Outsourcing software development services has often been likened to marriage: it’s a high-involvement collaboration between mutually interested partners, with a considerable risk of failure and no guarantee of success. Small and middle enterprises can have a hard time finding the right outsourcing partner, especially offshore. In IT development, there are no universally applicable blueprints or best practices, since it’s about selling things which don’t yet exist, or have never been done before. Having said that, here are a few recommendations based on years of experience by developers.
Every software development project should have a coordinator, someone who bridges the gap between investors and engineers. This person can come from either field, but it’s important to prioritize: their drive for technological perfection should always be based on, and not dictate, business goals. You’re better off with a project that leaves room for improvement but is economically sound than with a world-class solution that never makes it to the market.
Consider outsourcing partners who are neither too big nor too small for your company. Becoming one of many clients of a software development behemoth could leave you feeling unattended and underserved. On the other hand, hooking up with a tiny IT provider means that even a brief delay in payments or a minor cost management problem could wreck its fragile structure and risk putting you out of business, too.
Find the same wavelength
Effective collaboration requires flexibility on both sides, especially when startups are involved. The development team must be able to handle fluctuating scope, ASAP requests and improv meetings at unexpected hours, U-turns in implementation and a free flow of ideas that redefine solution architecture. In return, the client should acknowledge the developers’ informed opinion and appreciate their quick turnaround time, initiative and creativity, writes software architect Dmitry Yakovlev.
Cherish the flame
High turnover at the offshore software development partner is widely considered a risk factor, especially in emerging markets. This is exaggerated. On one hand, attrition is just as high in Western hubs due to acute competition. On the other hand, it’s up to the client to ensure comfortable working conditions, motivating pay and most of all, a stimulating project to keep the developers committed, says outsourcing expert Alexei Miller.
Don’t get your hands tied
Instead of trying to fix the scope of the project in a contract, keep your options open. While negotiating a fixed-term contract can delay the development process and drain it of its creative energy, a dedicated team working on a time and materials basis allows the client to tinker with the requirements until the ideal solution is built.
Far from the eyes, far from the heart
When it comes to offshore software development services, remember that the most popular outsourcing destinations are fast-paced, emerging economies where important business factors like labor costs, legal systems and political climate are constantly changing. Such unpredictable conditions make planning difficult. Sudden outages or disturbances are frequent, yet often find involved companies unprepared. The expert’s recommendation: assess and constantly monitor risks, and diversify your outsourcing portfolio throughout the region. Or, better still, look to nearshore software development instead.