What to Expect When You’re Outsourcing Development

by Nicolas Costa
Blog Post

Is your company looking to outsource app development?

It’s becoming more and more common that even larger, enterprise-level companies often want to outsource development, rather than keeping it in-house. They want to enjoy the efficiencies that outsourcing can provide, while allowing their internal teams to focus on other work.

The question always is though, is outsourcing the best idea? Will the developers you choose deliver the goods?

There can be some amount of fear with the decision to outsource. After all, it may be an expensive project and you’re leaving it in the hands of people who aren’t under your direct supervision. In fact, you may never have met them in-person.

So, why make the decision to outsource and what should you expect from it? Let’s take a look.

Why outsource development?

As mentioned, most companies who outsource do so because in some way it is more efficient than developing in-house. Perhaps you don’t have the expertise – many enterprise IT teams are finding that, while they have highly technically-proficient staff, they may not have specific app development skills.

Another common reason is that you simply don’t have the bandwidth to take on any additional work. Many IT teams are stretched as it is, so adding a new app to their plate will only create delays on current projects.

Perhaps developing an app is a one-off task and you don’t want to spend the time hiring and training someone for it when the role is likely to be temporary. There are a number of good reasons why you might outsource, including some of the other benefits you might receive.

outsourcing app development

Benefits of outsourcing

Here are some of the common benefits you can get from outsourcing:

  • Access to expert developers. If you don’t have that expertise in-house, outsourcing can be the answer to finding highly-qualified developers.
  • Time savings on development. An outsourced team can often work steadily on your project, perhaps even around the clock in different timezones. If you kept it in-house, the app project might be competing with others for resources.
  • Cost savings. Many companies find that it saves them a lot of money if they outsource app development. This can be true whether you’re outsourcing on or offshore. It tends to be cheaper to outsource than hire new employees if needed or take the focus off core projects for your current team members.
  • Compliance may be more straightforward. When you outsource, compliance is part of the deal, so you’re not adding any extra burden to your team for going back and checking any discrepancies.
  • Flexibility. You don’t need to hire and train people or run the whole project. Outsourcing gives you some flexibility to just get on with your regular work.

What to look for in an outsourced team

While there are many possible benefits to outsourcing, of course, all of those depend on finding the right development team. There are numerous stories of companies who struck a badly-managed outsourced team and had projects that dragged on or products which were not up to quality standards.

It’s a good idea to have a set of criteria for outsourcing so that you find one of the many excellent development teams. Here are some of the points we’d recommend for criteria:

Strong portfolio

You don’t just want a “developer”, you want one who speaks the specific language needed to build your app. The best gauge of this is to see a strong portfolio of similar work which they have completed previously.

Preferably, they should have recommendations from past clients and it should be possible to check those references. Any good developer prides themselves on having a strong list of satisfied former clients.

Good communication

It’s a must of outsourced work that there should be strong communication between parties. First of all, you want a developer who is responsive to your initial queries and replies in a timely fashion. Secondly, the developers should have a clear system of communication for throughout the project.

Part of this is about setting expectations. For example, at Koombea we work in agile sprints, then review our week’s work. Usually, we’d communicate with the client at least once a week, so that they are kept in the loop with where their project is at. We also let them know when we need to have any feedback and give them a clear means of communicating.

QA testing

Quality is a major concern for any app development work. Analysis has found that almost three-quarters of apps ship with between one and ten bugs, a figure that shouldn’t be so high if appropriate quality testing is carried out.

Ask the developer early on about QA testing and their approach to it. You’re looking for proficiency and that they use a range of different tests.

Right-sized team

There are development teams large or small, one thing to consider is whether the team is the right size for the project. Small teams may not have the bandwidth to take on larger projects, while at the same time, very large enterprise-focused teams may not be interested in smaller projects (or may not give sufficient attention to them).

This might again be a call based on experience. Has the development team successfully completed projects the size of yours previously?

What to expect from communication

Clear communication is a huge factor in the overall success of your outsourced project, so we wanted to expand on that point a bit further. Besides skill and experience, communication is one of the first things to look out for when outsourcing your development.

Here are the expectations we have:

They set expectations

It’s not that someone should respond to an email within 5 minutes (hopefully they’re busy working on your project!), but they should have been clear about how and when communication will occur.

This includes regular status updates for the project, as well as letting you know how to communicate with them if needed.

They get to know your business

Your project needs to be built to complement your business and its values. No other business is exactly the same as yours, so you should expect a solution that is customized to suit.

This means that the development team should take the time to get to know your business. They need to understand what makes you unique, so they can translate that into a quality app.

They are proactive

Good developers aren’t just order-takers, they listen, observe, ask questions and suggest ideas you may not have specified.

The creation of your app should be a collaborative experience, so that the best possible final result is turned out.

They’re willing to educate

If app development is not your field of expertise, you may not know why one thing is a better idea than another. A good development team should be willing to explain why something matters and how it will be of benefit specifically to your business.

The development process should operate like a partnership and the developer should take the time to explain “what” and “why” in a way that you will understand.

What should you expect?

It can be a bit nerve-wracking when you’re ready to outsource an important development project to an external team, but the right team will make you feel comfortable in trusting them with your work.

Have a set of criteria that your development team must meet as a minimum. Look for a strong portfolio and for recommendations from past clients. Anyone can say they have a certain development skill, but the proof is ultimately in their past experience.

What do you expect when you’re outsourcing development?

Koombea has a strong portfolio of development projects and a focus on quality development. Ask us how we can help you today.

 

by Nicolas Costa
Blog Post