How to Outsource Your Software Project

Gimena Aguerreberry
May 12, 2021

In-house software projects seem to be things of the past. The IT outsourcing industry has taken off in the last decade. Most impressively, it flaunted a near $67 billion market size in 2019.

Outsourcing software development projects allow you to seek highly reputable developers without going through a tedious hiring process. You can leverage these talented individuals and save time and money, all without jeopardizing quality.

But what's the best way to outsource your software project? Read on to learn everything businesses should know before outsourcing their software development tasks.

What to Consider Before You Outsource to a Software Development Company

Who you outsource work to isn't a decision you should take lightly. You should consider the following factors before you start looking for the ideal company:

  • Do you need the additional manpower? If your team is preoccupied with other tasks and can't meet new deadlines, hiring an outsourcing company can be a wise move.

  • Do you have the funds? A lot of companies outsource software development to save money. However, it can still cost your company some funds upfront. Consider if your business has the budget to hire a quality agency at a fair price. Don't seek an agency with unreasonably low prices, as you'll likely sacrifice quality.

  • What's your core business's expertise? Your dedicated team members might be well versed in mobile apps or web UI but have limited experience with API development. Consider your company's strong suits and consider hiring an outsourcing company to fill in the gaps.

What Software Outsourcing Model to Choose

Did you know there are several software outsourcing models to choose from?

Every industry will benefit from a different approach:

  • Onshore software outsourcing: This method involves working with companies based in the same home country as your core business. It minimizes communication issues like language barriers and differences in time zones. As a customer, you'll have to pay more to work with these types of outsourced companies because of the conveniences they offer.

  • Offshore software outsourcing: Offshore software outsourcing means your company will work with development teams in other countries. For example, your American company may request work from an outsourced team in India or China. Offshore software development is the cheapest route to take, but it may result in lower quality work and poor communication.

  • Nearshore software outsourcing: This approach deals with outsourcing projects to dedicated teams in neighboring countries. It's a sort of middle ground in terms of cost efficiency and work quality.

4 Qualities to Look for in an Outsourced Company

You shouldn't be so quick to trust any team to take on your software projects. These projects will be with your company for the long term, so they should get developed with care, precision, and strict project requirements.

We've assembled a list of 4 factors to look for in an outsourced company.

These factors will help you and your outsourced team build a beneficial core business relationship and minimize risks with your final product.

1) Track Record

You shouldn't be in the business of giving any company a chance to prove itself. Stick to what you know works by finding a company with a solid track record.

Validate a company's UX and UI design by looking at its portfolio. You can also have one of your tech-savvy acquaintances evaluate your potential company's code architecture to further assess its qualifications.

2) Technology

What kind of technology does the software development company claim it uses? Steer clear of generalists who claim to be jacks-of-all-trades. Find one that's specialized in a specific technology like .Net or Java. This specialization will expedite your time to market and reduce the chances of sub-par work.

3) Scalability & Flexibility

Don't commit to a software development company that will lock you into a rigid contract. Make sure your chosen company allows for flexibility with time allocation and team size. Software changes constantly, so having a flexible team is essential.

You should also find a company that's willing to take on small projects. Breaking things up into chunk-sized pieces will help ensure nothing gets lost in translation. This strategy is also much more cost-effective.

4) The Lean vs. Product-Centric Approach

Salesy language shouldn't have you sold. Be wary of an outsourcing company that uses fluffy language and makes empty promises.

Instead, you should look for a software development team that takes a "lean" approach. Does your potential outsourcing partner recommend cutting features from your initial request? If so, it's a keeper. A team that wants to cut elements will demonstrate that it prioritizes your product vision. It doesn't want to add unnecessary fluff — its only interest is to maintain functionality and high quality for your customers.

4 Pitfalls to Avoid When Outsourcing Your Software Project

Using an outsourced company can be beneficial, but you should proceed with caution. Check out four pitfalls to keep an eye out for before you settle on an outsourcing partner:

1) Communication Barriers

One of the major drawbacks to outsourcing a software project is not having your dedicated team right down the hallway. So, you'll have to keep in touch effectively to see any results.

Don't let any communication barriers intimidate you. Throwing too much work at your in-house software engineers instead of seeking outside help because you're scared of ineffective communication can be detrimental.

Instead, prepare yourself to overcome these surmountable barriers. Figure out how to manage different languages, operating hours, and cultural conventions. Determine what collaboration tools and communication channels your teams will use, and you'll be just fine.

2) Issues with Code Quality

Unfortunately, code quality is subjective — there's no definitive way to distinguish between high-quality and low-quality code.

However, you should determine what you want from the final software product. We recommend keeping two essential factors in mind: maintainability and clarity.

Ensure that the company performs code reviews and unit and functional testing. It'll also be beneficial if the outsourced team has a quality assurance program to foster the long-term success of the final product.

3) Ambiguity of Stakeholders

When you recruit an outsourcing partner, you should get a handle on who'll oversee the software's delivery. The company you pick may have multiple team leaders, resulting in inconsistencies with the deliverables.

Avoid this issue by establishing the scope of project ownership. Get in writing that at least a few key members will stick around for the project's entirety.

4) Unclear Contracts

You should never sign your name on any dotted line blindly. Always understand the terms and conditions of your contract to the nth degree.

If you agree to unclear terms, the outsourcing company may exploit them and inflict severe losses on your company. You may also have a much slower time to market than anticipated.

While certainly not all-inclusive, this list contains elements that should appear in your contract:

  • A time commitment

  • Penalties if the outsourcing team fails to meet deadlines

  • Positive reinforcement if the software development serviced goes faster than expected

  • A layout of the assigned work

A well-drafted contract will prevent bumps in the road and streamline the final delivery of your new intellectual property.

Need High-Quality Software Development Outsourcing?

From reading this guide, it's pretty clear that high-quality outsourcing is important. And it's easy to do! But how do you find a team that's efficient, highly collaborative, and committed to your schedule?

That's where we come in. Our team at SOPHiLABS is here to take the burden off your shoulders during crunch time and help you get your software product ready for launch.

Get in touch with us today to learn more about our software development outsourcing and what we can bring to your project.

"How to Outsource Your Software Project" by Gimena Aguerreberry is licensed under CC BY SA. Source code examples are licensed under MIT.

Photo by Austin Distel.

Categorized under software development.

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