05 Aug 2021

Ultimate software development outsourcing research checklist

Is software development outsourcing on the horizon for you? Whether you’re about to start researching potential partners, you already prepared a shortlist or you’re on the home stretch and you want to verify one last time if you did everything that should be done before signing the agreement – we’re here to help. We know that striving for a perfect match is a complex process. That’s why we are going to equip you with a quick checklist so you can instantly find out what steps should be taken to find the company that would fit your needs perfectly.

These consecutive steps cover all the most important aspects that always should be considered before making the decision. To maintain the checklist form we described all the steps briefly, gathering only essential information on a particular subject. If you want to learn more make sure to check our former blog posts – we already described most of them comprehensively.

1. You know why you want to outsource software development

Although cost reduction is often indicated as the main reason to start software development outsourcing, it’s too general to focus on it only while starting the hunt for the perfect provider. To make the utmost out of outsourcing, you should focus on the particular problem you need to solve and pick a vendor respectively. According to the paper by PwC, 70% of all companies turn to outsourcing because they can’t find proper talent locally. That might be your case, but as well, it might not ? Maybe you need some resourcing flexibility? Whatever your problem is, that would affect what company should choose. So, without further ado let’s move to what should you do in order to achieve the highest possible ROI.

2. You chose the best place to search for a software outsourcing company

Onshoring, nearshoring, and offshoring – all these have their pros and cons and depending on your needs you should decide how far from your headquarters should you be looking. If you want to dive deeper into the differences between these types check our ebook, and remember that the final choice would affect the following cooperation on multiple levels so you should be aware of the values and potential issues of the choice you made.

3. You considered the cultural differences

We won’t spill the beans saying that cultural differences do exist, and definitely affect cooperation. The easier it would be to land on the same page with your external team, the sooner you would be able to start the “real work”, and the more effective it would be during its whole lifespan. Therefore remember to analyze the cultural characteristics of the country you choose to look within. For example, if you consider fuelling your team with Polish software engineers be sure to read this article!

4. You decided what size of the outsourcing partner would fit your needs best

If you predict that it’s only a matter of time before you’ll need to scale up, then it’s better to cooperate with the larger provider who would have the possibility to address all your needs. On the other hand, smaller software houses have usually a shorter decision-making process so if your project has many uncertainties and requires high flexibility level these might be a better choice. That’s why when narrowing down your research, you should make sure that your potential provider suits you in terms of size.

5. You determined if your need is short-term cooperation or long-term partnership

Short-term collaboration is a highly effective way of achieving a goal with well-defined requirements, like crafting a simple app, migrating to new technology, or creating a custom feature for one of your clients. Yet if you want to accelerate your development and boost its capacity it’s best to consider a long-term partnership. This would allow the outsourced team to really blend with your organization and let you benefit from combined knowledge and experiences. That’s why searching for a long-term partnership sets you on the path to pick a dependable, trustworthy company that would become a part of your organization and as a result, bring additional value to your business.

6. You chose the outsourcing cooperation model

Although most reliable and experienced outsourcing companies would handle mixed and augmented teams, not all of them have the possibility to take the whole responsibility for the project and its development. That’s why during shortlisting potential partners, their experience in the scenario that you’re looking for should be verified. If you want to remind yourself what are the most common outsourcing types, check our complete guide to software development outsourcing cooperation models.    

7. You took process fit into consideration

As software development processes sometimes differ even between multiple teams inside one organization, it’s essential to find a company that would be experienced with the way you work. Although most software development is now run in Agile, and the majority of software development companies know their ways in such methodology, remember to discuss how you operate to ensure that the external teams would be able to fit right in

8. You defined the expected domain knowledge and experience

Some projects require particular knowledge and expertise. Great example is fintech development that calls for specific industry-related know-how. You can, of course, go with developers that would gather that experience during your project, but why take the risk? Make sure that your outsourcing provider has a well-documented prior experience with your niche.

9. You verified the technology expertise of your potential partner

The times when software development was a general term and every developer did everything are long gone. Now not only software engineers focus on particular technologies and parts of the whole process to master it to an extraordinary level, but also companies have their main focus and consider specialization as one of the competitive advantages. Thus, remember to verify if the potential vendor has experience with technologies required by your projects, and remember that if a representative says that “they can do everything you need” a red light should instantly start blinking in your head.

10. You analyzed their portfolio and other sources of information

Once you know what technology and expertise your project needs, it’s time to shortlist the outsourcing companies with this condition. A careful analysis of the portfolio is one of the best ways to find out if your potential outsourcing company of choice fits the bill both in terms of quality and specialization. But make sure to get familiar with other, less obvious sources of similar information such as, testimonials or online opinions – you can for example use Clutch.com which provides unbiased reviews gathered directly from companies’ clients. That would allow verifying if a potential outsourcing partner would match your needs and preferences.

11. You involved the right people on your side

Make sure that all stakeholders would take part in the process. Your business team should participate in meetings with your potential outsourcing provider from the very beginning. Not only will they help decide whether you should go for it, but their presence will also make it easier for the outsourcing company to understand the project. If you’re not sure who should be involved in the process you can always verify that with the outsourcing company. Since they have done it several times, they know who’s necessary to make the process effective.

12. You remember about your internal employees

If your goal is to expand your internal development capabilities, you should address the potential doubts of your in-house team to ensure that they know the goal is to take some weight off their shoulders rather than replacing them with external contractors. And when launching the work remember to leave a space for the internal and external teams to meet and bond – this would help with effective day-to-day communication, allow to solve all the simple problems with accesses and so on, and boost the efficiency of work in general.

13. You set up the initial video/phone meeting

The initial call is a chance to get to know each other and verify if the particular company can cover your fundamental needs. Since you have already done some research before it, this meeting is a chance to confirm what you already find out and ask about whatever concerns you. Talk through their experience and specialties, culture, ways of working, and following.

The first online meeting goal is to narrow your list even more, so in the following steps, only suitable companies would be involved.

14. You did an onsite visit or meet the people responsible for the project remotely

An onsite visit is a great way to see your potential partner in their natural habitat but organizing it might not be possible. However, you can meet and discuss your project needs online – outsourcing companies are experienced in working remotely so it won’t be less effective These kinds of meetings are more advanced, and during those, you should discuss not only your doubts but also present your project precisely so outsourcing company could propose the best ways of working it out. Be careful when they promise you pies in the sky though – not realistic declarations are never a good sign for future cooperation.

15. You made sure they understand your business and expectations

To utterly benefit from IT outsourcing, you need to look beyond the code lines. During the negotiations, make sure that your potential partners really understand not only your product but business goals and directions into which you’re heading. That would make it possible to combine their experience with your needs and lift your project to a higher level.

16. You made sure that the quality will not suffer

Aside from the sheer development quality of your outsourcing provider, you should make sure to be as specific as you can about all project deliverables and implementation details to avoid misunderstandings. By being as precise and technical as possible, you decrease the likelihood that inferior knowledge of your business of external developers will negatively affect development.

17. You got familiar with the outsourcing company’s quality assurance process

Any software development outsourcing provider worth their salt will have a robust quality assurance process in place, as well as the ability to automate testing and deployment. Take a look at Software Mind’s Outsourcing Toolbox to learn more. We believe that it’s better to be safe than sorry and verify if everything is working according to the business needs at every stage of the development. Learn about it before you make your final decision. You don’t want to find out problems with quality assurance in the final rounds of the project.

18. You ensured data security and business process continuity

At first, it’s worth mentioning that when it comes to software development outsourcing “security” refers to not only cybersecurity but also covers business continuity. Thus, during the negotiation stage, you should discuss with your partner their cybersecurity standards, BCPs and verify if these meet your internal regulations. Clearly, the more regulated your environment is the higher security standards you would require, so going one step back it’s best to find a partner experienced with it. From our experience financial and healthcare sectors are some of the most strictly regulated ones so choosing a company experience with it is a proven way to ensure that your potential partners would know how to operate in such area and would ensure that all your sensitive data would remain as safe as possible.

19. You discussed the IPR transfer

Long story short – you probably sign contracts with your internal employees, according to which the IPRs created by them become your property, and you should treat the external development team in the same way. Remember to discuss this topic and put it down in writing, so that the results of their work would be legally yours.

20. You picked the most suitable pricing model

Once you make sure that this is the right company to go on the journey with you, it’s time for the same paperwork. We’re not going to describe every formality that needs to happen before the cooperation launch, but one aspect definitely has to be included in this checklist – pricing plans; hence you should plan it during the research phase. The most popular pricing models include fixed budget and time and material, as well as various hybrid pricing models based on these two. Pick one that best suits the nature of your project.

21. You know all about Software Mind

Do you already know us, Software Mind? We are a Polish software company that has been providing quality outsourcing services for years, accumulating a vast portfolio of clients and even more experience. We use this expertise to boost the ability of the best software development talents. They are all ready to make sure that your next development project will be a great success.

But do we fit every project? After reading this article you should know it’s impossible. Yet even if we won’t be a perfect match, we can help to resolve any doubts and concerns regarding software development outsourcing. Making an accurate choice is a crucial step of software development outsourcing, and if our specialists can’t assist with your development challenges, our experience definitely can help to make the right, evidence-based decision. You can find the contact details below – let us know what you need and we will do our best to help you find it.

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Witold Gawlowski
General Manager
Considering a big digital transformation? Establishing a shared services center? Shoot me an email.
Jacek Szmatka
VP of Business Development
Is IT outsourcing on the horizon for you? If so, let's discuss your needs.
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