I have been having an ongoing issue with a developer team i have hired since Feb this year. They are building a mobile app and have reached their total hours estimated for development time per our initial contract. Per mutual agreement, I have paused the contract and they are wrapping up final elements of the app.
Here is my issue - Communication - it was hard to get hold of them before, now it is near impossible. I just want to get the app finished so i can move on but it has been such a bear getting the smallest tasks done by them. Any advice the community has for me would be much appreciated!
I`m sorry to hear about the bad experience you had. One of our team members will reach out to you via ticket as soon as possible and assist you further with your freelancers. Thank you.
re: "Freelancers are very hard to get hold of. Can upwork help?"
It is not a "complete" statement to say that freelancers are very hard to get ahold of.
It would be more accurate to say that you have hired a freelancer, or multiple freelancers, who are hard to get ahold of.
Many Upwork freelancers are very easy to get ahold of.
Different freelancers have different styles of communication. As a client, you may choose. You could (for example) choose only to work with freelancers who can be called up on the phone and always reply 24 hours a day. Or you could choose to work with freelancers who always reply to emails within a few minutes. Or you could choose to work with freelancers who don't.
You asked "Can Upwork help?"
But effective, experienced clients choose and manage freelancers on their own. Experienced clients do not ask Upwork to intervene on their behalf in order to communicate with freelancers.
First off - thank you Upwork official team for getting in touch so quickly to help me resolve this!
Thanks for taking the time to respond, Preston. Many freelancers are easy to get hold of. And some aren't. And some feign responsiveness early on and change behavior later. I have worked with many great freelancers and have ongoing contracts with no issues whatsoever.
I would love to hear what "effective, experienced clients" can do when the freelancers suddenly go radio silent. And how do "effective, experienced clients" predict freelancer behavior - espeically when they project one way of working early on and change colors midway through the project. This is a software development project, so simply switching development teams is not trivial.
Would love another opinion, hopefully that is less judgmental and more objective. More context below.
It is a team vs 1 freelancer, and I am typically in communication with the 2 lead developers.
Communication channels are plenty - upwork messages, whatsapp, trello, google hangouts, email
It takes between 48-72 hours for a response to basic Qs and often after multiple attempts to contact them. There have been times where it has taken longer than 5 days for a response - the project is to develop a mobile app, and is at a critical testing stage.
When the contract was being offered, the freelancers were very responsive. Especially in the first month, things were ok. But their work style and overall quality has dropped steadily since.
Given the high switching costs midway through an app development process, I decided to stick with it. And at this point, I am hoping to get them wokring at a regular pace so I can wrap up this contract.
Thanks for listening.
re: "I would love to hear what 'effective, experienced clients' can do when the freelancers suddenly go radio silent."
Clients may choose to continue working with freelancers who suddenly go radio silent. But that meansthe client may need to wait for a long time to get work done. The freelancers may end up being unreliable.
When this happens, an effective client who is managing a project (or his project manager) may assign the task to other team members.
I need Module A-1 finished by Friday. Today is Monday. In the morning, I sent a note to Peter to ask him to do Module A-1, and my note asks if he has any questions. By the end of day, I still have not heard back from Peter. I know that Francis and Nancy are quite reliable. I send a note to them asking if they can work on this. I hear back from both of them within a few hours. I assign one of them to do Module A-1. I send a follow-up note to Peter (the freelancer who went radio silent): "Peter: You're probably busy right now. Don't worry about doing Module A-1. I assigned that to another team member."
re: "And how do 'effective, experienced clients' predict freelancer behavior - especially when they project one way of working early on and change colors midway through the project."
There is no way to predict freelancer behavior.
Clients work with freelancers based purely on the behavior that the freelancers actually exhibit.
If a freelancer is reliable at first and unreliable later, that is normal. As a client, I don't spend time thinking about it or wondering why. I put my project first, and adapt to current conditions.
re: "This is a software development project, so simply switching development teams is not trivial."
Do not switch development teams. Build up your team and switch individual developers within the team.
At any given time, there is more than one developer who is familiar with each of the systems in the project. If Peter has personally been working on the "A Series" modules, then it may not be IDEAL to have somebody else start working on them. But it is doable. Francis and Nancy are already both familiar with the "A Series" modules. Either of them can take over that work if necessary.
There is always the possibility that any given freelancer will not continue working on a project. The freelancer could die. The freelancer could win the lottery and quit working. The freelancer might adopt a puppy or fall in love or become a cello player. You never know. The success of my project is not dependent on a single developer.
I've experienced this on too many occasions to count. Take my current project. My freelancer had previously completed three small projects, each about five hours of work (writing product descriptions). The fourth project is larger, with a longer timeline. After the first week, she has gone silent after a promise to show me a draft. A week later I have no draft and no reply to requests to check in the last three days. The final is due Friday. Fingers crossed. This is my second attempt at getting a freelancer for this project. The first one spent a half hour on the phone with me, exchanged a dozen emails, then was unable to finish.
Freelancing offers flexibilty for both the client and the freelancer. When you find a good freelancer, hang on to them and make it worth their while. But don't ignore warning signs. I've had some freelancers that have worked with me for close to a year before vanishing. If communication is spotty, take note. Be upfront about how often you want to check in. And make sure you both have skin in the game; make progress payments based on deliveries of usable work.