Outsourcing software development can bring numerous benefits — from access to a larger talent pool to cost efficiency. Still, it comes with its challenges. Before selecting a vendor with a hands-on role in your project, carefully considering the possible pitfalls is essential.
In this article, we interviewed Ilya Boroda, Head of Pre-Sales at Timspark, to share his vision on the four key challenges commonly encountered when choosing a custom software development partner and solutions practice based on the company’s outsourcing model.
Outsourcing vs. in-house development: Choose your path
According to Deloitte’s 2018 Global Outsourcing Survey, 59 percent of companies opt for outsourcing as a means to decrease expenses. Yet companies who solely focus on this factor overlook other crucial aspects that could shape their decision.
Keeping certain functions in-house may not save you any money. But it gives you more control over the quality of work and the ability to better define and preserve your company culture.
Not to be caught in a double bind, one should try not to overlook new outsourcing models. Thus, the last 5–7 years show an evident shift in outsourcing from cost reduction optimization toward created value. Organizations can acquire the necessary technology and process guidance through collaboration with third-party providers and tap into their profound industry knowledge.
The vendor should not necessarily limit their role to executors acting by prescribed instructions from the client. On the contrary, they can bring expertise — the idea of how the business problem can be solved, even if the customer is not aware of the solution yet.
With a clear understanding of business needs, the vendor can provide a broader solution scope, and measure success with the impact on the business, not with the number of projects won over other vendors. Resources saving, maximizing value, and improving business performance all boil down to client satisfaction as the ultimate goal.
Development team expertise: Do the check
The team for your project should ideally have prior experience working on similar projects. However, the challenge arises when a customer chooses a vendor for custom software development based solely on the company’s portfolio without considering the experience and expertise of the specific team the project. The project’s future success greatly depends on the skills and capabilities of the team working on it.
Unfortunately, in most cases, companies showcase their overall portfolio rather than providing insight into the individual team members’ portfolios. As a result, the customer has limited visibility into their past projects. And once the contract is signed and the project begins, vetting the team’s experience becomes irrelevant.
To address this challenge, one might thoroughly scrutinize the vendor’s portfolio, looking beyond the number of projects and instead focusing on the complexity and variety of cases handled. This can provide some insight into the vendor’s overall expertise and capabilities. However, it still does not guarantee that the specific team assigned to the project possesses the necessary skills and experience.
Ultimately, the challenge lies in ensuring that the chosen vendor has an impressive company portfolio and assigns a team with relevant experience in projects similar to the customer’s requirements.
Open communication with the vendor throughout the selection process can increase the chances of a successful software development partnership.
Actions steps may look as follows:
– ensure that the development team is compliant with the quality requirements and can provide the expertise needed
– make the development team transparent for the customer regarding processes, workflow, and available certifications
Showcasing the portfolio with a complete description of our framework and the team’s expertise, which has already undergone a thorough vetting process, may be the key to building the foundations for transparency.
Business goals and vendor’s expertise: Get them aligned
As a customer searching for a custom software development partner, you aim to choose a vendor who aligns with your project requirements and can deliver high-quality results in a reasonable time and with feasible costs. Fast feedback from the vendor at an early stage on their expertise, capabilities, possible solutions, and overall future performance is crucial.
By considering vendor feedback, customers can mitigate risks, gain confidence in their selection, and establish a solid foundation for a successful software development partnership.
Yet the outsourcing model does not imply that the development team should be aligned with the business goals and problems, even at the development stage. The solution that the customer is requesting is rarely or hardly ever challenged by the vendor, with business goals in mind. Therefore additional time and human resources for implementation may be revealed later, possibly resulting in increasing costs and longer time to market.
How can you mitigate this challenge? The answer boils down to aligning the development team with the customer’s business goals early on.
This approach ensures that the end product meets the latest technical requirements and provides value to the customer’s business. The vendor can contribute their expertise to enhance the software’s effectiveness and address the customer’s challenges at the same time.
As teams obtain this vision at an early stage, they can keep the business needs in focus. The team can propose a technological solution based on their background, and they might consider how to implement the solution throughout the development cycle, with possible roadblocks and additional expenses. Thus, the ultimate solution may vary from the customer’s initial request. Yet it ensures that the team strives to address the business goals most effectively, not just comply with their commitments and deliver.
For business, getting fast feedback means handling possible pitfalls and getting a precise estimate of the scope of work, time, and costs.
Knowledge transfer from customer to vendor: make it transparent
A lack of knowledge transfer is a frequent problem in a traditional team augmentation model. Such gaps may occur between the delivery team and potential clients and between the presales and delivery teams. While executives do not have a vision of the system, and goals are not transparent to them, this can backfire. Costly proposals, reduced motivation among technical experts, lower performance and quality of the end product, and delayed time to market are possible negative results.
It is not a direct correlation, yet effective consultations may equal cost and time savings for the client. By involving specialists from development teams already at the presales stage, one can achieve clear knowledge transfer about the client’s needs before the project starts and avoid the long communication pipeline and back-and-forths from client to vendor.
The presales team responsible for transferring the proper guidelines and vision to the delivery may significantly bridge the gap. As a result, all the development team members are fully aware of the agreements and committed.
Choosing a custom software development partner comes with its challenges. However, by carefully considering and addressing them with a strategy, businesses can increase their chances of successful delivery. Focus on value creation, open communication, aligning teams with the company’s goals, and effective knowledge transfer may be possible answers.
Featured Image Credit: Sora Shimazaki; Pexels; Thank you!