To achieve effective software system development requires knowledge, expertise and process. Whilst many companies have some level of IT and software expertise, when considering a new project, the business needs to decide if firstly it has suitable expertise and secondly if the capacity is available. In considering this it may make more sense to consider outsourcing. Obviously using a third party to carry out tasks is a key business decision. This post aims to alleviate concerns and provide guidance on how to outsource software development effectively.
There is an overall mistrust in outsourcing due to press reports of many failed outsourcing projects. Looking at the root cause of these failures typically shows mis-selling and poor process. The reality is that there are many excellent outsourcing companies that have proved that outsourcing can be a positive experience with tangible results. Rather than working with freelancers, look towards using companies with positive reviews for their outsourcing projects. These companies will have defined outsourcing processes in place, will have professional credentials (ISO9001:2015 Quality System) in place, will be effective communicators and the importance of team working.
How to Find an Outsourcing Company:
There is no shortage of people that can write code. But an effective project requires a company that understands business and is able to effectively communicate with the business at all levels to understand project need and has a proven track record of successful project delivery. Ideally the company will have previous industry knowledge and completed a similar project in the past.
The Project Development Process:
An effective software development process is key to a project's success. Businesses looking to outsource should take time to understand the process that is being proposed and feel comfortable that that process fits with your company's culture. An effective outsourcing company will have a well-documented development process and be able to explain how that process has been successfully applied in other similar projects.
A key element of a successful project is establishing the business need or in software terms the software system requirements. These requirements are what the system design and implementation will be based upon and the basis on which the system will be verified. These requirements may have been written or partially written by yourselves. If not is important to find a company that will work with you (typically using workshops) to establish and document the requirements (for either the whole project or phase of a project) to a point where both side are in agreement. Once the requirements are agreed you should expect to see a project schedule with set important milestones dates defined and an overall costing for the project. Once a project is complete what are the project deliverables? Yes, you want a working system but has that project been documented to a level that you would allow you to maintain it internally or pass to another outsourcing company. Check your outsourcing companies approach to these key project elements they should be able to answer your questions by showing approaches taken on previous projects.
In summary, outsourcing your software development can be extremely successful and cost-effective approach to software product development. Take your time to research your outsourcing company and look for evidence of their approach by asking to see projects they have undertaken for other companies.