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12/05/2020

11 Things to Consider Before Outsourcing Software Development

You’ve just decided your business needs another digital tool, and you need it fast. Not a problem! You have to pick the right outsourcing software development company that will handle this task for you. But how to know which company to choose if there is a myriad of options available?

Outsourcing Software Development

Here is our shortlist of things to consider while choosing an outsourcing software development partner. This list should help you make the best decision. 

Your exact needs

Make sure you know what types of services you need to outsource exactly and why. Set clear objectives and timelines. Do you need full-stack outsourcing software development services or only added support for your existing IT team? Know what functionalities you will need and what market niche you’re targeting - it will make the cooperation easier for both sides. You also need to list all the features you are commissioning in the contract! Then prepare for discovery and follow up calls with the companies you chose in the process; you want to work with one but still, need to do your homework and have at least two to choose from.

Company location

Offshoring or nearshoring (as opposed to onshoring) may help you reduce software development costs while maintaining the desired quality of your product. Check where your potential contractor is based, it will impact your project budget. Salaries vary across continents and countries - in general, software development companies in Central Europe charge less than those based in North America or Western Europe. You may find that you will be able to do more than you initially envisaged by delegating your work to a specific country such as Poland! And in the new post-COVID reality, you should be aware that many companies will provide services with remote teams.

Industry experience

Experience always counts! Pick a contractor that has already implemented projects in your domain or have experts in-house with the specific knowledge. Their experience will be helpful in the full lifecycle product and software development process, and they may be able to share advice on features that are important for your users that you might have missed. Outsourcing software development is not just about saving money; it is also about having skills that may be missing in the house. Remember also that a software development partner should add value not only with the software team supporting you but also to use the skills of all developers if required.

Technical expertise

A good IT company will follow the latest trends and invest in educating its software developers. The broader their tech stack, the better! If you need specific technology that isn’t featured in the potential contractor’s portfolio, e.g., Go programming language, ask how much time they will need to find the relevant experts. Some software companies are also part of partnerships (like CSHARK is part of Software Development Association Poland, an organization with over 3000 software experts available in various domains and verticals).

Quality Assurance

The more attention the company puts to quality assessment and maintenance, the less trouble you will have once the product is launched. Check whether the company ensures continuous integration (CI) and continuous delivery (CD) pipelines, whether they perform regression testing when changes are applied to the code and what tools they use for logging issues and managing backlogs.

Development process

Familiarizing yourself with the company’s division of tasks and how they organize the development process will help you predict how it will influence your collaboration. Knowing how long each step of the procedure lasts is instrumental in planning activities related to the product launch. It will also help you understand the costs involved with the project - it’s good to agree that payments will be made upon the completion of each milestone. However, maybe you prefer the time and material model (T&M) where payments are made based on a number of development hours spent on your project in a given month? Some companies prefer the fixed time/project model. It is then vital to check and agree with your software partner beforehand on the model you adopt.

Project management style

Flexibility in the development process is vital for project continuity when changes are likely to happen. Choose a partner that values agile software development practices and is able to adapt to changing priorities throughout the process. It is also essential that the outsourcing company has got project management processes in place, including tools to execute them (e.g., Jira to manage the process). For some companies, it is also crucial that they can adjust to what the customer is expecting. Well established companies may have their tools and processes, and it is important that the software partner fits them.

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Communication methods

Full transparency is a must. Ineffective communication may lead to project failure, so agree on the most convenient communication channels for your remote team. Ensure the company is open to regular meetings when you can clearly communicate business goals. It is crucial, especially nowadays, in the COVID/post-COVID era when most communication is done remotely, and adaptability to tools like Zoom, Slack, Microsoft Teams, or Hangouts is a must. Communication is also about handling time differences between time zones. Those companies which can work around the clock or at least cover some hours in the time zone you work in should be proffered. Last but not least – the ability to communicate in technical and business English is a must-have. Not only for a project manager or delivery manager supporting you but also for the software team supporting you on a daily basis.

The dedicated outsourcing software development team

It’s important to know who at the company will be responsible for the overall project. If all the software developers at the potential outsourcing company are external contractors and not full-time employees, the project may become ambiguous, which could negatively impact the outcome. The best option is to have a dedicated delivery or project manager overseeing the team coding and supporting you. Such a delivery manager is not only acting as a team-keeper but also as your right-hand in the nearshore or offshore location, keeping all agreed KPIs in place and monitoring the progress.

Security and compliance

The potential vendor must be up-to-date with security and compliance measures. Are they in compliance with GDPR or other regulations relevant to your region? What mechanisms will be used to store data and protect passwords, and how will they approach privacy issues? Adjust the Non-Disclosure Agreement to your needs before it’s signed. Remember about data security aspects, VPN setup, and if the team works remotely – a proper configuration of their home-based Wi-Fi hardware.

Company reviews

Knowing what other customers think about your potential software development partner may help you make the right decision or highlight potential red flags. Websites like Clutch.co and GitHub.com are an excellent source of impartial opinion on IT software development companies globally. In the process of choosing the right software partner, remember to ask about direct reference contacts, spend 15min with someone who has experience with an IT company and hear their opinion.

Choosing a software development partner is a process. It does not happen overnight, and once you decide on it, please remember about the steps we provided above. This is a must-have and a must-do if you’d like to have an IT partner for years, not for days.

CSHARK Radosław Szmit VP Business Operations
Radosław Szmit
VP Business Operations at CSHARK. Business development and consultant expert with numerous years of experience in IT. Management and business coach, project manager and vision monger.
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