Why You Should (Or Shouldn’t) Outsource Your Next Software Development Project

Author
Jason Martin
Outsourcing Software Development

Why Outsource Development?

Your IT team has enough on its plate.

They’re expected to take care of the never-ending stream of tickets while simultaneously putting out fires (and not starting any new ones!) On top of that, you’re going to ask them to develop cutting edge technology – which is actually a smart decision – because, if you’re not innovating, someone else will innovate you right out of business. And while it’s a smart decision, you’re either going to need more hands or find a growth hormone that will help your developers grow a new pair overnight (not recommended).

Of course, you could also outsource software development, but what problems would that actually solve? Will it be worth it in the long run?

Let’s take a look at some reasons why outsourcing might (or might not) be the answer to your problems.

 

A Question of Workload Elasticity and Bandwidth

Here’s the problem with making application development a core responsibility of your IT team – elasticity and bandwidth.

Your IT team is like a factory. It takes your organizations IT problems, processes them, and spits out solutions. It doesn’t take a genius to realize that your company will crash and burn if it’s technology crashes and burns, which makes it equally as true to say that if your IT team stops solving problems, your business will also come to a screeching halt.

Over time, you’ve been able to gauge about how big your team will need to be in order to support your business needs. You’ve created some elasticity – meaning that, when problems arise, you’ll be able to ask a little more from your team to get it solve. You’ve probably also come up with some side development projects for them to work on for that rare occasion when nobody has a problem and there are few tickets (yea, right!)

Development, however, isn’t a side project. It requires a heavy labor investment up front, and, depending on the project, maintenance down the road. Notice how this is in exact contrast with what’s optimal for your IT team – if you drop a huge project on them with strict deadlines, they’ll either fail or drop the ball on their other core responsibilities. (other possible outcomes: epidemic burnout or widespread mutiny)

GIF Credit: https://tenor.com/view/exhausted-gif-8501838

You could always go and hire more developers, but what will you do with them in 6 months when the project is over? On top of that, doing so is costly and assembling the team alone could take months.

What you really need is to quickly increase your bandwidth (elasticity), but only for a short period of time., which is exactly the solution that outsourced development offers.

 

The Stats on Outsourced Software Development

Let’s get into the facts on why outsourcing is/isn’t a viable solution for your business.

Deloitte noticed in 2012 that there seemed to be downturn (in the US, specifically) of outsourcing and movement towards insourcing projects. They’ve done extensive research that shows this isn’t quite the case – more accurately, businesses have changed the way they outsource projects. Here’s a few points we found important from that survey, as well as from an infographic by MicroSourcing:

First, there’s an entire section of the Deloitte report devoted to security. This seems to be a big issue with outsourcing, and it makes sense. That doesn’t mean that companies are refusing to outsource because of it, but it can definitely throw some kinks in the process. If your organization operates in a high security industry, outsourcing might not be for you (or you’ll need to put the right processes in place)

Outsourced Development Security

Credit: https://www2.deloitte.com/content/dam/Deloitte/us/Documents/process-and-operations/us-cons-sdt-gos-exec-summary-2016.pdf

The other main takeaway from the data is that outsourcing actually is gaining in popularity, and it’s an effective solution that many companies are turning to. Take a look:

Outsourcing Development Success

Infographic Credit: https://www.microsourcing.com/blog/the-ultimate-list-of-outsourcing-statistics.asp 

Outsourcing Software Development USA

Infographic Credit: https://www.microsourcing.com/blog/the-ultimate-list-of-outsourcing-statistics.asp 

Reasons for Outsourcing Development

Credit: https://www2.deloitte.com/content/dam/Deloitte/us/Documents/process-and-operations/us-cons-sdt-gos-exec-summary-2016.pdf 

The data suggests that the change in outsourcing methods that Deloitte explained has created an increase in both popularity and efficiency of outsourcing. The main benefits are cut costs and allowing the company to focus on its core business functions.

So, if outsourcing is proving effective for so many businesses, what practices do you need to follow to get the same results?

 

Outsourcing Should be No Different than Hiring

Outsourced development gets a bad rap because, in all honesty, there’s a fair share of shoddy companies out there who’ll jump at the opportunity to take your hard earned cash in exchange for poorly written software.

When you hire an outsourced team, you’re taking a risk. But aren’t you also taking risks whenever you hire a new employee? If you were to expand your team to allow for in-house development, you’d also be taking a risk on each member of the team.

Basically, with either option, your risk level is the same. Just take the same processes you would go through to hire your outsourced team as you would to hire a new employee. If the team seems unavailable, under-experienced, or in any way non-transparent, drop them and move on to the next potential option. There’s plenty of great companies out there.

 

Finding a Development Team with the Right Processes

(We already wrote a post on best practices for outsourced software development, so we’ll just touch the surface here).

The conversation doesn’t stop at finding the team with the right experience and work ethic. You’ll want to know exactly how they’re going to develop your product.

Here are some best practices (steps) we’ve identified:

  • On-site visit. You should meet the people you’ll be working with, help them understand your problems, and engage their creativity and outside perspective in creating a solution. It’s best to do this in person, but the bottom line is that there needs to be heavy up front communication to avoid big problems down the road.
  • Create a wireframe/clickable prototype. This is the best place to start. You’ll be interfacing with this part of the product frequently, so it’s important to make sure it’s perfect. Make sure it fits well with your business processes and will drive engagement with the people in your organization that will be using it (this is a great phase for testing, as changes are still easy).
  • Dial in the front-end design. Now that you know the product will work well, make it look great. This will also help drive engagement and give users a positive impression/experience.
  • Integrate with your back end systems. Once you have the perfect application, it’s time to integrate it with the backend systems. Here, you’ll reap the benefits of sound development practices and outside perspective from people who do this frequently.

There’s one aspect of this process that can’t be stressed enough – transparency. You should be involved every step of the way. There’s no reason for the outsourced team to hide anything, and any lack of transparency is an easy to identify red flag.  

 

Consult With Us About Your Project

We’re a team of expert software developers, who’ve been around the outsourcing development block a few times. We’d love to consult with you and your company about your project, and find the solution that works best for you. We only take on projects where we know we’ll be able to add massive value, and we have no problem giving out advice – even if your project isn’t one for us! Get in touch below.

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