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Engaging Offshore Talent: Dedicated Team vs. Crowdsourcing vs. Freelancers

October 16, 2018

The nature of work has already changed. Last year, Accenture reported, “Driven by a surge of on-demand labor platforms and online work management solutions, legacy models and hierarchies are being dissolved and replaced with talent marketplaces.” With easier access to varying levels of talent around the world, companies can more easily outsource critical business tasks. However, understanding the differences between the various staffing models can help you avoid common pitfalls and choose the right model for each project.

Below we have assembled some the most important data to take into considerations when tapping into offshore talent. Each model has validity for a different kind of task profile, so getting them into alignment will save you a great deal of time and money.

Which Projects Favor What Type of Talent?

Each business must find their own unique answer to the future of work, based on factors like budget, project size, quality control requirements, industry norms, time-to-market pressure and a host of other variables. As you choose among the following three models of engaging offshore talent, keep these factors in mind.

Freelancing

The most talented workers are able to set their own hours and working conditions. Companies can draw on talent pools from around the world now thanks to the stability and availability of web portals.

The best work for freelancers includes tasks that do not necessarily require full-time or even regular engagement, and tasks for which you have very specific requirements that can be taught to a single freelancer who may already have the required unique skills for the job. To contact them, you can search talent marketplaces and platforms like Upwork, but be careful to match the importance of the project to the quality of the talent. These platforms often highlight the lowest bidder, who may not be the right fit for the project needs.

Also, remember that while freelancers do have ratings and reviews, at the end of the day there is less incentive for them to be accountable than a professional services firm. If a freelancer gets an opportunity to work for a slightly higher price on another project, or gets a chance to go on a spontaneous vacation, you have very little control over situations where the freelancer decides to end the engagement abruptly.

Crowdsourcing

Two heads are better than one, and a million heads can be a million times better. When you need large volumes of manual work done quickly, crowdsourcing is a powerful approach. Crowdsourcing involves supplying a large group of freelancers with a standardized task that is easy to learn and difficult to mess up. This may include counting items in images or entering very structured data into databases.

Even when it comes to something as business critical as software development, the wisdom of the crowd can find bugs and test software more effectively that a busy team of programmers. Amazon’s Mechanical Turk is one of the earliest and most popular platforms for this kind of collective action, allowing you to engage hundreds if not thousands of freelancers worldwide within hours at low cost. The drawbacks of crowdsourcing are in the level of work that can be achieved. It is impossible for you to teach hundreds of freelancers nuances in, for example, the way you tag products on your e-commerce site for style. Therefore, it is best for crowdsourced talent to focus on high-volume and highly standardized tasks.

Dedicated teams

Data security is top of mind for many business around the world, as GDPR goes into effect in Europe and other regions adopt their own versions of these standards. Companies should limit the risk of exposure for sensitive data as much as possible, especially at the network edge. Dedicated teams working with proprietary software on customer data is a better way to meet compliance and regulatory standards.

Dedicated teams can address many of the drawbacks of the previous two models. Businesses can get both accountability and customization in their workflows, plus an enterprise-level service that usually comes with account management and a lot more support in ramping up your team. Dedicated teams of course do come with a higher price, which is why businesses often “graduate” up to using professional business process outsourcing providers after finding that freelancer marketplaces and crowdsourcing services can no longer fulfill their growing requirements.

To learn more about picking the right outsourcing partner, read our blog article here.

Summing Up

We’ve looked at some of the most important reasons to consider different models for different projects when tapping into offshore talent. Each model has validity for different tasks, however picking the wrong model could end up costing you substantial time and money. Choose wisely!

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