Tips to source developers from ELance

I recently spoke with Declan O’Sullivan from Bet-Tec (leading supplier of innovative and entertaining services to the betting industry) around his experiences using ELance (where companies find, hire, manage and pay contractors online). He described having mixed experiences “some good, some bad” and suggested using a developers ‘reputation score’ as your first filtering criteria.

Declan went of to give the following tips to anyone considering using ELance resource:
  1. Start by posting a specification for a small project that is clearly defined and contains VERY CLEAR deliverables.
  2. Go through the ratings of all developers who bid and choose carefully. He suggests trying to get a smaller development team rather than a large development house. This is because your business will mean more to them.
  3. Select a company and give them a short delivery timeline to deliver the project.
  4. Ensure they are available on Skype when they are working and when you are testing their work. This requires that they will be working at a time that suits you.
  5. Presuming successful delivery you can then consider giving them a bigger project.
Declan also added these closing pieces of advice:
  • He advocates starting with small projects as they will quickly identify issues and reduce your risk of wasting time and money in developing software that doesn’t meet your requirements.
  • Don’t be too concerned with the location of the team – although his experience with Eastern Europe has been better than his experience with India.
  • You may want to consider selecting larger software firms if you think your future needs may require diverse skills or larger implementation teams. This will help you avoid having to develop and manage working relationships with several small companies or individuals.
  • You should never get into a time and materials project until you have developed a strong relationship with a company.
  • Larger projects should be broken down into a number of milestones (similar to mini projects). Payments should only be made when these milestones are met.
Declan’s comments echo those from Tim Ferriss (New York Times Best Selling Author of the 4-Hour Workweek) when he spoke about ‘How to Build a Virtual Organization’ at a recent BizTechDay conference. Tim suggests an identical strategy to quickly assess that your partners can deliver in a tight time frame.
In conclusion, both Declan and Tim’s experiences seems to suggest that sourcing via companies like ELance and oDesk can be beneficial and cost effective. However, working with 3rd party ‘virtual’ contractors still requires good project management and clear communication in order to be successful.

One thought on “Tips to source developers from ELance

  1. Hi, this is Nicole from Rent a Coder. Rentacoder provides access to programming, writing, illustration, even data entry workers. (You can get a sense of the broad scope of work available here:'d like to point out a few differences between our service and services like Elance since those differences could influence the success of an outsourced project.===Employing a new worker that you don't yet know/trust:===When you don't yet know if a worker is productive, both Elance and Rent A Coder let you employ them in the safest way possible: by paying them a fixed price for the final deliverables (called pay-for-deliverables). However, if there is a problem, Elance charges you for the arbitration process necessary to get a refund (while Rent A Coder does not), and the process can take much longer if the worker is abusive. 1) Money-back Guarantee —If a worker doesn't deliver what they agreed to, both sites will step in and give you a refund via arbitration. However Rent A Coder does this for free. If a worker doesn't deliver what they agreed to, both sites will step in and give you a refund via arbitration. However Elance charges you $66-$133 to do this. This may also make it impractical to get a refund on smaller projects. Rent A Coder, on the other hand, does this for free. 2) Arbitration—On Rent A Coder you can start arbitration immediately. A worker intent on abusing the system can stall the start of arbitration on Elance for 21 business days and during this period your money is not available to you. During the first phase (dispute assistance), the worker has up to 3 business days to respond, and can make this phase last up to 12 additional business days (15 business days total). After this, the arbitration phase "begins", but does actually start because the worker is given 3 business days to acknowledge the notice of arbitration, and the another 3 business days if they did not acknowledge the first notice. Only at this point is arbitration actually started. See the Elance contract for more information. 3) Expert Guarantee—Both sites' triple-point money-back guarantee protect your money from a worker that doesn't deliver. But if you had a critical deadline, you may have lost vital time. Our Expert Guarantee helps you avoid this situation by identifying the most committed and expert workers during bidding. The workers agree to place a deposit to guarantee that they will not break any of the triple-point (or quadruple-point) guarantees. If they do, they forfeit the deposit (which goes to cover cancellation fees and then gets donated to a worthy charity). For more details on the above see: learn about additional differences (as well as compare the other 5 major sites), you can click here: If you have any questions, please let me know. You can also call in to talk to a facilitator 7 days a week, or email us (see

Leave a Reply to RACNicole Cancel reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s