Outsourcing software development has become one of the most popular methods to scale businesses in the digital era. If budget, staff shortage, deadline, or even quality of your project is at risk – outsourcing comes to the rescue. But is it really the best solution in every case?
In this article you will find answers on the following important questions:
- what is the difference between outsourcing software development, offshoring, nearshoring and building a remote team
- why you should not outsource software development
- what remote, cross-functional agile team can do for you
- how you should choose the right software house
- how to cooperate with a remote team to succeed
Is outsourcing software development a good solution?
Outsourcing has been a ‘buzzword’ for the last couple of years. More and more outsourcing companies appear all over the world and also – more and more corporations, middle-sized and small businesses base their budgets on outsourcing various services to external teams. The same happens in the software development industry, and the result which you can observe is hundreds of new software houses to choose from.
Unfortunately, outsourcing software development may end up badly, if you chose the wrong software development company…
Often the scenario looks like this: an entrepreneur with a great product is looking for the way to scale it and grow. Usually, they end up with the cheapest team of developers. This cooperation in most cases is limited to sending the product brief to the software house and… paying the invoices. What happens next? Communication turns out to be quite difficult with cultural and time differences, the outsourced team is slower than promised, the code is messy and lacking some of the core functionalities.
What is the result?
The entrepreneur is getting more and more irritated, the product itself is far from what it should look like and in the end business seems not to be profitable anymore.
That’s the wrong way to do software development outsourcing.
How to efficiently outsource software development?
If not outsourcing – maybe you should try another ‘buzzwords’ like offshoring or nearshoring?
The difference between those terms lays mainly in the location of the company you are outsourcing to. If you outsource to far away country – it’s offshoring. If you outsource to your neighbor country – it’s nearshoring. All of them have pros and cons: offshoring is usually cheaper, but with higher time and cultural difference; nearshoring is easier with no time difference and similar cultures, but more expensive.
Outsourcing, offshoring and nearshoring come down to one common, crucial conclusion: you obtain a certain service or process from an external company. So you give away a part of your business to the outer entity and if you don’t do it correctly and consciously – you can partly lose control over it (just like it happened in the scenario above).
So how to do it to achieve success, stay sane and be happy?
The answer is simple – change the approach. Firstly – look for a partner in the business, not software development outsourcing provider. Secondly – don’t think about developers as an outsourced cheap workforce, but treat them as a part of your product team.
Choosing the right software development company
Choosing the software house matched perfectly to your needs is not a simple task – but it is vital for the prosperity of your business. You should remember to look into some essential aspects besides the price itself.
One of the most important factors is commitment. Most software houses work with multiple clients at the same time, and one team is dedicated to a couple of projects simultaneously. It means that your project will not be their only priority. When choosing the right software house make sure, that the team will work only on your project and all of their attention will be devoted only to your product.
If you want to work in a smooth and effective way choose the software house which implements projects in lean and agile methodology. It will give you flexibility, transparency, and data-driven approach. Also – it gives you the assurance that people in your team have a range of different skills (programmers, scrum masters, UX designers, etc).
Working in Agile takes place in bi-weekly cycles (sprints). That allows you to quickly catch any misunderstandings of your product and add new improvements to the project. The timeline, in this case, is flexible and adjusted to dynamic changes in the business.
You can find more useful tips on how to choose the right software house in an article written by Marcin Dziedzic: How to choose a software development agency.
The remote, cross-functional agile team instead of traditional software outsourcing
Usually, software outsourcing companies can offer remote teams consisting only of developers. One of the most powerful differences, when you forget about outsourcing and look for a good software developer partner, is that it can offer you a truly cross-functional team.
Software houses working in agile compose your team of experts from various fields to fully support your project. The team can consist of:
- Product Owner who will optimize backlog in cooperation with a client to match business needs
- Scrum Master who will be responsible for process optimization and increasing efficiency and also who will resolve conflicts and misunderstandings as soon as they arrive
- Developers who will write, test and deploy code
- UI/UX designers who will make sure your product looks great
A cross-functional agile team like that ensures efficient work on your product. If you are wondering how good cooperation with software house should look like, just imagine that:
- instead of lousy communication with an unfamiliar team – you have weekly calls with developers you already know quite well
- instead of leaving your product completely to the software development outsourcing company – your representative cooperates with the team of developers on vital issues
- instead of an imposed external timeline – you build a flexible one based on work in short sprints
In this model, the responsibility for the final product lays not on a dry brief and the interpretation of it by outsourced developers team. From the first code line to the last one – it’s a shared responsibility of your team of developers and yours.
The key to success in this scenario is communication, trust, and relationship.
The basis for good cooperation between client and developers team is frequent conversations. If you will establish a fixed time for weekly calls it will make easier to stay up-to-date with the product development team and will let you catch any misunderstandings on a very early stage. What is more – working in Agile methodology requires cyclical review and retro meetings/calls. You also should be able to contact your team anytime you feel it is necessary either by chat (for example you can use Slack) or ad hoc calls. To make communication easier it is crucial to use a transparent project management tool.
In addition, it is reasonable to stay in a timezone with the difference not bigger than 7 hours. If it’s more than that – it can be troublesome to catch each other during work hours.
When you start a cooperation with software house you entrust with your product to someone from outside. Before you do that you have to be sure, that people who will work on your software are trustworthy and will take care of it the best they can. That is why during business negotiations you should observe how representatives of software house are communicating with you: if they answer honestly all of your questions, or if they admit to making mistakes. Building trust on the begging of your common path will make your collaboration on later stages easier.
The trust mentioned above is the base for a healthy relationship in cooperation with a software house. You should remember that it’s not only the issue of you trusting your new team of developers but also – them trusting you. That’s why it’s important that you talk not only with scrum master, product owner or your account manager but also with the developers from your team.
The new way of outsourcing software development
The formula for achieving success with help of software house is simple, but not easy. It’s mostly about changing your attitude and choosing the right partner for software development.
You should shortlist software houses you are talking to about your business to those:
- which will assure you that newly composed team will be dedicated only to your product
- which uses lean and agile methodologies in daily work
If you decide on cooperation – don’t think about your developers as about a cheap workforce. If you made the right decision it should be now your remote, cross-functional agile team. They should cover for you areas like optimizing backlog and production process, increasing efficiency, delivering the product itself and also making sure that your product looks great. Your daily work with a team like that should be seamless and satisfying.
During your cooperation with software house, you should remember about 3 most important aspects: communication, trust, and relationship. Those will let you easily fit in work process with your new remote team.
In brief, the secret to success lies in changing your attitude from looking for cheap outsourcing software development company to looking for your business partners and treating your developers as a part of your product team, not as an outsourced workforce.
If you are curious how cooperation like that can look in practice – contact Pragmatic Coders. We will answer all of your questions, dispel your doubts and advise you the best solution for your business.