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Avoiding the Big Mistakes Made in Outsourcing Software Development
Software is necessary to any business. Good software can help the company to operate easier and engage the consumer. Since the majority of companies do not have a software development team on staff, outsourcing software development is a common practice.
However, when outsourcing such an important task, there is the possibility for problems to arise in the relationship. For example, the client (you) may have the sense that the software should have a certain look or feel look or feel a certain way, while the software development firm has another idea. Without putting certain precautionary factors in place, I do not feel you will ever overcome these sorts of problems.
The Problem with Communication
Communication is a very important part of any relationship. This is as true with personal relationships as it is for any business relationship. In my experience, teams that communicate the best are those with experience. They are able to anticipate problems and will make you feel at ease. There are, however, good teams with poor communication skills and you'll need to initiate the content.
Set Communication Guidelines
When communicating with your software development firm, it is a good idea to:
- Establish communication guidelines (Milestones, status report updates, etc.)
- Request set timeframes in which you will receive updates
- Establish one person on the team you speak with
- Never punish for any failure to meet a goal
You will need communication not only to know where you stand in the development of your software, but to make sure the team knows you are willing to reach out when necessary. The more they know you are on top of your software development, the harder they will work to provide you what you are looking for.
Never Overstep Your Bounds
One of the stumbling blocks I have seen in the past is to try and control uncontrollable aspects of software development. One of the biggest problems you want to avoid is trying to set unrealistic goals. If you push your software development team too hard, they may need to cut corners in order to meet your project demands.
Work as a Team
Work with your software team to understand what the milestones of the process should be. They are the experts in software development and they know how long each component of the development will take.
A good way I have found to overcome setting unrealistic expectations is to simply communicate. Ask the software development team:
- What timelines are reasonable?
- What bugs can be expected?
- What is the process to remove bugs?
- Are there any suggestions the team has?
When outsourcing software development, these professionals have the experience. They understand exactly how to create the software you are looking for, but it will take time. By walking into the situation with this understanding, you will have a better understanding of the process and what type of delays may arise.
The first step in any good relationship is making sure that it is a realistic one. Does your company do business during regular hours? If the answer to this question is yes, you cannot reasonably expect that outsourcing to a software development team in India will be a good idea. Either the software development team, or your business, will have to work in the middle of the night on occasion.
Another consideration when establishing a relationship with a software development company is a language barrier. Even though the company may be outstanding in the realm of software development in their own country, they may not be able to understand enough of what you are saying to fully create software that will meet your expectations. Make sure that the company has the ability to communicate with you properly, or you may run into issues down the road.
To assure your software development team is the right choice for outsourcing your software to, make sure they can:
- Work on your schedule
- Speak your language
- Understand the needs of your clients
- Meet in person if necessary
Since the object of any good software is to help a business operate better, it is important that the software development team be able to understand the needs of your clients. After all, how is it possible to deliver what you need if the development team cannot understand the real goal of the software?
Taking a Closer Look at the Development Team
Another thing to consider when you are outsourcing your software development is that software is actually written by people. This means you should take a closer look at exactly who is going to write your software. Here are a few questions you should consider:
- Do they have the experience writing software in general?
- Have they written software similar to what you are looking for?
- Have they worked with other companies in your industry?
- How long has the software development team worked together?
Inexperienced teams have not encountered many of the problems that are common in developing software. There is a difference between what is learned in college and what is learned in practical applications. Until the team has had the experience working through major problems, they may bungle the software issues your project will create.
On the same token, a good software development team will work well together. This is an important aspect to consider because only if the whole team is working together is it possible to have a homogeneous outcome. Additionally, teams that have a high turnover may have internal issues which could lead to even further delays with your project.
Experience writing the software you are looking for is very important. Even if they have not created the exact software you are looking for, they should have written something similar. In fact, it is important that team you choose to outsource to has experience in the type of software you're creating. This will give them a better understanding of what you are looking for and why you need it.
Vet the Software Development Team
Do not be afraid to look into the software development team the same way you would any employee you hire. You wouldn’t hire an employee without looking into their references, would you? Then why do it when outsourcing software development? You are about to spend a lot of money on something that is very important to the future of your business. The more you know about the people doing the work, the better your chances are of getting great software.
Make sure you are talking with past clients in the same industry as you. This will give you the opportunity to see exactly how well the software development team works and what a final product looks like.
Make sure you ask whether they would hire the team again. We both know that any team worth their salt would be a candidate for future projects and we would be proud to say so to whoever asks.
Adhere to the Law
Your fervor for outsourcing to the best software development company should not make you willing to break the law. You will need to make sure that any outsourcing relationship is in keeping with industry-specific laws, to mention nothing of the privacy laws you will need to observe.
As you can see there are many considerations to make when selecting a software development team. From communication and references to complying with the law, it's important that you look at the project and the team from all angles.