I'm really excited and pleased to share this recent interview with Pawel Zmyslowski with you (and a 'beastie boys' song reference in the title too)!
Pawel is CEO and Team Leader at White Label Coders. Based in Poland, his team are the 'best kept - secret sauce' used by agencies you probably already know - but you didn't know they were using his team to deliver their development projects with.
You see, White Label Coders offer a highly professional - cost effective - range of development and support (...seriously cost effective services, when compared with UK options),
The reason for my excitement is that the subject of white labelling (and outsourcing) digital services has a definite ‘marmite’ response to many agency owners I speak with.
Just like marmite - (that tar-like-yeast spread product) - some love it ... others ... not so much.
When it comes to white label support though, that too - seems split 50/50 down the middle.
Some agencies LOVE IT! Other's ... not so much. But that's usually because they've never considered it as a proper option before.
Me? ... I LOVE the taste of marmite. ;-)
Also, I happen to be a HUGE supporter of working with outsourced, and white label, services. For scale, speed and professionalism, there is a great fit for many agencies.
Especially when it comes to adding more skills to your service capability.
Capability and skills being key challenges that are relevant to every agency out there.
And, whilst I might not be successful in changing your mind on the marmite choice. (that's down to a matter of taste) - I DO want to help you consider the use of white label and outsourced providers to add skills to your agency.
It's my experience that being able to bring other skills into your agency services as (and when) you need to - are key to the long term success of any agency!
So check out the interview (below) where Pawel kindly shares his journey and plans behind his move from coding himself, into building and running a larger development business built to support agencies in the UK and internationally.
You need skills? They've got skills!
Their name kind of says it all.
Show notes and useful links and considerations are below.
0:00 - 1:27 - Intro to Pawel and White Label Coders
1:28 - 5:35 - Paweł's journey from Coder to CEO.
5:36 - 7:19 - Pivoting to support agencies through white label services.
7:20 - 10: 35 - The challenge of building Dev team roles within an agency.
10:36 - 12:16 - There are teams behind the World Class Athletes.
12:17 - 14:25 - How small agencies can plug into bigger outsourced teams.
14:26 - 18:35 - Why you need quality checkers, not just coders - in your Dev team.
18:36 - 20:17 - Behind each web developer role are 4 more roles - don't overlook this!
20:18 - 27:38 - Upcoming trends and tech that Pawel’s team is excited about.
27:39 - 31:20 - New Marketing options are appearing with 'progressive' technologies.
31:21 - 34:45 - What’s the impact of CV-19 on the Development industry?
34:46 - 39:55 - Security issues are often overlooked - maintainability is key for better Web Dev projects and client relationships
39:56 - 42:07 - Wrap up the key points from this conversation.
[Website] - www.WhiteLabelCoders.com
[LinkedIn] - You can connect with Pawel Zmyslowski here
[Article] What is a White Label Agency?
I wanted to share a few points and perspectives from my own experience of running and scaling web development teams. This will help give some context around the subject of partnering with White Label and Outsourced service providers like White Label Coders.
Could outsourcing web development be a growth option for your agency at this current time?
If your team culture is open and honest, then a short internal team meeting will help you get the right answers to what skills might be lacking from your team currently.
Asking your team about their honest feeling of what skills your business lacks will help point to areas you need help with - and these make good places to outsource until you can strengthen them. Either through development plans for team members, or through testing there's a demand by clients that warrants investing in the cost of new talent and team growth for this area.
If you're a small agency, team of one, or freelancer - then outsourcing and white labelling services provides a strong option for you to bring extra income into your business.
They benefit your business through giving you the ability to deliver work without the need to hire and grow a larger (more costly) team - if you don't want, or need, to do so.
If you already have an internal dev team, you might consider 'plugging in' a white label service to help support short their workload, or time sensitive projects.
It makes sense to outsource the work that 'eats up' the time your senior and experienced team members could use to work on more impactful development. Junior level code updates, maintenance and managing and updating plugins - can sap your costs if these can be done by others.
I find that asking your senior web dev members what they want to get rid of - will show what can be outsourced.
If you run agile projects, and use a decent project management tool for web development projects, then look at the past tasks that had small point values assigned to them. Are any ongoing, any that add up to lots of time, but made up of 'bitty' jobs that can be done by someone else - and paid accordingly lower prices that your hourly rate of seniors?
Maybe you offer the clients a 24/7 bug or issue help desk service. This too could be a good outsourced service to free up your internal talent and get them focused on higher value work.
Cost and budgeting - do the numbers add up for you?
Outsourcing and white labelling are strong options when the pricing cost for doing so still leaves room for your agency mark-up on team or project time. This is what I find a good fit for smaller or larger agencies.
For example, we can use the typical pricing framework would be to follow the 'rule of 3'.
Take your internal hourly pay cost for your developer role (the yearly wage, divided by the total hours you contract them to work for you).
i.e. This works out at £25 per hour (for a senior developer role at £48+K per annum).
You'd multiply this figure hourly by 3 for your client charge.
One third pays the team member hour.
The next third covers business costs, tax, national insurance, development training, etc. The final third would be paid into the business account for cashflow, and profits.
Client cost per hour would then be £75 for this developer to work on any project related work. Apply the same cost framework to each role in the project, and seniority in the project. This will help show the costs for the project.
White label services need to work for your costs and project budgets.
In the past, I've found many UK based services are costly, as are some international - leaving little room for two of the 'thirds' markup - like you would on internal team members.
Outsourcing provides a good option if you can make the clear third for your profit margins - as you don't need to cover the training and second third costs.
I found the cost projections in conversations with White Label Coders was similar to my hourly internal rate of team members. Allowing a decent profit margin to be made through outsourcing work in most cases.
The added benefits are that this work can be done without me having to fund additional role costs like skills training, personal development meetings, team outings - that I would if I hired in.
However, I always find it best to talk to any service provider in-depth about how you operate and how they operate. So they can give you the best understanding of partnering, the costs and any ongoing support commitments you need.
Some providers offer fixed contracts. But I really like Pawel's business approach because they DON'T lock you into minimum hours per month contract (which is rare!).
As Pawel mentioned in the interview above - a massively overlooked aspect of web development projects relates to planning ongoing security requirements for delivered projects.
So it's worth making sure you understand any clients needs relating to ongoing maintenance any project might require. That way you can factor this cost and plan into your service charges to your end clients.
If you have already delivered projects without this ongoing support - maybe you should consider offering this as an ongoing service to existing clients. This can then be outsourced and still return a profit for your business in doing so. :-)
What if I Lack development project experience - can I still work with white label services?
I know it can be a challenge to consider offering web development, if you feel like you don't know the right terminology or how true development projects (and teams) work.
The first time I heard my dev refer to 'GIT' - I wondered if I'd upset him somehow!
But the process of project management, and code development (including deployment best practice) - are easy to follow when you speak with people who know their stuff!
Any good white label service will support and work around your level of understanding and knowledge limitations. Don't forget, they are set up to support non-dev agencies as their clients.
So make sure to ask about their on-boarding and support materials for helping you pitch and sell development into your client services.
Don't let a lack of knowledge stop you investigating whether Web Development services could be a fit for your agency.
Working with differing project management styles
'WAGILE' is what you get when you mix Waterfall and Agile techniques (credit for the name here goes out to to my friends David and Anya!).
Many of your clients work in non-agile ways - even if they state they are agile - and they will expect you to deliver your agency projects into their preferred manner.
Outsourced and white label specialists will want to understand how you work and manage projects - and they'll usually have a range of ways to help you put in the best practise approach for your business and your delivery to your client's preferred way of working.
Or, at least they can point you in the right direction for more learning and resources in order to get the best from working with them.
Another benefit in working with external suppliers - is that you can level up your agency skills through just being exposed to working with people who do this all the time. Bringing their learning and best practice (plus preferred systems for project management) in through 'osmosis' of your working relationships. :-)
Can I outsource services in more than one area of skills:
It doesn't have to be only for Development (like in this case we're using). Any skill area of your industry can be supported. Or you can stack services to build a bigger agency. You business approach then might be to focus on project management rather than doing all the different parts of each project internally.
What are other agencies doing?
It might be hard to find out which agencies are using good white label services - as 'done well' it will seem like it's the agency itself delivering everything.
But you can - and should - ask about the outsource service providers experience working with similar agency sizes and services like your business, when discussing your plans about working together.
Whether you are considering working with a white label service, or just looking to find out more for future reference - then check out White Label Coder's website for more articles and information.