We’re not providing jobs, we’re creating opportunities

At our last WP meet up in Ljubljana, one of the more vocal members of the community approached me in order to start a discussion about our clients. Prior to that, he was given an opportunity to work through Codeable, because I know first hand this person has a lot of WP experience and knowledge.

Unfortunately, he decided not to apply for any task (in his 21-day trial period), which was the reason his contractor status was revoked. I could sense a little bit of resentment in his tone, but it was his arguments that got me thinking:

  • Your clients don’t know what they want
  • Task descriptions are too vague, broad or confusing
  • Clients often require a Ferrari for a budget of a bicycle
  • There is no challenge in these tasks

Our clients don’t know what they want

This point I actually wholeheartedly agree with. Some of our clients don’t know what they want. Which, for an online outsourcing service like us is a **good** thing. Why? Because they are seeking help and are ready to pay for it! What better opportunity to properly educate a client than when they’re asking for help? Our most senior developers know that and they’re always providing insightful info and lead our clients by hand to the point they’re so satisfied they keep coming back, posting more tasks. That’s why these developers make the most money, some even more than $5000 per month which is awesome for an additional source of revenue!

Task descriptions are too vague, broad or confusing

This is also true, tasks that are published on Codeable don’t always make sense unless the client is asked for further clarification. Again, a great opportunity to not only clearly define the task scope (for easier estimation) but to educate the client on how to write a *proper* task description, and more importantly, to land the task and create a satisfied customer that will appreciate the help and come back many times in the future. Our numbers prove it, actually — we have 98.9% 5-star ratings from our clients, more than 60% of which come back for more help.

Clients underestimate the scope or budget

I agree, again. We’ve seen a lot of tasks where clients perceive their tasks as being easy when in reality they turn out anything but that. When this happens, our experts are more than happy to provide extensive analysis and report on why this isn’t the case and what steps are to be taken to complete the task at hand. In most cases, clients are more than happy to pay more than what they anticipated, since it’s the solution that matters — if their websites aren’t functioning properly, they are wasting money, so it’s better for them to spend more to earn more. Granted, there are some clients with bad attitude, but that’s how it is in every business.

No challenge in these tasks

While it may be true that some of the tasks are a bit more mundane than others, we have a wide variety of tasks coming in on a daily basis and as our most senior developers prove, a lot of them are unique and challenging enough. I think that what my colleague was trying to say that bigger challenge means bigger, project-sized tasks. And we try to actively avoid those, for a number of reasons, the most important one being that bigger tasks have a tendency to end up in a dispute because it’s hard to properly estimate a whole project 100% in advance.

The solution? We ask clients to break down their projects to sub-$1000 because it minimises the risk and increases understanding of what needs to be done to both parties — the developer and their client. Even agile approach to web development emphasises the importance of breaking down larger tasks into smaller, digestible chunks that take a day or two of development. So in a sense, we’re enforcing agile.

As you can see the problems we’re facing on Codeable are not technical at all — it’s communication (or lack thereof) that’s the root cause for the most problems we face. Sometimes it’s a cultural difference, but more often than not, it’s a missed deadline poorly communicated or an unexpected solution delivered due to unclear instructions. So what I think can improve not only online outsourcing, but development in general is not more technical education, but being nice, polite, honest and patient to one another — it’ll go a long way. And we’re providing lots of opportunities for everyone to practice that.

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