Say “NO” to freelancers on complex digital projects

Why we in Heads and Hands decided to stop outsourcing.

In any business there are times when you stop with a question, do you need to outsource or should you do everything by your own. There were many topics covering the issue on various portals. Our team also thought about it million of times.

Well, in the end we decided that working with freelancers is not for us.

In digital area (at least on the Russian market) there is a opinion that most of the tasks can and must be done with the help of freelancers. When you ask ‘why’ this is an option, different agencies will bring you their own list of arguments like reducing the costs on the office and employees.

For us this is not an option. We decided not to work with the freelancers and made it a part of our business model and corporate features.

Today I want to tell you how this is all happened. I’ll be summarizing the thoughts of our founders that I found out during our conversations in the team.

For sure, as every other startup, when we began our business, we gave some tasks for an outsource. However, we did this only on the simplest tasks. In our practice outsourcing specialists for the projects can be much more expensive than making your own team of experts. And I am not talking only in terms of money.

Outsourcing can lead to making the same task twice

When we speaking about outsourcing, we not always mean outsourcing of several random specialists, we also speak about outsourcing to small web-studios. Here it’s easy to see all the risks. The lifespan of such companies is relatively small. Often such studios even don’t have their own testers or good project management system. After such outsourcing you can find yourself redoing the project from scratch.

Freelancers, as everybody else, want employers to pay them for their jobs, but from time to time their work is not good for their payment expectations. We all know that bad code writing skills can happen, but sometimes freelancers vanish into nowhere and we all back again to redoing the project completely!

To close or to finish

The main problem about working with freelancers is that their primary goal as to close the project as quickly as possible. The main word here is ‘to close’, not ‘to finish’ it. When you work with big companies, it’s common to have several additions to a primary task. On a stage of making some corrections or additions it’s crucial to have the whole team. Still, the freelancer closed a task and, especially if he was paid right after the task being closed, he dissappears.

You can rarely see the motivation for making an ideal or perfect project among freelancers. All that is neccessary for such people is to close the task and move on to a new one. With your own inner team it’s easy to polish and add new features to your projects.

Evolution needs its own team working on it

We also have some long-term projects where client needs us to evolve the app after the first publication. We add some new features or change something due to results based on app analysis. For example, we have ZakaZaka project, which is going on for more than two years and where we have the same team right from the start. These people know everything about the service, code and client’ business.

Freelancer can have hard time applying his skills to such project. Moreover, sometimes he has different vector of work — he orientates on speed, not on quality. In such cases the quality of services done is poor. As a result, such project is harder to develop.

I also want to mention that I am speaking about custom development and not touching the templates or out-of-box services in my story. I am writing about complex projects that need an individual approach to every client. Such projects take more than several weeks to develop and need to be focused on quality of services.

We also had several projects when clients asked us to redo their app or website after the freelancer. When you have such task it’s usually easier to create everything from scratch than correct the bad code of another person.

Right now our company, as you see, works with complex data-driven projects for web and mobile services. Huge project longs to close-knit team that have all the knowledge neccessary right from the start.

Expertise matters

For most of our solutions we need well-established expertise for every person in the team. While you working with freelancers, it’s almost impossible to grow an expertise. That is why our business model implicates investments into our own team and our inner expertise.

Having such a model implied we can polish our processes on every project and with time have more and more much complex projects. Doing this we reducing the time and rising the quality of every project. What’s even more important, such model works greatly as a long-term investment. We invest in our future for several years ahead instead of several weeks or month.

I understand that such model also has downsides. It’s harder to enlarge the team with number of projects growing. Sometimes there are idle periods that ‘eat’ parts of the profit if the number of projects this month is smaller. Still, we decided to focus on evolving and accumulation of inner expertise.

Of course, projects can be very different. I don’t want to state that everybody should use business model that Heads and Hands have. I just wanted to share our opinion on the matter, because for our company this approach proved to be very useful.

Hope, you find my story useful too.