Unosquare has a previous series of posts from our CEO, Giancarlo Di Vece, on our concept of “Rightsourcing” your software development. Building off those concepts for this post, we’re going to share what you need to know to make the decision to outsource software development and how to make your project successful.
Setting the scenario where you have a software project that you need to complete but don’t have the resources to do it, where do you turn? Outsourcing is a standard solution to this problem but making that a reality isn’t as easy as it seems. The questions that many people have on their minds are: How do I outsource software development for my company? Is my company ready to outsource?
What are the steps to follow to start outsourcing software development?
If you don’t have any experience outsourcing software development, the process can be overwhelming. Before we jump into the details, here’s an overview of the steps you can expect to take.
Develop your Roadmap
The first step to take before you start outsourcing software development is to plan your project. You should have an idea of what your needs are and where you can use support before you move ahead. Now is an excellent time to look at your budget. Aligning requirements and dollars will allow you to make the best possible decisions moving forward.
Ensure that you share your roadmap for development or digital transformation to gather support from the budget owners who will approve your decision to work with a software development partner.
Do Your Research
Once you map out some of the details for your project, you can start researching vendors and partners. Don’t limit yourself to those in your geographic area. Look for highly rated vendors who specialize in your industry or have experience with projects delivered with the same tech stack. Also, be sure to make sure that they can scale up a team in your time zone.
It’s common practice to use an outsourcing firm for software development, so ask some of your colleagues what experiences they may have had and which vendors with whom they may have worked.
Once you have your list organized, you can use a service like Glassdoor to help with some investigation on the culture of your potential partners. During your prospective interviews, it may benefit you to ask questions about some of the negative and positive bias you’ve discovered in your research.
Now that you have a list of vendors you’re considering, it’s time to get in touch with them. Reach out to the vendors on your list and have a conversation with them about working together. This way, you can get a sense of the way they work and whether or not they’re within your budget.
Be mindful of how they communicate with you and, if possible, ask to speak with some of their Subject Matter Experts in the tech stack with which you work. If there is no familiarity with the tech, or they don’t have the in-house talent to support it currently, consider that they may not be ready to work on your timeline.
We strongly recommend following an Agile Project Management methodology. You need daily connections with your team that is not interrupted by intermediaries. Be forthright about your communication strategy with any possible vendors. Is their style of communication one that will work with your team? What are your expectations when it comes to the frequency of communication and access to team members through various chat clients?
If your team members are near-shore or off-shore, you should assess their ability to express themselves in casual and high-pressure conversations. At a minimum, a conversational ability to speak in your team’s native language is a must.
Once you decide to outsource and move forward with a vendor, it’s essential to have a contract in place. The appropriate legal documentation will protect both parties and can act as a single source of truth during the time that you work together. Now, take the time to reinforce Agile Project Management principles and decide on the ceremonies on which all stakeholders will agree.
All of these steps will move you towards a successful project, but they aren’t the only factors. If you want to outsource software development successfully, you should also understand the pros and cons of working this way.
Pros and cons of outsourcing software development
Larger talent pool
When you choose to outsource software development, you gain access to talent that you wouldn’t have on your team otherwise. Instead of searching your area for a candidate, you can choose from a global pool of talent to find the right fit for your project.
Outsourcing is a win-win for most companies. That’s because outsourcing typically costs less than developing in-house. Research from Deloitte shows that 59% of businesses use outsourcing to cut expenses. You can get more done while spending less.
Faster time to market
Outsourcing can allow you to achieve a faster time to market. The increase is speed is especially true if you have a small in-house team or too much work for your current team to handle. Still, this requires strong Product Ownership from your firm with oversight of a well-sourced development team. The team must include a Scrum Master and, when applicable, a Business Analyst.
An additional benefit to a high performing staff augmentation team is that you may also find that you have extra time for other time-sensitive projects or managing requests for new features.
Note: Be wary of scope and feature creep that can cause a lag on your timeline and take care that your Quality Assurance team is coordinating well with your developers.
Choosing to outsource does add some complexity to the way you run your project. Make sure that you have expectations in place for communication and make it as easy as possible for your vendor or partner to connect with your team. As we discussed before if there are obstacles to your ability to communicate with your augmented development professionals directly, do your best to eliminate those blockers. If you are not following Scrum or Kanban, enforce regular meetings or check-ins to ensure that the project moves forward
Code quality issues
The decision of what outsourcing partner to work with early on will have short and long-term implications. It’s critical to not rush into your choice and to keep the lines of communication open throughout your partnership. Code quality is an important metric and choosing the right talent early on will significantly reduce problems with the quality of work delivered.
Keep in mind your security needs when outsourcing your software development. Since the developers working on your project won’t be in-house, you may need to take a few extra steps to keep information secure.
A recent example from an Unosquare client was their concern about the encryption of the computers of their outsourced team because they are in the insurance industry. Dealing with this may be as simple as asking if your vendor is on the Office 365 platform. A simple check on compliance or implementation of BitLocker may be all you need to confirm.
If there are broader concerns of HIPAA or PCI compliance, dependent on your company’s industry, dig into the software development firm’s partners and history of delivery with a company similar to yours
What are the best ways to work with an outsource software development partner?
No two projects work out the same. However, once you choose your vendor, three things are vital to keeping the process on track and ensure that successful delivery is reproducible.
Part of this process begins before you ever choose a vendor but will continue as you work on the project. Now is the time to make your expectations clear and ensure that your vendor has everything they need to make the project a success. We discussed sharing your roadmap and being Agile. Still, you are aware of local business rules that would affect any software delivery, so make sure there is awareness of expectations from all of your firm’s project stakeholders.
While all other factors are important, remember that the code is at the core of your project. You should be able to check code quality and provide feedback to your vendor throughout the time that you work together. If a prospective vendor offers restrictions to this access at the beginning of the project, that is a significant “red flag.”
Who is the right candidate to outsource software development?
Outsourcing is an excellent idea for companies that don’t specialize in software development or need more support. If you need the extra hand on your project, have the budget for it, and can work through the pros and cons of outsourcing, it’s likely the right choice for you.
How do I know if we’re ready to outsource software development?
Reading this article is a significant first step in understanding the realities of outsourcing. That said, putting these insights to work is the key. Can your team clearly define the project? Do you know where the gaps are in your organization? Do you have tools to enable clear communication between teams? If your answer to all of those questions is yes, your company is ready to outsource.
What Unosquare offers…
We focus on finding the best talent in the world and putting together a delivery management practice that is your eyes and ears within our organization. Let us provide the complementing expertise for your teams in a way that is fast, transparent, and efficient with our distributed agile software development staffing solutions. To find out more about what Unosquare can do for your organization, check out our blog.