How to Successfully outsource software development
We’ve already established Why companies should outsource development, so now it’s time to discuss how to successfully outsource software development. Here's a step-by-step process that will help you outsource software development projects the right way. And the first step to outsourcing development successfully is determining the outsourcing or nearshoring model that best fits your organization and needs.
Software Development Outsourcing Models
Prior to outsourcing a software project, there are a few things you need to keep in mind. A client-provider relationship model should be tailored based on a number of factors - and the provider should help the client determine which is the most fitting based on a number of requirements and organizational structures. Here are three main relationship types that software development outsourcing companies offer:
- Nearshore Staff Augmentation
- Nearshore Team(s)
- Project-based engagements
Nearshore Staff Augmentation Model
In this model, it’s your project start to end, along with most of the responsibility. With the staff augmentation model, your company will mainly be hiring software talent from an outsourcing provider in order to strengthen your existing development team with specific individuals for gaps within your engineering team. An example of this could be a Saas Company that has a front-end team that needs an additional front-end specialist with several years of React experience. This team or company would get in touch with Asymm to fill that role with nearshore talent, thereby filling the gap and augmenting their existing team.
Managed Team Model
In this model, the project responsibility is shared by both the client and the IT outsourcing services provider, such as Asymm. The client and the provider could split up the tasks in a number of ways, but generally the provider will provide some project management responsibilities, but the product manager and product direction will come from the client. This model works best for companies that have outlined requirements, created designs, and other materials for their development project, but ultimately need an engineering team to bring it to life and complete the development lifecycle for them.
In this model, the outsourcing provider takes the majority of the responsibility and owns the project from start to finish. With a project-based model, your software development outsourcing provider will walk the client through the full-cycle of product development, from conception, to design, development, deployment, and maintenance. When a company hires a provider such as Asymm for a project, we oversee the entire process, staff it appropriately, and deliver it to clients. This isn’t to say that we don’t involve the client along the way, we certainly do. In this model however, projects get a dedicated product manager to collaboratively create and outline the requirements from start to finish.
Key drivers of successful software development outsourcing:
Once you’ve evaluated the operating models and determined which one best fits your organization’s structure, needs, and development situation, you can start evaluating different providers, outlining critical action items and start making decisions once you have the data and insight you need. Here’s a guide to some of the key factors and determinants to standing up a successful project and relationship with a software development firm:
Define Your Project and Goals
You can hardly start a project and think it will be successful if you don't know what your goals are from the start. It is very important to be clear with this and to communicate these goals first internally within your own company and then externally with the outsourced software development provider you choose to hire. One of our best recommendations is to document your project’s idea, functionality, intended device use, and other parameters, in easy to understand language for the development company to understand your requirements and vision. While a product manager within a development company can certainly help flush features, functionality, designs, and wireframes out, it is best to come to the table with materials that will communicate your project as clearly as possible.
Outline Your Requirements
It’s best to approach a software development company with clear requirements and an understanding of the complexity of your application, whether small or large, simple or robust. It’s important that the software development company sees eye to eye with you in terms of both complexity and scope. For example, there are big differences between a website that simply displays content and a web application with advanced functionality and integrations. Make sure that you understand what you are asking for.
It’s best to have a complete vision of the application or custom software you’re outsourcing. For a seasoned project or product manager, clarifying requirements and diligently writing acceptance criteria isn’t too complicated, but to the company that’s overwhelmed or the startup that is developing a product for their first time, this can be quite overwhelming. Our suggestion is to always break an application into pieces of functionality and distill them into atomic or small pieces.
Once you’ve started to understand the scope of your own project, document requirements, articulate comparable software products, and describe your vision, you can start having a software development company put together a proposal.
Proposal and agreement
Investing in a SaaS platform, advanced web application, custom website, mobile application, or other pieces of custom software are powerful investments to grow a business. Before you invest in a software development services, and develop a long term relationship with a software development company, make sure your rights, titles, interests and intellectual property are protected by a well-documented agreement that is based on a proposal that reflects what you want out of a project or engagement. An agreement serves as a powerful guide for the provider to deliver on. A few important elements for a software company to include in a proposal and agreement are the time frame, cost, development milestones, pricing structure, ownership, and more.
Set deadlines for your project
Working with an outsourcing or nearshore software development company can often mean that they have multiple projects being worked on at once. To understand timelines it’s best to clarify the resources that will work on your project, and have the company provide you with a delivery outline.
Depending on how your project or engagement is structured, you can utilize a milestone structure, to memorialize important deliveries of the software application that correspond to payments. A seasoned software company should be able to accurately estimate how long certain milestones will take with a fair degree of certainty and a relatively small margin of error depending on the complexity of the application, and potential blockers that they should bring up early to make everyone aware of.
Selecting a nearshore or offshore software development company
So now that you’ve started to understand some key elements of how to outsource software development successfully, now it’s time to dive into important criteria when selecting a software development nearshore or outsourcing company.
After evaluating these criteria you’re probably in good share to contact a software development company. We think that starting with an email with a short intro is the best way to kick off the conversation to show interest and set up a meeting to explore a relationship further, and if you’re dealing with sensitive information, requesting a software development company to sign an NDA is appropriate.
At this stage, it is essential to clearly communicate your goals and requirements for the project to ensure that you are on the same page with the outsourced software development agency, and in order to understand if they can deliver. Here’s a short list of the things we think are the most important to evaluate.
Vet for Expertise
Your nearshore or offshore software development company should have the expertise necessary, and be able to provide the services you need to achieve the outcome that you expect. Look for past projects and case studies that are similar, and references to working with similar technologies. Here are a couple essential questions that we think are worth asking: Are the services offered by the selected partner suitable for your needs? Can they provide the level of service you expect? Do they have the right talent with the necessary technology stack experience available for your project? Do they mostly employ senior engineers? Are their mid-level engineers getting appropriate mentorship by senior talent? What is their management style and structure? Have the managers been developing software for years?
Reliability and Experience
Good business relationships are based on trust. Get to know the supplier's background and understand their current customers. What type of projects have they delivered? How long did they take? How did they differ technically and functionally? Don’t be afraid to ask about their background and their team. Who have they worked for/with? What are their capabilities and strengths?
It’s important to make sure to understand how long it will take the nearshore/offshore IT development company to respond to requests, potential issues, and challenges. Here are a few questions that we think are important to ask about how they operate: With a nearshore development team, how are project updates handled? How are projects managed both internally and externally? In the event of a problem, how will the company respond?
About Asymm: Helping you outsource software development successfully
Choosing the right software development company that will deliver custom software solutions within budget, on time, and bug-free, is imperative and can drive business success. Here are a few reasons why Asymm helps companies outsource software development effectively:
- Economic software development
- Experienced management
- Senior talent
- Successful development track record
- Tailor engagement models to fit a wide range of needs
We hope that this blog has educated you on how to successfully outsource software development services. Teaming up with the right software development team could make or break your software development project, and since nearshoring or outsourcing can help you save both time and resources, we highly recommend scheduling a call to see if we can help you develop and deliver solutions.
Asymm has put a lot of time and effort into building a talented development team and a network of developers looking to drive project success for our future clients. Schedule a call with us, to talk about potential solutions, our pricing model, and other operational details about our nearshore software development and nearshore staff augmentation operations.