Recap: #7 - Interview with Brett Levert on The Need to Embrace Outsourcing
#7 - Interview with Brett Levert on The Need to Embrace Outsourcing

Although outsourcing started as a rough experience, once the right match was found, it has proven ever since to be a way to grow really fast. is a 4-year hold self-started (at the beginning one man show) company, now perfectly established, that over its 4th project had the need to hire additional developers and therefore Outsourcing was the logical way to go.

How has it been with Outsourcing?

Here Brett points out that at the beginning it was a trial and error process based on a freelancing outsourcing website (now called upwork) which after some (not so successful) attempts finally led him to meet a great professional developer and so the concept ended up proving to be of real added value.

Where from (geographically) have you been Outsourcing the most?

Currently, employs freelancers from all over the globe and the skills set seems to show a country based cluster pattern, like India and Pakistan having most of the available developers’ pool, while the Philippines seem to be the main source for Virtual Assistants, Social Media, Writers, Editors and Bookkeepers. YTD, it seems that the rest of the world is adhering to freelancing based outsourcing and the company now gets developers from other locations including Canada and the US.

We outsource from wherever the best resources are.

Brett stresses some factors in need of consideration like cultural differences, the ability to properly communicate and time zones (which in the case of weighs the most).

How do you find the US freelancer profile?

Brett starts by pointing out that if one outsources from India (as an example), price and quality are spot on but the projects are run in a different manner; not so much planning and documentation involved, being more of a hands-on approach while the majority of developers in the US and Canada follow a strict methodology including budget and time frame proper setup. Nevertheless, the end-product coding quality may not differ.

Although the end-result bares high quality standards there is both the “Wild West” approach and the “methodical approach” to programming depending on geographies.

What do you mainly Outsource? is an “heavy outsourcer” with 3rd party services towards: development (where custom coding represents the biggest expense for it bears higher hourly rates); basic technical tasks (websites configuration, setup, installation); writing, social media managers, assistants, bookkeeping and accounting.

When about to outsource, make sure you know what you need so you may properly convey the message to your provider.

When about to start an outsourcing initiative it is mandatory to clearly define and communicate the need and requisites (goals and scope) or else a project becomes a never-ending cascade of changes and adjustments. Sometimes hiring a Project Manager is key for success.

What about the relevancy of documenting things?

It is relevant (in the case of a recurring commitment) not only to understand the need but also to have performed the task prior to resorting to a freelancer, and Brett points out several reasons for that: being able to properly explain it; understanding the involved timings and having clearly in mind the difficulty degree; it also ultimately accounts for having the notion of how much should the pertaining budget be.

At the process is to do it for the 1st time internally and record themselves doing the task so that the entire work process becomes clearly documented serving both as a training video document as well as a project detailed description for 3rd parties. Being time-consuming as it is, it allows you free time afterward to focus on what makes your business move forward.

Which tools do you use?

There are two families of tools in use (internal and external). Internally for task management Rake is the working tool, time tracking wise either upwork tool or if the resources are not hired through such platform the tool of election is Hubstaff because it can be easily integrated with many different accessory tools. Communication wise, email and skype play a major supportive role. There are also several additional tools in place which are used to interface with clients such as: Freshdesk for help desk support; ManageWP for automating client reporting; social media scheduling tools and Textbroker for content delivery.

If it works we will use it.

What about horror stories?

Besides everyday small stories, one is promptly recalled about an app developer that took a down-payment of a couple thousand dollars and just vanished (no deliverable whatsoever). The prime advice here is to start by assessing your potential freelancer through the feedback that other clients have given over several projects.

Missing committed delivery dates is also a major pain (happening in average once a week). Here the proven course of action is in one hand to create a collaborative relationship environment with a constant incentive to being honest about the ability to comply with delivery dates (concerning the freelancers), while on the other hand avoiding close calls towards clients.

The most difficult thing is to find good people.

When you finally find a good freelancer, keeping him/ her is “the challenge” due to the sheer amount of available work offering versus the number of really good freelancers.

To ensure choosing the “best fit”, Brett uses some tricks starting by a screening question that is hidden (therefore avoiding mass line feed standard answering), a second filter is to ask for a certain number of work-hours previously registered on similar jobs and the third thing is to always ask for a small simple trial task (although you may have to pay for two or three hours of their time).

Then, one needs to disclose some potential pitfalls: if you get an extremely well-written cover letter but then when the conversation starts you face some poor English skills; negative feedback; having not worked in a while and having not yet worked on a similar project; or if the trial task that you have asked for proves to be a challenge, is not understood or it takes much more time to fulfil than it would take you.

Agencies can also prove to be a headache because in some cases you will interview some top person at the skills you require, but the task will end up being assigned to some other less skilled freelancer.

Now the interview moves into a roleplay where Aderson playing the provider asks for additional work time to complete a project due to some “new feature” not initially described. Brett excuses himself for some defective initial requirement specification from his side and asks for a clear explanation concerning the reason why additional time is required as also such amount of work time in order to present it to the client.

Out of this conversation, what is the one thing about outsourcing that you would like to stay in our viewer's minds?

Outsourcing is just another tool to support your daily endeavor and if it used properly it will support your growth.

In opposition to Linkedin (where you cannot check the information assertiveness), sites like upwork enable you detailed feedback and proof of work and capacity from the freelancers.

I'm an Outsourcerer. I'm a DNN Geek. I help people with their sites @ DeskPal. I'm a #Pomodoro practitioner. I'm a husband and a father of 2 beautiful girls.

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Aderson Oliveira
Aderson Oliveira