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The Secret Art of… Software Development Outsourcing – Part I

03.08.2018

Software Mind

Know exactly what you need

Software development outsourcing can be extremely beneficial to companies of all kinds and sizes. But in order to actually take advantage of those benefits, you need to make a lot of smart decisions – from the moment you decide to seek outsourcing services through the entire duration of the cooperation. In this series, we will help you make informed decisions regarding your software development outsourcing partner at each and every step of the way. Let’s start with defining your needs and the impact it has on your choices.

In some of our previous articles, we have helped you determine the most attractive software outsourcing destinations, advised on how to increase your return on investment or even tackled the national qualities that may help to make outsourcing work. But there is no point in thinking about all of those things until you know for sure what kind of outsourcing partner you need. Let’s start from scratch and take a closer look at factors that come into play when defining those needs. 

What is it that you lack?

The most straightforward and natural first step in determining your needs is making it clear what you lack. Seventy percent of all companies that use software outsourcing admit that lack of access to talent drives their interest[1].

Assuming you approach the problem from the perspective of an in-house team that doesn’t have enough manpower to accomplish all of its short- and mid-term goals, you should first decide what your in-house team can do best. What remains naturally becomes something than can be effectively outsourced.

For example, if you both maintain existing applications and work on completely new projects, but your team can realistically pursue only one of those goals, the other one can be outsourced to an external contractor. Depending on what kind of skill set ( ReactJS, Java, or Ruby on Rails, etc.) is needed to accomplish this task, you immediately know what you should look for in your potential outsourcing partner.

Sounds simple, right? But the key takeaway here is to strive to match the potential of your in-house team with the work at hand. Once you determine where your limited manpower can best be used, you get an answer to what should be outsourced and what should not. It’s a rock-solid foundation for a further, more in-depth analysis of your needs.

Creative vs mundane

Are you searching for a software company you could outsource repetitive, mundane tasks to? Or perhaps the opposite is true – it’s a complex project that requires a creative and flexible approach? In both cases, you should search for a partner experienced in this sort of task. However, no matter how experienced and skilled your partner is, when it comes to complex and sensitive projects, your input and cooperation are the key to success. Provide your partner with all the business background and all the information they may need in order to succeed and get a complete picture of the situation. It is also a good way to save on money that would otherwise by lost in the prolonged learning phase of the project.

Short term vs long term

Are you in search of a team that could take care of some immediate problems that you face? Or perhaps would you like to establish long-term cooperation? In the former case, all you really have to focus on is the actual project and its requirements. But in the long-term, a multitude of factors such as time-zone differences, communication, or turnover rate of your potential partner should be considered. For a long-term partnership, in most cases you should not focus on specific technologies. A full stack development team that has the flexibility to man a variety of projects is the best way to go.

Unlike just a few years ago, in 2018 companies are trying their best to integrate IT with their business[2]. Sometimes it means that they give up on outsourcing altogether. At other times, it means that they are searching for an outsourcing partner that has the capabilities to understand their business needs and apply the understanding in actual product development. It’s a trait that you should definitely seek in a long-term partner.

Industry-specific knowledge

If your project is related to a very specific area of software development, such as big data, fintech, or eCommerce, it is vital to find an outsourcing partner that has extensive prior experience with these kind of projects as well as necessary software development capabilities.

Size fit

The size of the company you outsource your software development to can also matter depending on your needs. If your project is bound to have many uncertainties and needs an iterative approach and high level of flexibility, a very large software company may not always be the right pick since decision making can be delayed. On the other hand, a large size is a good thing when it comes to projects in which scalability plays an essential role.

Process fit

Is your company shaping its development process using a particular Agile methodology? Regardless of what kind of approach you use, you want your outsourcing partner to work according to the same or similar principles. It’s a must for teams forced to collaborate remotely.

The opposite is also possible. If your processes need to be updated or transformed towards Agile, it might be a good idea to search for a company known for its ability to introduce those practices into the workflow of their clients and which has the case studies to prove it.

Culture fit

Needless to say, the same goes for cultural differences. It’s much easier to work with a team that has a similar corporate culture as well as a clear understanding of what constitutes success and failure for you. It is one of the reasons why nearshoring, the practice of outsourcing to a nearby country, is getting so popular[3]. It gives you access to a new talent pool and all the other typical benefits of outsourcing, but unlike offshoring, the risk of running into unacceptable cultural differences greatly decreases. In addition, outsourcing destinations located closer to you ensure less significant time zone differences.

What I need is…

There are many factors that need to be considered to make a fully informed decision regarding your software development outsourcing partner. We hope the ones we’ve mentioned here will make it easier for you to craft a basic description of your ideal outsourcing company. In subsequent articles, we will dig even deeper into the outsourcing process, analyzing various types of outsourcing and pricing models, communication, quality assurance, project management and more.

Software Mind is a Polish software house that provides quality outsourcing services. We combine supreme coding quality with a product-oriented approach and special care for our partners based on years of experience that we used to create our outsourcing toolbox. We’re always there to listen about your next exciting project. Want to know more? Contact us today and get the most out of software development outsourcing.



[1]  Outsourcing comes of age: The rise of collaborative partnering by PwC
[2]  http://www.paconsulting.com/insights/results-of-the-2016-uk-it-outsourcing-study/
[3]  http://www.smartbrief.com/s/2017/02/report-interest-near-shoring-grows


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