Let's face it: The world of website development and marketing as a whole has gotten quite complex. There are more disciplines and specialties than ever before, numerous programming languages, and countless content management systems available – making it hard for one person or even one agency to be a master of all. So, if you’re faced with a situation where you need to evaluate outsourcing all or a portion of a web development project (depending on the scale or complexity of the project needs) don’t fret.
Here’s some steps that our own team has learned along the way when outsourcing certain web projects that will help when planning to outsource a project of your own, managing it once you do make the hand off, and monitoring it so it stays on course until completion.
1. Properly Scope the Project to Determine Client Expectations
With any web project, your starting point should first be determining the scope.
Is your client looking for a simple refresh of his current site with an updated design and a more streamlined page structure? Or is he looking to do a complete overhaul that will take his current 30-page site to three times the size?
Understanding the scope and what your client is envisioning for his new site allows you to properly estimate how much time and resources it will take to complete the project so you can avoid any surprises later. You don't want to go back to your client and ask for more budget. Let me tell you: This never goes over well!
The scoping phase is also the right time to determine:
- What internal resources does your client have to help administer the site once it’s created?
- Does the company have a preferred content management system (CMS)?
- What content assets (copy, files, photography, etc.) exist that can be repurposed?
- How much, if any, is the client team wanting to contribute as far as writing page copy or uploading content?
- What types of custom functionality does the company need that will require custom programming?
You get the idea. Dig into as many upfront details as you can with your client. It will prevent problems later on in the project.
2. Pick the Right Outsourced Partner Based on Project Scope
Once you know the scope and what your client wants and is expecting with his new site, you can better evaluate what type of resources you need to deploy. In the case of an outsourced web project, you need to be confident that you’re picking the right partner that has the needed capabilities to successfully complete the project.
Of all the steps listed, this is the most critical. Picking the wrong partner falls directly on you as the project lead and the one who owns the client relationship, so choose wisely.
If you’ve never worked with the partner before, be sure to speak with some of the company's current clients, request to see examples of work, and pick up the phone to have a live discussion (if they’re not located locally) to get a feel for who they are and how they operate. This is the perfect time to review and discuss the project scope with them to see what questions and ideas they bring to the table. You’ll be able to sense whether they’re excited about the project, disinterested, or intimidated. I think you know what reaction you’re looking for.
3. Be Realistic When Estimating Project Cost
Once you’ve built out the project scope and have your outsourced partner selected, you need to start talking numbers. You may have given your client a ballpark estimate up front when discussing the scope of the project, but don’t feel tied to that number. It’s better to be honest with your client and yourself on what it’s going to take to complete the project.