UPWORD Consulting - Week 4

Outsource with Aloa


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Hello everyone. Welcome to week four and module six.
I'm really excited about this one. We have David, one of the co-founders of Aloa here. David, how you doing today?
Doing well, appreciate it. I appreciate you having me. How is Chicago? It is warm, which is like the greatest thing you could ask almost here.
I love it to your baby. So let's just Hop right into it. Can you tell everyone a little bit more about Alloa and kind of the history and we'll kind of take it from there?
Yeah, definitely. So, uh, we started Alloa about three and a half years ago. Um, the reason being we ourselves were a team of techies.
We were building out some tech stuff and we were looking to expand our dev team. Um, it was too expensive for us to hire in the states.
And so we started looking overseas and all we heard about were the horse stands over these development. Um, and we were going through it and we started feeling the pain points too.
And that was just a major light bulb for us. You know, why is the most remote industry? We have the one that's the hardest to work in, uh, even being technical.
And so in our eyes, if we're a team of technical people and we're having troubles outsourcing, then how is someone who is non-technical supposed to, to both to figure out this landscape?
Yeah, so the high level mission is to create a world where anyone can innovate for me. And we sell software development as the barrier to innovation for, um, for tons of people.
So we've approached the space a little differently. Uh, the way we've done it is through a three process. The first is our partner network.
The second is the platform. Third is the strategist partner network. We vetted through thousands of firms around the world, qualifying them and a handful of different metrics, characteristics, um, everything from, Sorry, go ahead.
I didn't mean to interrupt, but I was like, like, this is exciting just because of like all the pain I went through and we talked about it in the previous modules of what it's like working with off shore seat.
I mean, can you tell me a little bit more about that vetting process and like how granular you got and how in the world did you filter all of that down for, from eventually essentially like developers saying that they can do X, Y, and Z.
And it turns out that it might be a little more than they actually can do A hundred percent. Yeah. That that's the big thing to navigate.
Right? Everyone, everyone is going to market themselves in a manner that isn't necessarily altruistic, not inspo. The very first thing we do is we're going to look at the UI UX of their site.
Um, we have pretty strict, um, you know, requirements and expectations for what we would want in a partner. And if they don't meet our expectations for UI UX, for the design to look field their site, um, they're automatically, Right.
So you, you essentially follow those eBooks that we partnered up on from these different modules. I love that. Exactly. So those eBooks, um, the vetting process is gonna, is going to have, I think it's like our first five steps, five or six steps of our vetting process.
Um, and then some of the other steps are a little bit more proprietary in terms of the types of questions we ask in technical review.
Um, but the big thing to really focus on our way that we differentiate ourselves is that we interview the upper level management of these firms.
So it's not as much about talking to the does. It's about talking to the people who actually run the firms so we can get an understanding of how do they run their shop.
What's the type of mentality they have. Do they, as the owner, know what they're talking about and do they have that technical understanding because if they don't then they probably won't be able to lead their team as well.
Um, and then the most important one that, that kind of gets left behind is, is really looking kind of at the social factor of things.
How do they treat their employees or they won't pay it? Are they well compensated? Um, do they have a good work-life balance?
Do they take care of their staff? Do they invest in their own growth? Um, because ultimately if you're going to be partnering with a shop overseas, you want someone that you can scale with.
And if you're working with a firm that doesn't have dads who are going to be staying there and you have to keep switching out people, it really harms the productivity of your product, right.
So you guys took, I mean, how many thousands of agencies did you guys filter through in order to get kind of your platform set up?
Yeah, so we, uh, to date, we've probably done around like seven, 8,000, um, agencies that we've called through, um, started off with, with a, you know, a few thousand and, um, it's, it's not as crazy as it sounds because you can really knock a ton of them out from just the UI UX point of view.
So you should look at them like, um, and that really gets off like, you know, 70% or so. Um, and then after that, it's being more diligent and, and going into those deeper levels, but it's been a work in progress.
So it's something that we continue to do. So anytime we identify gaps or, um, additional bandwidth, we need, we'll start looking into continuing that vetting.
And, um, we have firms who apply now as well to the public. Great. So you've narrowed that down from almost 10,000 down to how many essentially have made the cut.
We Currently have 11 that have made to cousin. Wow. Wow. So all that to say is any one of these students that comes on board and partners with you guys in order to scale up or use you guys for their WordPress projects?
You've got 11 of basically the top 11, eight offshore agencies out of the almost 10,000 that you guys have filtered through.
So these, these agencies are awesome. Um, now the thing that, to make sure you keep in mind in framing software development is so complicated.
So, um, even the best ads out there, there will still be bugs, right? There's still going to be maybe hiccups here and there.
Um, for example, Google's most recent release of, um, their, their Android studio had like 3,200 bucks someone, it was like 2300 or 3,200.
I forget the exact number. Wow. Crazy amount of bucks. And this is Google who has thousands of the world's top to your deaths.
Yup. Um, so software is always a continuously evolving process. Um, the reason that these these firms are so good is because if you, when you hit any of, uh, any bug or you hit a problem or there's any discontinuity in workflow, these are the guys that are going to stick with you that are going to continue to fight through it and are always going to be transparent and explaining what's going on, why it's happening and what they're doing to solve.
Yeah. Communication is huge. Exactly. Um, Okay. So you've got the partners, uh, your development partners that you guys have filtered through, and then you mentioned the, the second one was platform, I believe.
Yep. So you kind of walk, walk us through that. Yeah, definitely. So we tried using just about every single tool up there.
Um, we used everything from monday.com to JIRA, to Assata, to you name it. Sure. We didn't really like any of them for specifically for managing outsource software development.
They all have their pros and cons. Um, but what we commonly found was that the management tools that were more simplistic didn't have the proper functions for an outsource relationship with, you know, navigating the time zones and the tools that were more dev focused, like the JIRA as an Assata's of the world, fantastic dev to dev, but they're not necessarily good from a client facing perspective.
And so that was really the gap that we were trying to fix. So we researched them all, use them, all documented, everything that we liked that we didn't like.
And then we built on our own platform. That's built specifically for managing outsourced software. So everything we built on is all retroactive.
So we'd, we didn't just go in and build bells and whistles to create a platform. Everything has been built off of pain points.
So everything has, has a specific reason why it's there. Um, and we tried to keep it as simple as possible because especially if you don't have a deep technical understanding, having all those bells and whistles can create more stress and anxiety from the client side.
Um, so it's simple, it's clean, it's easy to use. You don't have to be technical to navigate it. And it's all about transparency and action items.
So everything is accounted for, um, and you can just take a look and everything's there and that's where you can interact and engage.
Gotcha. So the platform that you guys built out, um, obviously I use you guys, but if I was to start with you guys, that's the platform that I would use to communicate directly with the development team report bugs, see product status messages, basically what you would expect in a web dev kind of project management software.
Exactly. And all of it's integrated in slack as well. So, um, we have a slack channel everyone's going to be in that slack channel.
And any time there's an update on the platform, the Allo bot will just a post it update in the selection.
Yes. I mean, that's been fantastic on our projects being able to have that immediately in slack and then also check what's going on at any time on the platform and communicate directly with the dev team.
That's awesome. Okay. So you've got the developers, you've got the platform and what was number three, the strategist. Okay. Let's walk through that.
So the strategist is someone who's here in the U S um, to help kind of guide you through that process.
Now, when you look to outsourcing and to a lot of these companies and in groups that are trying to make a splash in this space, the common theme is that people are trying to remove the humanity and build up the automation, which makes sense for scalability, right?
That's, you know, if you want to continue to scale and grow that that totally makes sense. But what we found was that people are moving way too much humanity from there, from, from the equation.
And, and there really just is a component that you need a person there to help progress through, um, you know, the, the, the actual process and what we're trying to do here, because there's so many different complexities.
And as you know, software is not a one size fits all engine. Um, so you really need someone to kind of help guide you through that, that, that process, um, and different clients have different needs.
The more technical ones have, you know, we'll, we'll need us less than, than there'll be less technical ones, but essentially the strategist is there to get to know you as a client, understand you, your business, your industry, everything about you.
Why now is the time to invest in technology? We're then going to look at our partner firms, figure out who's going to be the best fit.
Um, so that's one differentiator from the Upwork or top tells of, of the world in that too, commonly you have people who vet their firms or their talent based off of improper barriers, and they put way too much weight in those interpersonal skills off the interviews, or just seeing something on paper and not actually putting enough emphasis on the variables that actually makes sense to find you the right thing.
So we're going to match you with who, who makes the best sense for you and based off of all those variables, price point, et cetera.
And then the strategist will not only serve as an account manager helping to facilitate that relationship. So you have someone here in the states to reach out to if you have any questions, but the biggest gap that we're filling here is that software development has no global standard for best practices.
And when you work with a firm, um, the, the firm tends to use their one process. And that's great. Your strategies make sense for that process, but if they don't make sense for that process, then you're going to get a lot of friction.
Um, so, so the concept is called technical debt, and it's a really important concept. Um, it basically, it's the iron triangle of software, so quality price time, or you can only choose one, the other two software.
So if you want something that's really high quality, it's going to take longer and it's going to be more expensive.
If you want something that's really cheap, then it's going to be less quality and it's going to take a little bit longer.
So they all kind of have a inter interrelated relationship. And it's the role of the strategist to work with the client.
Um, if they're technical, we'll hear their suggestions. If they're not, we'll provide our own, uh, suggestions and we'll build out custom dev strategy.
So understand your environments where you're at, what's going on, build out those custom strategies. And then every other week we're going to perform an audit on the partner firm that will be, can be preventative rather than reactive.
Awesome. So you guys really become that gap between the development firm agency and the client, essentially, which would be the student.
Um, that's kind of the, the bread and butter for you guys. So this is a good segue then into if I'm a student, right.
And I'm coming through this course, I'm watching this video and I need to either find an agency, um, like an Alloa or I need to scale up my agency.
What kind of walk me through the process of what it looks like from literally just starting out from scheduling a call down below with you guys, um, all the way kind of through to project completion.
Obviously each project is going to be different and with WordPress, there's some variance with that, but just kind of top level.
Um, so these students can know what it's like to from start to finish what it looks like working with you guys, For sure.
So very first call is going to be our introduction call. Uh, it's going to be a time for you to better get to know us and for us to do better, get to know you.
Um, we're very mission driven. And again, our mission is to create a world where anyone can innovate. So our first priority is making sure that we're actually the right fit.
Um, if we have that conversation and you're introducing all these other variables and we don't think we can, we can best handle you.
Then we're going to tell you where you should be going next to make sure that you're always staying on track and doing what's best for the purpose of innovation.
That's the first thing, get to know you, your business. Why, why are you here and tell you a little bit about us.
You better get it right. So Really seeing if it's a good fit, just from step One, exactly. Once we've identified that work at Fitbit and things are looking solid, then, then usually we're able to gather enough information in that introduction call to choose which firm is going to be the best.
Um, if we need another call, we'll schedule another call to chat more details, but that's, that's the first step finding out which firms could be the best fit.
The next step is then going to be jumping on a call with that firm and Alabama. So we're all going to jump on a call together.
This is a time for you to walk through the scope of work a little bit more diligent this way. We have all stakeholders on the call to walk through the scope of work.
Gotcha. And that way have a time to actually meet this firm as well. Um, it's important to us that you actually meet the people who are going to be doing the work before it starts.
So you're comfortable with who's doing it and how things work. And That's what I love. You guys is very similar to what we're doing here in the process of everything for us is like human to human and just treat humans as humans.
And I think that's why we see the world so simply, and I've gotten along so well for so long. Um, I just, I love that about alwa A hundred percent, a hundred percent.
That's that's, uh, that's what it's all about at the end of the day. Yep. So, um, once, once, once we got through that process, so, uh, you you're, you're talking to the firm, everything makes sense.
Um, then we're going to build the estimation. So then the firm is going to estimate out, um, what the project is going to look like.
If it's a fixed cost project, we'll give you a fixed estimation. That price will not change. If we go over an hours, that's on us, you will never be charged.
Additionally, what we tell you is going to be what the charges, no surprises, no surprises. Um, unless halfway through the project, you say, well, I also want feature X, Y, and Z, and not a lot of scope we'll chat about it.
But, um, other than that, correct? No, no, no surprises. The other option is more of a staffing. Um, so if you more need an extension of, of depth, so you want staff supplementation, someone to who you're essentially hiring.
Um, but you would rather just outsource it through us. That person will just be an extension of your team. Um, going through us, we'll still have all those checks and balances in place, and they'll just essentially work on your and your stuff as a backup.
Gotcha. So you could have the option of having a dedicated resource almost part-time full-time that works essentially exclusively for you through this relationship with you guys.
So there's different options in terms of what these students might need in terms of their business needs in terms of their development needs.
Yep, exactly, exactly. Awesome. So, um, once, once we figure out what that pricing is going to look like and what the proper proper strategy is going to be, um, if it's fixed costs, that's always going to come with a warranty period, 30 day warranty period.
Um, staffing model doesn't tend to have the as, as strict of a warranty period because it's continuous effort. Um, but that's always something that we can chat about.
Sure. And once that initial work is done, um, there's always maintenance packages that we can offer as well. So you can have someone who's there to maintain the sites.
Awesome. And then once all of that is good. We'll send over the proposal. Once things get signed, we have the kickoff call on board, you to we'll manage, update all of the scope of work into the platform.
Um, and we get the numbers. That's awesome. So essentially the, they use Alloa for everything. So once they have a project, you guys will bid it out, assign the team and it's all through the platform.
So it's essentially a one-stop shop in terms of web development. Um, so obviously this course is about WordPress. That's my focus as an agency, but you guys also have talent that's outside of WordPress, right?
Just in case for students that might have some custom development projects or Shopify or things that just might be out of the WordPress world.
I know that happens me and my agency every so often. So that's not a problem with you guys. Exactly. So, um, we have, we have some great shops that do WordPress, but we also work in pretty much every single tech stack, um, and, and industry we've done work in about 30 plus industries, um, and across tons of different tax tech stacks, everything from simple websites to mobile apps to AR ML, other emerging tech.
Awesome. And then kind of the last thing, can you walk me through, because obviously this comes up a lot, especially when I'm white labeling development work in terms of the client doesn't know that I'm outsourcing it.
Um, what does it look like for bugs? Um, and then, um, yeah, let's start with bugs kind of that process For sure.
So bugs are, uh, it's a really important topic to cover. Um, bogs are synonymous with software. They're going to happen.
I guarantee you they will happen. It'll it'll happen. I mean, Google has bugs. Apple has bugs. They have thousands of engineers who are dedicated to bug fixing.
Um, so if the best of the best out there are going to have bugs, then I can promise you that as a smaller shop, you're, you're going to have some bugs too.
100% of my projects have had bugs nature of the beast. The important thing to keep in mind is it's about how you approach those books.
Um, and it's the strategy behind it to make sure that those bugs don't serve as a bottleneck to you and ultimately then your clients, right?
So there's a few things, uh, that, that we do first. Um, we're going to have a bug logging section. So anytime you're testing out the site, or anytime on the live site, you can log those bugs.
You're going to put in the place of the bug, the priority, the description, and the most important one is the steps to reproduce the button.
That way the dev team in an asynchronous manner can replicate that bug on their own server and then tackle that book.
Awesome. That's the first line of defense, um, before we push live, um, we'll also have staging servers, so that'll be another time where you can test and you can try to knock out some of those bugs there.
Um, sometimes bugs won't appear until you actually hit the production. So, um, and sometimes bugs won't appear until you actually hit a button and test.
Um, for example, if you are launching a site, you probably aren't going to spend the time to test what happens if I click this button in a 4g network, all those edge cases.
Exactly. So there's going to be edge cases that pop up. Um, but it's about making sure that you have that structured process.
So if we're still in the project, you just logged the bug and the team will tackle it, knock it out right away.
Um, if the project is live and you're in a maintenance package, you just logged the bug and the team adds it to the backlog.
If you aren't live yet, the really important thing to do is make sure that you do very diligent user testing before you actually go live with clients.
Um, that way you're the first line of defense, testing it out, making sure you find as much as you can, um, that way that that's the best way to, to really shield the client.
Um, and the last that we do, which has been, um, pretty, pretty helpful for our clients and serves as, uh, the strongest safety net.
Um, we actually have in-house QA that we assigned to every project. So we have our own QA, um, who will be there.
And it is their job all day, every day to be going through all of our client products and just testing and just testing and the long funds on your behalf.
Exactly. They're professional breakers. Yeah, That's amazing. So it's what comes with the value out of Alloa is you guys handle really everything, all the heavy lifting, all the organization, project management, quality assurance.
Obviously I teach this in the previous modules is that you want to be that last line of defense for your client and make sure that even though multiple eyes have been on it, be the guy that checks the food before it goes out to the kitchen or kitchen before it goes out to the table.
So literally it's one platform. You get a developer, you get a whole team, you get essentially a strategist quote, unquote, project manager, ESC, but making sure that everything is being handled correctly with the development firm and then quality assurance and all handled on one platform, it's, it's a no brainer.
And that's why I'm so excited to bring you guys on. And, uh, I know my students are going to get a ton of value out of this.
Um, so down below you can click and schedule a call immediately with David and his team. And anything you need any questions, they'll be happy to answer it, David, I appreciate your time so much.
Thank you again for partnering with me on this and the eBooks and all your help. You guys have been amazing.
And I'm looking forward to bringing you guys some new clients. Yeah. Been a pleasure and, uh, yeah, excited to, to keep the ball moving here and hopefully we can, uh, help help all of your clients and, uh, and viewers further, further innovate.
Absolutely. Thanks so much, David, have a good night.