Is your business ready to take the next step and hire an outsourcing company? Before signing the papers, you must consider these 7 tips before outsourcing a new software product.
Regardless of whether or not your company has a development team, you may have decided it is the moment to outsource a new project.
Maybe you do not have the technical expertise to develop your product yourself, or you do not have the needed amount of people that such development requires. In either case, outsourcing may be the best option to consider.
Now that you have taken the decision to outsource, you should know what things to review beforehand, even prior to signing any contract. So, what do you consider before outsourcing a software product? Take note of the following 7 tips based on our 17+ years of experience, and plan your development in the right way:
1. Have a vision
It seems obvious, but many companies forget to think about a vision (one that clearly represents your company’s interests). Having a clear vision of where you want to be in the future will set the basis for what should be developed in the mid and long-term.
A vision will also set what and why you are doing specific tasks. Here is a good example: Our company will have 30% off their retail transactions online, or our customers will buy our product because we offer the best online store. This will help you –and the outsourced company– to define what kind of software product you will need. The main concepts and interpretations about what you really need for your new project begin right here!
2. Be specific and define a clear goal
It is normal for us to have ambition for everything we would like to achieve with a software product from the start; however, this may lead us to be unclear about what we really want. Keep in mind that a single solution may not solve all your problems, so first think: What do you want the new system to do for you?
A big part of the development’s success relies on how well-defined your objective is. Being as specific as possible not only helps you to narrow down its scope but also to define the functionalities that development will require.
A good well-defined goal should be measurable. Instead of setting a goal such as, improve the existing buying workflow, try to determine what an improvement could be for you, like, shorten the steps to complete the buying workflow into two steps for new customers. Then you can add the specific details to the goal or you could even break it down into several smaller achievements.
This advice sounds like old news, and even though you might not believe it, most of the mistakes, delays, and misunderstandings during the development process could be because of the lack of a good definition of your goals. Do not waste time and money, and think clearly!
3. The need is not the objective, determine it
You can bring in and attract customers to your online store, and what you need in order to do so is a platform (application) that is easy to use and intuitive. You might want your sales team to optimize time during a certain activity, and the means to achieve that could be counting on a mobile app for employees that allows them to load information faster. That is the difference between goals and needs.
Consider the following:
- Write your needs down, as well as the functionalities the solution must have in order to solve them.
- Answer the 5Ws: What do you need? Why do you need it? Who is going to use it? Where is it going to be used? When should it be available? If you have an idea of how to do it (an approach of technologies, languages, etc.), it will also help to take note of that!
- Never consider everyone as your target: Your software product always responds to specific needs for specific users. Take time to know the audience very well that would take advantage of your software solution.
4. Define a logical growth strategy
The definition of needs and objectives is key when you are planning a new software product, but establishing a growth strategy will also help you to devise the roadmap for development.
This is definitely one must when you are asking yourself what to consider before outsourcing a software product.
Doing this will also help to detect the scope and create a forecast of how much your software needs to grow in the near future in order to accomplish the strategy
The development of a given product can change dramatically based on the expected growth that you can predict. You can consider targeting a small user group for your new product, but you would want it to scale well for millions. In that case, you need to evaluate if the growth may change very fast or if you expect a slow and steady increase.
This decision would help the outsourcing company to determine if they have to plan ahead for an exponential explosion of users or if they can start with a very simple product that can be put in production quickly while preparing a second version that would require much more time. In any case, it would probably take very different efforts and therefore, more time and money.
Without a growth strategy to follow, it will be difficult to build and develop!
Content related: 8 benefits of working with an offshore software development center
5. Agree on the type of contract you want to sign
Cost-saving is probably the most important reason and benefit of outsourcing. That is why choosing the best pricing model between Time and Materials or Fixed-price contracts has such relevance.
This decision will depend on the type of project, the time required, the budget, and the solution’s scope, among other factors. However, before deciding if outsourcing is good for you, you should know the advantages and disadvantages of either one.
Keep these in mind:
- A fixed-bid contract is the best option if it is a small solution and the requirements are completely and clearly defined.
- Time & Materials will offer you flexibility on the development. The requirements can also evolve as development progresses.
- Fixed Price can be limited with regard to the client’s participation.
- Agile methodologies (Scrum, Kanban) are usually used in a Time & Materials contract, which guarantee more and better communication between your company and the contractor.
6. Do not just consider the price
Many times, cheap ends up being expensive, and if you are outsourcing your software product, you should be careful with this.
What do you consider before outsourcing a software product? It is definitely good that you take the time to look in-depth into the experience with clients and industries and the knowledge in technologies and methodologies that the vendor has.
There are many ways to measure quality software, and beyond the price, you must ensure you will get quality, support, and sustainability.
7. Think, speak, and develop Agile
In the current software development world, the use of Agile methodologies is an almost required skill in any outsourcing company.
Generally, you need to take your software product from paper to reality in the shortest time possible. That is why the use of Agile principles promote rapid responses, adaptive planning, fluent dialogue between the parties, and speed in the processes.
Be sure the chosen outsourcing company has expertise in Agile, the trends, and best practices in software development.
To Sum Up
Once you have decided to work with an outsourcing software company, there are several things you can start defining for the future. Be ready to make this step and consider all these tips before outsourcing a software product.
Think hard –this is a major decision– write it down, and plan based on your budget, your vision and goals, your needs, the quality you expect, and your future projects, among other aspects.
Never forget this: If you do not plan, it will not happen!
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