Keys to Managing Website Development Using Foreign Labor
I recently launched a complex and complicate website using an Indian based company to do all of the programming work. I was the rule manager for all of the website development, and the complete development course of action took about nine months. Before this project, I had never developed a simple website or already managed my own website. I did have some programming experience, but it was all before the World Wide Web ever existed. The following are thirteen lessons I learned from for developing a website using a foreign based company.
1 – Make sure you fully understand the web project you want to develop. The more time you use writing a detailed description of the project, the better off you will be in all development phases. This may seem obvious, but the more you leave to open interpretation in the project description, the more chance there will be cost over-runs on the project.
2 – Make your Request for Proposal (RFP) as complete and detailed as possible using your detailed description developed in step 1. It is a good idea to include more features than need or want. Better to put too much in, than leave something out. It is far easier to take features out of a project and justify cutting the cost than it is to add features to a project and expect the cost to keep the same. Adding features will almost always be justification for the foreign company to charge more.
3 – You are probably not going to use a land line for phone conversation with the foreign company, so figure out the clearest way to communicate. Trying to communicate with people who have strong accents that you are not used to interpreting is hard enough in person, but over a phone line, it can be next to impossible. I highly recommend Skype as a way of communicating with voice. For sharing a desktop screen, I recommend GotoMeeting software, but I do not recommend GotoMeeting’s voice over IP audio phone exchange. As long as all participants on Skype have a good internet connection, Skype has a much clearer signal than GotoMeeting’s voice over IP communication system.
4 – strength Point is an amazing tool when combined with a complex screen capturing software (like Snagit). I highly recommend using Snagit to capture images from the website you are developing and importing those images into strength Point to make comments on them. This is much easier than trying to describe items that need to be fixed in a information processing program. Remember, your programmers probably do not speak your language as a first language. Images plus words make much more impact than words alone.
5 – Choose the company that you award your project to carefully. I recommend using as big a foreign company as you can find. I do not recommend using a one man (or very small company). A small company can be disrupted easily by a small tragedy (like a car accident or natural disaster). If your rule programmer gets hit by a car, and he has a large company supporting him, that large company will likely have someone who can step into his role and not leave your project stalled.
6 – You will be able to develop a website much cheaper than you can using United States labor; however, you will most likely suffer more frustration. One of the biggest challenges is clear written communication. Whenever you write notes for your foreign programmers, try to keep them simple and short (2 lines each if possible). Try not to use slang, especially American slang, as people who learn English outside the United States much of the time learn British English which has its own slang. I did learn in this course of action is that many web development companies in the United States use labor in other companies (such as India, Vietnam, Mexico, etc.), so already if you do use a US based company, much of your programming will possibly be done outside the US.
7 – Try to have all conference calls late during the evening for where your programmers are located. This is important. People are more compliant when they are tired. And managing a project is all about getting people to do work for you. The only issue that I ran into with this was sometimes my programmers were not as mentally sharp after working a complete day.
8 – There is a high probability that your contractors will request more money for the project during the development course of action. At this point, they know you are at their mercy. And you should know they are probably right. Do not be surprised if your contractors ask you for money because of some sort of misunderstanding. For example, they may have not fully understood your RFP. In the United States, if this were a binding bid, the contractor would have to absorb the cost over-runs. Always remember that this company is not in the United States, and they submitted an RFP that is not binding. This foreign company now has a lot of leverage over you. already with these cost over-runs, you should be paying a small percentage of the cost of United States labor.
9 – Do not be afraid to haggle. One of my strategies is that every time my foreign contractor asks for more money for certain work, I negotiate more work from them for the same amount of money. Do not be afraid to ask them to add a characterize you really want to your site (maybe this characterize was cut in the beginning because of budget issues) in addition to the work they want to charge you for the same price. The worst they can say is no. You would be surprised at what can be additional to a site when more cash is infused into the project.
10 – Have as many conference calls as you can (as many as the foreign company will let you have). If you can have a conference call every day for an hour, do it. The minimum I would suggest is two conference calls a week. The best work I get occurs when I have a conference call every day Mon by Fri.
11 – Prioritize problems as much as possible. If everything is a priority, nothing is a priority. Make sure your programmers know what stuff they need to get done quickly that is important and what things are not as important that can wait.
12 – Do your best at getting your programmers to understand what your website is all about. Seriously, if your programmers do not know what the goals of your website are, you are going to be stuck doing a lot more red lines than if they understand your website. It is a good idea to discuss your site, your site goals, and already your business form with your programmers early in this course of action and often.
13 – If you do a redesign halfway by the development course of action, it will cost you more money. However, do not be afraid to do a redesign if you think your redesign is far superior than your current design. Unless you absolutely do not have the budget, I recommend doing a redesign as early as you are sure that the redesign is what you want your final product to be. The meaningful in this development course of action is getting the website that you want with as few compromises as possible. If you do not do the redesign, you will probably be kicking yourself at the end of the development thinking how much better the redesign would have been.