4 Tips for Outsourcing Software Development
Outsourcing web or software development can often be a topic of contention— do you outsource your project, or develop internally? Is outsourcing more expensive than internal development? Does your company have the resources to create what it is you are looking for? There are often many questions that accompany the outsourcing conversation. As a development company, we have put together a few tips for you to consider when engaging in an external development project.
A 2016 study by Deloitte Consulting found the top 8 reasons companies outsource development:
- Cost Cutting
- Enables Focus on Core Business
- Solves Capacity Issues
- Enhance Quality of Service
- Critical to Business Needs
- Access to Intellectual Capital
- Manages Business Environments
- Drives Broader Change
Cost cutting tops the list of reasons why companies outsource development. Logically, it's cheaper to outsource to a development company than it is to hire and pay your own dev team. Depending on your organization's capabilities, you may or may not have the expertise to build your own system from the ground up; or maybe you do, but the time it would take to build would detract focus from your core business as well as revenue generating projects.
Solving capacity issues is another major benefit as you may not possess the manpower necessary to execute the project being undertaken. Quality of service also increases, because rather than continuously being put on the back-burner internally, the company you have outsourced to will be treating the project as a priority. As development experts, you will also get access to a breadth of knowledge that you may not have had the benefit of when navigating the project internally.
Overall, done right, a properly outsourced development project has the potential to save your company a significant amount of time and money, while adding value to your project. Next, let's look at some tips that can help you navigate an external development project.
Clearly Define Your Requirements
At CoreSolutions, the very first stage in our development methodology is the discovery stage. During the discovery stage, we define the basic parameters of your project. Details and features are gathered, documented are agreed upon, and goals are refined into a set of system requirements. This is the first stage because it's critical to project success and vital to preventing scope creep. It's natural to discover things later in the project that weren’t identified earlier in the planning phase. By defining and agreeing upon a clear set of requirements, it becomes much easier to prevent the project from snowballing in size and complexity.
Establish Transparency & Communication
Referring back to Deloitte’s study, just under half (46%) of all respondents experienced challenges with change management, while +25% reported challenges with job reassignments, retaining process design, retaining job changes, and process/service management. All these challenges can be mitigated by maintaining an open and honest communication channel, which allows for better transparency into the development of your system/project. There a variety of tools available that can help foster a transparent environment. One of these tools is a project management system known as Basecamp. Centralizing project-related communications under one roof, tools such as Basecamp make it easy to communicate and manage changes, keeping everybody in the loop and on the same page.
Bruce Wang from MICROJIC said this about Basecamp:
“Communication around tasks or quickly sharing new ideas that may alter the project is much easier, more transparent, and faster. The commenting sections and campfire make it easy to do this.”
Seek out similar features that can allow you to maintain project transparency as well as effective communication.
Consider Your User Experience
If you are looking into developing a new system or application, whether it is for internal, or external use – you probably have a decent understanding of who your end-user is. When outsourcing development of your software, you want to ensure you have properly communicated to the developers who the end-user is, and by extension, what their experience should be like. If your system is for strictly internal use, you probably care less about flashiness and more about functionality. Systems meant for external use, however, probably have a larger emphasis placed on aesthetics as well as intuitiveness—employees can be trained on a system, consumers on the other hand, typically cannot.
Make sure you understand how the system is going to be used in order to best determine how it should function, and what the experience should be like. The last thing you want is to outsource development and get the finished product only to find out the layout or experience doesn't align with how it is going to be used.
Assign a Project Manager
Last but certainly not least, I advise you to assign a project manager to any external development projects. By having a project manager for your development project, you have a dedicated point of contact for all your development needs, questions and concerns. To that point, it allows for problems to be resolved both faster and more efficiently, which mitigates risk throughout the entire process. Done right, project management will contribute to enhanced customer satisfaction overall (with you being the customer).
By following these tips, you are sure to alleviate some of the stress that often accompanies external development. Clear and effective communication is of paramount importance when having the development of your software outsourced, especially if the system being developed is business-critical. If you are considering outsourcing your next development project, make sure you invest additional time in the early stages of the relationship, it will ensure you get the most value out of the entire process.
And as always,
Thanks for reading!