Frequently in my posts, i have mentioned about the mistakes which we do even when we outsource work to vendors. Forget about client hiring us for a service – when we outsource work to someone else, we ignore the basics.
The last month, I was looking for world class designers. Why? Not because i had to create the next iPhone, respect. But because i wanted to get some marketing collateral ready. And as is always, i wanted the best within my budget and needless to say, I had very less time. And when we have very less time, we don’t trust anybody other than self so i started Googling! I reached out to few search results on the first page as any user, clicked on couple of paid ads which made most sense and hit the contact button on majority of them other then the few ones where the page kept on loading and took infinite time!
Few pages were colorful and few were so full of color that i could barely make sense why this thing this company is highlighting so much. My bad design sense whatsoever. I asked for the portfolio to few of them, decided which looked good. Just before finalizing, i also checked a famous freelancing site where i had put up my work to reach some freelancer because i knew organisations/companies would take long time to respond and freelancers would be most agile.
It then happened that i actually liked the sample work of a couple of freelancers and heck! they came much cheaper than what i was paying the best company i had chosen so went ahead and gave the work to the freelancer thinking that I anyways have so much to get done in this year related to marketing materials and all, so this guy works out fine, i will hand him over all the stuff. Sent the work details asking him to send me questions or call me up at any random time if he needs feedback or if he needs to get clarified on something i shared. When i got an instant response to my email – I knew i could go to sleep peacefully. Job would be done.
It was only after 3 days when i wanted to see the draft designs and i sent him an email, i started to feel weird about all this. For about two days I did not get any email response! I was clueless what to do and then thought of contacting the company. As i sent them the email, my freelancer design friend replied that he is working on the draft and how his hard disk crashed so all the designs were lost and since the computer did not turn on, he could not email! Giving him the benefit of doubt, i waited 2 more days and then emailed him back.
He sure did send me the samples but looking at them i could know how deep shi8 I am in. Even if the designs would need to be reworked, i neither had the patience nor the will to do so. I had not paid a dime yet i felt cheated that i wasted my time. Bad part is you cant escalate while talking to a freelancer. Now this specific guy was the problem – I am not that stupid to be against Freelancing! Respect. I knew no one else was to blame other than me. I screwed the basics of searching for an outsourcing vendor. Now this stuff was a week delayed. Needless to say I was jacked! The only rescue was that it was for internal marketing.. Had it been a Client project which i would have outsourced, you could imagine what spot i would have gotten myself into.
After I finally sent the work to the company where i had sent the email 2 days back, I opened up the wordpress blog textbox and thought of sharing these thoughts.
1. References: This one thing I missed. Had i checked this one out and spoken to a few people who have worked with the freelancer earlier, i might have known about the work quality. Even if people would always keep good clients as their references but that in the end, does mean that he has done good work and thatswhy one person vouches for him. Never underestimate the power of references. Insist on references from clients in your business domain – would help.
2. Milestones and Daily Updates: Even if it sounds traditional, a status email every day does no harm to anybody and it keeps you engaged with the realtime status of the work and also keeps the vendor on its toes. I emailed him on the 3rd day but he might have kept quiet if i would not have emailed asking status and i would be waiting for my final product. When you talk to a vendor, ask him if they use video conferencing and what innovative models they use to provide regular status updates. A vendor who has innovated on status reporting of course is sensitive about delivery timelines.
3. Wrong Choice of Channel: Like everyone, I also do NOT search for people everytime even when I have good people working with me. When i sent work to the freelancer, i wanted him to turn out good so that he can take up bigger responsibilities and bigger projects. But that is where Freelancers are a problem. For one of kind of project, yes. But if you are looking at someone for a longer term, i would not advise you against using freelancers but it in my opinion does not work. Period.
Have you made similar mistakes? I and the readers of my blog would love to hear your experiences. Please tell us what happened the last time you worked with a freelancer or outsourcing company.