loose his shirt on the project.
- the bidder is desperate for work and will take anything that comes his/her way.
- the bidder has seen something in your request that you missed, and bidders wants to secure the contract so that he can over charge you for changes.
In the first two cases you run the risk that the person doing the work will run into financial difficulties, this is never a great situation. I'm not saying don't take the lowest bid, I'm just saying make sure that the contractor does not fall into one of the above categories.

Lump sum contracts give you clear idea of what your cost will be up-front, unless you change the scope along the way. This generally will cost you more because the contractor bears the risk. Hiring based on an hourly rate is also common, but again be weary, low rate x more hours can == high rate, low hours. If going this route be sure to get a detailed estimate of hours required in addition to the hourly rate. Then track progress closely, if the number hours of start going over the estimates early you may want to reconsider the approach. Hours consumed early in a project can rarely be recovered later on.

In project management there is a saying you can have project delivered on-time, on-budget and to-spec, choose any two.
1:13 am on Apr 8, 2017 (gmt 0)

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NickMNS hit upon the most "dangerous" side of outsourcing (beside the ones I listed) which is project cost/bloat. All too often in bidding situations there are either cost overruns or completion delays. Any contract between you and a third party must include start, reporting, milestone, and completion---with any pricing schedule agreed upon set forth IN WRITING. There's been more bad blood and business harm generated over "a handshake" than anything I can think of over the years.

Remember: Only YOU have the best interest for YOUR business. Every One Else is out for their best interest.

(side note: I wasn't kidding about the apprentice/student hires. I routinely use this method for mid-level clients who need a support staff but cannot afford or require 24/7 support. They are never allowed admin access or left to work unmonitored.)
10:17 am on Apr 8, 2017 (gmt 0)

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Thank you for your answers.

My dilema now is actually whether to outsource or not. Because outsourcing is also quite some work, as you are saying to draft clear specifications, then to test... and you loose the flexibility of changing your mind...
The work that I currently need is not substantial, I can do it, but since I'm not an experienced programmer and my website is on top of my current normal job, it takes me 3 times more than an experienced developer. On the other hand I'd like to focus more on the content.

On the other hand for the maintenance tasks, I would not grant access to my website to a new person for patching a new version of a module or of the core (I'm using drupal and there are patches every second week).