Poor quality and time-wasting nightmares are all common words people use to use to describe online outsourcing; and whilst dealing with online contractors will inevitably bring about its challenges, the continual evolution of outsourcing technology has re-invented the concept to the point at which entrepreneurs should be seriously reflecting upon whether their business is really taking advantage of the almost limitless access to global services, skills and experience.
To explain what I mean by the above, I’ll address some of the less-than-pleasant adjectives used to describe outsourcing and how progressive startups are “cleaning them out”:
In the past, outsourcing really only referred to completely menial, mechanical tasks that could be completed by almost anyone, meaning that supply (the number of people who could do the job) would significantly outstrip demand, resulting in a fast race to the bottom in terms of price.
But now you can outsource almost any task – from app development to architecture and in many of these cases, the selection of the actual person that completes the task is critical to the quality of the outcome.
To address this, outsourcing platforms have focused on rich profiles, which allow you to explore the potential candidates for your task – meaning that low quality providers get weeded out fairly quickly whilst the good service providers can charge more.
Further, as more businesses embrace online outsourcing, demand will increase relative to supply and this equilibrium will bring us closer to fair market pricing.
One of the primary factors that will determine the outcome of an outsourcing project is communication of the goals together with the project brief and ongoing feedback. Previously, comms were limited to sketchy noticeboard like systems that were hardly capable of transferring the creative vision of the outsourcer to the service provider.
But with outsourcing platforms taking advantage of a new wave of tech – like video communication, integration with mobile messaging and most of all slick predictive UI – communication has improved to the point at which a vision can be communicated really precisely, making it far more easy for the outcome to match it.
Time-wasting nightmares – usually a by-product of the two points above, many people have shared with me nightmare experiences of trying to outsource a project and then eventually giving up, cutting their losses and opting to “swing all the way to the other side” towards a super expensive, local service provider.
Outsourcing platforms have characteristics that may seem stressful at first – like awkward time differences, language barriers and sometimes even cultural perspectives but when you actually use the platform you quickly realise the technology makes hiring and running a project blatantly simple.
As outsourcing technology on sites like oDesk.com continues to progress, consumer adoption has well and truly moved into the mainstream.
Country Manager of Elance-oDesk Kyri Theos says “oDesk.com is constantly innovating as we learn more about how businesses and freelancers connect and work together. From mobile to matching, to user experience – we’re refining and improving the workplace every day”
What’s fundamentally driving this growth is a profound shift in the definition of what outsourcing means. Previously, we thought of outsourcing as replacing internal (employed) human labour functions with external (contracted) human labour. But with the intense communication facilitated by mobile (i.e. being “always on”) and the deep connections facilitated by social networks (i.e. LinkedIn and Facebook integration), outsourcing can more accurately be defined as “connected labour”.
People and businesses can now use platforms like oDesk.com to tap into a global network of skills, abilities and experience to create their own scalable army of workers, whether they’re a huge corporate or a one-man startup.
Outsourcing is essentially a method used to empower people to improve productivity, enabling entrepreneurs to build great things and perhaps most importantly, creating jobs where there were no jobs before. As entrepreneurs, the way that you take advantage of the “connected labour” revolution is up to you.
The potential to do great things has only gotten bigger, just don’t let yourself be limited by human resources – you now literally have the whole world at your fingertips.