I hire outsourcers using www.odesk.com to help me deliver more value to my SEO clients. In my personal experience, hiring and working with outsourcers is very similar to hiring and managing employees here in the United States. The big advantage of outsourcing, of course, is cost savings: I can get an acceptable 150 word article written for around .50, compared to spending $2.50 or more here in the United States. I don’t feel bad about paying less to have work done overseas. Each time I post a job on Odesk, I have people lined up to do it for me – and some of them suggest a bid price lower than what I have offered, in an attempt to earn the work. Payscales are relative to the cost of living and people in Bangladesh, Kenya, and the Phillipines would not be offering to do the work unless it was a decent wage for them.
That said, there are some things to learn when it comes to managing workers overseas, from different cultures. Here are a few things I have learned.
1. Communication. I use Skype to have 1 on 1 written, voice, and/or video conversations with my outsourcers whenever possible. This way I can see how quickly they write and how well I feel they understand what I would like them to do. I try to be very clear in my description of a task and avoid using slang. I confirm (and often re-confirm) that they understand the parameters of the task and hand, including deadlines.
2. Management. One thing I find myself asking an outsourcer after I have contracted with them is, “When will you start work?” Also, “Will you be able to complete this work on time?” Hiring an outsourcer, in my experience, is not ‘set it and forget it’. I’ve found I really have to stay on top of the work to be done, often checking in via email or skype every day or two. Regular communication is a must.
3. Finding Superstars. When I ran a minor league baseball team in Maryland, we hired a lot of interns and I was always looking for the next ‘superstar’. I was looking for those people who required less management and required less communication than their peers and yet still outperformed them every time. Now that I am hiring workers from all over the world, I am once again looking for superstars that I can funnel most of my work to. I want to find the folks out there who get the work done on time, with as little supervision as possible – even if it costs a little more. After all, freeing up my time is a major reason why I hire outsourcers in the first place.