Outsourcing your software development project can be a daunting task. You may be skeptical to do so or just don’t understand the right way to do it. You’ve probably heard the ‘horror stories’ from others who outsourced their work and did not get what they expected or paid for. While all of this can delay your decision making, it should not be the reason you choose not to outsource your project. There are many positive factors on why outsourcing your project can be beneficial to you and your business such as time and cost savings, better talent pool, latest technology, getting your product to market faster and more. However, to limit the uncertainty involved in outsourcing, there are steps you can take in order to go about it the ‘right way.’
Before you select an individual or team to work on your software development project, you first need to do some research. Don’t simply go with what or who ‘looks good’ to you. Some people may look good on paper or can talk up a great game but cannot deliver.
Consider taking time to first tap into the network of people you already know. Getting recommendations from others is one way to shorten your list of prospects because you are more likely to trust a friend, relative or colleague’s recommendation who has some experience with the person or team they are recommending to you on why they think they will be a good fit for your project.
Another option is hiring interns. They are cost-effective and usually know the latest technology and innovative ways to implement code for a project. They can also gain college credit or be paid for their work and your company can benefit by training or teaching them in your business processes and procedures.
If these two options are not available to you, you can take the traditional route of researching companies or individuals online or via other media sources. When going this route, be sure to study the individual or company’s online presence. What are their strengths? What are others saying about them? How long have they been in business? Make sure that you have a list of questions you want to ask them to determine if they will be a good fit.
Review Work Samples
Nothing says capability quite like a portfolio. It is important to spend time looking through your prospect’s past work to see what type of skills they have, what technology they usually develop in and how big or small the projects they handled were. If their portfolio of work is not readily available on their website, be sure to ask them for samples of their work. It will give you a good indication on if they will be a good fit for your software project based on where their expertise and experience lie.
Get Feedback from Clients or other Colleagues
When you are looking for the right option to outsource your software project to, the individual or team will always put their best foot forward in selling themselves to you. While their pitch may be great and seem like a sure thing, the best way to limit any doubts you might have about them is to hear from past clients who worked with them.
This will give you a realistic insight into the pros and cons of working with the individual or company you choose and what your experience with them might be like in terms of expectations, deliverables and quality of work.
Have a Clear Outline of What is Required
When outsourcing work it is very important that requirements are properly documented, sketched and detailed. The more specific you are in your requirements the more accurate the feedback and quote you receive will be. Many times issues on budget can arise if clear goals and objectives are not specified upfront. The scope needs to be clear so the outsourcing company or individual will know and understand the work they need to perform and be able to ask the right questions.
While a business requirements document (BRD) may be a lot to achieve if you do not have a business analyst on hand, wireframing your product and outlining the user flow and use cases of how you want it to function is a good starting point.
If you feel like you’ve covered all the bases and truly believe you have selected the right person or persons to outsource your software project, the best way to make sure they will be able to do the work is to put them to the test. Before you fully commit, it may be wise to have stipulations in place that will allow you to test their capabilities for a period of time so if something is amiss, you are not forcefully held in a contract with a team you are unhappy with.
Set Processes and Expectations
There should be processes in place that outline the development cycle, communication standards, business procedures and more. All of these should be put in place and agreed upon before the project starts. For example, what business model will your project fall under? How will you monitor and manage work or assign it? How will you keep track of progress and updates? What resources must be available for the project to be successful? Documenting and agreeing upon a plan for the project will decrease the risk of project failure.
Only Pay when Work is Approved and Finalized
Depending on the model the outsourcing individual or team uses, you may be required to pay a down payment and then give subsequent payments when certain deliverables or milestones are met. It is very important that before you issue payment you are fully satisfied and approve of the work that was done. Outsourcing can be tricky and depending on where you outsource your work, you may not have the legal security you’d like if things go awry. This is why it is important that before you issue that final payment, all deliverables need to be in, fully checked, approved and finalized.
For additional information on outsourcing, see the following external references:
- When and how to outsource software development projects
- Software Development Outsourcing: What Options Do You Have
- Why outsource software development? 8 reasons it works!
- How to Successfully Outsource Software Development on a Budget