How To Find An Absolutely Amazing Outsourced Team - Neutech, Inc.
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How To Find An Absolutely Amazing Outsourced Team

When I tell people that I run a senior staff augmentation agency, I often hear one of the following …

a) “Senior staff augmentation – cool! But uhhhh what’s that?”
b) “That’s awesome! We need to talk.”
c) “Ahhh. We tried to outsource our app development and it did NOT work.”
d) “So are all your developers based in India?”

More specifically we are senior software designers and developers who augment your product and development teams, allowing you to seamlessly scale up or down with your development and business needs.

A lot of people have heard of tech outsourcing – hiring developers and designers from outside the U.S.

And a lot of people have tried to outsource their tech and not been particularly happy with the results.

That’s because there’s an art to putting together an amazing outsourced team. It’s not just a matter of going on Fiverr and paying someone $2000 to design your WordPress website.

After working in tech for 10+ years, building our team to 100’s of employees, and building some incredible relationships with companies, we know a thing or three about building great outsourced teams. In fact, we eat, sleep, and breathe it. Read on for our best tips!

5 tips for building a great outsourced team

1. Have a VERY clear understanding of your needs

The best way to get your needs met is to …clearly communicate those needs. Click To Tweet This seems obvious, but lots of companies just know that they “need help getting their product to market.”

That’s awesome! We can absolutely help you do that. The process of meeting your needs will be much more enjoyable for everyone if we’re EXTREMELY clear on what your needs actually are. Click To Tweet

Questions we ask our clients when determining their needs so we can help them build their outsourced team:

  • What problem are you trying to solve?
  • Do you need somebody who’s just going to perform small tasks, like a quick integration or  build a small modal on your app? 
  • Do you need somebody who can build things from scratch? Or someone who will help you maintain an existing platform? (Some engineers exclusively are effective building and some are far more effective maintaining)
  • Do you need somebody that is going to help you flesh out your product ideas?
  • Do you need somebody that’s going to help you go from zero to one? 
  • Or do you already know what you want and need, you already have a functioning product, and you just wish you could clone your senior developer? 
  • What kind of work culture do you have? 
  • Do you have a culture of having lots of meetings with the engineers during the day? 

When you can answer these questions, you are a million times more likely to get a team that feels good to work with and helps you get where you want to go. 

2. Understand what phase of business you’re in

We’ve got clients in all different phases of development; understanding which phase they’re in helps us build the best team possible. You wouldn’t give a 16-year-old who just got their license keys to a Ferrari, right?

Typically, our clients are in one of five phases with their business: 

  • Going from 0 to 1
    You know the problem and need help building the solution
  • Maintenance
    You’ve solved the problem and you want to make sure it says solved
  • Growth
    You know the problem, know the solution, you just need more people
  • Enterprise
    You’ve got a huge system you can never redo, that’s too big to fix, and you need help fixing things as they break
  • Legacy systems
    You can have an existing system that needs to be checked regularly

3. Make sure you can directly access the talent

Some outsourcing companies only give you access to a manager. So when you have a question you have to email the manager, who passes the question along to the engineer, who replies to them, and then they pass the response along to you. It’s unnecessarily slow and leaves a lot of opportunities for information to get lost.

You want to be able to establish trust and validate understanding with your developers and engineers, not just have a manager interfacing. Click To Tweet Also: what happens if that manager gets sick or quits and they were your ONE access point to multiple people?!

Now you’re stuck waiting for the company to hire and onboard a new manager (who might not be a good fit for you and your project) or you’re trying to communicate directly with your engineers for the first time, mid-project, under duress. Not particularly ideal, right?

Another big gotcha? Sometimes when you’ve been connecting with just one person, you’re not aware that there’s been a lot of turnover behind the scenes. You don’t know what’s happening under the hood. That’s how you end up with spaghetti code.

The right outsourcing agency will let you
a) communicate directly with the talent
b) try out different personalities and different ways of working with the talent

You should be able to be very upfront with your contractors and your outsourcing agency that you’d like to try different people and solutions for a few months at a time. This is so much better and faster than hiring and firing full-time employees after you discover – 9 months in – that they’re not the right fit!

4. Resist the siren song of super low-cost, task-focused contractors

We get it. It’s tempting to hire incredibly low cost, Taskrabbit-style contractors to code your product. It seems like a way to save money, get your product to market quickly, and start bringing in customers.

Here’s why we don’t recommend it: generally, you get what you pay for.

And when you hire super low-cost, task-focused contractors you end up with a team of people who only care about what something loosely looks like (even then, they never usually achieve pixel perfect frontends, lol) versus how it functions and scales. They’re not looking at the product holistically or thinking about how their code affects the rest of the project. 

Super low-cost, task-focused contractors often create products that need to be reworked and rewritten further down the line - which can cost a lot of time and money. Click To Tweet Low-cost contractors are also less likely to follow a process. They’ll give you a date when they’ll (allegedly) have the product finished, but they don’t necessarily plan or want to Scrum.

Low-cost, task-focused contractors sound good in the moment. They’ll say yes to dreams other developers told you weren’t possible; they’ll agree to your every whim. 

“Yes, we can develop your MVP by the end of the month, no problem!”
“Sure, I can build an app, without a spec sheet, or proper discovery! Leave it to me!” 

What they don’t tell you is that six months later you’ll be looking for a new developer because all those yesses were nothing more than good intentions. Now you’re out your cash and six months you’ll never get back.

Experienced, product-focused contractors might cost a bit more but they can look at the project as a whole, anticipate future issues, and create a product that will stand the test of time. You won’t spend time, money, or stress rebuilding the whole thing from the ground up just as it’s getting popular. 

5. Make sure you have solid contracts in place

An experienced outsourcing agency will have good contracts in place and will clearly communicate workflow to you.

As you start to work together, here are some questions you’ll want to ask:

  • How do you scale up or scale down a project? 
  • If you discover that you need two more developers on a project, how long will it take to get them? 
  • And if you want to scale down from six developers to three, how much notice do you need to give the agency? 
  • How is information shared? And do contractors need to sign an NDA? 

If you’ve tried outsourcing in the past with mixed results, I urge you to give it another try. If you follow these steps, I think you’ll be amazed at the team you can put together. If you’ve got a project you’d like us to work on, I’d love to chat! You can grab a spot on my calendar here

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