Transcription: #11 - Justin Jones: Documentation, Relationships and Communication
#11 - Justin Jones: Documentation, Relationships and Communication


Aderson Oliveira: I have spoken with my longtime friend, Justin Jones, about his experience with outsourcing by working with hundreds of consultants and suppliers all over the globe. We went deep about the tricky aspects that he thinks are key to be successful with outsourcing, which are documentation, relationship building, and proper communication, and we also had sometime do a tough call.

Hello, hello. Aderson Oliveira here. This is another interview for the OuchSourcing Podcast where I talk to professionals, to businesses, to people about outsourcing, and hopefully we can take a little bit the pain out of the outsourcing process. Today, I have with me my long-time friend, Justin Jones. Justin, welcome.

Justin Jones: Thank you very much, Aderson. Listen. Thank you very much for throwing me in the category of professional. You're a good man. Thank you, sir.

Aderson: I'm being generous here. But let me do a little bit more of an appropriate introduction here. So, Justin Jones is the Vice President of Professional Services at WSI. We're going to talk a little bit about WSI because that’s the angle that we're going to have, that's the hook that you're going to have inside the outsourcing experience that Justin has. Justin, before I go too long, tell me a little bit about WSI. What is WSI?

Justin: Sure. So, WSI is a franchise, first and foremost, but they are a digital marketing franchise. So, they have full service, they provide anything from lead generation online to building websites, consulting, you name it. So, it's programmatic, marketing automation, anything and everything to do with creating online digital presence and lead generation. They've been around 1995. I think they were launched as hundreds and hundreds of offices around the world - I think it's 82 countries now.

From an outsourcing perspective, as you mentioned, we really use a hybrid model. We have something that we call the eMarketplace. The eMarketplace is like a private Upwork, if you want to think of it, where we have well-selected suppliers, so people who are specialists in various fields. They go through a huge selection process we vet. They would take away all the headaches of taking the wrong person, for example, and causing project disaster. That's been around, I'll say, for almost 20 years. The eMarketplace has almost been around 20 years. We do outsource, but we also have in-house capabilities. Yet again, that depends on which aspects you want to pull value.

Aderson: Got it, got it. Okay, so let's just step back a little bit and give a little bit of background context between myself and Justin and WSI. WSI, I have worked at WSI about 12 to 13 years ago. That's where I came to get to know Justin. We have worked together for a few years. Just wanted to give a little bit more context there. Then, eventually I left WSI to become one of the suppliers of their marketplace. I have experience as a supplier of that network as well. Justin, let me just clarify that different people, if I ask this question to different people, they will have usually different opinions, different answers to that. How do you define outsourcing? What is outsourcing for you?

Justin: Okay. Outsourcing, for me, personally, is all those tasks and activities that you either don't want to do yourself, or it doesn't make sense for you to do it. It might be low value activities. I mean, for example in our case, the most -- the highest value that we would bring to a customer would be in terms of consulting and strategy. Now, for us to go and, let's say, build a website ourselves, me personally, may not be the highest return on investment for my time. Therefore, we would, again, outsourcing would be taking those lower-value activities - or might be high-value activities - that I may not have a specialization in myself or it just makes more sense to put it in the hands of a lower-cost resource sometimes. I put a caveat on that. It's not always about cost. You want to make sure quality should take priority. So, either you don't have the expertise or you're looking at producing costs, therefore outsourcing it to people who are capable of delivering what you can't, or don't want to.

Aderson: Got it. Perfect.

Justin: Geez. It's like a long freaking explanation, eh?

Aderson: No, no, that's fine and I think that that's very aligned to my thinking as well. I think that there's also the fact of speed to market as well. There might be something that you don't want to develop yourself because you don't have the time to create yourself because you don't have the expertise. You could acquire the expertise but it will take long for you to acquire that. So, it's better to outsource, to ask somebody else to provide that to you. Usually, when people hear about outsourcing, they think that, "Okay, so I'm going to send this job over to country X, Y, Z." Tell me a little bit about the locations, the different locations in the globe of your supplier network. Just talk briefly about that.

Justin: Oh, wow. Okay, so we have partners, suppliers in most countries and for different reasons. I mean, it's not just about cross arbitrage, that's the old-fashioned to approach job of, "It's cheaper to go to India, or the Philippines, or Romania." That's not the primary motivator. It's a factor, but not the primary motivator. We have production that sends us, people who are almost full service on the backend for us in countries like Romania, Egypt, Philippines, UK, Canada. Again, it depends on the services as well because some services, you need to be closer to market.

Aderson: Like what?

Justin: Okay. Well, certainly like consulting or creative, usually, you want to be closer, sort of face-to-face or one quick phone call away.

Aderson: What is the consulting side of it? Can you get more specific about what consulting means?

Justin: Okay, so building relationships, meeting the clients. Let's say even if it's just initially. You want to spend time building rapport because, again, not only is it about relationships with your client, but from a freelancer perspective, I think the most - I wouldn't say underrated - but I think one of the most valuable aspects is building a relationship, thinking long-term about your relationship with your supplier. We can talk about cons and pros later on, but once you find a good specialist in a, let's call it, specific area, you don't want to lose that person. You want to build that relationship because they will help you tenfold in terms of what the investment would be.

For example, let's say you have a partner or a supplier that specializes in pharmaceutical solutions. It may be good to have that partner with you in the board room with the client.  Because, they can answer technical questions that somebody like myself wouldn't have a clue. If the work is more, let's call it, it's easy to scope it, define it, explain it, and it's pretty much piecemeal work. It becomes a lot easier to outsource it. Again, on the caveat that you clearly articulate, you got to really make sure that the communication is crystal clear, that there's no ambiguity, there's nothing left to assumptions. Even the color of the logo, we get into detail.

Aderson: Can I get a little bit deeper on that, because that's part of one of the points that I have listed here with me. It's a franchising model. How do you get a potential new member of your network to know what to ask to their clients so they can provide the correct instruction to their supplier? I might have explained that already, but how do you train them to get the right information from their clients?

Justin: Important question. The whole premise of the franchise is that all the system on place, the founders of WSI and the good people of WSI spent years perfecting processes like this so that the people who buy into the franchise don't have to make the same mistakes. They've got everything is documented. I mean, there's weeks and weeks of training both online and in class here in Toronto, in Canada. It's documented, perfected, and we'll also use an element of crowdsourcing, because one of the big advantages of WSI is saying we've got hundreds, and hundreds, and hundreds of consultants, offices around the world with their own employees as well.

They also, again, develop and improve upon processes. So, they just feed back into the franchise model. We take the best of the best, so it's a self-improving model as well. It's not all designed by the home office in Toronto. Again, a lot of training, a lot of documentation, a lot of templates which makes life a lot easier. In fact, they even do things like the marketing templates, the marketing automation content and template. We just hand the stuff out that as part of the franchise. Does that sort of answer your question?

Aderson: It does. It does, because that's what I was getting. I was getting at how they are trained and what type of documentation are they provided with to be able to gather enough information, so that addressed that quite nicely. Now, I understand it's a system. There are documentation and training. But, as you mentioned yourself, one of the key assets that a consultant from the network can develop and should develop relationship, and even relationship with their suppliers as well.

WSI has over close to 20 years, over 20 years, on this market, and I assume that even though there's many, many years of experience there, there are still challenges that someone new coming to the system, coming to the network may face dealing with a supplier or establishing that initial relationship of suppliers. Can you talk a little bit about some of the initial challenges that people may have?

Aderson: Okay. I think these are -- I'm going to take that beyond the scope of WSI as well. These are challenges that anybody new to, let's call it, digital marketing in this particular case will experience. The first thing is -- again, there's a learning curve. You feel overwhelmed. One of the biggest challenges, and even for our consultants, because again, they take time to learn, and we hold their hand. We're fantastic coaches that do one-on-one sessions with them. They even help close deals.

But, One of the biggest challenges, and I put it down to communication and expectations, is when you say "outsource", you just assume that, "Okay I want to build a website. I sort of want it to look like Amazon. Can you please build it?" It's like, "What the hell?" It's nothing like that. The best way, ideally, is to -- I mean, not that you can build an Amazon yourself, necessarily speaking, in one day, is if you can actually do the task yourself.

For example, if you ever had the opportunity to build your own website at least once, it gives you a deeper understanding of the time frames it takes to build a freaking website. Because, I think it's like IT. We all assume like, "Can you move this stuff from here to here?'' and the IT manager or whatever is like, "Are you freaking crazy? We have to relay wires." It's never quite simple. The first thing is, if you've ever had -- and I encourage any digital marketer to at least try a task once themselves so they appreciate the good, the bad, and the very difficult.

First thing is appreciate what goes into it, because it will also give you more appreciation and respect for the person delivering on their services. It will add to the value or the appreciation of the value that you would see. So, expectations, communications. Outsourcing, it requires a lot of effort. It's not a question of, "Here it is, and please build it for me," It's like, "Okay, scope it for me." There's a sort of time requirement? There’s certain skills.

For example, you could take your project to a developer, there might be third-party integrations they know nothing about. So, the more you can uncover upfront, by asking the right questions, and this is where a company like WSI has done a fantastic job in identifying those million-dollar questions, one little mistake, using Amazon as an example. People think that e-commerce is like a website with some steroids in it and it can sell and crack by the products. The real challenging e-commerce, for example, is in the tables, the stuff you don't even see. It's the labeling, the categorizing, the connecting. If you try and price the project without looking at the data first or the inaccuracies in the data, that's where the time cost is.

So, for anybody that's new, the things you want to do is, again, understand the project. What is goal? What skills do they require? Are there any things that I need to know that I don't know? Are there any kinds of integrations, hosting, or special skill sets? Do I need more than one person? I think that is the learning curve is knowing which questions to ask.

Aderson: Got it. That answers the question. Now, let me dig a little bit deeper into that setup, because traditionally, at least in the WSI model, there are three elements to any projects there: the final clients, the end clients, the consultants, and the supplier, the company providing that whatever delivering that project, delivering the service. There is a lot of potential for things to go wrong there because, again, you have different people communicating this triangle type of scenario here.

I'll go again on that point once again is I'll give you a scenario. It might happen very frequently that for some reason the end client, the final client may have changed their mind about something, and now all of a sudden we have the consultant to deal with and the supplier to deal with. How do you make this communication in this relationship as smooth as possible? Is that just based on experience? Is it coaching? What are some of the key elements to make his triangle a success?

Justin: Okay. So, again, WSI is the outlier. We have software married with processors married with years of experience. But, if you're looking in terms of the broader scope for people, first thing is you mentioned documentation. First, understand the project. What skills are required, as I mentioned before? Document the stuff. Again, ask the client as much as you possibly can. The nice thing -- sorry, I'm going to jump around for a few seconds here if you can bear with me.

Aderson: Okay. Go ahead.

Justin: Asking the right questions from the client to uncover the stuff that they don't even know that they don't know, that sort of unconscious incompetence. So, uncovering those questions, taking the answers and the potential gaps, identifying the gaps, putting them into a succinct, but detailed document. The nice thing, as I mentioned, when we first started speaking, Aderson, is if you have a great relationship with some key suppliers, or freelancers, you can bring them in very quickly. Just like you and I, we've worked together in the past. We've known each other for years, we're friends. I know I can pick up the phone and say, "Tell me about, is there something I'm missing?" That is so valuable. I'm going to divert in one second further.

Aderson: Go for it.

Justin: I'm going to use an example -- thank God, we got an hour, eh? I'm going to use Henry Ford as the example because this is so applicable, in my opinion, to the businesses that we ran. Years ago obviously, Henry Ford, some newspaper called him stupid or ignorant, or whatever they called him, and he thought, "Screw that! I'm taking them to court and I'm going to sue the pants off them." He went into court and the tabloid, their lawyers got up. When Henry Ford was on the stand in the courtroom, they asked him all these questions to prove that this guy is freaking stupid, and they say, "What's the capital of this? What is the first president of the United States?"

Eventually he says, "You know what? I don't need to answer this question. I don't even need to know those questions and answers, because on my desk, I have a phone, and when I have a difficult question, I pick up the phone and I've got an army of PhDs on the other end." To me, that's the value of having a great outsource network. It takes time to find the right people, because in the early stages, you're going to hit and miss, and you're learning as well. But, once you find those gold nuggets amongst the dirt - I don't mean dirt in the negative way. In the mountains, the gold in them hills, you hold onto those and you build those relationships.

So, back to your point is capturing information and, in detail, documenting it because that's going to be your check. At the end of the project, you're going to match, "Have we delivered against our expectations?" You want to be totally open in terms of communication with your freelancer or freelancers. Never criticize. Shit's going to happen. Sorry. Bleep. You can put that bleep in. Stuff's going to happen. There's always mistakes; that's life. But, if you're going to be an asshole about it, and jump all over them and beat them, you potentially messed up a big relationship.

Give them three strikes at least. Give them three chances if they don't show up for a meeting, or they deliver on late. Because, it's not always their fault. There's a whole bunch of factors that impact that. But certainly, extract as much as you can from the client, document it in as much detail as possible, expect the unexpected, third-party integrations, and again, in terms of time of delivery, times it by four. Give yourself a lot of leeway, certainly, for your first few projects with the new person that you're outsourcing.

Then, yet again, be open to feedback and communication. Don't criticize. Be constructive dismissal -- not dismissal. Constructive feedback, because we're talking relationships. Then, respond quickly because it's also not uncommon for -- because if the freelancer, let's call it the person you're outsourcing to, has a question, they come to you, you may not have the answer, then you got to go to the client. That can have a compounded impact on delivery times. So, be respectful. As soon as somebody asks a question, respond quickly, just as you would expect your client to respond quickly. So, yeah. You want me again into more details? This is such a big, beautiful subject.

Aderson: I'm going to dig deeper. I'm going to keep poking here. Keep poking the monster. I'm not saying that you're a monster, but keep poking the outsource beast. Now, one of the ways that we learn, and we grow, and we get better is based on what we have done wrong of things that this was not successful, why was this not successful? We examine that, we look at that, we dig deep into why this went wrong, and then we can avoid, potentially, that in the future.

That's why I'm just priming you for my next point here, which is I know that you don't have too much, I guess, contact with the day-to-day projects that go on, but maybe from over here or something like that, have you come across any horror story, anything. You know, a situation that went bad, and this is how it went, and those were the reasons why this happened and those were the learnings from that situation? Anything specific that you can remember? Or, maybe if you don't have one specific, maybe something that more generic that, "Hey, this is what went wrong there and this is how we went about fixing it, and this was the lesson that we learned that we could make it better next time." Anything comes to mind?

Justin: Oh, god. A lot of things come to mind. Obviously, there’s no mistakes at WSI. Obviously, I'm not speaking about us. One of the things for example, actually can I give you two?

Aderson: Go for it.

Justin: I'll talk until you stop me, man.

Aderson: I will stop you.

Justin: So, things came back to e-commerce. Again, when a client says, "I want to sell stuff online --" firstly, there are so many technology choices, and those technology choices are based on a whole bunch of factors, based on the number of skews, how many products they're selling, and variations of those products. One of the examples that comes to mind is people wanting to get the business without understanding the full scope of the project.

So, I want an e-commerce solution. Okay, that'll be 10 grand. When in fact, the data is so unorganized, unstructured that It takes you weeks and weeks of detailed, time-consuming work. That's actually happened on numerous occasions to people that I've been aware of it. The other thing is assumptions. You just assume if I'm dealing with an expert, they're going to know which questions to ask me. That's a natural assumption, but that assumption can cause you a fortune because when the project's not delivered on time or without the full scope of the project delivered because you assumed that the freelancer will ask you those integration questions upfront, most of the time unless they work for you basically full-time, most of the resources are your time is fractional.

You're one of maybe 10 clients at once. They're not reading every detail, they're not always paying attention. They'll switch between projects based on how quickly you're responding to their questions. There's been lots of miscommunication where people assume, "I wanted Amazon. I gave you a picture of Amazon and I wanted Amazon." So, assumptions can cause you a fortune. Ask the stupid questions.

Aderson: The thing with assumptions, Justin, that I find it challenging because different people will have different levels of assumptions. To me, if we're talking about e-commerce, I would assume that there is payment gateway integration, for instance. But somebody else may not assume that. So, it's tricky to get to a level that, "Let's not leave any assumption unpacked, uncovered. Let's discover all the assumptions." I find it tricky. I really find it tricky because, again, different people, different organization all have different levels of, "Okay, this is enough. You don't need to tell me this," or, "No, you need to tell me which color goes in which button." It's a tricky topic.

Justin: You're absolutely right. I mean, that's a great point. I think you can get close to that, and I tell you from my experience how. Again, it goes back to relationships. For example, if you and I are doing a project together, once you understand, once you say to me once, "Justin, don't freaking give me these details. There will always be a payment gateway," and I know. But, when you jump between partners or suppliers or freelancers that you potentially amplify the potential risk.

As I said before, find the good people, and that might take some time. But, once you find them, you can build a relationship with them. It's like getting married. You understand like there are certain things you just don't ask your spouse because you'll get a black eye. You understand like always take out the garbage, always clean up after yourself, put the dishes in the dishwasher or else. In fact, I've learned that after a couple of black eyes.

But, the other thing is work for specialists. Think of it as -- probably, I don't know if it's a term or not: microsourcing. Because somebody builds --

Aderson: Let's coin that. Let's coin that today.

Justin: What about that?

Aderson: Let's coin microsourcing today.

Justin: Trade market, hell yeah. When somebody builds a website, say it could be your cousin's second brother's son in the basement builds websites. You just assume that you can do all things related to websites. The safest, and I would say, the best for my own experience with WSI and beyond is find specialists in the field. For example, graphic designer. A graphic designer is not just a graphic designer.  There's graphic designers that are better at or specialize in logos. There are graphic designers that specialize in book covers. There are graphic designers that are great at understanding the business/marketing side of banner creation and the need to convert or landing pages.

It doesn't mean that you're a graphic designer you can do it all and it's true for other specialties as well. For example, a great platform, DotNetNuke or WordPress, they do the same thing basically, but with different needs. If going to build in DotNetNuke or you're going to build on WordPress, find a WordPress specialist, somebody who specializes in it ideally, and you can't always have that because the more they specialize, the more you're going to pay. But, you know, the chances are the quality is going to be better as well.

So, if you can break up your project into many micro-freelancers, let's say, it creates potentially more difficult to manage and also mitigates some of the rest. Because, if you're friends, cousins, son in the basement decide that it's going to start smoking marijuana and doesn't want to do the project anymore, you're screwed. I would focus on identifying the best of breed in those specific verticals. So, for example, if it's e-commerce, find a great e-commerce person on Magento, or on BigCommerce, or on Woocommerce. Not somebody who, "I do it all." Of course I do it all. I would say I could do it all. I don't do finance, although I say I do finance, but then again I'm not the specialist.

Aderson: I guess, to close the loop there on the specialist, the benefit that they will bring to you, Justin, is the education. Not that they will be teaching how to do things, but they will be teaching you what to look for. The questions that you need to be asking, and then, over time, you're going to be not replacing them, but knowing what you need to be on the lookout.

Justin: It's in their best interest. The more the freelancer, let's say, educates somebody like myself, the easier the next project will be because I won't be able to fill in the blanks myself. We're investing in each other, hence going back to the relationship aspect of these global outsourcing.

Aderson: Got it.

Justin: Can I? Sorry. Go ahead.

Aderson: Go ahead now.

Justin: As I was going to say, it's your show, you can go first, but I'll take the opportunity. One thing I want to add, just in case I do forget is if you're working on multiple projects and your business is great, but one thing, I tell you the first person you want to bring on is a fantastic project manager. A project manager will help you sleep better at night. Let them assume the details of the communication. If you're the sales guy, you love meeting clients, and you're on the road, again, you have to have your sidekick who can do everything. Well, he can probably do it better than you because they live and breathe project management. Project management, to me, is that gateway to growth.

Aderson: That's actually a great segue to my next point here which is what makes a successful consultant? A successful consultant within the WSI network, or again, extrapolates there. What are some of the key aspects of being successful on that business?

Justin: Okay, speaking from my own experience, one of the biggest risks, if you're going into, let's say, digital marketing as the example, is you may be familiar with E Myth, Michael Gerber. He makes a good about working on the business not in the business. Most people, for example, they will start off because we all think we can do a better job than the next person. So, we don't want to compromise quality. We want to do it all, and you can't scale when you're trying to do it all yourself. We want to work on the business, not in the business.

So, the thing is that you want to, again, build processes into your businesses. Once you've built your first website, document all the things: buy the domain name, connect it to the cPanel. You may not know that the first time. Document it. I'm losing my train of thought here. To grow, firstly, don't get trapped in, "Because I love design, because I live Photoshop that I'm going to be doing all the Photoshop work." That's where most people go wrong. If you're trying to build a business, don't get caught up in the detail. This is very high value work. I would outsource everything.

Systemize your process so you know, for example, my website goes to this person, my graphic work goes to that person. You can build a very flexible, scalable business by stretching like that. Get yourself a good project manager, but whatever you do, as much as you might love it, don't get caught in the details of your business because you'll be in your basement or you'll be in your office. Just slow yourself down because you won't be able to feed yourself at the end of the month because you just can't scale. You have to scale.

Aderson: Got it. We had the -- I don't know if the term is still used there at WSI, but we had this figure called the Basement Bob. We don’t want you to become the Basement Bob. Justin, we're not coming to the end yet. I still have few points to talk to you. Let me ask you this. I assume that WSI also works a lot as being the mediator when there are tough situations between clients and suppliers. I assume that WSI plays that role as well. What can you tell me a little about being a mediator between consultants from one side and a supplier from the other side? Can you talk a little bit about that?

A; I certainly can. See, here again, there's always going to be issues. It's not a problem-free world, so there’ll always been an issue. There is the importance of being able to mediate. Going back to my last point, if you don't document this stuff, you don't have a foot to stand on, because I could have told you anything. Don't work outside the, let's call it don't work outside the system, outside the software -- both inside WSI, which we do, because everything's documented. Every interaction is documented, because when something does happen, you can quickly go back in a respectful way between yourself, the supplier, and the client. Probably not the client, but it's often the supplier and resolves it.

As I said, mistakes happen. Accept it, fix it, move on. So, if I'm going to move it outside WSI, because we have the systems in place, sometimes it takes a little bit longer because it's a little bit more complex. But, if it's documented properly like we are trained to do, it makes life a lot easier, and that's true outside of WSI as well. If you outsource, use credible platforms like Upwork, Freelancer, Guru, maybe even Fiverr. Platforms that have payment protection and can also intervene because your money, most of the time, it's in escrow. So, if there's an issue, it's in everyone's best interest to get to the bottom of it.

Ideally, as I mentioned before, you have a long-term relationship with the person, so it's not a big issue. Unfortunately, money helps solve things quickly because everybody wants to get paid. But, it goes back to documentation and communication. There's a whole bunch of tools. I'm happy to speak to them if you want, as you know as well.

Aderson: Can you mention two or three tools to help on the communication aspect -- not so much about just talking, but controlling the flow of information?

Justin: Okay. In addition to the platforms like Upwork, Basecamp is a great tool. The people use Slack. I love Asana, personally, for work because it's got so many integrations. I think Asana is a spinoff of Facebook. So it's well-funded, they're very responsive. But also, things like Skype. Most developers around the world will have Skype. It's free. I think it's still free. I mean, I just pay my bills, but I assume it's still free.

And have regular meetings, for example, using the platforms. So, it might be every Tuesday morning at one o'clock. You meet with the team on Skype or on Hangouts where it has multiple windows, or you can do Skype. I think Skype does the same thing these days. Also, things like I think I mentioned Slack. But, also in terms of tools for, not any collaboration, but tools for explaining concepts, because that's equally important. I mean, you got tools. What's that? MindMeister. It's like a mind mapping tool. What are the tools now?

Aderson: Can you mention, again, this last tool that I didn't quite get it?

Justin: MindMeister. It's a mind mapping tool, and there's also tools, I think it's called Go Visual. There's a whole bunch of tools where you can actually show things visually online in real-time. That might be important as part of the initial project launch phase as well, because some people -- or actually most people understand things from a visual perspective a lot better if you show them in a -- for example, you might take a screenshot of a website and then you put comments on it, and you go back and forward to make sure that he's understanding.

So, use the tools like Basecamp is probably the most used, I'd say, in our space. There's also a tool like Zoho Projects. I mean, I love spreadsheets. Don't use the spreadsheets, man. Do it properly for 20 bucks a month, or something like Asana is free. Once you have a team of 20 people, I think you start paying more, but use the tools. There's lots of great tools out there. I'll send a list as well. Put it with the link or download or whatever.

Aderson: All the links will be available on the video notes, on the show notes. Justin, I want to do something that I have been doing with a few interviewees. I think that we're going to do this well, which is called a Tough Call. A Tough Call is a role-playing situation that I put ourselves in. In my situation here, you're going to be a mediator, a WSI mediator potentially, or someone that looks at the situation and is there to try to intervene, to fix the miscommunication, the problem with the project, and I will be a supplier trying to work with a consultant, and you will be playing the mediator here.

Now, the consultant went to you as WSI, or as the mediator and says, "Hey, this supplier, he finished the project. But, I think, from my opinion, it's still missing feature one, two, three. It's still missing those features and he still doesn't want to deliver that." Now, you will have to give me a call as a supplier and you're going to have to talk to me and see what's going on. Can we play that?

Justin: Sure thing.

Aderson: Perfect.

Justin: Hey, Aderson. I have a complaint about you.

Aderson: Wait, no, no, no. Wait a second. I have to put my role-playing face, you know. You can call me Anderson. Call me Anderson.

Justin: Aderson.

Aderson: Anderson.

Justin: Anderson.

Aderson: So, give me a call.

Justin: Hey, Anderson. Justin here. How are you doing?

Aderson: Hey, Justin. Very good, very good. How are you? Last time I heard from you was a few months ago.

Justin: It was. I've been trying to avoid you, man. Seriously, just a quick call. We've got a couple of issues with ABC or Joe Blog with regards to his latest project. Do you mind? Have you got a few minutes to just sort of walk you through few of the details just so I can get a better understanding of what's been delivered or not or what their expectations were? Is now a good time?

Aderson: No problem, no problem. But, I know what you'll be talking about, but no worries. Carry on.

Justin: What was it? The features and stuff? Okay. Have you got a copy of the original specification that was sent through?

Aderson: Yeah, I have it in front of me and I think that what John is talking about is something he assumed that should be included here, but we had a different understanding there. We could not assume that, just by what is written here, we could never have assumed that this was expected to be delivered as well. So, again, we cannot deliver that for the amount that was paid this far.

Justin: Is it a big fix? Is it a lot of work to get where he needs it to be?

Aderson: You know what? I roughly estimate about 10 to 15 hours additional work that needs to go on to build that feature. Yeah, I mean, that's where we are. We can be very flexible, but there is a limit in how flexible we can go there. I think that we flexed our muscles quite a lot already.

Justin: Well, listen. I think it's probably going to be best to bring in Joe, we do a three-way call. I don't want to go back and forth either. It's best to get us all around the table, or at least around the virtual table, walk through the expectations. Because, also, it's important, no doubt, Joe is going to go work with you again. This is as much learning experience for him as it is for myself and you, of course,  so next time we know what questions to ask Joe. Because, Joe is pretty new. So, he may have overseen something, and yet again, nobody really wants, or very rarely, do we admit fault because that can cost us money.

So, it might be best, let's the three of us get around the table, work through it, because I can see us having a long relationship. I mean, Joe, yourself doing a lot of business together. In the long run, it's probably going to balance out in both your favors. He's going to have a loyal partner and he's going to learn from the experience as well. But I think, again, going backwards and forwards is not the best. I just wanted to quickly chat with you now just to quickly get a sense of where you are in this project. Would you be happy if I set up a call with the three of us and let's resolve it and move on?

Aderson: Sure, sure. The other thing that I'm willing to do, as I said, it might be 10 to 15 hours, but then we can take a bit of that responsibility back to us and cut that in half and you only pay us half. Again, I'm willing to work because of our long-term, and because all of that, and we don't want to lose that, him, John or Joe, as a client, but yeah, let's sit down, the three of us, and let's get to the bottom of it. We are on the same side here.

Justin: Also, it's also important for an opportunity for Joe because there may be additional training requirements from our end. If Joe doesn't understand the full scoping piece of the project and fully communicating it, that's something that we can -- again, we've got a whole team of trainers who can work with Joe to make sure that he understands that. This is an opportunity. I mean, it's unfortunate, but I also see it as an opportunity for us to improve a level of knowledge and understanding, and ability to effectively communicate the needs.

Aderson: Perfect, Justin. Thank you very much man. Okay, so let's do that.

Justin: Cool, man.

Aderson: Talk to you. Bye. That's it, man. Is that, potentially, a common type of misunderstanding that happens?

Justin: You know what, actually, and I mean this sincerely, in my experience with WSI, it hasn't been that common. There'd been a few and it's usually with new consultants. Again, they're overwhelmed because they haven't fully assimilated all the information and the processes, and they're making the assumptions. But, usually, from what I've seen, you make that mistake once, the next time you know. Hopefully, it's not an expensive mistake, but with the company like WSI, the consultants have business coaches that, if they're not sure, the business coach will help them develop the first two or three proposals. They'll help ask the right questions.

It's not so much just an exercise of getting it done, but it's a training opportunity. We may sit with a great supplier like yourself and be on the phone together, or on a Skype call together walking through the details. Again, it happens. It's not a daily occurrence, but it's naive to expect that it's going to be -- you always build in mistakes. You build in the cost of mistakes. For me, like it's four times. In my head, if the person says it's going to take a week, I give them four. I don't tell them I got four weeks.

Aderson: I get it.

Justin: But, I'll tell the client, you can expect it in about four weeks, because stuff happens.

Aderson: I get it. Just now, we are coming towards an end here. If there's one thing out of this conversation today that you'd love someone to leave this conversation knowing about and be more mindful about and being aware of, what is the one thing that you would pick to say, "Hey, if you leave with this, my job is done here."

Justin: I would say there's a whole bunch of things, but documentation, it's a pain on the backside doing documentation, but you'll be so grateful if something goes wrong where it's clearly articulated saying, "Listen, I don't want this in blue. I specifically said in line item seven, I want it red." So, take the time to document. First, you extract all the information that the client wants, make sure that you understand what the client wants, and expect the unexpected, ask the questions that they even know what to ask, document it thoroughly that there's nothing left to the imagination. The size of the logo if you have to. I mean, probably a vector or whatever.

It might be from the specific platform to as much detail as you can provide, and then maybe have one or two spoken sessions depending on the size of the project with the developer saying, "Are there any questions? Does this make sense? Can you repeat this to me?" Because, part of the challenge, I wouldn't say part of the challenge. You've got huge advantages in outsourcing because you can get access to expertise that you may not find very quickly locally or may not be available locally.

But, at the same time, you're dealing with people, who English, in my case English, English might be a second or third language. There's cultural differences. You know, like being South African, there's certain words that we use that people just look at me like I came freaking from another planet. So, you got to be aware of these differences. The communication piece is essential both in terms of documenting the specifics using the tools and I'll share it, share a whole bunch with you guys.

Using the tools to fully articulate yourself. It might even be a video. You might shoot a video of yourself and send that as an attachment, or it might be an image, a copy of a website for the look and feel. As much help as you can get to the developer or the graphic designer, it will make your life a lot easier. If you're building a long-term relationship with him, it becomes exponentially easier, because next time or the third time, the developer will note your expectations, how you operate, your little quirks, the good, the bad, and the ugly about you.

So, documentation and communication. Documentation may even extend to something like a non-disclosure agreement where sometimes you're dealing with either a proprietary idea or proprietary information. It's also a way of vetting developers, because you're going to start with a very broad funnel. You want to get down to the one or two top guys. If they don't want to sign a non-disclosure, then that's automatic disqualification. You might want a non-disclosure as well to protect yourself and/or your client. But again, documentation, relationships, communication. So, that's three.

Aderson: Perfect. That will be the title of the interview. In any case, Justin just to finalize here, how can people reach out to you, can get in contact? Give your internet address here.

Justin: Probably the easiest way to connect with me, because I freaking love people and networking, is on LinkedIn. I'm also on Twitter, and Facebook and stuff. But LinkedIn, if you type in Justin Jones, good chance you'll find me. Twitter, I think its 2JustinJones?

Aderson: All the links will be posted in the video notes, so again, no worries, everything will be there.

Justin: Yeah and if you, again, my work email is LinkedIn is your best bet because I'm a LinkedIn troll. I love reading articles and following people. What's that called? Voyeurism? I don't know.

Aderson: Maybe it is.

Justin: LinkedIn is the best.

Aderson: Perfect, perfect. Justin, once again, thank you very much for being here. I really appreciate the knowledge that you shared and your time here, and that's it. Hope to talk to you soon. Cheers, bye.

Justin: Any time. I appreciate it. Thanks a lot, man. Keep well.

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