It seems like everywhere you turn, there’s another custom software company advertising their services. As a result, it’s easier than ever to outsource tech services like software development.

But what’s not easy is getting good software that matches your business goals, satisfies user demands, and scales with you as you grow. The internet is rife with terrifying examples of partnerships gone wrong. From miscommunicated goals to culture clashes to coding issues that bring timelines to a screeching halt, there’s a lot that can go wrong.

That’s why it’s important to know a few ground rules before you choose a partner. We’ve curated a short list (nine) of what we think are the most important things to know before you outsource your next software development project.

1. Take a “Partnership” Approach to Outsourcing

Hiring a development team isn’t like hiring a caterer. You’re not just contracting a service but rather entering a working relationship — preferably one that’s long-lasting and fruitful. Both sides of the partnership have an equally important role to play, too. Ideally, each side puts in the time and effort to get to know the other and to understand those respective roles. A foundation of trust is formed.

That way, when projects get underway, it’s easier for multidisciplinary teams comprised of members from both organizations to work together. A “partnership” approach to outsourcing implies the following:

  1. Both sides have a clear idea of their roles in the outcome of the product.
  2. Both sides work together to create clearly-defined goals and objectives.
  3. Both sides are aware of each other’s strengths, weaknesses, capabilities, limitations, specialties, etc.

2. Screen Your Candidates Like You’re Hiring an Employee

Since you’re taking a “partnership” approach to outsourcing your development, you might as well take it all the way and treat the process like you’re actually hiring a new employee. Screen them and look for values that align with your way of doing business. Check references, see what others are saying about them. Learn about past clients and success stories to determine whether you think they’ll be able to adjust to your goals.

3. Seek a Vendor Who Aligns With Your Outsourcing Business Model

Just now, we advised researching the outsourcing companies you’re considering. So, what should you look for? One thing to investigate is their business model. Here’s why.

One of the inherent risks, when you outsource a large software project, is that you’re relying on resources that aren’t your own. Changes in staff, for example, can throw a wrench into everything, especially when those changes occur mid-project. You can minimize these types of problems by fully researching the companies you’re considering partnering with. Look into their business model — how do they put teams together? What are their business goals? What do employee turnover rates look like?

4. Don’t Let Cost Run the Show

Going with the cheapest company is the best way to ensure that getting your product to market will be a nightmare. Outsourcing should be a strategic decision, where you seek a good fit with a team who understands your business and cares about the product as much as you do. That’s not always going to be the lowest-cost option.  

5. Be Involved From the Beginning

Don’t just look a the end product when you’re outsourcing your software. Be involved from the beginning and communicate clearly about your goals and user needs. Key players should be involved from the start, whether they’re managers, users, or other important stakeholders.

6. Don’t Go In With Rigid Expectations

You may have highly specific knowledge that might be relevant to the development project you’re about to embark upon. But sometimes fresh solutions and new ideas are called for.

One of the benefits of a good outsourcing partner is that they have a diverse team that can offer a different perspective. They have acquired a diverse knowledge bank after having worked on software development projects for clients in all kinds of industries. All this great knowledge and experience comes with the “package” and becomes a resource to make your project even better.

7. Consider Pushing Beyond Your Original Expectations

It’s typical for an in-house development team to stick to the status quo when working on projects for their company. Because of time and money constraints, they are not encouraged to experiment and push the envelope for innovative solutions.

Of course, an outsourced partner will also provide solutions that have been run through the cost-benefit analysis mill. But here’s the difference: they’ll always be focused on finding the most innovative solutions, as well.

8. Look for a Culture Match

By ‘culture match’, we mean look for a company from a country that has some similarities with your own. Whether it’s a high level of language proficiency in your language or a similar time zone or compatible outlooks on work and life —  all these factors play a role in making things run more smoothly. That’s because, at the heart of things, good development is rooted in good communication. Plus, when cross-organizational and cross-functional teams need to collaborate, a few cultural similarities can help in a big way.

9. Once You Choose a Partner, Lean on Their Capabilities

You’ve done your due diligence and found a great outsourcing partner. Now, let them do their thing without micromanaging them. Stay involved and continue to communicate and give feedback but also be sure to benefit from their experience and refrain from micromanaging things.

One Last Rule…

We know that choosing an outsourcing partner for your software development project isn’t a simple process. There are so many factors, such as cultural fit, values, experience, and the list goes on. You may still have a lot of questions, which is why we’re always happy to talk. Feel free to reach out to us here at Making Sense and we’ll do our best to answer your software development questions.