13 Feb 2020
It’s better to be safe than sorry – a quick guide on how to decrease the risks related to outsourcing software development
Some may say that “fortune favours the brave”. As true it might be, when it comes to business, we all want to rather lean on precise, knowledge-based decision with risks mitigated as low as possible.
Software development outsourcing is often associated with some risks, especially in “sensitive” sectors such as fintech. These might appear as “red light” that starts blinking when you consider cooperation with external developers. Although there’s no silver bullet solution that would allow dealing with all of them at once, applying a few golden rules would keep you secure. As we help companies from all over the world since 1999, teaming up with them and providing the best tech specialist available, we know what should be done to make the cooperation safe and sound. And that’s exactly what you can find below.
1/ Communication problems
Working remotely is nothing unusual nowadays. But when the whole project or even a big part of your team is thousands of miles away it’s completely normal to have some doubts considering the communication. How to make sure that the information flow would be undisrupted, and you won’t have to deal with any surprises during the cooperation with outsourcing partner? Apart from obvious, like language skills of the external team, you need to select the right communication channels to stay in touch. Message boards, reporting tools, conference calls – there’re lots of tools that support communication. It’s crucial to establish a well-defined system suitable for both sides, but even the best tool would not be effective without a skilled operator. Only the combination of experienced people using the right channels would allow you to forget about the distance – no matter how far would it be.
2/ Lack of transparency and control
One of the biggest fears related to outsourcing your software development is the lack of transparency and control over the outsourcing partner. Building trust takes time which is not surprising at all, but fortunately, there’s no need to worry about it. You can easily reduce this risk. Apart from “must-haves” such as signing precise agreements you should pick a reliable partner. And choosing the word “partner” instead of “vendor” it’s not a coincidence. Search for an outsourcing team that you would not think of just as contractors but as an extension of your company. In this kind of scenario, you would have a common goal and their work would be transparent. Additionally, you can always run a “background check” about the company you would like to select by checking their reviews online or even reaching some of their previous customers – it’s always better to be on the safe side.
3/ Cultural mismatch
Understanding each other is one of the crucial factors of successful cooperation but in this case, speaking the same language is not what we have in mind. Indeed, the cultural differences between you, your in-house employees and the outsourced team could make your life harder. To decrease this risk select your outsourcing partner from a country with similar business etiquette/culture as your own. Countries like Poland have “western mindset” and manage business mostly in the same way as in the UK, France, Germany or the even US. However, that’s not all of it. Polish employees sympathize with western culture so there would be no confusion in your teams. Picking the right country allows to get along with each other without any additional problems and misunderstandings.
4/ Knowledge retention
Retaining knowledge is crucial for your business and it should be considered as one of the company assets. Decision-makers often wonder if outsourcing some of the work wouldn’t result in losing pieces of this puzzle. Firstly, let’s focus on that businesswise. Although a massive part of knowledge should be spread across the teams, your Product Owner who’s responsible for the business side should know all of it. Due to mentioned knowledge spread, not only your in-house employees but also outsourced specialists would have the knowledge about the project, so even if some of them quit, it won’t be lost. Furthermore, if the QA process is automated, user case’s prepared and precisely described for the tests can help to fill any gaps. Even though that’s just a few examples let’s keep it short and move to the technical part. When it comes to project documentation, it should be agreed what to involve in it. There’s no reason for losing time documenting irrelevant facts, but it’s fundamental to document essential information about the project. Apart from that, choose an outsourcing partner that keeps the spaghetti in the kitchen and writes high quality, self-documenting clean code – it would allow all new developers to quickly get on board.
5/ Quality and performance problems
Software development outsourcing is a way of achieving higher ROI – that’s obvious. But as you want to reduce the costs of hiring developers or expand your team with specialist unavailable on your market there is one unbreakable rule – you want the quality to be at least as good as the quality of your in-house team or even better. Searching and hiring the best developers isn’t a piece of cake. Sadly – it’s the same with the best software houses. Look for one with experienced, well-educated specialists who care about the quality of their code and run it through automated tests since the first lines are written. Outsourcing heavens, like Poland, would allow you to get the best of the best developers with much higher cost-effectiveness than you would have in the USA or UK. Once you got the first-rate developers onboard it’s time to look at their performance. The essentials you use inhouse such as work reporting, tracking the progress and so on are great start point but there’s one more thing. As we already wrote, do not choose a vendor but go with a software outsourcing partner. This kind of cooperation, based on mutual goals, have greater chances of high engagement and zero performance issues.
6/ Uncertainty among your employees
It might seem to be more adequate for your situation if you decide to outsource some parts of the software development process for the first time. However, in other scenarios, it’s still important to look at your team attitude. Are they pleased that some of the work would be taken from their shoulders or rather afraid of losing their job? Listen to them, understand their needs and plan how to address them. Work out future communication models with the outsourced team, and what’s more important let them preferably meet or at least talk with the external team. Developers are quite similar all over the world – they will find a common language and get the feel of playing in the same team. If possible, you should also consider bringing some of your people to work on your partner’s premises or invite the outsourced developers to join your team in your office. Giving them a chance to spend some time together and work hand in hand would highly boost your chances of success.
7/ Lack of ownership and true understanding of your business
In previous paragraphs, we mentioned more than once that you should look for an outsourcing partner rather than a vendor. If your outsourced developers would only follow blindly the one user story you provided without the bigger picture in their mind you wouldn’t reach the full potential of outsourcing. And this is something that you should really take into consideration while selecting the company you’re going to cooperate with. What you should look for is, once again, partner, that would talk with you about your business, values and even go through your onboarding process like a regular new employee to fully understand your business. Seeing the bigger picture would allow the development team to know exactly what they are doing and why to propose you better solutions when necessary and generally don’t feel and act like a hired gun but a part of the team. You don’t want to spend your budget on contractors that are not feeling involved and follow the orders blindly. Experienced professionals aware of the business environment of the product they are working on would feel responsible for the final effect, speak their mind if necessary and in result – provide you with additional value.
8/ Management overhead
We all know that good managers are swamped with work. With all their responsibilities giving them additional outsourced teams to manage might not end well. But if you select the right software development outsourcing partner you might make their life easier. The highly independent team, with their own project manager that would look after daily work and cooperate with your managers on a higher level is a solution here. That combined with the understanding of your business and ownership of the project, creates a synergy which would allow you and your managers to spend time on valuable, high-level cooperation and developing your business instead of micromanagement and delegating the tasks.
Decide without a shadow of a doubt.
As this piece came to the end let’s wrap it up. Decreasing the risk of outsourcing software development mostly comes down to selecting the right company that would become a responsible and engaged partner and being prepared for upcoming cooperation. The time spent on research should be treated as an investment because such partnership provides you not only additional resources but also a fresh breeze of air for your company with all its benefits.
But maybe you have other concerns before opening that window? During last 20 years, we had become a partner of many companies from all over the world so we probably already heard them and know what should be done so these concerns wouldn’t keep you up at night. Below you can find a big orange button that might become your ticket to the software development outsourcing world, but it’s not just a normal ticket. Rather than simply opening the door we invite you to a guided journey during which all your needs and doubts would be covered by experienced counsellor equipped with a set of proven tools, and even though filling the contact form may seem like a small step for you, we’re sure that what’s following it would be a big leap for your company.