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oDesk August Buyer Newsletter

This month:

The oConomy

Providers: 96,234
(currently open)
Hourly Job Posts
(average size)
Candidates Per Job

New Features

More Free Skill Tests

oDesk continues to add new free skill tests to our catalog. Here's a few you may want to check out: Drupal 5, Facebook Open Platform, Google Android, Online Article Writing & Blogging, OpenSocial, Paypal Integration, and Wordpress.

SMS emailSecurity Question & SMS Notification

Our newest security feature is a security question that you must answer to perform sensitive operations such as hiring. The question helps protect your account if your password is compromised. If you haven't done so already, you'll be asked to pick a question next time you log on to My oDesk.

Additionally, you can now opt to have a text message sent to your phone whenever changes are made to your account. Visit our help center to learn more about the new security (SMS) email option and protecting yourself from phishing.

Combating Spam Applications

We've consolidated and improved the list of reasons for rejecting candidates, declining interview invitations, and canceling applications.

We've also introduced a "Flag as Spam" button so buyers can, with a click, reject candidates whose applications are spam. Providers repeatedly flagged as spammers will be investigated by oDesk and may face disciplinary actions.

The oDesk Perspective

Outsource Customer Support and Save Money

Outsourcing customer support can be nerve-wracking. If you hire someone to build a website but don't like the result, you're out some time and money. Failures in customer support will cost you clients. Yet, if your in-house resources are drawn too thin, you can't do a good job of managing your customers, either.

There are reliable, responsible people working from home, and the cost savings over hiring and housing office staff are obvious--there's a reason it's a growing trend. JetBlue has thousands of people fielding customer calls from their homes, and the airline consistently ranks high in customer satisfaction.

So it can be done. The question is, how do you do it right?

Profile Details: Scan feedback for comments that praise not just work product, but interaction: "a joy to work with," "an excellent communicator," "very responsive." Also look for test scores; oDesk offers certification in email etiquette and call-center skills. Anyone serious about the job will have taken the tests and scored well.

Enjoy the Interview: The best customer service people are extremely competent and genuinely dedicated to helping you out. They're sympathetic and friendly, but always professional, not chatty. When you interview your candidates, make sure they're giving you the vibe you want your customers to get.

Asset Allocation: Does the candidate have the time to commit to the schedule you need? Does he have the necessary technology and a quiet place to use it? Does he demonstrate the problem-solving skills the job requires?

Role-play: Practice a few scenarios to see how your top candidates perform. Can your prospective hire listen in on a few well-handled calls? You should definitely monitor the first few calls after you hire her and provide very specific feedback.

Measure Up: Set metrics for customer satisfaction that will let you assess your worker's success, and provide a mechanism for rewarding her for a job well done.

Picking out an expert in human language and interaction can be harder than finding a programming whizz, but the combination of competitive pricing and premier talent available on oDesk makes this kind of outsourcing a viable, and valuable, option.

Sun Softwares

User Interviews: William Bridges & CogWise Software

William Bridges CogWise Software specializes in building Ruby on Rails web applications. Based in Nashville, TN, USA, the company was founded in January 2007 and started hiring oDesk providers in November that year. The company relies on oDesk to simplify administration and to provide the bulk of its manpower--with only two in-house employees, it has 12 to 15 oDesk providers working on projects at any time.

The company had been known as BluePaw Software, but was rebranded as CogWise just this week. CEO William Bridges says the new company is a fresh partnership with an oDesk provider, and the time was right for a new start. "CogWise is also about building long-term, mutually beneficial relationships with clients and building our own internal software projects that my partner and I have thought of."

Q:  Do you have a small group of providers you work with regularly, or do you tend to seek new providers to suit each individual project?
A:  A little of both. As we've grown, we've needed more developers. We actually look in the oDesk marketplace and outside, but we always have new developers sign up for an oDesk account, because it makes things a lot easier to manage. Our strategy is to have two or three small teams and some specialists for technology outside our core interest.

Q:  How do you manage your providers? What have you learned about setting timelines, specifying deliverables or managing communication that's unique to the remote worker relationship?
A:  We use a project management software package called RedMine to foster communication. We usually have one lead developer who sets up tickets, milestones, and the deliverable schedule, and then the other programmers help execute that vision. Remote situations can be difficult and rewarding in many ways. We usually pick a lead that can somewhat overlap the programmers' schedules if they are in a remote time zone, as proper communication is key. Language and cultural differences must be understood by the lead or by myself. I usually take time to understand those differences for each country we hire from.

Q:  Some buyers describe a learning curve before they began using oDesk effectively. Did you just hit the ground running, or was there a point where you really "got" it?
A:  We had a few rough experiences early on in understanding how to do this as well. Really, the way we solved it is as follows: Since most of our customers are English speaking we pick an American, European or someone who understands Western culture extremely well to lead projects and use them as a bridge. It's more costly to do things that way, but that person also spends less than full-time working on the project. They are able to explain the technical intricacies going on in the project in a way that can be understood easily to us and that we can quickly plan for.

For the full interview, click here.

Provider Spotlight

Get to know these highly rated oDesk providers:

Adeem B
IPhone Application Specialist
Total oDesk Hours: 282
Feedback: 5.0
Comments: "Adeem again was an asset to work with. All communication was clear and work was exactly what we were looking for."
Justine B
Bilingual Photojournalist, Blogger and Translator (Spanish+English)
Total oDesk Hours: 5
Feedback: 4.8
Comments: "She is also very attentive to comments and feedback and did a great job in incorporating everything to produce good articles."

Aleksandar M
Flash/Flex GURU
Total oDesk Hours: 635
Feedback: 5.0
Comments: "Alex did a far better job on the project than I had even required. Great programmer!"

Guillaume L
CG artist 3D and 2D general design for game,web,illustration and print
Total oDesk Hours: 250
Feedback: 4.9
Comments: "A great job, high quality and I love the attention to detail and all the help to make the character look perfect!"

Vote Result

Score: 9.0, Votes: 1