Low cost is fine. Saying something is low cost would imply it still is realistically available at that price. When you expect that a job will be fulfilled successfully at pennies on the dollar that is an ungrounded expectation with defective pricing. You get what you pay for
you must have a lot of extra time, i cant imagine trying to manage several projects each with 6 concurrent efforts with the expectation that almost all will fail.... simultaneously. I would rather only do it once.
Regardless the rate a freelancer is charging, some may take a week or two before delivering anything, even if the actual job takes only 3 hours to complete.
You need to set and agree on clear deadlines. If during the interview you act like there is no deadline and give the impression that as long at the work is done you will be happy, the freelancer may take more time and think that is ok.
You are hiring cheap which already mostly means unprofessional contractors. On top of that it means you are probably hiring from areas on the globe that have an entirely different culture e.g. with regards to deadlines and that many can't adapt to our culture.
Other than cost of providers, are your needs and 'instructions' clear? None of us are mind readers. Experienced providers ask relevant / pertinent questions; noobs are often hesitant to do so for fear of appearing unqualified or simply because they don't realize the importance of doing so.
If you need work done by tight deadlines, then your options are simple:
a) work with a contractor you have quite a bit of experience with, who has always succeeded in turnining work in on time.
b) hire multiple contractors. The more important the deadline, the more contractors you'll hire.
I have a really important project. I'm doing a the main part of the work, but I'm not an artist. I need an illustration created by the contractor.
But the project is due on Wednesday. I can't turn it in late.
Do I hire one illustrator for the project? Of course not. That makes no sense at all.
I hire 6 illustrators, and give them all exactly the same assignment.
All of the details needed to create the illustration are in the job description.
One of the contractors, after being hired, asks me a lot of questions. I tell her that I don't have time to answer questions, to do the best that she can using the original description. I never hear back from her.
One of the contractors turns in the project within a few hours. It's pretty good. I pay her and close the contract.
Two more of the contractors turn the project in before the deadline.
Two more of the contractors are never heard from again.
By the time of my deadline, I have 3 versions of the illustration. I choose the best one.
I close all the remaining contracts. I have paid for the illustration three times. So I paid a little more than maybe I could have got away with paying, but I had peace of mind. And I have a really high-quality illustration that I love. Had I only hired 1 person, I may have hired the "wrong" illustrator and had a merely adequate illustration.
How would I have known beforehand which of the 6 illustrators would provide the work by the deadline?
There is no way to know.
How would I have known beforehand which of the illustrators woud provide the best restul?
There is no way to know.
If I have a deadline, it only makes sense to hire multiple contractors. And I get the benefit of multiple versions of the product, from which I can pick the best one.
Maybe it works for you in that niche, It wouldn't work well in software development. You have to interact a lot more than that. If you are doing anything technology oriented, It is nearly impossible to set people up to be productive by making them work in a vacuum and cut them off from meaningful communication. You described a market that has been so marginalized that you can afford to hire several people on the simple hope you get something usable. From your description, that doesn't sound assured but does sound like you would get inconsistent quality and style. I am surprised that if this comes up regularly and that it is deemed important, that you don't have a few reliable known folks to go to.
re: "Maybe it works for you in that niche, It wouldn't work well in software development."
Allen: You are correct.
Much of what I am describing is not applicable to software development.
But much of it is.
You do not want to assign entire software development projects to multiple people. But it is important to hire multiple people for software development projects, even if there is not a tight deadline, in order to pick the best people.
If you have a large software development people, a great time-saving and cost-saving technique is to hire multiple developers at the beginning of the project, and give them all the same relatively small assgnment. You might hire 4 to 10 people.
With your project manager, you will see who actually turns in work, who turns in work on time, and whose work is of sufficient quality.
You can then pick the best one or two developers to continue working with to complete the project.
Rarely is it so cleanly compartmentalized so that it can be outsourced in such a way. What happens is that you develop trust relationships with various groups with various skill sets and you work with them and you often have them bring in extra resources and references. I would never hire more than 2 in a competitive scenario. The time distraction would be too costly. If it was critical and hot, I would not move down the food chain and hire more for less. I would go up the food chain and find the top-tier resources and pay the price to have it done right. The question is, what is critical. If a due date is arbitrary then it is useless. If your firm misses a deadline for a $5 million dollar contract submittal, why would you risk it with likely amateurs?
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