Freelance marketplaces are designed to cover many problems of outsourcing which sooner or later are faced by all business people who need to delegate certain activities to offshore teams. Where should you look for contractors? Which one should you choose? Which skills do you demand to get the job done? How can you carry out the hire and the project transparently? The answer may come from a freelance marketplace, such as Elance, Guru, or oDesk.
But why freelance marketplaces, when there are lots of more accessible options?
• You may Google for software companies and look at the top results; but the highest search results will show the best SEO level, not necessarily the best expertise in your field. You’ll also lose lots of time jumping from link to link, from website to website – not the best way of comparing companies.
• You may visit specialized developers’ events, exhibitions, and conferences, and look for a contractor there. The benefits are the eye-to-eye contact and direct conversations. But the downside is costs: no one can guarantee you a perfect contractor at the very first conference you attend.
• Social networks, forums, blogs – close to googling, but again, it’s more about checking the company that appeals to you, than to search one by one.
• References – do you have fellows who had the experience of working with a company they would gladly recommend? Very good, but what if you don’t have such fellows?
• Freelance marketplaces. Here we are with the most universal solution. Lots of players gathered in one place. The simplest way is posting your job and waiting until contractors find you. Or – you can start checking the rankings to find the company you need in the most convenient way.
Let’s take a look at the Elance stats provided by their website: they are arguably the most popular marketplace with more than 1.7 million clients and 3.5 million contractors. The quantity of posted jobs reached the 3.5 million mark in 2013. Even your niche has a pretty huge competition; but anyway it’s more efficient than googling for a contractor.
The Bad Can Be Overcome
The drawback of these marketplaces is that there are many freelancers who are relatively novice in their subject area; or they are there just for an additional source of income – so to say, a lower overall level of professionalism. If you need a ‘serious’ team for your middle or large project, or if you simply want to hire someone from the top, it will be a matter of thorough search. However, it’s inevitable wherever you’d be looking for your contractor.
Top players of these marketplaces really stand out, so you may start with checking the rankings from the top.
The Good May Determine Your Choice
The main good trait – it’s affordable because of the competition. Outsourcing earns its living by being affordable. The rest is quality delivered in time – and it isn’t impossible to find these among the sea of contractors.
There are many other time-saving and convenient goodies provided by such marketplaces – some of them may prove crucial for you when making a choice. Let’s take a look at some of them provided by Elance.
• First, if we talk about IT and software development, the aforementioned ranking list of over 47.5 thousand contractors. You may save time by checking the leaders, their professional expertise, clients’ feedback, and other information. The ranking list is based on a point system and updated weekly by Elance.
The results are influenced by: delivering high-quality work on time and budget, level of client satisfaction, lasting client relationships, and performance indicators, which depend on the category of services.
• Time-tracking software counts the time spent by contractor on the project and takes screenshots of the work in progress. They are taken at random time (once per about several minutes) and delivered to the client. You can view the work process in real time, in order to provide the team with your comments. Rather convenient and transparent for both sides – you are confident paying for documented hours and contractors are guaranteed payment for hours worked.
• Freelance marketplaces take their share for providing the platform (usually 10%). They don’t want to lose earnings, and they provide secure and efficient means of payment (which are also highlighted as a protection from any kinds of financial fraud). As for Elance, the system that’s used is called Escrow. After the project is divided into milestones, the funds are placed into Escrow. Again, it’s risk-proof for both sides – the payment will be conducted only after the completion and acceptance of the agreed amounts of work.
• Client feedback is an extremely important part of each contractor’s profile. Once posted, it cannot be deleted or altered. This work history is provided by Elance members and is based on legitimate experience only – the work that clients and contractors did together on Elance. The rating is set by clients for each job done, and comprises the following indicators: quality, responsiveness, professionalism, subject matter expertise, adherence to schedule and cost.
• Many other benefits of working at such marketplaces usually show in the process of work. For example, Elance provides education and training resources, tips and best practices for both clients and contractors – all the links are conveniently stored on the dedicated page. Or the Referral Program, which allows Elance members to bring friends to the marketplace as new clients – thus earning money and Connects (you may also get acquainted with it in detail on the website).
• Each marketplace needs to ensure the security and openness, thus membership requires providing and updating true, accurate and complete information about each member: legal name, contact information, portfolio, etc. Individual accounts cannot be shared between users; team members cannot share or transfer log-in credentials; accounts cannot be transferred or sold to other users. There are also means of reporting infringements and suchlike.