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Don't Sit On Your Ideas…

Checklist For A Frustration Free Outsourcing Engagement

Pratham MittalPratham Mittal

The seeds of a good (or a bad) outsourcing engagement are sown on day 1.

An idea comes to you and you’re excited to get started with the development. You want to build a social network for pet owners. You reach out to three companies who want to close the deal as soon as possible. One firm tells you it will cost 5K. You think “this is a great price!” and without outlining the scope of the project, you get started.
Great – right? Unfortunately, taking an idea to fruition isn’t this easy. A common mistake made by those new to outsourcing is failing to agree WHAT will be developed for 5K. Soon, you may run into the following situations:

“We didn’t agree to building these additional features.”

“What kind of social network does not include a privacy setting option? Why isn’t this included in the price? ”

Before development, it’s imperative to be on the same page. While product changes may arise during the project, the larger feature set should be agreed on before any quotes are exchanged.

We recommended outlining the following facets in the project scope.

High Fidelity Wireframes:

A drawing of the envisioned product will provide a road-map to help your development team.


Providing a wire-frame will allow the team to get a clear sense of the design and functionality for a more accurate quote & timeline.

Feature Requests

As consumers, we think that some features are always included. This is a misconception as trivial features can add up and change the scope considerably. Features that fall into this category include:

  • Admin panel: Many outsourcing first-timers draw specs from the customer’s perspective but fail to consider the admin’s perspective.
  • Social media login: Will your app need a Facebook login? Mentioning this upfront is imperative as login mechanisms affects the way data is stored.
  • Blog: Will you need a blog for your website?
  • Customer support: What capabilities will you need in order to support your customer? Helpdesk? Online chat?
  • Responsive design: As 90% of the websites are accessed on a mobile device a responsive design is an important feature to consider.
  • Website search: Will you need users to be able to search within the website?

Special issues:

Will your product need to comply with HIPAA regulations? Will it require SSL security? Is there a specific banking API that your product needs to call? Anything involving a third party service can add complexity, so mentioning this upfront will align expectations.

Language preference:

Do you have in house developers who work in Ruby? Do you already have a part of the product built out in PHP? Has that freelancer been using SAP to power your business suite? A developer needs to know which legacy setup they are going to be utilizing before giving a proper estimate.


Firms eager to please often give an unreasonable or a very low budget estimate. This may make sense from a negotiation standpoint but a good service provider often passes on projects if they feel that the budget is too low for the amount of work that is required.

Once you have found a firm that’s a good match, both parties should put forward their best effort to make the engagement work within budget, either by altering the scope or changing the timeline.

What problems have you encountered in your outsourcing efforts? Tell us your thoughts in the comments below.

Pratham Mittal is a Co-Founder at VenturePact and an angel Investor to B2B tech start-ups. He is passionate about globalization, outsourcing, and technology.