Quit the Yak Shaving: Outsource to Save Money

Ned Dwyer
Ned Dwyer

As a developer it’s sometimes hard to know what you should be building yourself and what you should be outsourcing. If you want to maximise your output you need to know when to call it quits and bring in the professionals.

1. It’s Not Your Area of Expertise

Developers are problem solvers. They know how to research whatever they need to get done. That doesn’t mean you should be doing everything. So while I can probably get a Ruby on Rails server set up on AWS, I’m more likely to host a side project on Heroku — it can be set up in minutes and it’s free for a basic instance.

Likewise in setting up your blog. While WordPress is famous for their five-minute install, there are inevitably roadblocks and edge cases that pop up. When you can find a service that will take it off your hands for $25, it’s not worth your time to try to do it yourself.

2. You’ve Been Putting it Off for Way Too Long

The email newsletter we send out for Tweaky.com looks terrible on mobile devices. We never got around to formatting it correctly and because it wasn’t a burning issue, it never made it anywhere near the top of our priority list.

So recently, I put the job on Tweaky, and a couple of hours later it was fixed for $25. I didn’t need to think about it anymore.

The longer you put off completing a task, the more time and space you’ll end up spending on it — just having it on your list is reducing your bandwidth to deal with other things you need to get done.

What have you been putting off for far too long? Outsource it today and get it off your plate.

3. It’s not Time-sensitive.

Some tasks need to happen but they don’t have a hard deadline. A good example of this is setting up an email subscription form on your website — nobody is going to die if you don’t get that set up today.

Outsourcing a project means it’s not going to get done right this minute. If you needed it done right now, you would be much better off doing it yourself.

Say you need a new WordPress theme for your blog. You could go down the rabbit hole trying to find a professional-looking magazine template, for instance, or you could outsource the job to someone who’ll find five great themes that match your specifications. Then you can move on to the next thing on your to do list.

When time is money, it often pays to delegate seemingly trivial, but time-intensive, action items to someone else.

4. It’s Well-defined.

Outsourced workers are most efficient when the tasks that need to be done are clearly defined. At Tweaky.com we have in-house project managers who work with all of our clients to help to define the scope and outcomes of each tweak or project. The more defined the project is, the better the outcomes for the client.

One example of a task that can be clearly defined for outsourcing is DNS relegation. My experience with DNS relegation hasn’t been great to date, and I view it as more art than science, but it’s easy to define what I want the outcome to be and get someone else to handle the actual execution.

As a developer you’re unlikely to outsource everything, but there are many times when it makes a lot of sense. With many services allowing you to customise your website for relatively little outlay, you have to ask yourself: am I shaving the yak?

Put down that razor. Put down that yak. Leave it to the professionals. You’ll thank me later.

What development tasks could you outsource today? Share in the comments below.