The continuous pace of technological innovation, lingering uncertainty surrounding post-pandemic economic recovery and geopolitical instability mean that organizations are seeking stability like never before. Accessing teams with the technical abilities to increase scalability and speed up software delivery are just some of the reasons software development outsourcing is experiencing year-on-year growth and becoming a vital part of growth strategies. While finding the right software partner is important, forming an effective, stable relationship is paramount. Read on to learn how to achieve stability with your outsourcing partner.
Choosing the right software partner
The IT outsourcing market in the United States was valued at $342.9 billion USD in 2020 and is projected to reach $410.2 billion USD by 2027, with a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 2.6%. Even more impressive, IDC research indicates direct digital transformation investment, currently growing at a CAGR of 15.5%, is expected to reach $6.8 trillion USD by 2023. Given the surge in money (and other resources) driving IT innovations, more and more companies are trying to find a partner who can propel their business, open new revenue streams and ramp up delivery.
But finding the right software partner is easier said than done. What should CTOs look for?
Similar culture: Teaming up with a software outsourcing company that embraces values aligned to your own will ensure a smooth onboarding, foster long-term cooperation and accelerate your digital transformation. While many values are advantageous, openness and ownership top the list, as the former demonstrates a willingness to experiment and innovate while the latter attests to the reliability that autonomous teams of engineers should bring to every project. The culture of a company also reveals the work ethic it espouses and its attitude to collaboration. Avoid companies that adhere to a ‘yes culture’ as they will only agree with you and not push back. A true partner engages in healthy debate and is not afraid to question assumptions since the goal is to create software that delivers the highest possible value to a business.
Wide-ranging expertise: A partner whose dedicated development teams have experience working with different technologies on various types of projects across different industries is best placed to provide the support you need. Battle-tested strategies and best practices are achieved through tried and tested methodologies and companies can benefit from the experiences (good and bad) that software outsourcing companies have accumulated. Moreover, given the diversity of projects a software outsourcer supports, expertise regarding tools and technologies can likely be found, if not on the cross-functional team dedicated to you, then among the other specialists employed with the outsourcer. This breadth of knowledge uniquely places them as a trusted source of information and consultancy services.
Proven Agility: Forward-thinking product engineering that scales to your growth, creates new revenue streams and delights end-users can be achieved by following a Waterfall strategy, but it requires extensive preparations, analysis and strict calculations regarding schedules and financial obligations. Once agreed between a company and a software outsourcer, the timeframe and budget are sealed. While it is possible to develop software that meets a client’s expectations, the dynamic nature of business today dictates that a development team should be empowered to anticipate changes, react to new realities and adjust their work in real-time. Agile practices translate into swifter software releases and reduced development costs. An Agile model suits a time and materials model, instead of a fixed price, meaning that companies pay for the work a team puts into a project. Since assumptions at the start of a project can be wrong and the direction a project takes often changes, an agile approach is fast becoming standard practice.
A familiar culture, broad experience and demonstrable flexibility help to establish the trust that forms the bedrock of any successful partnership. This trust empowers as it enables delegation of work while delivering piece of mind about present challenges and future opportunities. Trust means predictability, which for businesses looking for stability, is essential.
Tech abilities produce results, soft skills ensure long-term relationships
Technical knowledge and competences provide tangible and intangible benefits. In tangible terms, technical proficiency translates into benefits associated with developing software for a specific project. Harder to quantify is the intangible benefit, which is the knowledge-sharing that occurs between an outsourcing team and in-house specialists. This transfer of insights and methods enhances a company, both in the short-term and long-term.
The technical expertise of a software development outsourcing company determines whether a company decides to work with them. But the soft skillset of its specialists is why a company will extend a partnership. Empathizing with a client is key, but this can only be accomplished by thoroughly understanding the industry a client operates in, the business context of the software they want to create and the challenges in reaching their goals. By gaining a comprehensive overview of the ‘big picture’ a development team is able to craft meaningful software that creates an impact.
Empathy without communication is powerless, which is why there needs to be constant, two-way feedback. This will enable a client to evaluate progress and a development team to swiftly respond, or pivot. Beyond simply reporting on progress or flagging issues, direct communication will inspire creativity, drive ideation and solve problems before they arise.
Research from McKinsey indicates that HR professionals report difficulties recruiting candidates with necessary soft skills. The top three areas were:
- Problem solving, critical thinking, innovation and creativity (37%)
- Ability to deal with complexity and ambiguity (32%)
- Communication (31%)
While internal training programs can be a means to developing these soft skills, a faster option might be teaming up with an external partner who excels in these areas. Working alongside your in-house developers will lead to knowledge-transfers of technical expertise and soft skills that will strengthen your organization long after the completion of a specific project.
Achieve software outsourcing stability: best practices
The most important factor in every relationship is trust. Whether starting cooperation with a client or ramping up a team, trust should be central. How can trust be earned? A proven track record is an advantage, but listening to clients, giving feedback, being open ensure actions are taken that maximize the value of a software project.
The adage ‘we have two ears and one mouth, and they should be used proportionately’ is a good starting point for forming meaningful relationships that effectively produce results. Having (at least) bi-weekly meetings between an outsourcing team’s delivery director and Chief Technology Officer (CTO) is a sound practice that ensures time is dedicated to discussing upcoming software deliveries and challenges. Additionally, establishing a routine creates some stability for a client; they will know they will always be able to provide feedback so that corrective actions can be swiftly taken. Of course, feedback must go both ways, and a software delivery manager should keep a client informed about the quality of backlog, so that a client can notify the Product Owner on their side. Regular communication results in efficient delivery, which along with maximizing value, should be the mutual priority vendors and clients share. Regular meetings encourage communication and mean governance.
Openness is demonstrated not just in being able to work with different tool and technologies, but in attitudes to working. Experience in different working models, proficiency in remote collaboration and eagerness to try new things are all traits that indicate a software developer is worth hiring.
Achieving vendor-client stability results in short-term gains and long-term value. A software partner that fully understands your business can develop a credible roadmap to reaching your goals. While technical expertise is essential, companies should pay attention to the human side of software development when looking for an outsourcer. The skillsets of our people, accountability of our software delivery managers, the quality and pace of our work are just some of the reasons leading companies turn to Software Mind. To find out how our teams can ramp up your software delivery, get in touch with our experts by filling out the contact form.
About the authorTomasz Krakowczyk
Software Delivery Director
An expert Software Delivery Director and Agile Coach who has cooperated with and consulted for companies of all sizes - from disruptive startups to established market leaders. Tomasz believes that the best way to smoothly run a project is to combine modern methods, tools and techniques, remain open to new approaches and adapt to changing realities. His wide experience enables him to not only organize the work of development teams (50+ people) and manage cooperation with Software Mind's clients, but also mentor and lead Project Managers, Scrum Masters and Agile Coaches.