7 best practices to know about before you outsource software

Say, you have the idea for a great app or you need to get your existing app updated. You are thinking of outsourcing the development because you don't want to manage a dev team or you just don't have the bandwidth with you current team. So you think your next step should be: start looking for team. No it isn't. Because even before you start looking for a software development partner you should know about the best practices for outsourcing software. Once you know about these you'll be much better armed to start the process and move it forward. Here is a quick list of the top seven best practice that, I think, anyone considering outsourcing should be aware of.

1. Know the reason(s) why you are outsourcing

Ask yourself "Do I really need to outsource?". Once you know the exact reasons and make a list of them for future reference. They will guide you through the process and make it easy to make decisions. Make sure that your software development project is appropriate for outsourcing. You benefit the most from this process when you need specialized expertise that you don't have in-house, need extra support for the project, or don't have the time to handle it yourself. 

2. Find the partner that is the right fit for you

Find an outsourcing partner that you trust with your project. You want a company with a great reputation that's known for delivering results. Check with your peers and read through reviews to determine whether they would be a good fit for your needs. But don't just stop at that point, what may be perfect for another company may not be right for you. See if the partner's work culture fits with your one, if their working times and communications matches your preference. 

3. Cost should never be the only reason 

Look beyond price during your selection process. You may be looking into software outsourcing as a cost-efficient option for your development needs, but you need to ensure that you end up with a quality product at the end of the project. 

4. Scope out your project well

Make sure you have a detailed document of the software you want to build. If you don't have that already use that scoping work as the trial project to test a potential partner. But whatever you do, provide a detailed project scope so everyone is on the same page with expectations. Have a procedure in place for handling any additional work that falls outside of this. You don't want to have a project endlessly delayed because you keep adding features and requests. 

5. Setup strong communications channels

Put strong communications channels in place so it's easy for you to reach out to the outsourced software developers and vice versa. You don't want poor communication to make the project take longer than it should or result in something that doesn't meet your original vision. Setup multiple channels but choose one as the preferred one. So you can have slack, emails, messengers, Skype, telephone, screensharing tools even issue trackers as the place to discuss but make sure everyone knows that one of them is the first place to try. 

6. Stay involved with the project

Stay involved with the development. Outsourcing doesn't let you simply wait until the outsourcing partner finishes the work, without any input on your part. Check-in with progress, find out if they need any resources from you to complete tasks, and take ownership of this process. 

7. Use a task management tool

You must use a project management or task management system to monitor development. It doesn't matter how simple your application is or how short your project is likely to be, you have to keep track of the tasks. You can get a good sense of the pace and whether certain tasks are stalling out your outsourced partner. 

Outsourcing software development is a valuable strategy to help you get your company's needs met. But it can go wrong very easily. This list is a start, but it is essential that you know this list well so that you can find the right partner and setup a process that can maximize your chances for success with the outsourcing.  

I was spoilt for choice when it came to selecting the Dilbert strip for this one. Dilbert's outsourcing land is of course Elbonia and there are many communications with the Elbonians. Here is a good one that goes pretty well with message of this article.