There are over 100 different types of shampoo you can select from at Target. But who’s counting. Most people just grab the one they’re familiar with, or the one that seems to look like it is the ‘best’ brand at a reasonable price. But there are categories of selection that are not so straightforward. Sometimes we stand in the store and stare at the products for a moment like a deer in headlights.
Finding a freelancer to build your iPhone app is not as easy as you might think. There are countless factors to consider. What type of technology or platform should you use to build the iPhone app? Should you build it to be cross-platform from the beginning? Should you focus on a specific type of feature in the beginning or just roll it out and add features later? How should the app be designed? What sort of user interface layout or user experience should be emulated? All of these are very good questions and should be considered before even speaking to a developer, or you might be taken for a ride. Freelance software developers are able to create all sorts of different technological solutions, depending on their background and their experiences. It is very rare that a programmer will be unbiased towards a particular technology or skill set, based simply on the fact that they are only experts in a limited category of technologies (typically). As such, they will steer you in a specific direction. But, because you may be interacting with many different freelancers, there are so many directions you can go in. This vast number of choices can cause the typical “analysis paralysis”, and can lead you to slow your horses down to a trot, and eventually can cause you to stop and rethink your business altogether ( which might be a good thing actually).
The scientific conversation on this topic is intriguing. It’s labelled as the ‘paradox of choice’, and is seen in various different industries and types of work. Apparently, there is real testing done in this area, and we can display it as a visual diagram:
As the number of choices increases, the value is also increasing to the end consumer. However, at a certain point the value diminishes and the satisfaction decreases. Here is another visual depicting a similar aspect:
There are positive and negative feelings emoted within the process of choosing. Most notably, the negative emotions are consistently evident as the number of selections increases. the end result of these studies concludes that individuals do not prefer to have “unlimited choice”. They inevitably look to the “standard-bearer” or industry leader, based on a family member’s input, a commercial they have seen on television, or even more so, a specific referral from a trusted party. The choice itself becomes more about navigating through the recommendation path of the choosers input sources.
Ziptask solves the paradox of choice for the information technology project outsourcing arena. It provides a solution that intrinsically includes a value added expert from the very beginning of the selection process. The cloud-based on-demand freelancer project manager will engage in extra level conversation with the customer, guiding the customer through the myriad of choices and difficult selection process. The project manager walks the customer through the recommended platforms and technology sets, and even guides the customer towards a team of resources that is best situated for their desired price points. this guidance is invaluable, whereas many times the customer is not fully aware of how to build or produce the end result of their ideas in a technology form.
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Excerpt By David El Achkar:
"The paradox of choice - which I believe is both the blessing and the bane of our generation (Gen Y). To put it simply, the paradox of choice states that the more choices one is given when making a decision, the less happy they tend to be about the decision they make (even if the selection is objectively better). This is driven by many factors, namely:
- Additional effort and psychological stress associated with evaluating multiple options
- Increased opportunity cost (the way in which we value things depends on what we compare them to. It’s thus easier to imagine the attractive features of rejected options, the features we did NOT choose)
- Greater “buyer’s remorse” (with so many alternatives, it’s easier to imagine how another choice would have been better)
- Increased expectations from options ("with 87 options I have to find the perfect option for me")
- Finally, we are more likely to blame ourselves when our choices don’t meet our expectations ("I had all these options, it’s obviously my fault, I should have picked better" vs. "I was only presented with 2 options, not enough to make the right decision")
In affluent societies, youth is presented with an overwhelming selection of options whether for small less significant decisions (e.g., 87 types of toothpastes) or for more significant decisions (e.g., university degrees, career paths). I believe theparadox of choice is one of the underlying reasons why so many of us (including myself) are increasingly indecisive and anxious about these so called “life decisions”. But that’s a different topic…”
Inside e-ployment: Online staffing services put temporary labor within reach of small businesses | PCWorld
Great inclusion on PCWorld. They compare Ziptask to oDesk, Elance, and others. The comparison reveals just how different Ziptask is. It’s focused on the fully managed outsourcing experience, where customers don’t have to meddle with all of the nonsense of searching, finding, interviewing, hiring, and managing freelancers themselves. Why would anyone want to do it all themselves anymore? Check out their comparison matrix below…
"The company describes itself as a “fully managed outsourcing platform,” and the difference here is in the way Ziptask manages the contractor relationship. Ziptask employs project managers that oversee any freelancers you hire: Interviewing, managing, reviewing work, and so on. This forces projects into a more structured arrangement: Using the site is more like working with a project management tool like Basecamp than like using job site like Elance. There’s not even a way to search for contractors; Ziptask deals with all of that itself to find the best workers for you."
Read the full article here:
It has been over fifteen years since the famous Thomas W. Malone and Robert J. Laubacher wrote about “The Dawn of The E-lance Economy” in their famous HBR article. And one would think that fifteen years in, the online outsourcing industry should be a household name. Fifteen years in, online distributed teams should be defacto. Fifteen years in, we should all be architecting our 4-hour work weeks and outsourcing our day jobs. And yet, online outsourcing is still predominantly the domain of niche-tech and greyhat marketing content.
What’s stopping the broad consumer and SME adoption of a model that brings the promise of increased productivity, access to global talent, and lower overall labor costs? Both sides of the equation face real-world challenges of working and extending trust online – the customers and the workers. I believe the problem is threefold – the approach to hiring by customers, the contractor’s ambitions and dilemmas, and the need for “managed” outsourcing to ease wide consumer adoption.
Customers new to outsourcing meet significant on-boarding challenges, and the learning curve is sometimes steep and expensive. Many customers looking for technical work are not technical, so screening of and communication with workers breaks down at step one. A website for your small business? Sure – Joomla, Drupal, Django, or Wordpress?
The customers ability to tell good from bad, or detect true competence, is also challenged, even with the best of rating systems, as skill tests are often gamed, or ratings faked or omitted. Then there’s collaboration, which is also hassle – across multiple tools, workrooms, chat sessions, and at odd hours, with freelancers spanning time zones. Keeping pace with the technical team is a drain on time. Now that money saved turns into time wasted.
And lastly, the expectation on price and value. When thinking of outsourcing tasks online, the immediate expectation for many is that the work must be cheap. Regardless of the locale of the workers, the tools at their disposal, or the technical complexity of the project, the myth is that online work must be cheap. Surely I can get this done for $5 dollars!
These attitudes and expectations lead to conflicting behavior by the customers that creates a mix of disincentives for the workers. But worst of all, they lead to high “bounce rates” – abandoned projects and job listings that customers give up on an never come back to.
The intention of the freelancer is almost always good – to do honest work and deliver what the customer wants, or thinks they want. The community of global workers that freelance on-line full time is in the millions and growing. Many supplement their income, or work while going to school. There’s genuine talent and depth on-line. And as more workers join, the competition for quality work and larger projects heats up.
Many truly skilled workers struggle to cut through the noise and spam in bidding for online projects, and are almost always disadvantaged by their higher hourly rates. Others hope to get a greater return on their investment of time, and end up advertising skill sets tangential to their core knowledge, but perhaps not their true expertise – they’re casting a wider net, so to say.
But not everyone is a good guy – some workers disappear mid-job with source files, some walk away with pre-payments, and others just learn on the job and “run the meter”. And many quality workers are often simply disparaged by the process, faced with customers that often don’t articulate precise requirements, and underestimate the true amount of work required.
And there’s the question of cost. With the world becoming more connected every day, true skills are finding a global benchmark. Quality developers from Pakistan to Ukraine, to the rural U.S., have a great way of calibrating their true worth. No longer is a geographical location the constraint. And many refuse to engage with customers that don’t understand this.
How to Make Outsourcing ‘Work’
So how do we bridge the gap between consumers and SMEs looking for end-to-end solutions, and contractors looking to do real work for real wages?
Let’s take a page from the big boys - how do large enterprises success in outsourcing project offshore? First, they start small: pilot projects that test the true capability of the service provider. At low stakes, you can observe the communication style, work quality, and the overall ability to deliver. Using projects with known outcomes so that you can benchmark performance across multiple pilots is a good way to find the best athlete. While this may seem like an expensive and time consuming proposition, a bit of time upfront will save a ton of grief down the road. And you can be transparent with the workers that this is an audition. Quality service providers will understand.
Second, for enterprises, scoping and execution are often separate engagements. One provider, or project manger, can be used as a technologist to scope the engagement, prepare draft budgets, hone technical requirements, provide approximate schedules and milestones, and be compensated for this work. And then a more detailed project can be bid out again. You need an architect before you need a builder.
Third, enterprises filter for depth of capability and not just price. They look for value players. You are, ultimately, solving the hours x rate = price equation, and what most clients underestimate is the hours. While price does not always equal quality, a cheaper and less experienced worker will drive up the hours, learn on the job, will work-shift, and ultimately be a draw on your time, which skews the balance. Hiring a more expensive, and more experienced worker will often be cheaper all-in.
Lastly, a crucial practice within large enterprises is the presence of in-house project managers. A project manager assembles the team, finalizes the specs and budget, drives the calendar, runs the collaboration process, and keeps the client up to speed. At a smaller scale, the client can create this synthetically on existing labor platforms, or use a “managed” outsourcing provider.
Using these enterprise techniques creates a a win-win for customers who have avoided in-house, full time employees, and for quality workers that have all the resources and tools to deliver successfully. The client benefits by shifting the general contracting aspect to those with depth and experience in managing this type of work.
As broader adoption of on-line labor occurs, will we see a vertical model emerge to add value and managed services to the outsourcing process, and make it more palatable for consumers. And as a result, less and less will it be perceived just as a playground where scamsters meet cheapskates.
Stan Alex Miroshnik is the COO of Ziptask (www.ziptask.com), a fully-managed outsourcing platform.
Nice article. It’s great to see all of the racker’s love for Ziptask.
"Finding, hiring and managing freelancers and contractors is a juggling act, especially if you’re a startup or small business. From waking up at 2 a.m. to jump on Skype, to coordinating an idea from start to finish, project outrourcing takes up a lot of time. This week’s Must Have App, Ziptask, offers a cloud-based web app designed specifically for outsourcing projects, so businesses don’t have to manage it."