Posts filed under Domestic IT Outsourcing

Why Are Companies Increasingly Outsourcing Web and Application Development?

Application development, both for the web and for smart technology, has become a major source of revenue for companies around the world. Although completed applications can provide high revenue, they require quite a bit of time and money to develop and to properly test. Since companies are always researching methods to reduce operational burdens, outsourcing web development has become a common practice.  Not only is the original product time-consuming to create, but most web app development continues long after it has launched. Constant updates are needed to keep the application running and up to date and occasional bugs are common threats to any type of software. Consumers want updated and feature-laden applications, so skimping on development and maintenance really isn’t something that can be avoided by companies using applications as part of their business model.

The problem, then, becomes finding people who can work full time on app development and to maintain control over any ongoing issues in an affordable, timely, and efficient manner. Businesses don’t always have the resources to retain an entire staff for this purpose and that’s where outsourcing becomes a valuable alternative. Certainly, some research should go into selecting possible contractors or contract companies to hire so that the right people are put on the project. Checking reviews or testimonials is a recommendation. 

Oftentimes, it is easier and smarter to pay contract developers who have their own hardware and software than to purchase your own and then hire someone or have someone trained on how to use it. It can also be daunting to manage in-house development projects and might be better to just leave it in the hands of someone whose sole job it is to keep up with the industry and who knows the right questions to ask to give you what you want. You still maintain control over the product, but have a field expert doing the technical work. If you have the opportunity, it is always beneficial to have a project manager as the liaison between you and the developers. This ensures accurate and consistent communication, the establishment of a timeline and deliverables, and a clear mutual understanding of expectations. To read in more detail about the benefits of having a project manager, check out our blog series on the topic.

Generally speaking, outsourced labor can be more cost effective in addition to yielding better results, and is ideal for companies that need to quickly launch their applications in order to generate a profit to cover operating costs. Not only do contractors have their own equipment and programs, but they don’t need you to pay for ongoing training, nor do they require benefits or paid leave. Not that we’re against employee benefits in general, but technology moves so fast these days, it can be really beneficial to outsource that piece of your workforce.

In short, outsourcing is a viable choice for companies looking to decrease costs and increase the value of their applications. As the world becomes more connected, it’s only natural to want to tap into the global market. Application development is certainly one way to do that and hiring a reliable and professional team to do that for you could prove invaluable. And of course, Extra Nerds can offer you a project manager and highly skilled developers to see your software, website, or application development project from fledgling idea to fruition and even provide ongoing maintenance.  (C’mon, you knew we were going to close with a shameless plug, didn’t you? But we wouldn’t do it if we weren’t sure that we were right. Let us help you and your business attain awesomeness; you won’t regret it!)

Posted on October 7, 2016 and filed under Domestic IT Outsourcing, Other.

When do I build my own web app versus hiring a freelancer?

When do I build my own web application versus hiring a freelancer? That is a common and important question for many business owners who want to integrate a digital presence into their marketing or operations. Ironically, the mere fact that you are presenting the question, probably gives you the answer. But, let’s talk about it in more detail. It really comes down to three issues – time, cost, and expertise.

Many persons instinctively like the idea of building their own app because, of course, why wouldn’t they.  We all think about owning our resources and controlling costs as much as possible.  Logical, right? The problem is that there are many hurdles one must overcome in order to build a web app. First, you would have to learn the process if you do not already have that knowledge. When you are considering an app design, several questions arise: ‘Will the app be simpler to use than a web page?”, ‘Will the app feel like a complete product?’, ‘How does the web app make my operations more proficient?’ and so on. Several key elements will stand out in response to these questions - namely efficiency, speed, and simplicity.  Any professional software specialist will tell you that it takes a certain level of experience to design an app that can meet all these necessary criteria. Acquiring that level of skill can take time, not to mention the time it takes to properly build the software. This is time which you may not have to dedicate if you are a business owner or manager.

Another common consideration is cost. Is it worth it to spend a bit to get the quality and expertise of a professional? While it is understood that folks need to watch their budgets, it would be wise to include an allocation for technological marketing; this is not an area in which you want to skimp, especially in this day and age. First, if done well, a web app will pay for itself pretty quickly – called a return on investment (ROI) – in increased exposure and sales in addition to presenting a professional image. A poorly designed app can be detrimental these days.

In order for any app to be successful, it is essential that it be coded well. An obvious statement, yes, and yet sometimes people downplay this fact in favor of saving on cost or because they just don’t realize the intricacies involved. This can lead to disastrous consequences and can end up costing more in the long run when you lose business and have to pay a professional to fix the mistakes. Let’s say that you have some basic knowledge in coding and you want to design your own app. The web app that you are creating might contain redundant lines of code as can happen when folks are less experienced; it could also include coding errors or other unforeseen issues, all of which will make the app slow and ineffective and may even causing it to crash on its intended users. 

Now let us say that you’re decent at coding and manage to avoid potential pitfalls. Then you encounter the Graphical User Interface (GUI, pronounced “gooey”), which is a type of user interface that allows users to interact with devices through graphical icons and visual indicators rather than text-based interface or text navigation and is an important part of application programming. Basically, it deals with how the elements are set up on the app page. This is a major factor as to why people prefer some apps over others – an app cluttered with elements or an app which his too sparse can be a deterrent for potential users. While coding makes the app efficient, GUI makes the app simple to use and gives it a sense of completion and a final product.

A good software developer will make you feel comfortable during the design and development process, communicating often, so that you can share your vision and they can bring it to fruition. These folks do this for a living and they understand the fundamentals of design and performance optimization; they have the time, the flexibility, the training, the experience, and the expertise to do it well. And, in many cases, they can even advise on the launch and post-launch marketing utilization strategy as well as offering ongoing maintenance and support.

Many people take it upon themselves to design and maintain their own web app and then wonder why they don’t acquire the traffic or usage they anticipated. One cannot successfully market a poorly performing web app because user reviews will deflate any attempts to do so and negate any cost savings there may have been.  Simply put, it is far better to utilize a freelance programmer’s comparative advantage and expertise to create a valuable product and save yourself some much needed time, effort and, in the long run, money.

Speaking of hiring expert freelancers, Extra Nerds would be happy to discuss with you any needs you have for building a website application. This is what we do and we do it well. We’d love to help you to turn your vision into a reality! Contact us anytime for a quote or to discuss our variety of services.

Posted on July 1, 2016 and filed under Domestic IT Outsourcing.

Domestic IT Outsourcing: Skills to Look For In an Experienced IT Consultant

The first blog in this series addressed some of the frequently asked questions in the industry about exactly what we mean by domestic IT outsourcing. The second delved a bit further into the topic by discussing the advantages of keeping IT outsourcing domestic. The third taught us some little known facts about time zones and how important it is for businesses to understand them.

The final three blogs in the series are focused more on tips on choosing a temporary or occasional freelance contractor, or an IT firm for your projects on more of a permanent basis. This final installation will specifically discuss the role of a consultant.

Information Technology Consulting is a term used to describe a field that focuses on advising businesses on the best way to utilize IT to meet their individualized business objectives. IT consultants work on behalf of businesses to estimate, implement, manage, or administer IT systems.

Skills to Look For In an Experienced Outsourced IT Consultant:

· Excellent communication skills

· Business and management language skills

· Technical language skills

· Advisory skills

· Technical skills

· Business skills

· Management skills

IT consultants should possess degree in areas such as computer science, electronics, technology, or management information systems.

Use of a Freelance Website

Searching for an experienced IT consultant that possesses all of these traits can be difficult; however viewing freelancer websites can provide you with several qualified candidates. By utilizing a freelance website you can find, hire and pay some of the world’s best freelancers, which makes it easier to build a successful company with thriving careers. We discussed in depth how to find the right freelancer in our fourth installation in this series.

Considerations before Closing the Deal

Before closing the deal with your chosen IT consultant, be mindful of the qualities and skills he/she possesses. Consider other factors such as status of the portfolio, did he/she actively listen to you and understand your desired outcomes, was he/she able to speak effectively to convey what services they could offer your business to reach your desired outcomes and how will he/she help your business reach its goals?

Be sure that the consultant feels confident in their ability to deliver the agreed upon deliverables in the time allowed.

Review your consultant’s version of the work to be done for accurateness. Again, making sure he/she has a thorough understanding of what any particular project entails and understanding of how to utilize skills and tools to achieve project completion is necessary. The scope of work will have an impact on your business processes or systems; continual monitoring, communication and verification of progress are important. Be sure your consultant understands this.

The use of a consultant non-disclosure agreement should be thoroughly discussed and agreed upon. This is a standard business contract useful for businesses that contract with consultants who may be working with trade secrets or confidential information. If there is fear that any pitched business ideas to a consultant are at risk for being misused, an agreement would be paramount.

Finally, the hourly rate needs to be discussed and agreed upon before closing the deal. Keep location in mind when negotiating price. Areas where taxes, fees, living expenses etc. are higher, naturally a business can expect to deliver a higher hourly wage.

Well, we hope that this series will prove to be helpful to those who run businesses and organizations and wish to domestically outsource their Information Technology work. From acknowledging why it’s beneficial to keep it domestic, to the importance of understanding time zones, to choosing a freelancer or an IT firm, and, finally, the nuances of having a dedicated IT consultant.  We hope you’ll continue to visit our blog for information on the many technological aspects of running a business and insider tips on everything from building a custom website and managing social media to strategy and project management.

Posted on May 1, 2015 and filed under Domestic IT Outsourcing.

Domestic IT Outsourcing: Qualities To Consider When Choosing an IT Firm

The first blog in this series addressed some of the frequently asked questions in the industry about exactly what we mean by domestic IT outsourcing. The second delved a bit further into the topic by discussing the advantages of keeping IT outsourcing domestic. The third taught us some little known facts about time zones and how important it is for businesses to understand them.

In the fourth and most recent blog post, we provided some tips on choosing a freelance contractor for your business. In this post, we’re going to take it a step further in the event that your company or organization is planning to contract with an IT firm for your projects on more of a continuous - or maybe even a permanent - basis.

The relevance of the information technology industry has grown exponentially, especially in the past decade. The industry, while using knowledge and technology effectively, is the main source of innovation, inventions, and continuous development. Moreover, the application of technologically advanced products and services in various sectors determines the performance of various organizations and, in a way, the entire economy. Hiring an IT firm is a crucial decision and there are several factors that you should consider when choosing firm for your projects.. 

Top 6 Qualities To Consider When Choosing A reputable IT Firm

1. Client lists/Portfolio

Request a list of clients and client references including both former and current clients.  Let the firm’s work speak for itself. Their portfolio demonstrates the styles that they can deliver and features to expect from a wide range of relevant projects. Additionally, when you look at the firm’s portfolio, it can provoke important questions about similar projects that will lead to a better experience.

2. Strategy and reliability

IT projects usually require preparation, collaboration, attention to detail, and organization. For this reason, you should hire an IT firm that you feel can collaborate effectively with you and your personnel from the beginning of the project through to its completion. Hire a company that is fully committed and has effective tools to keep your project on track by ensuring all the involved parties meet deadlines and goals. Determine up front how the firm envisions the project process maintaining momentum and ensure that you agree on vital aspects, such as milestones and a timeline. Agreeing on these aspect in the beginning will help to ensure a positive outcome.  For more tips on Project Management, check out one of our other blog series here.

3. Testimonials

You may want to know that which other clients are saying and how the firm manages projects that are similar to yours. Happy clients are one of the most valuable assets of an IT firm. It is then vital to ask for testimonials or case studies and the firm should be able to provide several for you to view.

4. Availability

Make sure that the IT firm is highly available and can meet your deadlines. Most IT firms handle multiple projects simultaneously so it is important to make sure that the firm considers your projects much of a priority as others and has the capacity to meet your time requirements. 

5. Flexibility

You will likely want an IT firm that is flexible and can easily accommodate you, especially when you make changes or adjustments to the initial plan. This is not uncommon and the IT staff should have the willingness and ability to adapt.  In the case that you require a variety features and designs, make sure that the firm is aware of this up front and is prepared to work with you. You, may therefore want to determine the frequency and method of communication you will require as  recurrent updates are desirable and can be essential in many projects.

6. Skill set and attitude

It is, of course, very important to ask the firm about their skill set and attention to industry standards.  This will help you understand their technical strengths in fields such as e-commerce, custom programming, content management systems, or any other relevant skills. When your project is handled by people from diverse backgrounds and with different skills, the user experience is enhanced for different personality types.  Also, when choosing an IT firm, it’s also important that you like their attitude, tone, and the way they present themselves to you and your personnel. You want to develop a healthy, comfortable working relationship from the start, especially if you plan to work with them on an ongoing basis.

Stay tuned for our sixth and final installation for this Domestic IT Outsourcing blog series, in which we’ll discuss the specific skills to look for in Information Technology Consultants.

Posted on April 24, 2015 and filed under Domestic IT Outsourcing.

Domestic IT Outsourcing: Tips on Choosing the Best Freelance Site for your Needs

The first blog in this series addressed some of the frequently asked questions in the industry about exactly what we mean by domestic IT outsourcing. The second delved a bit further into the topic by discussing the advantages of keeping IT outsourcing domestic. The third taught us some little known facts about time zones and how important it is for businesses to understand them.

Now let’s move on to some tips on how to choose the best freelancer for you and your business.

Increasingly, company owners are coming to realize that outsourcing their commercial, information technology, and design needs is the best decision they can take in order to be successful on the market and to get a competitive advantage in their niche. The fact of the matter is that hiring a freelance contractor is one of the best methods to save energy, time, and money, while finding talented specialists who can get the job done in a short period of time.

However, because the global and domestic freelance marketplace is filled with thousands of inexperienced freelance contractors, choosing the right one for you may feel like a daunting task. Fortunately, there are a number of websites for locating freelance technology talents which have proven to be genuine and trustworthy.  The following freelance websites are among the best when it comes to domestic IT outsourcing…

Top Freelance Websites

1. oDesk: this is probably the most famous freelance website available today. On oDesk you can find a wide variety of jobs for both beginners and professionals. This site is a great resource to start off with, but it is also a powerful resource for companies that are in need of talented domestic IT experts.

2. Craigslist: this well-known platform is much more than a simple website where you can buy and sell random items. Craigslist is a fantastic source of IT freelancers from all around the US, Australia or UK. Regardless of your country, if you are looking for exceptional freelance experts, look on Craigslist in the “gigs” section and post your job there. 

3. Elance : this is a great alternative to oDesk, offering a wide variety of potential employees eager to work for you. If you are looking for freelancers who can advise your company on the uses of technology to automate and streamline your business operations, Elance is definitely a great place to start.

4. Outsourcely: a little newer on the scene, but fantastically effective is this site which helps start-ups to find long-term remote talent that specialize in design, development, and content as well as customer service, marketing, and general business services.

How to Choose the Right Freelance Website

In order to make sure that you are making the right outsourcing choice, there are some points to keep in mind when choosing a freelance website. First of all, you need to ensure it is genuine. Whether we are talking about oDesk or Elance, Freelancer, or Guru,  all of these sites are known to be genuine. In order to avoid scams, do your research and check for online reviews, such as this in-depth assessment of Freelancer by Time Doctor - Freelancer Review: Gamify your Online Talent Search. Also consider IT forums for comments and suggestions. There is plenty of useful information out there to help you to find exactly what you need.

Make sure the website you decide to choose is accredited and offers all of the services that you need in order to find the best fit for you. Some freelance sites, like Elance, offer additional services that can help you to expand as a company and establish new connections. Services like Affiliate Program, Talent Cloud, Referral Program, or Payroll Program fall into this category as well.

Final Thoughts

Instead of hiring an in-house Information Technology Specialist, why not opt for a freelancer? Your IT needs can be domestically outsourced and you will potentially save both time and money in the process. Additionally, you get to avoid the tedious paperwork process.

And, if you need more than just some occasional freelance work and are considering contracting with an IT firm, check back next week for our blog on some successful ways to do just that.

Posted on April 17, 2015 and filed under Domestic IT Outsourcing.

Domestic IT Outsourcing – The Importance of Understanding Time Zones

Outsourcing your projects to contractors in various time zones requires a familiarity with the language of time zones in order to communicate effectively and never miss an important meeting. The simple and common mistake of specifying a time as 9 AM (EDT) when you should have specified 9 AM (EST) can cause you to miss an important meeting. In this article I will explore the complexities of time zones in the U.S. and how to communicate properly to avoid any problems.

The Complexities of Time Zones
Excluding Alaska and Hawaii, the U.S. has four time zones; Eastern, Central, Mountain, and Pacific. When we say “9 AM Eastern”, we’re also saying “8 AM Central”, “7 AM Mountain”, and “6 AM Pacific”. All of these occur at the same time. The map below provides a geographic view of the various time zones:

As you can see, time zone borders do not lie neatly on longitudinal lines or even along state borders. In fact, there are places where these time zone borders don’t seem to make much sense at all. Have a look at Central Idaho, for example. If you’re traveling from Montana to Oregon through Central Idaho, you could leave Central Time Zone, enter Pacific Time Zone, leave Pacific Time Zone, enter Central Time Zone again, and then leave Central Time Zone one last time to finally end back up in Pacific Time Zone… and all while traveling in a straight line East to West. What’s the lesson? It’s not readily apparently which time zone a city is in when it’s near a time zone border. Ask your business contacts for their time zone, and keep this information in your CRM system or contact book.

In addition to these crazy borders, there are more complexities. Twice per year we set our clocks forward or backward by one hour to account for Daylight Savings Time. There’s a rich history behind this tradition which is not the focus of this article, but interesting nonetheless. On top of this, some places do not participate in this tradition, thus making time zone conversions even more difficult. It’s practically impossible to memorize all of the information needed to make sure you properly communicate meeting times and such. Just make sure you have access to the tools needed to help you when necessary. Many resources exist only to help with time zone conversions and such.

Daylight Savings Time, Standard Time
OK, now we’re going to talk about that which is, probably to most, a misunderstood and misused acronym when communicating meeting time. I’ve seen this a lot in my business. Many people always use “EST”, for example, to specify “Eastern Time”, but that’s not accurate. “EST” means “Eastern Standard Time” not “Eastern Time”, and it’s an acronym that should only be used six months out of the year. “Standard Time” refers to the time of year during the Winter months. “Daylight Savings Time” refers to the time of the year during the Summer months. So, if you want to say “9 AM Eastern” and it’s during the Winter months, only then is it OK to say “9 AM EST”. Otherwise you should say “9 AM EDT” (Eastern Daylight Time). The way I remember this is that, during the Summer we have more daylight. So I know the Summer is “Daylight Savings Time”. I like Summer, so I consider this a special time of year. That’s another way to help me remember that the Winter months are just “standard” months… or “Standard Time”. Here’s the take-away. If your 9 AM meeting is scheduled some time after “Spring forward” and before “Fall back” (ie, the Summer months) then the meeting time should be communicated as “9 AM (EDT)”, “9 AM (CDT)”, “9 AM (MDT)”, or “9 AM (PDT)”… the first letter of the acronym being the time zone abbreviation, and the other two letters standing for “Daylight Time”. Conversely, if your 9 AM meeting is scheduled some time after “Fall back” and before “Spring forward” (ie, the Winter months) then the meeting time should be communicated as “9 AM (EST)”, “9 AM (CST)”, “9 AM (MST)”, or “9 AM (PST)”… the first letter of the acronym being the time zone abbreviation, and the other two letters standing for “Standard Time”. Try to keep this straight and you’ll never be late (or early) for a meeting.

Internet Time
By this point you might be asking yourself “Why does this have to be so complicated?”. It’s a good question. And, it’s a question Swiss watch makers asked themselves when they invented Internet Time. The idea is simple. Let’s get rid of all time zones, time changes, and other unnecessary complexities that always get in the way when we try to communicate event times with each other. There is just one world time, and it’s the same for everyone. The day is no longer divided into 24 hours, but rather 1000 equal parts, called a “beat”. Each beat lasts for about 1 minute 26 seconds. Such a radical shift in or reference of time would not be an easy transition, but there’s no doubt that such a system, once we are acclimated to it, resolves many of the problems we currently face with representing time under out current system of time measurement.

The Lesson & Etiquette
So what do we take away from all of this? The main lesson I want to communicate is that you should always strive to be accurate in your communications of time. Never use acronyms if you’re not sure you know the meaning (“EST” is a common example). Understand that when you communicate time, you are explicitly communicating some or all of the time parameters, and implicitly communicating the rest. For example, if I say “meet me at 9AM”, you understand that I’m referring to 9AM in our mutual time zone. “9 AM” was explicit, and because we both live in the Eastern time zone, for example, the “Eastern Time” was implicit. One last piece of advice regarding etiquette. When communicating with your clients, customers, and other business partners to whom you are providing a service, when you say “9 AM” it should be understood this means “9 AM” in their time zone. As a courtesy to those who give you their business, you always want to make things easier for them and cater to their needs. As such, don’t offload the time zone math onto them. Use their time zone. The same courtesy can/should be extended to you by your vendors and contractors. To remember this, ask yourself which way the money flows. The source of payments should also be the implicit time zone when no time zone is specified.

For some tips on how to manage meetings across multiple timezones with Google Calendar, click here.

And stop back next week for some tips on how to choose the best freelance site to fit your needs.

Posted on January 15, 2015 and filed under Domestic IT Outsourcing.

Domestic IT Outsourcing – Why keep it domestic?

In our previous post on this series, we answered many of the common questions about what domestic IT outsourcing is. Now we’re going to have a look at how domestic IT outsourcing addresses many of the issues encountered when outsourcing IT projects to foreign countries. Though it is inexpensive to hire contractors in countries like India, China and Malaysia, the logistics of managing such a relationship often results in hidden costs that are not present in domestic IT outsourcing.

Legal issues
First, and perhaps most importantly, dealing with contractors in foreign countries is inherently risky due to the lack of legal jurisdiction. Though both parties may sign contracts and agreements explicitly protecting each others rights, each country has it’s own rules for how the terms of these agreements should be interpreted and enforced. Add to this the potential misunderstanding of the agreement due to language barriers (see below), and what essentially results is a document that represent a gentleman’s handshake… nothing more. If a company feels they have been wronged or that the contractor violated the agreement, options for legal recourse are severely limited when dealing with contractors in foreign countries.

Language barriers
As demonstrated above, when dealing with contractors who do not speak the native language of the company, the project and its associated communications are at risk of being misunderstood or misrepresented. Companies that outsource to contractors in other countries that speak their same language are not as impacted by this, but there are cultural nuances to language that might still be misunderstood. Keeping IT projects within a company’s own country will provide peace of mind that the company can effectively communicate detailed and complex project specifications without confusion stemming from language barriers.

Currency conversions
The world is getting smaller, digital currencies abound, and the task of computing currency exchanges within a constantly fluctuating monetary exchange system is largely handled automatically. However, issues still persist when moving money from one currency into the next. First of all, whatever currency exchange service is utilized, there will almost certainly be a fee taken by the bank for the service of performing the exchange. If a company pays this fee, it’s less money that could be spent paying a contractor for IT services. If a contractors pay this fee, the company is effectively paying less than full price for contractors and thus not receiving the higher quality (higher paid) contractor that would be receive by keeping contractors domestic. Additionally, when speaking with a contractor, confusion will arise over invoices and the amounts in various currencies. Even if one currency is selected for discussion purposes, the party who is more familiar with the other currency will find it difficult to do the conversion and follow the conversation at the same time. One other issue is the time it takes to send/receive money in other currencies. This delay could stall projects unnecessarily.

Time zone issues
Issues with time zone differences are similar to currency differences in many ways. Both can be mostly overcome through the use of software, but both still present issues inherent to the relationship with contractors in foreign countries. The case could be made that time zone issues exist even when IT projects are outsourced domestically. For example, companies in New York will have to offset their time calculations by three hours when dealing with contractors in Los Angeles. However, there are two reasons this is still preferable to dealing with contractors in other times zones around the world. Obviously, the fewer time zones one has to traverse the easier things will be. This is not only true in terms of computing time zone differences, but also in finding agreeable time slots for meetings. For example, it’s common for contractors in Los Angeles to wake up earlier than the rest of the country in order to attend that 10AM EDT meeting hosted in New York. There is another reason dealing with contractors within a company’s own country (and preferably own time zone) is better. Contractors with IT professionals in time zones that are too distant from their own presents a new set of problems. When a company’s night is a contractor’s day, it’s nearly impossible to get both parties on a consistent meeting schedule. Furthermore, the contractor will rarely be available on an as-needed/on-call basis. None of these issues exist when dealing with contractors who live and work within your own country and preferably a company’s own time zone. For more on the importance on timezones, check out the third installation in this series.

It’s not necessary
Now, given all these reasons to keep outsourced IT within a company’s own country, one might ask why companies bother to outsource IT to foreign countries in the first place. Of course, the answer most of the time is due to reduced costs. It is certainly affordable to hire IT professionals in some other high-tech, low-cost-of-living countries such as those mentioned above. However, what might not be so obvious is that there are high-tech areas in low-population (read: affordable) regions within your own country. For example, in the United States, pockets of well-educated and low/medium-income populations exist in what are known as “college towns”. Graduates of colleges and universities within these towns produce skilled IT professionals that, for various reason, opt not to migrate to the big city. They instead operate as individual contractors or within small IT firms. These contractors are just as skilled and experienced as their city-dwelling counterparts… if not more so due to the more varied professional experience freelancers typically possess. Yet, they live in areas of the country where the cost of living is low… similar to IT professionals in foreign countries. And this is the best of all worlds. Your company gets experienced IT professionals with a diverse skill set, located within your own time zone, speaking your own language, dealing in your own currency, and participating in your own legal system. All this comes at the same price as outsourcing your projects to foreign countries, but without all the headaches.

Posted on January 15, 2015 and filed under Domestic IT Outsourcing.

Domestic IT Outsourcing – FAQs

In this first installment of the “Domestic IT Outsourcing” series, we will examine what outsourced IT consulting is, why it’s a valuable resource for companies with IT needs, where to find IT consulting firms, and how they solve temporary IT needs.

What is outsourced IT consulting?

IT consulting is the practice of advising companies on the best use of technology to enhance, automate, or streamline their business operations and/or the development of computer software to meet these demands. When IT consulting is outsourced, the work involved is assigned to a freelance individual or an IT consulting firm, like Extra Nerds. Such entities exist worldwide, but it’s often expensive and inefficient to work with companies in other countries due to differences in time zones, language, culture, currency, or any number of other factors. Domestic IT consulting is the practice of limiting these business relationships to companies and individuals based in the same country. Though this is often more expensive in terms of hourly rates, it’s often less expensive when factoring in the efficiency gains and legal protections. It’s for this reason that many U.S.-based companies are now looking to outsource their IT work to U.S.-based IT consulting firms. In addition, many IT consulting firms based on rural U.S. towns, like Extra Nerds, offer the same quality of service as metropolitan-based IT consulting firms at a fraction of the cost due to the lower cost of living. There is a significant growth in the prevalence and use of rural outsourced IT consulting firms, especially in small college towns across the U.S. where the income level is low compared to the education level. These low-to-medium income areas that are dense with college-educated tech professionals are ideal places to contract with IT consulting freelancers and  firms.

Why is outsourced IT consulting a valuable resource?

Companies with overburdened, understaffed, or ill-equipped IT professionals often have a need to hire freelance software developers to meet their goals. Most IT departments are overburdened with new projects tasked to them by other departments or coming down from the CEO. New software must be created on an ongoing basis in order to remain efficient, take advantage of market opportunities, and integrate with distinct and evolving systems. On top of this, IT departments must continue to support and improve existing software applications. It’s not unusual for an IT department to have a backlog of requested software development, and many of those projects cannot be started until the right staff becomes available to work on the project. Finally, the skills required for work on the project may not be present in-house. If no one in the IT department has experience integrating with, for example, then IT departments must either hire a new developer with experience in online payment systems… or they can outsource this temporary work to a developer with specific experience in the skill set required. The latter is often much cheaper and results in a much higher quality end product in less time.

How do outsourced IT consulting firms meet the needs of companies?

The process of completing a project with an outsourced IT consulting firm is similar to most other contract relationships but with a few important differences. One important difference is the term of the contract. Typically, a contract position for another type of job is based on a number of months (eg. 12-month contract). In software development, contracts are usually framed by a project… a discrete set of requirements (definition of scope) clearly detailing what the final product is expected to be, when it will be delivered, and the price to be paid for the completed project. Other types of IT consulting contracts are those that provide IT consulting services at an hourly rate for support and ongoing maintenance. These are typically open-ended, and the IT consulting firm usually bills their client by the hour or fraction of an hour, sending invoices on a bi-weekly or monthly basis. Another important difference in IT consulting firm contracts is that they usually accompany a very detailed non-disclosure agreement. This is necessary since the consultant will often have access to sensitive company information. Once a contract and non-disclosure agreement are signed, the consulting firm begins working on the project, which is usually broken up into milestones, and provides periodic updates/demos to the client demonstrating their progress and perhaps invoicing for completed work along the way. Once the final product is delivered, the consulting firm can remain available for future updates and/or support as needed. Companies should require of the consultant to provide complete backup of the source code involved as well as documentation on how to use the new software developed. Some companies may be able to take over the support and future development of the software, in which case the consultant is no longer required.

Where can my company find and outsource work to an IT consulting firm?

IT consulting firms are all over. The trick is finding a good one. If you’re new to outsourcing IT work you might start with online freelance marketplaces such as,,, and These services take care of a lot of the headaches involved in outsourcing IT work, such as handling the invoicing and payment as a third party, providing features to communicate with the the consultant, resolving client/contractor disputes, handling currency exchanges, and so on. They provide a pool of IT consultants, each with their own rating based on client reviews. Of course, the traditional methods of searching for IT consultants are also available. Googling “IT consultant Athens OH,” for example, will provide some useful results. And, of course, word-of-mouth recommendations are always a great way to find out about IT consultants recommended by colleagues. Asking contacts in other companies who they use for outsourced IT work could be a great way to find out about IT consultants you didn’t know existed.

Stay tuned for part 2 of the “Domestic IT Consulting” series. In the next installment, we’re going to discuss “Domestic and overseas IT outsourcing,” which will examine the differences between outsourcing IT work to U.S.-based IT firms and outsourcing to common foreign countries, such as India and the United Kingdom.

Posted on January 15, 2015 and filed under Domestic IT Outsourcing.