Agile and Software Development Outsourcing: What makes it a perfect match
Over the past two decades, the software development industry has undergone a major revolution – the creation and adoption of Agile methodologies and changes in the software development process it triggered.
Substantially diverging from previously used project management methodologies such as Waterfall, Agile focuses far more on regular and more frequent deliverables constant client feedback and much shorter iterative development cycles. With Agile, companies create value as soon as possible, boost the chances of a project’s success and ensure that end-users are satisfied with the final product. Thus it’s clear why 87% of companies use Agile in at least a part of their development projects, according to Gartner.
The nature of agile software development requires close cooperation between business and development teams So, while this methodology is often used for in-house projects, it’s not unusual for parts of the development to be outsourced to external development companies to follow a waterfall model. This is because some companies are reluctant to adopt Agile for outsourcing scenarios.
However, implementing Agile in cooperation with software houses is, fortunately, becoming more and more popular, and experienced software development companies know how to make it work in a remote cooperation model to ensure their clients get all the benefits of such an approach. This text will examine what are the benefits of agile software development outsourcing and how to choose the right partner for such a partnership, based on our years of experience providing agile software development services for clients all over the world.
Benefits of Agile in cooperation with a software development partner
Adopting Agile means gaining a huge number of benefits, and describing all of them would require an extremely long text, so let’s focus only on the most important ones that boost the effectiveness of software development outsourcing.
1/ Accelerated software delivery, enhanced quality and reduced costs
According to the previously mentioned Gartner report, “accelerated software delivery” is the most important objective for adopting Agile methodology. But what’s significant is that companies obtain this benefit both when the project is done in-house and in cooperation with outsourcing companies.
Relying on an iterative approach and short feedback, loop development teams can deliver value in fast release cycles. Additionally, if you decide to start outsourcing to a company in another time zone (which can be effective if only you follow some battle-tested methods you can benefit from near around-the-clock development and keep up with ever-changing market conditions).
Additionally, short development cycles facilitate testing and reviewing of work. Thus, working according to Agile principles makes it easier to ensure that each part of delivered code matches requirements and to discover and instantly fix all bugs – and as studies indicate, the sooner the problem is noticed, the cheaper and easier it is to fix it.
2/ Better business and IT alignment
The second most important reason for adopting Agile is to improve the alignment between business and development departments, which as a result, enables companies to become more competitive while providing their customers with more value. As development should never be art for art’s sake, but rather a way of delivering products/services that your customers desire, having a full understanding between developers and client-facing specialists is crucial.
Agile methodologies can help these separate departments get on the same page and complement each other’s knowledge. In an outsourcing scenario, this is extremely important – whether you plan to delegate an entire project or extent your internal capabilities with outsourced software developers, ensuring that they not only receive stories to be coded but know what and why they are doing helps you get the most out of it. If development companies that have wide experience in diverse environments also possess a detailed understanding of your business, they can use all their accumulated knowledge and, along with development, provide you with a fresh point of view and guidance to help you became more competitive.
3/ Adaptable and flexible software development
According to the State of Agile Report, the ability to manage changing priorities is considered the biggest benefit of Agile and the second biggest driver for adopting this methodology. Nowadays, companies that navigate through the uneasy waters of software-based business must be always ready to adapt and constantly improve their products based on feedback from their customers as that is the only way to get ahead of the competition and thrive.
Embracing the Agile approach enables you to keep the feedback loop short, plan for short cycles rather than long-term and implement adjustments in project trajectory whenever you want to gain a competitive edge.
But is it possible to combine the flexible scope of Agile projects and the lack of knowledge of the full scope of work with delegating the work to software development outsourcing provider. Well, it’s not only possible, it’s a piece of cake – the time and materials agreement was established to facilitate such cooperation, you can learn more about it on our blog.
What’s more, the adaptability and flexibility of Agile methodology can be taken one step further by outsourcing software development. One of the main benefits of this process is flexibility, described in detail here. Combining these two allows you to rest assured that whatever surprise is waiting around the corner, your organization will be able to adapt and deal with any unpredicted challenges.
4/ One process for the entire software development life cycle
To obtain all the benefits of cooperation with external developers, it’s best to treat outsourcing software development the same way as you treat your in-house teams, and consider such cooperation as a long-term partnership, not a short-term fix to a specific problem. And Agile can help you with that as well.
Due to its nature, Agile methodology can be used at all stages of software delivery – starting with the creation of the MVP, through crafting and releasing the full product up to its maintenance and further expansions. This allows you to easily pass on the institutional experience and knowledge the team has built during the development process and rely on it after release.
This is pivotal because not only does it minimize cost and align the business and software development sides, but it also ensures the post-release window proceeds smoothly, which is crucial for the success of your software project.
How to choose the right agile software development partner
While the list of benefits that come from relying on Agile principles in your cooperation with a development partner can go on and on (the aforementioned one are just some examples), obtaining all the benefits will require more engagement and greater skills from your development partner-to-be.
Close cooperation in overseas scenarios, asynchronous communication between different time zones and delivering value in short sprints are much more demanding for the software development companies than situations in which they simply gather all the requirements at first and then hide in their coding labs till the work is done. To make a long story short – you’ll need an experienced software house to pull this off, you can’t just choose any outsourcing services provider haphazardly, thus referring to an outsourcing checklist should be your first step but there are a few differentiators worth paying special attention to. And that’s exactly what you can find below.
1/ Check their experience with agile methodologies
Since Agile is so fundamentally transformative and different from traditional software development approaches, you must realize that experience with old software development methodologies doesn’t easily carry over to Agile. Especially if the software development company only uses the waterfall development approach and has its entire team and corporate structure designed around it.
While on a hunt for a software development company, make sure they have explicit experience with agile development. Before signing a contract, ask them to inform you about their past experiences with Agile, how they organize their teams for agile development and what they do to ensure outsourcing efforts are successful. Apart from discussions with their representatives, you can also verify reviews from their former clients on sites like Clutch.io to check if they are keeping their promises in real-life scenarios.
Moreover, cooperation with a software house highly experienced in agile software development is a perfect way to implement this approach in your own organization, as you’ll have the guidance of an experienced partner – learn more in this PM’s confession!
2/Check whether you are compatible with the development agency
Since agile development requires involvement from the client’s side, some compatibility should exist between a client and it’s outsourcing partner, otherwise, the development process will be hectic and unsuccessful.
Things you need to be on the lookout for:
- Communication channels: what communication channels does your team use? How do they communicate? Since the development process is likely to be a collaborative process between your team and a developer’s team, you have to agree on specific communication channels and paradigms. The last thing you want in an Agile outsourcing project is inadequate/inefficient communication. The communication plan should be clearly agreed on while establishing the ways of working, choosing a company that follows similar communication patterns to you and is familiar with the tools you use will ensure a much smoother start!
- Workplace culture: Agile is not only a change in process it also affects culture, so the organizational culture of your partner-to-be should match not only be similar to yours, but also embrace the Agile approach. Regardless of the formal team structures in both companies, informal conventions and practices impact a significant portion of the behavior of both teams. To achieve the best results, you need both sides to have similar workplace cultures so they can see eye to eye on key issues. This oftentimes falls along geographical lines: like when outsourcing agile projects to places like India sometimes fall short, thus verifying culture match should include not only the company internal policies and values but also cultural characteristics of a particular outsourcing destination.
Finding a team that properly fits the bill can be hard, yet this is crucial for seamless communication and cooperation. But rather than taking our word for it, you can see what one of our clients has to say about it!
3/Check a company’s DevOps experience and skills
Projects done according to Agile methodology are often sustained by a highly intricate DevOps infrastructure that allows the development team to gain momentum and maintain it during the entire software development life cycle.
As such, apart from looking at a software house’s Agile experience, you also should take a close look at their DevOps experience, expertise and practices before you can truly judge their Agile capabilities. There’s an easy way to conceptualize it:
Think of Agile methodologies and experiences as a electric car you want to buy — you need to check the car’s engine, longevity, safety features, range (how far can it go on a single charge), warranty, etc. Only after evaluating these aspects can you accurately judge the car. But, regardless of how fast a car is, how many safety features it has, without the proper infrastructure (roads, EV charging stations, etc) you won’t be able to use everything the car has to offer — low-quality roads would force you to drive really slow and insufficient charging infrastructure in your area would require planning each trip in a way that ensures the possibility to recharge before you end up on the roadside with a dead battery. The proper infrastructure in the analogy is DevOps. Choosing a company experienced with Agile, but lacking DevOps practices and specialists, won’t help you truly unleash the full potential of Agile outsourcing.
Embrace Agile and outpace your competition
Given all the benefits that follow adopting Agile methodologies, its popularity is obvious. Clearly, relying on this approach in cooperation with a software development company is the best way to maximize a partnership and strengthen market positioning. While choosing a vendor suitable for it might be more demanding, this investment will pay dividends in the future. If you’d like to know more about how an Agile outsourcing partner can grow your business, get in touch by using this contact form — resolving all the potential dilemmas in one text is impossible, but our experts are more than happy to help you find the tailor-made solution for your needs.