Top 5 portals to outsource software development
My ranking is as follows:
Elance - a classic in the outsourcing space. Of all the confusing web interfaces of these portals, I find Elance the best one to work with. Other than that, there is little difference to our runner up - Freelancer.com
Freelancer.com - generic outsourcing marketplace, just like Elance. Market leader by number of projects.
ODesk - not a bad place either. When they started, their unique selling point was billing by the hour. Freelancers had to install a spyware on their machines that takes screenshtos every x minutes, so that the buyer can verify time spent. I dislike that. Since a few years they also offer fixed price projects, which is what I usually recommend (along with a good specification, but more on that later). Odesk was acquired by Elance in 2013. Responding on the Elance blog, company officials have been stressing their commitment to keep the two sites separate, even though ownership will be unified.
Not sure what to put here… Guru might be here, as it is mentioned relatively often. But I have not yet used. And see no reason to try it.
Empty - suggestions welcome!
A note about the names of these services: I personally prefer to call them outsourcing portals, but often they are also called online staffing service, online workplace or freelancing website.
No matter what their name is: Essentially they offer a way for buyers (= needs to get something done) and sellers (=can do something, often located in an emerging economy) to meet. They charge a fee of typically between 3-10% of the project volume.
Closing remarks:While the above services are the best, there are many more freelancer marketplaces out there, often with a somewhat different focus. In the following I list candidates that I heard of but have not reviewed yet. I also mention briefly what I consider to be their unique selling point (USP) compared to the market leaders above.
- Fiverr - USP: As the name suggests, the focus on small five dollar projects
- NextCrew - USP: Not a marketplace, but a software to help traditional staffing companies to move to the cloud (I hope I understood that correctly)
- PeoplePerHour - USP: none?
- Onforce - USP: Managed option - they offer to manage projects for you
- Staff.com - USP: none?
- TaskRabbit - USP: Focus on manual, local tasks (no software dev outsourcing)
- Toptal - USP: Pre-screened candidates
- Twago - USP: Focus on German market
- WorkMarket - USP: None?
- Workana - USP: Focus on Latin America
- Ziptask - USP: Fully managed outsourcing
 Image by Paul Keller is licensed under CC BY 2.0.