guru

In the world of outsourcing, there are a great many options and paths to choose from. We’ve discussed Elance in a previous post, and today we look at another website that promises to be quite similar. Guru.com is an outsourcing company headquartered in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Guru began operations in 2001, initially conceived by Inder Guglani because he found the freelance marketplace at that time to be inadequate and in need of improvement. The question then becomes, has he succeeded?

The truth is that upon my first visit to Guru, I was thinking it might provide me with another good option as I had been heavily using Odesk and even as good as it is, there are times when you simply reach the limit of what Odesk has to offer and need additional outsourcing choices. Guru seemed like a good alternative. I logged in with high expectations, but then I had a wake-up call of epic proportions. The site itself, while not that hard to navigate, isn’t exactly a smooth design either. Most of the links are at the very bottom of the page which required you to scroll down quite often. Also, if you click on the ‘jobs’ link at the top, you don’t go straight to a job search. You instead are presented with a screen showing your active jobs and another small link for ‘find jobs’. I suppose if you had jobs, it would seem less obnoxious, but for me being new to the site it was a glaring reminder that “You have no awarded jobs to follow up on”. I think the ‘find jobs’ link should be featured better and the disclaimer toned down a bit.

Still, those issues in design are hardly the biggest problem with the website. Firstly, the number of applications – or ‘bids’ as Guru calls them – is very limited. With a free membership you only get 10 per month which is not a lot, especially for someone diligently searching for work. I’ve done easily 4 to 5 times that many in a month through Odesk in the past. You can purchase extra bids for a one-time fee which varies based on how many bids you want to buy. An additional 10 bids will cost you $20, 40 bids for $20, 60 bids for $30, 125 bids for $50, and finally a whopping 250 bids for $100. If you have a little money to spend, you can up your bids and get more chances for work, but if you are unemployed that might be difficult to do.

Another issue is the skills tests, which many outsourcing website offer as a way to supplement your profile. Some sites offer them for free, and Guru does as well if you have the right level of membership. Free members are required to pay $4.95 per test. Basic members, who pay $8.95 a month for their membership, still have to pay $2.95 per test. You don’t get tests for free unless you move up to the next membership level called ‘professional’ which costs $15.95 per month. These monthly fees are applicable if you choose to be billed once annually. If you opt for a monthly billing, the price goes up to $11.95 per month for basic and $21.95 for professional. Guru does have its perks, such as search boost and premium proposals which will help you to get a leg up on other freelancers vying for the same jobs you are, but all of these perks come at a price. For free members, the options are very limited. Be sure you do your homework so that you can be sure whether Guru is the right outsourcing option for you.

elance-1

There are a great many outsourcing websites on the web these days, and each has their own way of handling interaction between clients and contractors. They also each have their own processes for contractors who want to find home-based work. One of these is Elance.com. This outsourcing site has a wealth of job opportunities available in a wide range of fields, and all one has to do is log in and start looking. Well, almost.

First,you have to make your profile, and it needs to be as complete as possible for you to have success in finding work. Usually clients look for contractors who already have documented experience on Elance, but first-timers can find work as well. Once you get your profile ready to go, it will look something like this:

elance2

Now you can start looking for work, but how well you’re able to find work depends on a couple of factors. First off, your experience plays a part. Obviously, you won’t get hired for a job you don’t know how to do. However, that’s not the only factor. Which membership you choose also plays a part. There are four different options for membership, but the two highest priced ones are mainly for clients looking to hire contractors. The other two are for clients.

The free membership is fine, but it does have its limits. First, you have a certain number of connects available per month. Each time you submit a proposal for a job you’d like to get, it costs you one connect. With a free membership, you get 40 connects per month which you might think is a lot, but sometimes it’s not just one connect per proposal. You can also pay an additional 5 connects to have your proposal put at the top of the list. Doing that a few times will deplete your connects a bit quicker than you might think. Not every job has that option, but most of the good ones do. Another limitation on the free membership is that you get only one category. In other words, you pick one type of job, be it admin support, writing and translation, web development, or one of the other available categories. Once you choose your category, you can only look for jobs of that type, and if you request to change your category, it can take days for the change to be processed.

The membership that Elance recommends is their individual membership which costs $10 per month. You get 60 connects per month, and you can add additional categories any time you like. This enables you to look at many different types of jobs and gives you a better chance at finding work. Additionally, you have added bonuses on this paid membership such as the ability to include samples of your previous work in your proposals and view the rates of other Elancers bidding for the same job.

These added benefits make it much easier for members to find work, but for some people that $10 fee every month might be more than they can handle, especially people in other countries like India or the Philippines. With Elance, you tend to need money in order to make money, but there’s still hope for those needing to find work for free. Elance recently partnered with Odesk, another outsourcing company which offers free membership with virtually no strings attached. Between these two companies, there are ample opportunities for both clients and contractors to find exactly what they need.

In today’s world, many businesses are looking to cut cost and increase profits by outsourcing some of their work load to freelancers overseas, many of which are located in Asia.  Doing so has great advantages, but it can also have some definite disadvantages. For any business owner thinking of looking across the big pond for some low cost assistance, there are a number of factors that you need to consider.

Outsourcing-advantages

The first thing most people think about when looking into outsourcing is that it will save them money, and that’s true. Because cost of living in some places is much lower, outsourced workers can be paid a much lower salary than those you might hire locally and still be able to make a proper living. Still, there are other advantages as well.

Specialization – Outsourcing allows you to, in effect, search the world over to find the person best suited to the tasks you need done. Instead of being limited to people in your local area, you have the ability to branch out and look in multiple countries and multiple outsourcing venues, such as Guru or Elance, to find that perfect fit. This can prove to be an invaluable asset as you can have the assurance that you hired the absolute best person for that role.

Core Process Focus – Sometimes, businesses tend to get bogged down with all the little things that need to be done, and the core process of their organization can get lost in the shuffle. Outsourcing the little things can provide you the time you need to focus on and develop the core of your business thereby improving your company as a whole.

Outsourcing-disadvantages

Sensitive Information – One of the potential risks with outsourcing is that you may need to provide sensitive or confidential company information to your freelancer. The key here is to make sure you contour your hiring process so that the person you hire is someone you feel that you can trust to keep the information confidential.

Synchronization – Another common disadvantage to hiring overseas is that delivery of completed tasks could be delayed by other mitigating factors such as power outages, time zone difference, and varying internet connection speeds. The best way to prevent this is to determine which of these factors, if any, your potential freelancer might experience before hiring them on. Asking the right questions during interview will save you a lot of grief down the road.

Split Focus – This is potentially one of the biggest problems with outsourcing. Many freelancers have more than one client that they work for. Often times, it can be difficult for an outsourced worker to find one singe full-time job, so they take on several part-time jobs instead. Be sure to find out whether your potential candidate can provide the necessary time and attention needed to complete your tasks efficiently.

Overall, though there are risks, the reward can be well worth it so long as you take the necessary steps to ensure that any hire you make is competent, trustworthy, and has the know-how to provide you the help you need and keep your business moving onward and upward!