What You Should Know (and Ask) Before Outsourcing Your Software Development


The demand for skilled developers has never been higher. Nearly half of all U.S. companies are investing in outsourced software development in some capacity to the tune of
$85.6 billion globally. Still, there are many factors to consider when determining if outsourcing software development is the best move for your business. If you’re still weighing the pros and cons, consider the following questions as you deliberate.

1. Are we a technology company?

If developing tech is core to your business, you need to make sure you have the infrastructure and resources to support your current and future software development needs; if not, outsourcing is the way to go. One of the main benefits of outsourcing development is allowing you to do what you do best (focus the business’s core competencies), while allowing the dev team to do what it does best (build amazing technology).

If you find yourself lacking the technical expertise to talk shop with a developer, you can still find ways to effectively communicate with your dev team:

  • Clearly define your goals: whether you have a specific idea in mind, or something more vague, it’s important that you set clear goals of what you want the software to accomplish. What tasks should it complete? Who is it helping? How does it fit into your business strategy? What are your “must-haves?” Answering these questions will give your team a clear representation of your vision.
  • Be flexible: new tech is not built overnight, and software projects often evolve as they develop. While deadlines are always front of mind for any competent dev team, recognize that they operate within constraints and may produce creative solutions you hadn’t thought of.
  • Think like a developer: you don’t have to be a software expert to make things easier for your team. Explore the angles and details behind the functionality and features you desire and find a concise way to describe them. Software engineers are trained to think critically, and you’ll save yourself both time and trouble when you learn to speak their language.

That all said, even if software development is one of your business’s core competencies, you still may benefit from outsourcing minor projects or adding to your team through staff augmentation. This can help ease the hassle of the recruiting or hiring process by utilizing an auxiliary team to help you meet important deadlines.

2. What are my time and budget constraints?

The biggest concerns facing any company at the outset of a development project revolve around questions of “how soon” and “how much”:

How soon?

If your existing dev team is small and already stretched to capacity, outsourcing some development projects will not only ease its burden, but also shrink the turnaround time on those projects. Think of how much time you could save when you have an entire team dedicated to developing and testing your software in place of the handful of people you have in-house.

Think of it this way: if speed-to-market is critical for your application or product, which option sounds better:

     1. Hiring, onboarding, and training an in-house specialist—all while facing the possibility of a bad hire and the subsequent need to start the process all over again—over the course of several weeks.

     2. Selecting a ready-made team of experts that can assess your needs and get started on the project right away. No onboarding process. No red tape.

How much?

Among the top concerns of any business is the financial impact outsourcing software development will have. While cutting down on development costs is one of the potential long-term benefits of outsourcing, most business owners agree that product quality matters just as much, if not more, than reducing costs. There are a number of factors driving this:

  • Emphasis on user experience (UX): outsourcing your UX offers a truly objective, expert opinion as well as access to technology that might not be available in house.
  • Importance of security: security standards are consistently rising; whatever you spend in hiring a professional team that is up-to-date on the latest cybersecurity threats and protocols pales in comparison to the cost of a security breach
  • Company expansion: working with an offsite team on your software development allows you to focus on your core competencies and grow your business from the inside.

Additionally, outsourcing your software development can end up being a more cost-effective option than hiring an onboarded specialist because you’re not swallowing the fully loaded direct cost (e.g. health insurance, sick days, and other indirect overhead charges) associated with a full-time employee.

3. Do I have access to the best resources?

If the nuts and bolts of software development is not your forte, it’s important to know what to look for in a contract team. But before you look outward, you need to look inward, i.e., you need to understand your company’s software needs:

  • Web app vs mobile app: do your needs revolve around your desktop site, your mobile app, or some combination of the two?
  • Full stack vs backend only: are you searching for a strategic business partner that can manage UX/UI, backend and frontend, and quality assurance, or do you just need someone to work behind the scenes?
  • One-off vs ongoing: do you need help turning one specific project to market, or are you looking for something more long-term?

Once you’ve identified your needs, it’s time to see what solutions are available. If you find that your local talent is insufficient to handle the workload, you need to find a partner that can. A few things to look out for in your search:

  • Portfolio: what developers say about themselves is not worth nearly as much as what their clients say about them. As you search for the right partner, make sure to take a look at their past work, the problems they solved, and the reviews of past clients.
  • Performance measures: before you sign any contracts, you need to establish base performance measures you can use to hold your partner accountable at any stage of the development process. Some companies even provide live demos of their products to help inform your decision.
  • Post-completion support: glitches, errors, and other software issues are unavoidable especially in the wake up updates and necessary changes. Before choosing a company, make sure they have a solid support plan in place. Your business will depend on it.

The prospect of outsourcing your software development can be tricky, especially if you have a nontechnical background. But as you take time to analyze your time and budget constraints, technology needs, and partner expectations, you can make the process a lot easier on yourself. These principles apply not only to outsourcing, but also to offshoring, nearshoring, and other outsourcing methods. If you’re ready to take your software development to the next level and need someone to help you define the right strategy and execute on it, click here to connect with experts at Tech9. 

 

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