We WFH’d Before It was Cool. Now, Global Outsourcing

Tech companies have long adhered to the unwritten “butts in seats” policy with leniency, so shifting to an indefinite work-from-home schedule has been a smooth enough transition for most of us. Zoom, Slack, and stretchy pants? No problem; those are practically in our DNA! So maybe you haven’t had a drastic mindset shift when it comes to managing your current employees, but what about your prospective employees? Has your perspective changed on hiring and recruiting? If it hasn’t yet, it should…and fast.

Hiring is now a global opportunity. We have already proven that we can work effectively from anywhere. If you’re still recruiting and hiring from a local-first perspective, you’ll soon be left in the dust by competing businesses. You simply will not be able to deliver in terms of cost, quality, or production. At Pattern, we’ve long hired outside of our four walls – be they concrete or virtual – and a large part of our success has been bringing on outsourced partners from across the globe. At any given time, we employ upwards of 90 freelancers, multiple agency partners and a multitude of international employees.

Want to join us in normalizing the outsourcing – and (brace yourself) offshoring – of work outside of your HQ’s zip code? Here are a few tried-and-true tips to ensure you’re finding the best partners and, in turn, yielding the maximum return on investment.

Start slow, then scale

If this is your first foray in outsourcing, my biggest piece of advice is to nail it then scale it. Roughly two years ago, we had a great local team of 20 or so software developers. They were and are some of the most talented developers in the western U.S., but we were growing fast and had to ramp up quickly with developers of the same caliber. We began looking for non-traditional options.

Through a partnership with the outsourced software development team at Tech9, we decided to offshore some of the work to their team in India. I admit it: I was skeptical at first. We started with just one skilled senior developer, Rutvij. And he knocked it out of the park. If this was a test, he absolutely aced it. We gradually added to the team, which today consists of 14 offshore software developers. For me, hiring one developer was a lot easier than hiring a team of developers from the onset, and as we gradually built the team, I had confidence we were adding the right people at the right time.

Establish a team lead, and your business will be 1000% better (super accurate stat)

Rutvij has become an integral part of our offshore team. He gets our business, produces outstanding work, and now acts as the team lead of our overseas developers. Any time we bring on an outside software developer, Rutvij vets the prospect to ensure they’ll be a good fit.

This “team lead philosophy” has allowed us to grow without having to deal with churn, backfilling and hiring under-qualified prospects. When it comes to offshoring or outsourcing any project, these are legitimate concerns, but designating a trusted team lead that can represent your company while acting as “boots on the ground” will save you a lot of time, cost and headache.

Say buh-bye to your bias

When bringing on an outside vendor or contractor, you may have initial reservations about their competency, quality of work, confidentiality and overall understanding of your business. And when it comes to offshoring, all of this is true and then some: Will they understand how we work in the U.S.? Do they have the technical expertise needed to get the job done? Will language barriers and time zone differences be a major issue?

In our case, Tech9 has a U.S.-based team that resolved our concerns. Still, it’s a good idea to write down all of your concerns, then address them head-on in your initial meetings with prospective contractors or employees. Many of your questions may have footing, but some could exist due to your own bias. For example, if you assume non-U.S. developers are not as good at coding simply because of their country of origin, that’s likely due to bias. Sure, every country, including the U.S. has good and bad developers, but we have found excellent talent overseas, and many times at a third or fourth of the cost of the average U.S. developer.

Still feel too risky? Ask your vendor to assume the risk for you

Okay, despite those earth-shattering tips, let’s say you’re still on the fence about this whole thing. You just can’t commit to an ongoing relationship. Then don’t! When I initially started working with Tech9 to build out an offshoring team, I did not want to lock in a long-term contract before testing the waters. Instead, we started with a short-term contract. They assumed the risk at the beginning. Don’t be afraid to ask for a pilot phase, with the expectation that you’ll lock in a more long-term contract once you’re sold on the partnership. In this method, you have a lot to gain and very little to lose.

Geographically branching out your recruiting isn’t just a good solution you should check out. It’s a great solution you must check out if you want to survive. As the rest of the world has now discovered by allowing employees to work from home, relinquishing control outside of your traditional confines isn’t so bad. In fact, it has a lot of payouts. The same is true of outsourcing and offshoring. It’s not so scary. And, for me, it’s consistently delivered incredible talent, cost savings, and on-time project completion. What more could you ask for?

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Ceo of Pattern Jed Brunson, "Fellow Techies, Take Note.".

We WFH’d Before It was Cool. Now, Global Outsourcing