Overcoming some commonly experienced problems with outsourcing web design and development needs.. Here are Some best practices and tips to follow to get thing right in the first go and save the ever precious $$$!

Off-shore business is grabbing grounds gradually and companies are in fact saving on the bottom line by cutting costs. However there are few issues that are most often faced while getting services accomplished from a service provider or agency which is across shores.

Here are some handy tips the areas which can be improved upon to overcome such difficulties:-

Communication Barriers

Lack of communication can be said to be the major factor in bringing failure to some outsourcing projects. No doubt communication has become easy and can cost nearly nothing to interact seamlessly. However at the end of the day one is still dependent on the individuals on the other end their communication capabilities.

While dealing with the service provider, the clients should make sure that the requirements provided to them are detailed and well understood. If not, the work might not go as planned and at the time of the website, you might have a long list of things to do even beyond the timeline which was planned.

A good way to overcome this difficulty is to have as many voice interactions with the account manager who is servicing your account. Communicating only over email can bring out communication gaps.

Moreover, the language might also be an issue while communicating. Let us consider that you are sitting in the United States and your web solutions company is situated in India; there might be problem with understanding due to the difference in accent. In that case, it is advisable to go on a ‘live chat’ which is always helpful. Even then if there is difficulties in making them understand, do a little research and send them samples of how you want your website to be. Make little efforts today and you can get great results tomorrow!

Ill defined acceptance criteria

Although there are various expectations that you might have from the Web Solutions Company you are hiring , but you might still be have doubts about the conditions in the contract provided. Thus there are some factors that you might ignore at the first place but create problems when questioned.
Certain things need to be clearly mentioned in the contract before you put your ‘go’ mark in papers:

  • The objective for the payments and the acceptance norms of the payments should be plainly displayed so that you do not have any problems while filling up the payment amount in the cheques.
  • The process for managing work regarding defects or Change Requests should be clarified. This should be done so that the service providers do not throw tantrums if there arises some issues with the execution of the project.
  • In case any target is missed by the service providers, the party that will decide on the payment withholding needs to be defined frankly. This will assure that the service providers will never make frequent errors and will be extra careful.

Involvement of the customers is important

It is often seen that once the client explains the requirements to the service provider, they develop the misconception that the work will be done. Ideally one should not really pull out of the progress tracking of the project and be updated with what is happening atleast on a weekly basis. This way, there will be less errors and would have less hassles at the time of project delivery. So it is prudent enough if you involve yourself in the project and keep yourself abreast with the ongoing development.

You might want to also list periodic updates in your service agreement at the outset with the service provider.

Issues with cultural differences

Cultural differences are sure to arise in case of off-shore business. Thus it needs to be made certain that the contact points between you and the service provider is cleared out for smooth execution of any project. It is preferable that you interact with the agency representatives well at the outset over the phone and emails to satisfy yourself that the difference is not too wide. For e.g. handing over a Search Engine Optimization project to a Chinese company may not be a good idea. There is such a big language gap that the only way that might help interacting is through Sign Language! That unfortunately is not an option if you are sitting a few thousand miles away..

Time differences and work ethics

Time differences between countries can be another factor in creating problems at work. For instance, if you are in Europe and your service provider is in India, there is a time difference of 3-5 hours. To tackle such problems, one has to adjust the timings accordingly and turn the problem into a void one. For this, you need to tell them your availability time during which they would easily be able to get in touch with you for sorting out problems or answering queries. If the time difference is more than 10 hours then ensure you have some kind of an overlap of atleast a few hours during the day so that you can atleast interact.

Also, try and get a grasp of the work ethics of the company you intend working with beforehand. It is important to see if they are forthcoming and pro-active. Companies or groups which are not are a big NO.

Working with an Organization or an individual ?

Since outsourcing has become a lucrative opportunity in the developing countries, a lot of freelancers and fly-by-night operators have mushroomed. A lot of untrained and under qualified people could actually pose to be an organization. While you are outsourcing, it most recommended to go ahead with a company which has some proven credentials and verified references. If you are not sure about the credentials of an individual or a group of individuals – don’t associate with them. You might end up throwing your money away and trying to press charges against the person – all in vain.
Working with an organization on the other hand will be safer bet as a lot of your due-diligence is automatically done. You are already going to save money by working with an offshore provider – why get more greedy!
Ask for some globally authenticated quality certifications – An ISO 9001 -2000 is an example.

By : Vivek Merani

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