Cloud For Business From a Stealth Startup

Harry Trott

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Can You Build a Tech Startup with an Outsourced Workforce | @CloudExpo #Cloud

It is often regarded that the core component of a business should always be done in-house

It is often thought that the core component of a business should always be done in-house. This is not only because it is your intellectual property, but also because the learnings you gain from building the product will give direction to your business' strategy in the long run. Given this, is it a good idea for a tech startup to outsource their development?

Before we answer that question, it needs to be pointed out that the myth that outsourcing development in a tech startup is prone to disaster is not always true. Do you know what is common to these following products - Slack, Fab, Skype, Klout, AppSumo and Opera? Yes, these companies were first built using an outsourced workforce. So essentially, there is precedent for successful businesses being built out of outsourcing.

But this still does not tell you if outsourcing is a good idea for a majority of the tech start-ups out there. One of the most common misunderstandings is that outsourcing has to necessarily be dirt-cheap. That is not true at all. As it is with hiring your own employee, you get what you pay for. While choosing to outsource your project, the objective needs to be about finding a developer or team that specializes in the segment - somebody who you cannot afford to hire full-time, but will do a better job in building the product than what you may be able to do in-house. When the founders get this priority correct, outsourcing helps yield the right results.

However, picking a good team is only a start. Most projects flounder along the way more due to miscommunication than due to the quality of the teams themselves. It is not difficult to understand why. When you and your development team are separated by timezones, and the only communication between the teams happen virtually, there is a need for the business owners to go the extra mile to ensure everyone is in sync with the requirements and expectations. How do you achieve this? Here are a couple of tips.

Collaborate a lot: When you cannot have face-to-face meetings with your development team, you should ensure that your virtual collaboration tools are top-notch. While some owners prefer phone calls, I would suggest using an online meeting tool instead. The reason is because these tools enable the teams to talk face-to-face while also being able to share desktops and enable chat translations. This way, if you have hired teams from India or East Europe with whom you may have a language barrier, you get a chance to communicate better thanks to visual cues from gestures and facial expressions that are a major component of communication is some cultures.

Break down assignment into detailed pointers: If you are the business end of the company, you have a view of the market and business needs that the technology team may not have. This disparity is further complicated when the development team you hire do not reside in the same geography because of which they may not always understand the business need for certain requirements. The workaround to this is by creating detailed points about how the end product should look like. For instance, do not simply state your requirement as "have an iPhone-like slide-to-unlock screen on login page". Instead, provide a visual representation of how the login screen should work. There are a number of wireframe design tools available online that you can make use of.

In conclusion, outsourcing your core technology development is not entirely a bad idea. If you are moonlighting at work, or do not have the resources to pay for a full-time development team, outsourcing is always a good alternative. But in terms of the effort required, outsourcing is not too different from hiring your own full-time employee - always be slow to hire but quick to fire. That is the only way to ensure you get the best deal for you and your business.

More Stories By Harry Trott

Harry Trott is an IT consultant from Perth, WA. He is currently working on a long term project in Bangalore, India. Harry has over 7 years of work experience on cloud and networking based projects. He is also working on a SaaS based startup which is currently in stealth mode.