I'm just coming up to the end of my first full month with my first member of staff, so I thought I'd put together a quick post on how it's going so far. So far, it's genuinely fantastic and I think that it will prove to have been an excellent decision.
How It Started
Last month I read The 4 Hour Work Week, by Tim Ferriss - which I highly recommend. The book is all about outsourcing your work to give you more time to do the things that you want. Now I know what you're thinking, cause I get "outsourced services" spam in my inbox all the time too, and I'd never given it a second thought either until recently.
I'm really not one for reading something inspiring, and then doing nothing about it. There are way too many people who do that! So I decided immediately to get a couple of trial days with some outsourced web development companies for full time members of staff.
After getting in touch with a couple of companies, I selected one to give me a 2 day trial with 2 of their web designers, a Junior one and a Senior one. The price difference was pretty big, so I wanted to see how big the quality difference was. I got them to Psd2Xhtml a layout, design another layout based on a sketch, and do research and screenshot gathering for a blogpost. It was a big difference, and the senior designer produced some really good work - much better than I was expecting.
To cut a long story short, as I mentioned at the beginning of this month, I went ahead and took the senior designer on.
The Story So Far
I've now had a full month with Melque, and I can't honestly think of a single real problem that I've had - which, based on common preconceptions including my own, is a surprise!
Another suprise is that so far I'm definitely not finding myself with any more free time than I had before. I'm taking on more work, which I have to do to cover the cost of an employee - so the result is that so far I'm doing just as much work as I was before. This is by no means a simple thing to do, in fact I knew that beforehand and I'm still finding it a bit more complicated than anticipated.
I have to pull in enough extra money per month just to cover the cost of a staff member, and only then does any extra work that they do result in a profit. The problem is that with a requirement of more sales, comes a requirement of more client management, and that takes more time. It's a real balancing act!
That said, I'm not trying to paint a negative picture at all - so far this has proved to have been a really good decision, I'm just trying to make clear that with it comes a great deal of responsibility.
Day To Day Operations
So how does it all work? Well, Melque is in the Philippines, which is a bonus because I lived there for 6 years, as a result I understand the culture and a little bit of the language too. He works from 2pm to 11pm UK time, and I communicate with him throughout the day using Google Talk and share files with DropBox.
To start off with he was coding well, but had some unsemantic practices made the html markup a little messy. About 2 weeks in I sat down with him on GTalk for an hour and went through one of my stylesheets compared to one of his, and carefully explained the things that I wanted done differently, and most importantly: why.
Since then I've had the outsourcing company order a couple of CSS books for their office just to help even further - but Melque learns incredibly quickly, he's now pretty much matching my CSS ability. Which is genuinely awesome.
The very best part of the day to day stuff is that Melque has a fantastic attitude. He's always enthusiastic, always polite, always willing to fix mistakes, improve his abilities, and work overtime whenever necessary. All of these things to a degree that I wouldn't even bother to expect from an employee in the UK.
It's going well, really well. But: Insert Spiderman quote here.