Five Tips To Manage Outsourced Software Providers
Outsourcing phases of software development can help smaller software development companies compete with larger companies. It can also help larger companies reduce costs. That said, managing outsourced software providers can be trickier than managing your in-house team.
With a few proactive tips, however, you can make the most of your outsourced and near-sourced software developers and ensure that each project goes smoothly.
1. Appoint a dedicated project manager.
Without a leader, a team flounders. When outsourcing some or all of your software development, appointing a project manager is critical to ensure that the project is completed on time and on budget. Your project manager should be someone experienced in directing a team with various backgrounds. It’s a plus if they speak the language of the country from which your company outsources your software development.
2. Interview your potential providers thoroughly.
With outsourcing and near-sourcing, much of the vetting for a potential software developer is done remotely, so make sure you conduct incisive, thoughtful interviews. Ask for examples of similar projects and for references. The software developer you choose should also match the unmet needs for your project.
3. Be upfront with expectations.
The more detail that you can provide your remote software developers, the better.
Make sure you’re upfront with how you expect communication (daily emails, weekly project reports, etc.), and that you’ve provided a timeline for each part of the project. If you’re using a communications platform (such as JIRA or Slack) make sure that your whole team understands how to use it. If you do so, these are great to help with questions as they arise, monitor the progress of each contributor and ensure clear-cut communication with everyone on the team.
4. Have quantifiable metrics for evaluation.
Measuring success should be as quantifiable as possible. With your instructions, include tech specifications, any applicable manuals and business logic as well as guidelines for test schedules and reporting criteria. Develop a reasonable timeline for each part of the project, deadlines for remote workers and allow for some leeway for unexpected concerns. Finally, make sure that you include software architectural details, including:
• Description of each element.
• Program source code.
• Integration with different platforms.
5. Understand cultural differences.
One mistake that some software development companies make is failing to take into account cultural differences when communicating with their outsourced team. Creating an effective work environment goes beyond simply completing each programming task on time. When you have a diverse team, the way they communicate with one another is as important as anything else.
Here are some things to consider when looking for your outsourcing provider:
• Time zone and location. Some of your team may be sleeping while others are working, which can make having questions answered in a timely manner challenging.
• Offensive words or phrases. Many people may speak in idioms or act more casually when communicating, and this can unintentionally offend someone of a different culture. Also, understand whether humor has a place in communication and political ideology (although politics shouldn’t ideally enter the workplace).
• Organizational hierarchy. If you have veteran employees, but bring in remote workers for a certain part of your project, understanding who reports to whom and who is equal in terms of organizational hierarchy can prevent territorial bickering.
• Business ethics. These can vary between cultures.
• Standard working days and hours. Some of your employees may work a set 9-to-5 schedule, while contract workers may set their own hours, focusing on the finished product and deadlines instead of working certain hours.
• How each team member should be addressed. Whether it’s a first-name basis or more formally.
The best-outsourced projects are ones with clear direction and the right amount of attention and understanding. Remember, your outsourced software providers work for you, even if they aren’t employees of your company. Outline your expectations as well as your timelines for completion and how you expect the final product to operate. With proper oversight, outsourced and nearshore software developers can be a great addition to your team.