Continuous improvement? Small, incremental changes? Build – measure – learn? Sure, that’s the way to go with building products and developing businesses nowadays. But if you still don’t know what your goal for the next iteration will be, how do you know which expertise you will need?
Or do you really need to know?
We’ve gave up on the old project management techniques where the requirements were frozen and the full blown product with all the possible features was built, as planned before the development has even started. Fixed price, hard deadline. There was a chance you would build the product right, but would it be the right product? There was no way of knowing, if you never allow any feedback, experimentation, or learning in the process. And so we gave up on the outdated management techniques.
And what about freelancer management techniques? If we don’t want pre-fixed project development, can we really have pre-fixed people?
Freelance marketplaces to the rescue! Here is how you should be leveraging freelance marketplaces to always have the right expertise for each iteration of your product development:
It became so fast and easy to access talent on marketplaces. And so safe and secure at the same time. There are work logs, reviews, escrow accounts. No need to be reluctant. You need a piece of a specialized brain for a one hour consultation? Get online and order it!
Chat with experts prior to setting on your business adventure.
A call with a domain expert who understands the problem you are trying to solve with your product could be a miracle for your vision, clarity, perspective, even the idea validation to a certain extent.
A market researcher could take a look at the competition and tell you how bad it is.
Or a lawyer can prevent you from a legal nightmare if you are attempting to disrupt a regulated market such as the financial one.
That’s how “measure twice before you cut” renders nowadays. Before investing into building the landing page, designing logos, writing copy etc., get a branding strategist to join you for a few days and do a brand audit for you.
For a software application example, I always suggest that my clients consult a software architect first. That’s an expert who has experience with a wide range of technologies and different architectures. They could help you decide on the right tech stack and high level architecture for your product. Based on that, you can go ahead and hire developers who work with the chosen technologies.
My role, mainly as project / product manager, is also crucial in the initial phase, but also during the development itself in order to oversee the process and manage everyone working on it.
For example, the feedback after your latest iteration was that the UX was the bottleneck. Fine, get a few weeks with an UX expert and see what your audience thinks then!
As mentioned, when you build – measure – learn, after each iteration of your product, don’t be reluctant to get additional help. It can be a UI expert to help beautify your pages if they didn’t really leave the best impression. Or if the feedback is really good and you are ready to launch, proceed with a digital marketing expert to start with the campaigns and reach your target audience.
I always tell my clients that we should hold a retrospective after each iteration. (For software devs it could be a sprint, for marketing peeps it could be a campaign, or it can simply be the last week). That’s when we all (including the most transient freelancers) share our views on the work of everyone as a whole. And this is how we come to conclusions; for example, that the front-end developers were not getting enough info based on the provided designs only. That’s when we know to get a UX guy to make videos of the user interaction and then development work can resume smoothly. On one occasion, we had copywriters not being familiar with the subject. Getting a researcher to outline the facts that need to be covered in the coming articles was a convenient thing to do.
It can also be you who is buried in emails and daily tasks. Time to get a virtual assistant?
Freelance marketplaces have simplified the hiring procedure to the extent that you can contract multiple people on daily basis and have them do a few hours of work for you and it still pays off effort-wise. That said, of course there will always be a core group of people who stay with you long-term. That’s not to say that they can’t be freelancers as well. The ability to fine tune the group that’s pushing your products and business forward as you go is invaluable. The chance to always have the right expert at your side exactly when you realize you need them is not one to pass up. Expertise on demand adds a totally new aspect to doing it lean.
Because a lean business needs a lean remote freelancer setup.
Tijana Momirov is a software engineer, product manager and founder of StartupSetup where she helps founders start their startups, all in a remote, agile and super lean way leveraging the gig economy. She’s been a full time nomad since 2010 and loves blogging and giving talks about nomadic lifestyle, managing remote teams, future of work, the gig economy, productized services and more.
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