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Software Development Outsourcing: Top 5 Things You Need to Ask Your Offshore Vendor

While software development outsourcing has established itself as a trend in the past decade, choosing among the global pool of outsourcing vendors can actually be a challenge. There are many factors that need to be considered to ensure the success of outsourcing process.

In this article, we explore some of the important factors that customer companies should ask their offshore vendor to make outsourcing a successful endeavor:

How to Successfully Manage Outsourcing Team Remotely?

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Usually, business organizations will outsource their IT project to the vendor in overseas. Then, the first question that may come to your mind is “How do I successfully manage outsourcing team remotely?” Here are some measures you can take:

  • Interview candidates for the project: it’s critical that you select the right candidates since they are the ones who can “make or break” your project. In addition to asking your outsourcing partner about the hiring process, you should also request to directly involve in the interviewing process to hand-pick your team member. A reliable outsourcing partner will offer customers to directly screen and interview filter out those who are not the right fit.
  • Project visibility: the next questions you may ask yourself is “how do I know if the project is going on the right track?”, and “what are the current status of the project” etc.? Transparency is important and you should ask your outsourcing vendor on the methods used to provide visibility on the progress of your IT project. An experienced outsourcing company will explain the options (e.g. tools and technologies) available for you to choose from. If project visibility is among the top concerns, you can ask your outsourcing partner about Scrum, which is a methodology that can bring transparency and openness to your project.
  • SLA (Service Level Agreement): for a number of certain projects (e.g. application managed services), imposing an SLA is necessary, considering it can help define the expected standard of performance. A reliable partner will be willing to agree to one. An adequate SLA will need to include acceptable time to response, team availability, and other metrics which are important and required of your project.

Last but not least, you should also consider on-site visits which is an important part of the due diligence process and also a great way to keep both the parties in sync and on the same page.

Overcoming time-zone difference challenge

One of the challenges when it comes to offshore outsourcing is the time-zone difference which makes communication becomes difficult and hindering project progress. Thus, you should ask the outsourcing vendor about the solutions to make the process as easy as possible.

Communication channels such as phone calls, video conferencing (e.g. Skype, Zoom), and instant messaging (e.g. slack) can be used to help with the communication process. Additionally, you can also ask your outsourcing partner to bring the key team member to visit your head-quarter offices. This can provide numerous benefits in term of knowledge transfer, better business requirements understanding etc.

Collaborate across geographies and different culture

Solving the cultural puzzle is essential for your outsourcing project to be successful. A different culture means a different mind-set that shapes employee behavior, communication, and even decision making.

Together with time-zone difference, geographies and different culture also negatively impact your IT project development. A different cultures could be extended to a different working culture which affect employee behavior and their thinking in approaching problem solutions. Thus, you need to ensure that the outsourcing partner can understand and share your point of view in regards to commitments, responsibility, and method for conflicts resolutions.

Further, when outsourcing to offshore companies, language will always be a barrier. In order to make the outsourcing process as efficient as possible, an adequate English ability is a must, so you should ask your vendor how their staffs’ English training is handled. Also, as mentioned above, by directly interviewing engineers, you can find out whether their English is good enough to avoid communication problems as well as streamlining the development process.

Post-live support and warranty

After the project goes live successfully, you need to ensure that the final product is going to be regularly maintained together with post-live support in case any issues arise. Lack of post-live support and/or maintenance might cause serious problems, including business downtime which leads to loss of revenue and goodwill.

A good outsourcing vendor will provide warranty of service after project completion. Usually, the vendor will help detect and fix the issues for free and/or provide support and training. Additionally, you need to make sure that the documentation transfer process is carried out properly with all necessary documents such as user’s manual, administration, etc. are included.

Confidentiality Agreement

Most of the time, when outsourcing to a third party Software Company, your business organizations will disclose confidential information as well as transferring some intellectual property to the outsourcing vendor.

Thus, it’s extremely important to make sure that your trade secrets as well as other business information are protected at all times. A general rule is to enforce a Non-Disclosure Agreement (NDA) which will help to protect your assets, and a good outsourcing vendor would expect and ready to sign NDA as a common requirement.

Conclusion

Software development outsourcing is not a risk-free endeavor, but doing it right will provide many benefits to your business. Outsourcing is cost-effective and allows business organizations access to global talents together with advanced technologies (e.g. Machine Learning, Blockchain, and AI development etc.) and or new modern programming languages (e.g. Kotlin, R, Golang Development etc.) on a budget.

It’s important that customer companies perform their due diligence to select a reliable outsourcing partner who can help you to build your desired product and deliver maximum return on investment possible.