How To Successfully Outsource A Web Development Project in Five Simple Steps

Let’s be real — outsourcing can either be a godsend or a nightmare regardless of your industry or the task you want done. Outsourcing a web development project can be a challenge so here are five steps to help you out.

Making a website image from Shutterstock

Victoria Elizabeth is a content executive for Expert Market UK, a B2B marketplace for office products and services.

Whether you’re a budget conscious small business owner, or a corporate manager who’s strapped for time, you’ve probably thought about outsourcing more than once since starting your business.

More small businesses are relying on outsourcing today for a host of different activities, and marketplaces for finding designers and agencies are hardly in short supply. One of the most daunting tasks you may consider outsourcing is web design and development work, since hiring someone in house, or bringing in extra hands for the project, may prove too expensive and time-consuming.

But while outsourcing may be a quicker and less expensive option than hiring, planning is still essential and requires dedicating time and effort to manage expectations along the way.

Here are some tips to keep in mind if you’re thinking of having an outside agency design or redesign your site:

#1 Know What Your Website is Going to Do

This may seem like a no brainer, but it’s a good idea to start with the ultimate purpose of your website. How will it make you money? You can answer this in a number of different ways, from simply being an e-commerce portal, to a brand building resource, social engagement tool, or advertising platform.

Answering this fundamental question will guide what features and functionality you really need for your site. This will also guide what kinds of add-ons you could live without if time and budget come down to it.

#2 Cement Your Measurement Tactics

Knowing your website’s KPIs ahead of time will ensure you have the infrastructure in place to track the metrics you need once it’s built. This sounds elementary, but you would be surprised how many businesses think of this after the fact.

Keep in mind that legacy software and payment systems may not be compatible or show you the data you want unless they are integrated properly or updated. Make sure whoever is building your site is aware of any legacy software, and clear on the metrics you want to track.

Avinash Kaushik, an aficionado of free analytics solution Google Analytics, has a blog that includes this post outlining the best metrics to pay attention to for small, medium and large businesses.

#3 Compare Yourself to the Competition

Direct your outsourcing agency to competitor sites you think have done a good job so they can have a better idea of what you want your site to look like and do. Also do the same for sites you think are terrible, especially competitor sites that you want to differentiate yourself from.

Give them concrete reasons for liking or disliking each site. This is very important, since without a reason, they could misinterpret what you want to see on your own site. Performing a competitor analysis before you start is not necessary, but having an idea of the landscape your business is operating in, and who the big players are, is vital to surviving in today’s business world.

#4 Explain the Limitations of Your Project

This pertains to small businesses more than others, but everyone will agree that some restrictions will apply when designing, or redesigning, your website.

Are you working with legacy software? This is an essential to know since it will determine what the limitations and parameters are for redesigning your site.

Another question to keep in mind is what you’re willing to cut back on if time or budget does not allow for it. Which is most important — a project delivered on time, within budget, or one with all the features and functionality you want?

Even with the best laid plans, things will most likely take longer than expected, be more expensive, or both. Are you willing to wait, spend more, or give up on a feature or two? Weighing your options is always critical here, and take advice from your agency, but don’t follow them blindly. Most will steer you in the right direction, but they will have their priorities, and you yours.

#5 Wrap All This Information Up Into a Brief

Creating a brief is the most important, and unavoidable step in the process of outsourcing. Make sure you keep the brief concise, clear and comprehensive.

This is your reference document, where you will also include all your technology, hosting information, digital assets like logos, blog posts, marketing materials, images, etc. It will have the complete scope of the project, as well as contact information for who is in charge of what aspect of the project.

Here is a short checklist that you can use for your own brief:

  • Purpose of the Website
  • Anticipated Functionality Requirements
  • KPIs and Analytics
  • Technology
  • Hosting
  • Content
  • Maintenance
  • Marketing and Advertising
  • Budget

Now that you have all the elements in place, make sure to deliver them to your agency before work starts. Going through these steps, and allowing everyone to be on the same page will give you ease of mind, and assure you that the final product will be in line with your vision and needs.

This article originally appeared on Lifehacker UK