4 Best Practices for Outsourcing Software Development
Why and How Should You Outsource Software Development?
Hundreds of years ago, the industrial revolution ushered in a new age of productivity and a fresh, innovative approach to producing goods.
Systems changed everything. Machines linked together to create outputs that were never before imaginable. Business today follows a similar trend – the organizations that come out on top are the ones that are able to assemble dynamic, powerful, and adaptive systems.
Look at the retail industry as an example – it’s obvious that the industry as a whole faces a huge threat in Amazon, but retailers such as Target have continued to grow by developing systems to enhance their online capabilities and touch points, increasing both online and in-store sales.
Of course, any business would love the have the bandwidth to actively research and develop innovative applications. There’s just one problem – your IT team already has enough on their plate maintaining current systems, and it’s hard to justify hiring more developers for a project that could be done in six months, especially when interviewing to assemble that team alone could take three months!
Outsourcing software development is the perfect solution. It increases your bandwidth and allows you to develop those systems that give you an edge over competition. If you do it right, you’ll have a team of expert developers with a fresh perspective, capable of devoting all their time and attention to delivering an innovative solution.
Here are four best practices you should look for from any outsourced software development team:
1: Communicate to Fully Understand the Situation
So many of the problems that developers run into can be solved with a better up-front planning and discovery processes. This is especially true with outsourced development – one of the biggest benefits of outsourcing is that they bring a fresh perspective, but that perspective is useless if the outsourced developers don’t fully understand the situation.
Developers should perform an on-site visit and consultation to kick off a project, rather than a simple phone call and email chain. Meeting in person and getting a first-hand view and experience of systems, processes, pain points and objectives makes a huge difference.
At Django Force, we never want to kick off a large project without an on-site consultation. We enjoy meeting our clients and our experience has taught us how critical this step is in creating the perfect software solution.
2: Create a Software Wireframe / Clickable Prototype
One problem we see with so many developers is that they focus too much on developing applications that will work easily with your current applications, rather than focussing on the problems the software should solve.
We don’t blame them – it’s the nature of most technical workers to focus on how things will work rather than how they feel.
Our time developing custom software, however, has taught us the importance of front end user experience. That’s what the employees will be interfacing with, after all! If the front end feels good, is easy to use, and does what’s needed, you’ll have the foundation for a successful product. With this foundation in place, there’s always a way to go in and make it work with the back-end. The key here is to develop the software with the people who will use it in mind, rather than developing it with only the back end systems in mind.
After we’ve done discovery and fully understand our client’s situation, our next step is delivering a wireframe or clickable prototype. This helps us dial in the user experience before we start with heavy development.
3: Dial in the Front-End Design
Another huge benefit of outsourcing you don’t have to deal with an off the shelf design or pay extra money to “white label” someone else’s product. Outsourced software development teams can design your solution exactly how you want it.
Ever heard the old saying “if you look good, you feel good. If you feel good, you play good”?. Most people heard this from their old baseball coach, justifying spending an extra thousand dollars on uniforms. As software developers we heard it when we were learning how to design the front end graphical user interfaces (GUI).
Either way, the saying holds true. People trust systems that look good. They have more confidence in them, which translates to higher adoption rates and ultimately higher success rates.
For us, this step is all about making everything look exactly how you want it, with an intuitive design that your users will love. That will pay out in spades for you in the long run.
4: Integrate the Application with Your Back-End Systems
This is where the magic happens.
You have the perfect application – it was specifically designed for your problems. It feels great, and it works even better. We’ve been focussing on all the important user experience aspects up to this point, but don’t worry, we haven’t forgotten that eventually we’re going to need to make it work in your back-end business environment.
In this stage you’ll see the benefits of sound development practices. If your outsourced team follows the right processes, integration should be super smooth. If not, you could be in trouble.
We build our applications in Python on the Django framework, which creates organized, clean, and easy to read code. We’ll use/develop API’s to interface with your other applications, and make sure that the system works perfectly in your business environment. Your system will be up and running in no time!
Check out this video overview we made of the development process
Overcoming the Challenges of Outsourced Software Development
Even if you’re following the four steps mentioned above, there are two elements that can’t be missing when outsourcing software development – transparency and adaptability.\
A Transparent Approach to Custom Software Development
You deserve a transparent view of the project that you’re paying the outsourced team to develop. Much more than an update email every couple weeks, you should be able to check in on progress whenever you want.
To solve the transparency problem, we offer access to the code, product, and give our clients the ability to see what’s being created in real time. This is a great way to build trust between organizations and outsourced software development teams.
An Adaptive Approach to Custom Software Development
When you use a screwdriver that’s the wrong size/shape for the job, you end up creating more problems. The same goes for slow, clunky, and unadaptive approaches to developing software. There’s not a process or method that works in every scenario.
We’ve had a lot of success in developing custom software applications for our clients, but wouldn’t pretend that the same approaches that worked in the past will always work today. We bring our experience to the table, but always explore alternative options before starting. This is yet another reason why an effective discovery stage and on site visit are so important – they allow the outsourced team to fully understand the situation.
Finding the Right Team to Outsource Your Software Project
Regardless of which team you choose to outsource your software project, they should follow these steps:
- In depth discovery and planning phase with on site visit
- Creating a clickable wireframe/prototype. Make sure they develop the product primarily with the people who will use it in mind.
- Dial in the front end design. This instills user confidence and boosts adoption rates.
- Back-end development. Once you have the right product, dial in the back-end so that it works seamlessly with your other applications and workflows.
- Transparency and adaptability throughout the entire process. You should have access to the code and the ability to monitor progress at any time.
Looking to outsource your next software development project? Let’s talk!