Nowadays there is a growing tendency to outsource some of the company's departments and according to the statistics the second most popular outsourced sector is IT (43%). This allows many businesses to cut costs, have a better access to talent and focus on their core functions rather than the technical side of projects. You can see the list of pros and cons of outsourcing here.
So what is the right way to choose an outsourcing development company? I guess, there isn't, but what we do recommend is not to rush, think wisely and follow some basic advice. The first thing you need to do is to clarify for yourself what IT tasks have to be outsourced. This may include:
- Business applications design and development,
- Website and mobile app updates,
- Hardware services,
- Server administration,
- QA & testing,
- Software troubleshooting.
The next thing many businessmen do is they Google keywords of the required services and go for the lowest prices. Remember, you get what you pay for. The lowest does not mean the best. Thus, there is little chance to find a good outsourcing company that way. You will have to make an effort in order to analyze the matter deeply enough. Rushing can result in losing money, not saving it.
Making the right choice
So the question is what the main criteria when choosing the right outsourcing software development company is.
The first thing many people base their opinion on is the quality of the product. You need to make sure that the company you are hiring has the right IT professionals with enough knowledge and professionality to do the job. They should be able to apply necessary frameworks and tools to ensure progress and efficient work.
And this should not come as a surprise when choosing a development company. The trick is that it is really difficult to make the right choice in the sphere where you are not an expert. But do not panic if you haven't spent a dozen years learning to code - it is not the end of the game for you.
You can give your future employees a programming skills test, study their portfolios, as well as the company's references. This may help you to assess their trustworthiness and experience. Also, you can have the code reviewed. Hiring a project manager, who is an expert in technology, will facilitate the process of choosing as well. I find the last option to be more reliable as others give room for cheating (like enumerating irrelevant/ non-existing projects or Googling test answers).
The next important factor on your checklist should be the ability to communicate successfully. Culture, traditions and, of course, language should be acceptable. They do not have to be similar to yours. You should simply make sure that the people you hire have the necessary attitude to deadlines and do not, for example, have week-long national holidays during your busiest time of the year. Obviously, you must have at least one common language. While completing the project, your people will have to interact closely and frequently, so you'd better make certain that they are able to do it.
Also, I would recommend you to find out about the culture inside the developing company, their values and if they promote personal growth. I strongly believe that a talented technical engineer, who either has communication problems or is unhappy at work, can ruin all the efforts you have made earlier.
You will obviously need a project manager with good communication skills who will make sure that you are heard. This will help you to shed light on the progress of your project (tracking developer performance, getting feedback, managing teams, setting milestones and observing deadlines).
An outsourcing company, which is located in the right time zone, will obviously be a great benefit. However, having at least 1 or 2 overlapping working hours to discuss daily progress and further development plans is usually enough.
Also, it will be beneficial for you if the company you are choosing has experience in the same sector or geographical area. This will increase the chances of better understanding and sometimes even finding the best way of achieving your goal. Previous experience will help the company to be in the know concerning your local business culture and work ethics.
There is one more point to be considered here. You have to clarify and agree upon the currency. The best scenario is when yours is stronger than that of the development company, so you may be lucky and pay less for the same quality.
Keep your eyes open
Here's some final piece of advice for you.
- Make sure that you know who is who on your team and that there will not be uncontrollable staff rotations. Good outsourcing companies have a busy schedule and the specialist you interviewed a week ago may be engaged in another project today. So, if you want the developers assigned to your project to pass some skill tests, leave this till a later stage when you are ready to actually start the cooperation. Instead, discuss the overall development process, plans and estimates first. Also, a frequent change of team players on both sides is not good and it is something to be discussed before making the choice.
- While choosing, try to focus on human factor, not only technical expertise. We work with humans not robots yet, so meet your new team, assess their personal qualities especially if you have a long-term project. Sometimes a dedicated and eager employee can do way more than an experienced but arrogant one.
- Make certain you create a positive image of your company as well. This can be achieved by keeping your promises, paying on time, avoiding frequent rescheduling and trying not to change the requirements every week. Make your business interaction simple and reliable.
- Provide clear specifications for your project but do not make a book out of them. Ideally, they should be presented on the initial stage of the project, this will help you to make sure that in the end you will get what you really want.
- Don't forget to stay flexible in terms of time. This will give room - or rather time - for you to make some small but desirable changes. Also, do not forget that debugging can be unpredictable. So in order to have a neat working project in the end, plan wisely to make sure you are not missing all deadlines.
- Always try to assign a small test project before agreeing to a long term relationship. If you like how everything was done – they are exactly who you need.
I hope this article helped you to get a rough picture of the most essential points on how to choose an outsourcing IT development company. Of course, even if you follow all the steps, there is always a probability for you to come across some unreliable foxy Bob. But making your choice with enough thought and attention will reduce such chances to a minimum.