K: What’s going on?
R: What’s up?
K: Alright, the reader question is about outsourcing. They want to know where is the best place to hire foreign workers for cheap.
R: Yup. Well, our favourite place that we like to go to hire foreign workers, in particular, is oDesk. That’s odesk.com. It’s a pretty awesome site and the reason that it’s cool is that: one, there’s a lot of foreign people on there that are willing to work for very cheap and are very competent; but, two, they take screen shots of their computer every...how often is it?
K: It’s every couple minutes.
R: Yeah, random times, I think, so that they don’t know when just to make sure that they’re doing the work. So you can go on and actually look at the screen shots of the person’s computer just to make sure that they are on task while they are billing you. So, that’s pretty awesome feature.
K: Yeah, absolutely, and that’s kind of what we like. So, it handles all of the hourly time tracking through that system so when they say that, oh, they worked 7 hours, then you actually know for a fact that they did work 7 hours. It’s just not bullshit.
R: Yeah, exactly. Because, I mean, we used to have our own outsourcers where we weren’t doing it through oDesk. It was kind of like certain people that we had hired through other routes, and it can be really frustrating, because if you accept them to work an 8 hour day, and these were full time employees that we had, so we were just paying them a full-time monthly salary, but we had no real idea whether they were working 8 hours or maybe just working 6 hours or, potentially, 4 hours or something like that. And it’s really hard to tell. So, oDesk makes that really easy and, despite the fact that they take, I think, 10% of what you’re paying, that time, the ability to check in and make sure that the people are really on task the whole time, I think, makes up or more than makes up for the fact that you’re spending an extra 10% on their work.
K: Yeah, and the 10% includes, I guess, the payment processing charges or whatever that would have been charged if you had paying your guys via PayPal. They’d be taking 3% anyway, so it’s really only an extra 7%, and you definitely, I think, get the value from that because you make your people more efficient.
R: Yeah, definitely.
K: It also just has a really, really effective feedback system. You can see what kind of feedback people have gotten. You can see how many hours that they’ve billed in the past and what rates they have billed other people. So, you can see, you know, oh, this is asking for 10 bucks an hour, but the last 6 jobs he did he only got 3, so maybe I’ll just offer him 3. You know?
R: Yeah, exactly. Yeah, you can barter with people...I mean, not barter, but you can haggle with people and do different stuff like that and figure out which one.... It’s cool. It’s a good way to find people. I mean, the review system is great because then you can see whether people are actually skilled and go to work....
K: Yeah, I mean, you’re going to find there’s a wide variety in the quality and the value you get. Like when we set out to have the episodes for this very radio show transcribed, we used oDesk. And what we initially did was we hired 5 people, and we had 5 people who bid at dramatically different prices per hour. All we did was we gave...we actually had more than 5 bid, but we ended up giving it to 5 people as a trial. And the cheapest one was a woman from the Philippines who’s asking for $2.50 an hour and the most expensive guy billed himself as a professional transcriptionist who charged $12 an hour and he had a very impressive resume and credentials and what not. And so we gave them all this work and we ended up getting it back and the winner, by far, was the second cheapest of the 5. The guy who was the most expensive hourly rate ended up costing more than costing twice as much as the rest of them, you know, once adjusted for the amount of words and stuff, and he actually had more errors than pretty much all of them despite the fact that he had the most impressive looking resume.
So, I think the point is you really just have to try people out. You really just have to see it as like a giant science project where you figure out how to split stuff up at first and just kind of try people. And if they suck, you just have to fire them. And it’s easy to fire, you just click one button to fire somebody so you don’t even have to talk to them. It’s great.
R: Yeah, it’s perfect for the anti-social type, but, yeah, it’s awesome. And we like oDesk, it’s pretty cool. Check it out.
K: Yeah, I mean, oDesk is great for jobs that are, like, easily defined as to whether they are done right or wrong. It’s not so good for stuff that’s very subjective like...I’ve used it for like design work and I feel like with design work, you kind of just got to treat it as a crap chute. Like I had some banners made on oDesk and I just paid 3 different people to do the job from start to finish. And I ended up getting one that was total crap, one that was mostly crap and then one that I would say was like okay, like usable, and I went with the usable one, but I wasn’t thrilled by any of it. And if I probably spent, you know, double the money, but to somebody who was good, I would have gotten good banners.
R: Yeah. It all depends, it’s all trial and error, but the cool thing is that once you find somebody on there that you like, you just add them to your team. So, it’s all about just experimenting and then find people that are cool and keep them and then once you’ve found those people , then you’ve got a team and you’re all good.
K: Yeah, exactly. Well, no, because sometimes your team members will just vanish.
R: That’s true.
K: Happens all the time.
R: That is true, yeah. So, it’s...yeah...it’s not that cut and dry. Yeah, I mean, there’s people out there who have programs all about outsourcing and they make it sound like it is the biggest dream come true that you can hire people from the Philippines for a few dollars an hour, but to be honest, some of their work really sucks and some of the good is good but is not necessarily always there, always reliable or whatever, so...
K: Yeah, sometimes you’ll send them an e-mail and they’ll claim that they didn’t get it or all of a sudden they’ll be in touch and will be getting back to you within 5-10 minutes and then they’ll go away for 4 days.
R: Yeah, and it’s extremely frustrating if you’re on any kind of a deadline. So, that’s one of the benefits with working with multiple people is you’re kind of hedging your bet because if one person really sucks and drops off the face of the earth, you just send the rest of the work to the other person and that’s fine.
K: Yeah, I would say that that’s a required thing. You need to be doing that.
K: Well, that’s outsourcing.
R: That’s oDesk, really. We could talk more about other outsourcing, but yeah.
K: Yeah, right.