What to look for, what to avoid, and how to get started with outsourcing software development projects for your company
It’s no secret that we’re all living in a globalized world, where anyone can communicate with anyone else at almost any time. In the software development world, we’ve embraced outsourcing as a boon for both the customer and vendor alike.
If you’re new on the block and interested to learn more about this $100 billion global market, I’ll be going over how to determine if outsourcing software development projects is right for you.
So, first of all, what is outsourced software development and DevOps?
Software Outsourcing Models
Outsourcing can come in a few flavors these days. In the United States, over 43% of IT work is already performed by third parties. There are three major models, which we’ll go over briefly:
For software development, onshore means you’re working with a software development company within the same country you’re in.
Near-shore means that you’re both in the same country yet vastly different time-zones. Also, it can also mean that the company is in a different country, but the time-zone isn’t vastly different.
Offshore is what it sounds like – you’re working with an offshore software development team, and time-zone isn’t a factor for your projects and meeting with the team. Either the company is able to accommodate your working hours for meetings and project reports, or they’re working with full autonomy and your blessing – they’re delivering you great results, so no need to micromanage, right?
Common Outsourcing Pros & Cons
No business model is absolutely perfect, insofar as there are plusses and minuses to every operating model; every business decision.
That being said, with more than half of all small businesses in the US planning to outsource java, web development, mobile apps, and so on, it needs to be a pretty decent idea, right?
Now, keep in mind, these are broad swaths of the pros and cons when looking for a software development company. We’ll be going into a deeper dive in one of our future articles:
- Lower costs for senior talent
- Greater project flexibility
- Eagerness to go above and beyond
- Language barriers
- Timezone/timeliness challenges
- Quality can be a gamble
Some of these might be obvious, but some not so much. For example, what do we mean by project flexibility? And what about timeliness challenges? Let’s discuss that:
How to choose a good outsourcing company
Now, we all have different needs and challenges, so I’d like to use an example that most of us can relate to. Apps.
Mobile app outsourcing is one of the most common practices for the IT industry. However, that means there are countless app development teams across the globe. How do you pick the one that’s best for your purposes?
With over 45% of US companies saying costs are the motivating factor for outsourcing IT, let’s assume they are for you too. You want your app to be developed for both Android and iOS phones, and already have the web app finished.
Look for the following attributes in companies you’re evaluating for your app development:
- Website Quality
- It speaks volumes for what they can do for others
- Images and/or Bio’s of Leadership
- Other team members is also a plus
- Outsourcing Transparency
- They don’t hide the fact that they’re working near-shore/offshore
- Pricing Transparency
- Pricing varies widely, so no company should display that any app is going to cost only $1,000
Another point to make is that since you want an app developed, it makes sense to focus on niche IT companies that specialize in mobile app development. This all depends on the scope of your project, but if you need an Android and iOS app developed, you can save time and money by working with a team that doesn’t focus on any WordPress development, for example.
How to get started
Interview 6+ Software Companies
If this is your first time looking to get an app built, you might hear good things from one or two, but then hear something too good to be true from a third.
Two offshore development teams gave you a six-month estimate, and the third gave you a three-month estimate. You’ve never developed an app before, so you’re relying on experts for their input. Maybe the third team really has the resources and skills to complete your app in three months, but maybe they’re overpromising and will underdeliver.
So, for example, if you interview 8 companies and 7 say that 6 months is about right, you can easily tell the outlier is bluffing on their ability to deliver. Yet, if you hear that estimate more than once, it could very well be that your project can realistically be completed sooner than other companies can deliver.
If you interview several companies, you can gauge their timeliness rather well, and their trustability. Offshore software development teams come in all shapes and sizes – some work in a home office with regular hours; others 100% remote. These are just a couple of factors for you to consider, which can impact timeliness.
Get On The Phone
You want your app to be perfect, but what happens if Android is going smoothly but the iOS version is encountering delays?
Most, yet not all, projects encounter unforeseen delays. You as the customer, deserve to be informed and able to communicate when outsourcing developers on your own time.
When you’re narrowing down your search, get them on the phone as soon as possible, but at a comfortable time of day for you. Often the best “bang for the buck” deals are coming from halfway across the world. Yet, sometimes you can feel disconnected and messages/meetings get delayed due to time constraints.
If from the very beginning the team can match your timezone, that’s a good sign. Before pulling the trigger, you want to have a few meetings with each candidate company. If two times they have no problem hopping on a call at, say, 11 AM your local time, that means two things:
- They are eager to get your business
- They have experience working with non-local timezones
When you hear excuses or requests to reschedule, that’s not a good sign. That’s not to say that babies don’t get born, or car crashes don’t happen; give people the benefit of the doubt. Yet, if it’s hard to meet with a prospective team on the phone, over and over, move on.
Check Their Clutch
Clutch.co is a DC-based rating firm for digital companies, and any of the onshore, near-shore, or offshore teams worth mentioning have a Clutch profile.
Clutch testimonials can be trusted. The company gets a quick phone call from a representative to verify the accuracy of the review. It also includes a rundown of the outsourcing company’s pricing range, software development capabilities, and areas of expertise.
Use this information before you get the team on the phone. Ask them about their pricing models, and see if it reflects what they display on their profile.
Where Our Team Fits In
The Project Drivers is an enterprise outsourcing company, which means that we wouldn’t be the best team for just a single app. In the example above, you’d hear from us that we’re not the best mobile app outsourcing team to work with. However, we’d be happy to recommend other companies that deliver the same level of quality on a niche service as we do on enterprise services.
(By the way, Armenia is becoming an outsourcing hotspot.)
So, keep that in mind. Feel free to approach companies with strong abilities in outsourced IT services. They’ll usually be happy to recommend other companies that suit your needs. In outsourcing, reputation management is everything.
A trustworthy company will take on your project if they’re confident it benefits you. They’ll also be confident to say “not us, but talk to these guys.” So, if you’re an enterprise company that needs to turn an idea into a digital reality, absolutely talk to us. If you’re not sure, talk to us anyway and we’ll be happy to point you in the right direction.