Outsourcing software development has emerged as a global trend in today’s digital world. Gone are the days when outsourcing was considered purely for budgetary reasons. As the demand for technology talent increases, the pool within some geographic areas appears to be shrinking fast. Companies are finding themselves in need of good talent that isn’t always available internally.
I’ve been involved with software development outsourcing for well over a decade. My company outsources software development to engineers in the U.S. and also in other parts of the world such as Pakistan, the Philippines and India. I’ve found that as globalization has picked up steam, so has the race to get the best software developers around the world. Many big-name companies are now hiring outside firms to develop their software and handle other technological needs. Some of them outsource their software development to what we call “on-site companies,” where they actually rely on outside firms to staff their technology teams and complete projects on-site. Some do otherwise and hire firms or individuals for off-site work.
Here are some of the pros and cons of outsourcing software development, plus some tips for how to do so successfully.
The Benefits Of Outsourcing
There are many benefits to outsourcing software development. Not only can outsourcing deliver monetary benefits to small and medium enterprises, but it also can provide them with customized expertise to attain short- and long-term relief for their software development needs. According to Deloitte’s 2016 Global Outsourcing Survey, the top motivations for enterprises to outsource include cost-cutting and the abilities to focus on core business functions and solve capability issues.
In my experience, outsourcing software development can offer companies an increased return on investment as well as a competitive edge thanks to articulated team management using renowned technology and communication tools and practicable infrastructure.
The Challenges Of Outsourcing
While outsourcing software development can offer many benefits for a company, there are challenges as well, such as confidentiality and security risks. Maintaining privacy sometimes becomes a troubleshooting experience for enterprises.
The misunderstanding of organizational structure can be another challenge for companies working with outside developers to overcome. It can take time for software developers to understand a company’s working methodologies. In some cases, the productivity level of a software developer can be affected due to a difference in time zones, culture or native language. Due to a difference in culture or language, for example, it is quite possible for software developers to misunderstand messages. The culture/language barrier issue can be multiplied by the misunderstanding of organizational structure.
Tips For Outsourcing Software Development
Despite the challenges, there are many tools at your disposal to help make the process of outsourcing software development smoother. Cybersecurity tools can help firms avoid security risks, for example, while video conferences can help companies overcome some of the communication barriers.
Below are more tips for how companies can successfully outsource software development.
Implement agile methodologies.
Agile methodologies allow firms to keep a check on production and swiftly work during a project’s life cycle. They allow a product’s owner sitting at one end and a software developer at the other end to work together. The product can then be assembled in weekly cycles called sprints by keeping in mind all the technical and business revenue aspects. Through agile, a product owner and the software development team members can fully understand the nature of the project, the target assigned and the goals to be achieved.
Use project management tools.
There are many digital applications available to remind software developers of the list of tasks assigned to them. When there are vast numbers of tasks linked to a project, the nature of it can become complex. Project management applications like Asana, Basecamp and Trello can help software developers manage project tasks, calendars and conversation threads.
Focus on user experience design.
User experience (UX) design can play a key role in the process of outsourcing software development. UX design formulates a client’s requirement into a real-time image. The UX interface is not about just design but also about the functionality of the software. Ask your software development consultant whether they provide UX designers. A UX designer can create a mock-up of a workflow for you, and once it’s approved, then it can be given to software engineers to start developing according to design criteria.
While on one hand, outsourcing software development can allow firms to save money on the cost of creating software and give them access to technological capabilities they don’t have in-house, there also are the challenges such as security risks and communication barriers to consider. When selecting a software developer to outsource a project to, ask about how they handle such challenges. A software developer should be a critical thinker and have flexibility in solving problems. Also ask about their technical expertise, work experience and background. Conduct detailed interviews and coding exercises, if possible, to ensure that the developer is capable of performing the needed tasks.
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