Even if you’re an experienced WordPress developer, there are times when you’re better off focusing on the core mission of your business and outsourcing some development work becomes necessary.
There are huge risks associated with outsourcing work. If you outsource your development efforts to a company or freelancer in line with your goals, then you’ll reap the rewards of a product that further enhances your online profile. However, if you go in the wrong direction, you could end up with a mess on your hands.
Here are seven tips for outsourcing your WordPress development to ensure you get the best possible people for the job.
1. Share Your Mission
Before you do anything else, make sure that you clearly explain the mission of your business to the development team. It’s your responsibility to ensure, as much as possible, that everyone understands why you’re in business.
The reason you want the development team to be familiar with your overall mission is so that team members can keep it in mind as they work. That way, if they have to make certain coding decisions on the fly, they can ask the following question: “Which alternative is the best choice for the business mission?”
That is exactly how you want developers thinking as they touch your code.
2. Write a Crystal Clear Job Description
It’s not only important that you make sure you explain your mission to the development team; you’ll also need to create a job description that properly identifies what you need in your WordPress development.
To do that, you start by explaining a clear set of goals and how functionality can be tested. Then, you set a budget for the development work so that the team knows if the effort is worth the income (note that if a lot of teams are deciding that the income isn’t worth it, you might have to set a higher budget). Finally, you’ll also want a deadline, so the team knows when the finished product is expected by.
When you write a job description, explain what you need from a usability or functionality perspective without getting bogged down in the technology that’s required. You’re outsourcing work so that you don’t have to focus on these types of details – the development team will suggest the best technology for the job. Just explain the requirements and let the team decide on the best tool to use.
Finally, don’t burden the development team with non-essential information. The people you’re outsourcing your development work to don’t need to hear about external problems your business is facing, political infighting, requirements not related to the current project, or financial pressures. Just keep the team focused on the development efforts.
3. Communicate Effectively
When outsourcing, keep in mind that communication is a two-way street. Once you’ve made your company mission clear and explained your goals for the current development task, be prompt in responding to queries. It’s not likely that you’re going to answer every possible question up front.
If your development team reaches out to you with a question or concern about the project, respond as quickly as possible so that you don’t put pressure on your own deadline.
4. Start Small
If you’re unsure about outsourcing, feel free to smart small. Outsource a small change to a development team with a great reputation, and see what results they produce. The investment should be minimal.
Once the team has completed its work, evaluate it. Did the team follow the instructions clearly? Was the project completed on time? Was the team prompt in its communication during the development process? Did the team practice outstanding customer service the whole time?
If the answer to all of those questions is “yes”, then congratulations, you’ve found a great team of developers. Hire that same team for a larger project and repeat the evaluation process.
5. ‘Chunk’ Tasks
Another great reason to smart small and work your way up to outsourcing larger projects is because it trains you to look at small units of development effort rather than larger initiatives. However, once you’ve found a great company and are ready to move forward with a large project, you’ll do yourself and your team a great favor by breaking the project tasks into smaller sub-tasks.
This will not only make it easier on the development team, but it will also make it easier for you to check the finished product. Effectively, you’re creating a checklist that you can use for quality assurance purposes.
6. Query ‘Snagging’ Services
Once your development team has completed the project and turned it over to you for review, you might find that the team has done everything exactly as you expected and the new software works perfectly. The team’s work is done forever, right?
Software development is never finished. There is always some unnoticed bug in the system, some use case scenario that nobody considered, or some feature enhancement that will inevitably be requested. In short, you’re going to need a team that not only delivers the goods up front, but is also responsible for ongoing maintenance.
Keep that in mind as you evaluate candidates for outsourcing. Ask each team leader about maintenance issues. Is there some level of maintenance provided for free? How much does the maintenance cost? This comes back to time management – you’re outsourcing work so that you don’t need to focus on these little maintenance issues.
If you’re checking references, ask about the team’s reliability, cost, and quality of service when it comes to maintenance. Otherwise, you could end up with a great website up front but the inability to update it in a timely fashion.
7. Choose Your Trade Wisely
Finally, remember that when you’re outsourcing your WordPress development efforts, there is a difference between development and design. Make sure that you hire the right party for the job.
The design of a WordPress site involves its look and feel. It’s usually an artistic representation of your brand that’s presented on the web. The design is often created by people who are experts in user experience and the latest trends in web presentation. In short, these people are the artists, not the techies.
The development of your WordPress site involves taking the design and turning it into a technical reality. Developers look at the layout presented by the designer (often in PSD, or PhotoShop, format) and write the necessary code to make that vision a reality.
This is an important point to keep in mind, because it’s rarely the case that a developer also has the skills of a designer.
If you’d rather focus on the mission of your business and outsource some of your development tasks to somebody else, be sure that you exercise the required due diligence to find the right team. Remember, your website reflects your brand online, so you want to make certain that the quality of the work that your team produces leaves people with a good impression.
What steps do you take when looking to outsource work to other teams? Let us know in the comments!