According to the Computer Economics study IT Outsourcing Statistics 2014/2015, 62 percent of large organizations are outsourcing at least a portion of their application development work.
As IT budgets decline and time-to-market needs increase, the trend of farming out development work is both increasing and broadening to include new services.
In response, service providers have expanded their offerings to include product, technical and process services. Specifically, this runs the gamut from product management, information architecture and quality automation, analytics, and more. There is no one-size-fits all approach; it’s about finding the right partner that will be the perfect fit for your team.
Here are five key questions you must ask in order to select the correct partner for your organization’s specific outsourcing needs, so you can achieve success and avoid some of the costliest pitfalls.
1. How do you structure the partnership roles to be efficient and successful?
When delivering business-critical systems and applications, to say that time is of the essence would be a gross understatement. It’s critical to discuss preferred software development processes and assign roles strategically, both to ensure that your needs are met throughout the cycle and also to avoid a “too many cooks in the kitchen” scenario that can cause delays.
- Effectively working with a partner includes:
- Involving them in the planning process
- Working closely and transparently with them throughout the duration of a project
- Receiving updates on incremental value and demos
- Ensuring visibility into the status of your projects
- Reacting to changes along the way
2. How skilled and researched is your development team with UX design?
If you’ve chosen to outsource product delivery, then an added benefit is the experience of a dedicated team of developers. Have they done extensive UX research? Will they provide suggestions for improvement? You don’t want to end up with a product that isn’t going to be easily used by your customers.
3. What are the features, services and skills that set your company apart from your competitors or independent consultants?
Does this team offer real-time analytics? How do they prevent and manage cyber attacks? Whether you are looking for a specialized set of skills or a partner with expansive offerings, technical capabilities such as typical availability, performance characteristics and security requirements are critical to match to your needs before engaging with a partner.
4. Can I see samples of your work with a client or have a client’s contact info to request a testimonial?
Though many software development service companies can actually be found on Yelp, you will most likely consider options without nonbiased reviews and critiques readily available. And you have to take some critiques with a grain of salt. Do your due diligence and research the vendor from independent sources, including work developed for other clients.
5. What will ongoing support be like after my application/product has been created?
When selecting an outsourcing partner, businesses need to remember that this relationship will last longer than the time it takes to develop your product. You will be communicating with them regularly as business needs and goals change.
If your business is considering an offshore outsourcing company, consider that there could be an inflation of initially quoted time to account for working in different time zones and possible misinterpretation of questions and answers between customer and coder. Ensure that you’re actually building a long-term relationship with ongoing, post-launch support by asking about their past clients and their current relationship.
Bottom line: Though the percentage of outsourcing projects that fail to reach desired ROI is widely contested, it is commonly cited that failure occurs most often due to initial misunderstandings in the service-level agreement and poor communication. Collaboration is critical. Ensure from the beginning that you can work together in a joint effort for combined success.