Effective Outsourcing for Lean Startups

The skills needed to build an app or new feature aren’t the same as delivering customer support. Nor does the founder have time to do everything. In an article featured on The Next Web, Abinash Tripathy, CEO of Helpshif, notes that

User grown often means negotiating a balance between providing service to users and keeping a lean operation. One of the most important, resource-intensive tasks is providing customer service and support to users.>

Outsourcing tech support offers a viable solution to the problem. Unfortunately, some tech startup entrepreneurs are averse to outsourcing customer support. This is often due to a lack of understanding about the dynamics of working with third party providers. However, under the right circumstances, outsourcing tech support might be the ideal solution for your development team.

Is Your team Complete?

In an article on Grasshopper Herder, Lean Startup guru Tristan Kromer describes the balanced team concept:

  1. The designer is responsible for the desirability of the product or service. He or she develops the creative features that add to the product’s “wow” factor.
  2. The engineer takes charge of its feasibility, while determining if the product should be developed, and if so, how the team should build it.
  3. The business person balances the scales between feasibility and desirability, and determines product’s viability. Managing profit and loss comes with the territory.CAVEAT: The balanced team is an abstract concept. and “the thing about abstract concepts is that they’re abstract,” notes Kromer. “Reality often disagrees.” In this case, reality is in the devilish details. You might have a superb designer, engineer and business person, but if your team lacks essential players such as text support experts, sales people and social media specialists, you do not have a Minimum Viable Produc.

    Outsourcing Step by Step

    Alan Tan of Ideyatechoffers helpful ideas about the Lean Startup Outsourcing process:

    1. Develop a Minimum Viable Product and test it in the marketplace. Based on feedback, determine which customer support features will require outsourcing.
    2. Protect your intellectual property, and make sure that all IP clauses are clearly stated in your outsourcing contract.
    3. “If you are trying to solve a problem where the solution is non-existent or if you are trying to develop advanced algorithms, do not expect your vendor to develop the solution for you. Keep research and development work with your internal team,” says Tan.
    4. Check the background of your provider and make sure he or she is a good fit for your project.
    5. Avoid fixed contracts, because your needs will constantly change.

    Remember, in the end, you are your project’s leader, and whether it succeeds or fails falls on your shoulders. Choose your team wisely, and share the success.


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