It’s a brand new world that we live in now, isn’t it?
The COVID-19 pandemic has given a whole new meaning to the word ‘remote’. What once was a ‘when- in-a-pinch’ solution, now is the norm.
Even with WordPress development services, more and more people are shedding their reservations about working with remote agencies.
And rightly so!
Working remotely with an agency can be as seamless and pain-free as working with a local one. You also have a lot more options, and if you can find the perfect agency, there’s nothing like it. In fact, for most people, it ends up being a more profitable option.
You only have to know what you’re doing. Hence, here we are!
Let’s get into it?
Working with a Remote Agency – The Process
Now, we can only speak for ourselves. So, this section talks about the process we follow when working with overseas clients.
But it will give you a good picture of what to expect.
So, let’s break it down:
1. Understanding Requirements
Often when clients reach out to us, they have an idea and a goal to achieve. They don’t necessarily have a clear set of requirements.
So, we dedicate the initial calls to understanding their business and technical goals. A business consultant and a subject matter expert sit down with you, the client (virtually). They understand your vision, then give advice and tweak the plan to fit this vision best. Together you and the team decide how to best approach project development.
2. Planning & Strategy
Based on this approach and requirements, our development team creates the project scope. It documents the decided-upon scope of work and helps everyone stay on the same page.
Once you sign off on this, the team draws up an ‘Effort and Estimate’ document. It does three things:
1. It breaks down the project into individual tasks.
2. Each task is then mapped to the number of hours of work required * billing rate.
3. Calculates the final timeline and estimated project cost.
If satisfied with this estimation, you can go ahead and decide to work with us. (yay!)
At this point, you will have to sign an Initial Agreement that details our agreed-upon terms. And make payments as decided. From here, your project is officially in development!
Once your project is in development, your direct point of contact is our developers. We introduce you to the people working on your project and let you communicate as you would with any team.
We track and manage all activities with our project management tool. Our developers will also send you periodic updates on your project.
Our quality analysts test each module to sure everything is up to mark. Any bugs that emerge get reverted to the developer. All issues and kinks get ironed out.
This is an iterative process. We refine and revise things until they are perfect and up to your satisfaction.
Once you approve all the work, we set up your website or modules and make it live!
Picking the right remote WordPress development agency
The difference between a good experience and a bad one could be your choice of agency. Now, this is where I tell you the cliche line about how your perfect agency depends on your requirements. But well, it’s true!
But it is not feasible to talk to every single agency. So these few parameters will help you cut down your initial list into a few top choices.
Fixed Parameters – True regardless of your project needs.
#1 Is it an established company?
Making remote projects work seamlessly, and effectively working with clients takes practice. It is advisable to collaborate with an agency that has been to a few rodeos.
Things to note here – How long has the company been around? How many employees work there? What notable projects have they undertaken?
#2 Do they house experienced developers?
The portfolio is a big clue into the kind of work an agency has done. Specifically, check if they have experience working on projects like yours.
Anybody can claim to be an ‘expert’ online. So look for trustworthy indications. This could be badges or certifications, endorsements from companies or clients. Contribution to WordPress core can also be one.
#3 Do they respond promptly? Do they have multiple communication channels?
With remote work, effective communication is a prime concern. So, do take note of how quick the turn-around time is. A good idea would be to send an initial query email or fill out the contact form and see if you get a prompt response.
Also, make a note of whether there are various ways to reach them.
#4 Do they maintain transparency?
When outsourcing work, you can only know what the agency puts out there. So do your due diligence to make sure they are legit. Any trustworthy agency will be completely upfront about their policies and credentials if they don’t have an established governing body or a terms & conditions document – big red flags.
Variable Parameters – based on your project’s needs
#1 Are you looking for a relationship or a temporary fix?
If you need a quick fix for your website, you primarily want to hire a team of developers. So your major factor is the competency of the development team.
Or you could also be looking to hire a WordPress development agency and build a long-term relationship with them. It could be for various ongoing projects or even the upkeep of your website. Here, you will need to factor in a couple more things. Their track record is one. Are they good at build relationships with clients? Will you be able to consult them about anything? How good are they at strategizing and planning out your projects.
#2 What is your budget?
Money, at the end of the day, is an integral part of any project. Sometimes, WordPress agencies have a minimum budget for the projects they accept.
Now, keep in mind that a higher billing rate is not bad. Getting quality work done from a premium agency for a higher price is always better than shoddy work by someone who charges less. Down the line, it will end up costing you more. If your budget is on the lower end, some agencies also have a flexible system of developing your project one functionality at a time.
If you realize that your need is quite small, a freelance developer could be a better fit.
#3 What is your project timeline?
The ability of the agency to deliver the project, so it aligns with your timeline, is essential. At the time of the initial query, be very clear about your expected timeframe. It is possible that due to other commitments, they can’t adhere to it. And that’s understandable!
Before signing the dotted line – Asking the right questions on your initial calls.
Before you agree to work with a company, make sure they are the right fit. Sometimes, the best agency is not the ideal one for you, and that’s okay.
The aim of your initial discussions should be to get your vision across. You can talk about your business, your customers, and your goals.
The team will propose an approach. At this point, we suggest you ask plenty of questions, as many as it takes for you to be satisfied with their reasoning.
Go over the overall scope of the project and the expected deliverables. And if you have a strict deadline, you should communicate this upfront. You can always rework things or ask for changes. But make sure you agree to something satisfactory for you as well as the agency.
Coming to budget and payment, every agency has a different approach to it. If trying out an agency for the first time, we advise that you hire them for a smaller project first. Gauge their competence and then decide if you want to hand over bigger projects.
Communication is key. Before you begin, clarify who would be ‘your guy or gal.’ This is the person who will be answerable to you in regards to your project. Ask questions about how you will be able to reach them and what hours they will be reachable. Also, clarify what they would need from you, your role, and how involved you want to be in the project.
Adherence to the coding standards is something we consider non-negotiable. And we wouldn’t advise working with an agency that can’t guarantee it.
Before you sign the initial agreement document, ensure that both you and the agency have clarity on what is expected. If you need the agency to work under a non-disclosure agreement, this will be the time to bring it up.
The project development phase – Overseeing a remote project
Every agency has a different policy on this, but it is always preferred if you can talk to your developers directly.
It makes it easier to manage things, and you get to know your developers on a personal level – crucial in any team.
Effective communication, particularly when working with an agency for the first time, is essential to keep operations running smoothly.
Agree in advance on a schedule for receiving updates. And stick to it unless necessary. What will be included in these updates should be clear.
Documentation is key to keep everyone on the same page, including you. Make sure the development team maintains those.
Every agency uses a project management tool to facilitate easier management of project development. This helps keep track of time, subprojects, issues that need to be resolved.
At the end of the day, treat your remote team as you would an in-house team. Let people know your preferred method of communication. Do ask questions when required, but be mindful of other people’s timezones.
After the Launch – Support Policy and Maintenance Services
The support period is agreed upon at the time of the initial agreement. If you require an extended support period, you have to mention that.
Maintenance services are usually (but not necessarily) separate. So you choose to do it yourself. Or let the same agency take over website maintenance. This can include taking care of security, optimizing your website for speed, fixing any issues.
If availing maintenance services, you should ask what ‘maintenance’ consists of. Is it just periodic upkeeps? Is it actively looking for issues and fixing them?
Payments is a point to discuss. Whether fixing issues is covered under maintenance charges, or is that charges separately?
And these terms should also be defined in your initial agreement document.
Pros and Cons of Working with a Remote Agency
- A bigger pool of options
- Access to the best around the globe
- Less overhead, more savings
- Use the time difference to your advantage
- Communication barriers
- Trickier project management
Understanding the fundamentals of working with a remote WordPress development agency is a great start. If you’re a little hesitant, talking to people who have worked with remote agencies can help. They can also offer you advice on how to approach the process.
If you have any questions, do the leave them in the comments, we would be happy to answer them for you. You can also reach out to us directly to discuss your project. And to be honest, it gets easier with practice.
So just go ahead and start! We wish you the best of luck! 🙂