I just read an incredible insight into outsourcing. If your looking to oursource tasks in your business this is a must read.
I copied it below so you can read it. It was written by patflynn @ http://www.lolerapps.com/10-must-read-tips-about-outsourcing-your-iphone-application-ideas
Pat here again:
Quoc is on a mini-vacation so I thought I’d throw in another blog post before he comes back and writes about why we decided to outsource our ideas, even though he’s definitely fully capable of learning how to code for the iPhone himself (he’s a computer wiz).
I’m going to pass on a little bit of knowledge about what we learned during the process of working with a developer for our iPhone apps. Here are 10 must read tips, in chronological order, about outsourcing your iPhone app.
It’s very important that the business relationship between you and your developer is professional and efficient right off the bat. If not, the timeliness and quality of your final project could be compromised.
Your first impression should be one that establishes you as a client who will not stand for anything less than what is expected from the developer, but you don’t want to seem like you’re going to be a Nazi either.
Where is the first impression made? In your job posting for bids or your letter to a specific developer. Your post or email should sound professional, not only so that people will be interested in your project, but so that after a developer is hired, they will treat you with respect and want to make sure they do good work for you.
Here’s our exact project description that we posted on elance for iPopit:
Thanks for taking the time to read this inquiry for a new iPhone application/game.
My colleague and I seek an iPhone developer for a simple game application that uses the iPhone’s accelerometer for a shaking motion. More detailed information about the game will be given to reputable bidders.
The game will include high-quality graphics and real-life motion in three separate stages. An intro page and a high score page will be required as well.
Please send us your initial bid and we will contact you with further details if we feel you have the experience we require. Upon review of the details, we understand that bid revisions may be necessary.
Thank you again, and we are excited to work with you on our new project.
Pat Flynn & Quoc Bui
If you’re posting your project on a website where developers place bids to work for you, it can be really easy to choose the developer that gives you the lowest price. Be careful here! They might be playing the numbers game and just put in a low bid because they need some work to do. I’d be worried about getting low quality workmanship from your developer if this was the case.
Instead, I recommend doing your best to ignore the prices and narrow your choices down based on their portfolios and feedback. Make note of the ones that have good reviews on similar projects and if they’ve made apps that are in the app store, download them or find a web or YouTube review to see how good they work.
If you’re not sure about some of your potential developers, ask them for more information or even get contact information of people who have worked with them before. More than likely they will be happy to give you that information. If not, I might be a little worried. Are they trying to hide something?
After you’ve narrowed your choices, if you still unsure about who to choose, then see what their bids are. If one is significantly cheaper than the other, and you’ve already done your “background check”, then go ahead and save some money at this point.
How you and your developer communicate with each other can make or break the successful development of your iPhone app. If you’re on elance, don’t bother with the Private Message Board (PMB). I compare it to when you see two people on the news communicating with each other from opposite sides of the world. There’s a 10 second delay and it’s a waste of time and just plain annoying.
If it’s late and you can’t get a hold of your developer immediately, then I would use email – but otherwise I wouldn’t waste my time with email either.
For us, the best method is to use an instant messenger where questions and answers can be communicated almost instantaneously. Usually developers will have a Yahoo, Gmail (for Gchat or Gtalk), AIM, and/or Skype account, so you should set yourself up with a free account before you start the development process.
IMPORTANT: Make sure there’s a way you can go back into your chat history and pull out any previous conversations between you and your developer, just in case you have to quote someone if anything comes up.
Also, it’s important to know when your developer will be available to chat. A lot of developers are on the other side of the world, where they may be starting work while you are about to go to sleep. Make sure you talk about this right from the start, and figure out when are the best times to chat with each other.
You have an idea of how you want your app to function and work in your head, but there’s no way your developer will know all of that information unless you tell them.
Yes – based on your project description, they know what your app is about and basically how it will function, but they can’t possibly understand everything until you tell them everything you want. The best way to communicate your ideas to the developer is to draw out some kind of “flow chart story board” using pictures and arrows of what you want to see on the iPhone, and what pages connect to which.
If you can’t do this on your own, simply explain to them what you want to happen and have them draw it out themselves. A lot of companies include this “flow chart” as part of the development process, so make sure you ask them about it when you’re working with them. This will ensure that you won’t get mad at them for doing something you didn’t tell them to, and they won’t get mad at you for expecting something you didn’t tell them about. You’ll both be on the same page.
Get as detailed as possible, or else you may be in for a surprise and get things you didn’t expect.
Part of the app development process includes getting early versions of your app and testing it. Ask your developer right away how long it will take to get a version you can test.
Depending on the developer, they may give you a really early version that is stripped of all graphics and fancy stuff, just so you can get an idea of the flow of the app and how all the pages and screens work. Other developers will wait until they believe everything is finished before handing it over to you. That is fine too, but they should know you’ll get back to them with all of the bugs and expect another version at a later date.
Make sure you know when to expect your first version, and feel free to email them before hand to “ask how it’s going”, so you can kindly remind them of their deadline.
You’re going into the iPhone app business, so you might as well get one so you can test your apps and learn from existing ones.
When we started this whole process, we didn’t have iPhones. So when our first iteration was ready for us…we weren’t, and this set things back quite a bit. Our first few iterations were shown to us via a recorded video, and although we were able to make comments about it, there’s really nothing that compares with actually playing with the app itself on your own iPhone. This was a huge mistake on our part, so do yourself a favor and get yourself an iPhone or iPod Touch (iPod Touch doesn’t require any contracts or anything, so that may be your best bet).
When you get your first or second iterations, don’t be discouraged if they aren’t up to par. That is the whole point of getting the early versions – so they can be worked out and you can have a great final product!
You should of seen the first version of iPopit we had. Oh man, it was pretty bad. Don’t get mad, just start writing…
On a notepad or on your computer, write down every problem and bug you see. Make sure you go through every possible combination of buttons, pages, links, etc. so you can catch anything that isn’t the way it should be. Look at the graphics, the flow, the speed, everything.
Compile this information into an email and notify your devloper via chat that you are sending them a list of bugs and mistakes you have found. Again, be as detailed as possible with your decriptions. They want as much information as possible so they won’t have to redo it again later.
Remember, both of you want the project to be done and done well – so help them out just as you want them to help you out too.
Life as a hired developer must be tough. Sitting in front of a computer all day with a deadline breathing down your neck – it totally reminds me of when I used to work on AutoCAD in an architecture firm. The last thing I wanted to hear was someone telling me I was doing something wrong and to hurry it up. No $!@#!
So, as you’re talking to your developer and notifying them of the mistakes and bugs you found – don’t be rude about it, be friendly! It really does make a difference.
Feel free to mention what you like and what you’re impressed with. Your developer will feel encouraged and want to clear the mistakes and bugs so you feel that way about the entire product.
Don’t ever be rude, because then your image as a decent client will be tarnished. It’s like when you’re rude to a waiter – that’s dangerous, because you really don’t want spit in your food, do you?
Although you should be friendly, you shouldn’t be under the control of your developer. If they missed a deadline, don’t let them think that’s ok. If you do that, then every other deadline will be missed to, because it’s “ok” with you.
If you’ve told them 3 times to implement a certain feature in your app, and they still haven’t done it – be firm with them. That is not acceptable.
Again, don’t be rude, but be professional. You hired them, and you are their boss. You paid them to do what you expected them to do.
After you get the final iteration of your app, it’s really easy to forget about everything else in the entire world and just focus on getting it into the app store and on sale. But wait…don’t forget!
You got your app, but you have to give your developer the things that they deserve too – their final payment and some honest feedback.
If you’re on elance, there’s a feedback system where you rate from 1 to 10 on various subjects, but you have the option of also leaving a paragraph of text. It would be nice to leave an honest and helpful review for any future iPhone idea holders that may be looking for a developer.
If you hired your developer privately, it would be really nice of you to leave them some feedback via email or by chat so they can use that for marketing purposes on their website or brochures.
In this business, Karma is for real, so do your best to have Karma work in your favor.
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