There’re so many reasons why outsourcing software development is a good idea. It:
(a) saves a lot of time on recruiting,
(b) gives you access to a larger talent pool than only hiring in-house,
(c) can be a great solution for your company when your product needs a temporary boost of development or simply,
(d) is often a cost-efficient solution if your budget is tight.
However, for the collaboration with an external software agency to be successful, it’s crucial to prepare your company properly. There’s a number of mistakes that companies often make when taking the step to pass a portion of their development to an offshore partner. Yet they are easy to avoid if you are aware of them.
Lack of research and checking the references of the software company
In most cases, outsourcing development means working with a team from another country and likely one that you haven’t had anything to do with so far. If the company that you are about to entrust your software to hasn’t been recommended to you by someone you know and trust, don’t just believe the slogans on its website blindly. Make sure to research it well. Find out exactly what developers are going to work with you, look them up on LinkedIn, check the agency’s portfolio, social media, reviews on platforms that collect objective feedback about service providers such as Clutch and Wadline or ask for a chance to speak directly to some of their past and current clients. It sounds obvious but companies often make the decision to outsource when their demand for increasing the velocity of development gets hectic and they act in a rush. Think about the time zone and the language barrier too. Assess internally if you are able to adjust your process to the time difference and check with your potential partner if all of their developers and other people involved in the communication with you speak English or another language that your team knows.
A contract binding you for a long time
There are various measures of risk management to support you in making business decisions but you can never be a hundred percent sure if outsourcing turns out to be a good solution for your company until you give it a shot. It’s always good to have a chance to try before you buy to save yourself from wasting your money and time, right? Of course, it's a bit harder to do that when it comes to partnering up with a subcontractor than when you’re picking a new vacuum cleaner but it’s possible. For instance, at The Masters, we offer to do a trial of one or two sprints to give our clients a feel of how the collaboration is going and if it is meeting their product development goals. If it does - awesome! If it doesn’t - fair enough - they can resign with an immediate effect and aren’t bound by any notice period. Being stuck in a partnership that doesn’t bring mutual benefits isn’t good neither for the consumer nor for the provider.
Unclear expectations and the aim of outsourcing software development
Speaking of your company’s product development goals, make sure to define them. Though, if you want to find a long-term partner to extend your in-house team, the objectives might not be as detailed and measurable on a daily basis as they are when you are building an MVP from scratch. However, the primary expectations are very important to discuss with your team and agree on the main desired outcomes of this solution. If your only reason for partnering up with an offshore agency is the hourly rate, think again. Consider the quality of the code you are going to get, the comfort of communicating with the developers, the limitations of remote collaboration and calculate your own individual profit and loss balance. Outsourcing can be a really beneficial and efficient solution that opens up amazing opportunities for companies, but don’t expect it will be an answer to all your problems - be realistic.
No techies at your company
Outsourcing software development is often caused by the lack of an in-house dev team at the company. It makes a lot of sense to delegate tasks that you are unable to do yourself to someone who specializes in it, in this case, a subcontracting agency - sure! However, at the end of the day, you are the one who makes decisions on what needs to be done to achieve your own business goals. A good software house should advise you on the best solutions to approach your ideas but you need to know what the ideas are in the first place. It’s crucial to have someone aboard with at least some basic technical skills to be able to define the vision of your project or the scope of work that you want to outsource. It’s not a coincidence that most startups are founded by a pair of a CEO and a CTO. Having a techie in your team also makes it easier to monitor the progress and audit the quality of the service you get. Although, if you don’t have anyone with a software engineering background in your team full-time, it’s worth considering to find an external tech consultant to advise you on a regular basis.
Our nugget of wisdom
Be aware! Verifying all these aspects and preparing well before partnering up with a software agency can save you a lot of your money, time and stress. One holistic advise that we have for companies considering outsourcing is simply to take your time when choosing a software development partner. What’s more, treat an external agency as an integral part of your team rather than as a third party that you can shift responsibility to - it will pay off.