However, you may not always have the in-house skills to meet all of your clients’ requirements. This can prove really frustrating, especially if you then have to witness existing clients going off and spending large sums with other service providers.
There is a way around this – using IT outsourcing to fill the gaps in your internal skill-set.
This can work particularly well when it comes to software development. Not every IT company has in-house programmers, but there are IT outsourcing freelancers all over the world just waiting for you to give them work. If you’re happy to handle the project management and the responsibility for service delivery, there’s no reason why you cannot add software development to your portfolio of IT outsourcing services and charge a pleasing mark-up on the projects you deliver. Here’s how to do it:
- Become familiar with the online freelancing boards. There are a number of well-known online freelance job boards, including Elance, oDesk and vWorker. All of these provide you with access to thousands of skilled freelancers located all over the world. All of them work in a similar way: You advertise details of the work you need and contractors send bids to complete it. You can then interview your choice of candidates, check their feedback for past jobs, and then offer the job to your chosen freelancer. All of the sites then have a range of features to manage the contracts, including payment escrow, time tracking functions and the ability to monitor the work your freelance staff are doing.
- Learn the pitfalls. Learning to use the freelancing platforms effectively is a skill in itself. While there are many highly qualified contractors on the sites, there are also plenty of chancers and incompetents! This is where the feedback systems are invaluable. You will quickly learn that people will bid ludicrously small amounts to complete complicated projects, but the saying that “you get what you pay for” has never been more relevant. You can certainly profit well from making use of contractors in countries where salary expectations are lower, but if a quote looks too good to be true, it invariably is.
- Consider a test project. You’d be foolish to stake your reputation on delivering a project using an unknown contractor, so think about posting a small test development project and paying for it yourself. By doing this, you can learn how to manage your contractor(s), handle deadlines and make sure you are working with people who accurately turn your requirements into a real product.
- Build up your contacts. Ideally, you should know who you would use for each development project before advertising your new services. It’s therefore best to choose just one of the freelancing platforms (so you can become completely comfortable with how it works), and try to build up a shortlist of preferred contractors.
- Advertise your new service. Once you feel confident that your freelancer(s) can deliver, you can begin to let your clients know that you now offer software development services. It’s perhaps best to do this gently at first. Consider starting with a couple of small clients on simple, non-business-critical projects. If you have a particularly good relationship with any clients with a need for software development work, you could be completely honest that their projects are something of a “beta test,” and offer the completed software at a reduced rate. Then, once you’re completely confident in your service delivery, you can expand the offering to a wider audience.
Do you provide software development as part of your IT outsourcing service? Share your experiences in the Comments box below.
And to follow-through on the tips introduced in this short article, be sure to download your free copy of the special report on How to Start a Computer Consulting Business: 6 Proven Ways to Build Your Initial Client Base.
Creative Commons Image Source: flickr Scott Maxwell
Topics:- Managed Service Provider MSP