The meaning of Software development Outsourcing?
It is a practice by which organizations delegate certain software development tasks to an external developers instead of using your in-house resources. Outsourcing is now a common practice in nearly every industry. When it comes to the tech field, software application development is the most commonly outsourced IT function, according to Statista.
Should startups outsource software development?
Without the need for renting office space, setting up an entire development infrastructure, and putting together a professional team, outsourcing is faster and more cost-effective than in-house development. But what are the other reasons to outsource software development for startups as well as established businesses?
Access to deep knowledge and experience
It is no secret that software engineering outsourcing is a great way to make up for internal resources you lack, enabling you to focus on your core tasks. But that’s only the tip of the iceberg. In fact, all you have to do is come up with a product idea, and you will immediately have access to a complete package of consulting, analytical, marketing, design, and development services.
Depending on your product type, project specifics, and budget, you can proceed to development or you can start by creating a minimum viable product (MVP) to validate your idea and make initial changes as necessary. In this case, the marketing and design experts of the outsourcing company will help you design the most optimal MVP and then interpret the analytical data it yields.
Project planning, cost estimation, wireframing, UI/UX design, software development — outsourcing companies can do it all. And they do it all, all the time. That’s why they can put together the most optimal project plan for any project.
Access to superior tech talents worldwide
When you decide to outsource your product development, for example, your PLM software development project, you are not limited by your geographical location. Your primary criteria can be the team’s skills and professionalism, not whether they happen to be near your worksite.
Browse the company’s portfolio, look up customers’ feedback, check the reviews, try the products that the company has delivered, and you will be able to find the team that is perfect for your project’s needs. No matter where they are located, whether they work together or remotely, this deep pool of development talent will maximize the creation of your product.
When contemplating collaboration with a team that is half a world away or distributed across many countries, we do recommend considering the cultural differences and taking steps to minimize their influence on the project development process.
Optimal balance of skills and rates
With outsourcing, you can create the perfect balance between the team’s development skills and its rates. The geographic reach of your outsourcing options is broad, with India and Eastern Europe among the best-known software development outsourcing hubs.
The countries of Eastern Europe, such as Ukraine or Belarus, are quickly rising in the outsourcing rankings. Software development companies operating in these countries have demonstrated that they provide quality service with the optimal balance of expertise and creativity.
On top of that, the development rates in Ukraine are significantly lower than those in the US or Western Europe. By outsourcing to Eastern Europe, you are going to get a high quality, professionally delivered product at a considerably lower cost.
Ability to gather the best professional team for the project
If you begin your project by putting together your own startup development team, this will likely throw you off schedule quite considerably.
Remember, for a successful product launch, you need not just developers to write the code and DevOps to deploy the product. To ensure a smooth product release, you also need business analysts, UI/UX designers, QA engineers, and copywriters. Additionally, your project may require highly specialized skills, such as virtual reality or AI. Finding such a broad range of experts may take quite some time. The time that could otherwise be spent doing the actual work on your project.
Usually, software development outsourcing companies already have a complete team on board, or they can quickly recruit known and trusted freelancers to fill positions if they need additional expertise. At the early project planning stage, the project manager is able to propose a team capable of delivering your project and identify the approximate time required from each team member.
No need for micromanagement
When you assign your project to an outsourcing agency, the project is coordinated by a project manager whose job is, as the name suggests, managing outsourced software development. The project manager takes care of all matters related to your product development and launch and will be your main point of contact for any issues that may arise.
You will meet the PM in the very first stage of your project development and will work with them on its plan. Once you have approved the project plan and estimate, it is the responsibility of the project manager to keep to the agreed schedule and budget. Usually, the PM already has tried and tested methodologies for managing remote teams, as well as in-house teams.
It will be the job of the PM to plan the sprints, set the deadlines, control the delivery, schedule, and prepare feature demos. Changes, suggestions, comments, complaints – you can address them to the project manager and have confidence that the required actions will be taken.
Effective communication within the team
The importance of effective communication goes without saying. Fortunately, an outsourcing agency has the tools and platforms for effective communication and collaboration already established and functioning. Preparing a collaboration environment for your project will require minimum time and effort — a workspace in Slack, a project on GitHub, a board in Jira or Trello — and you are basically all set.
When a team is used to working together, all issues, big or small, will be handled in the quickest and the most effective manner.
Besides, in a well-established team, the project manager will have little difficulty finding replacements in the case of illness or another emergency since the primary and secondary skills of the team members are well known.
Application of the Agile methodology
For a startup, adhering to the principle of lean development is often critical. Doing so allows delivering a product with minimal unnecessary expenses or tasks resulting from incorrect management, poor communication, excessive complexity, or other issues related to the project coordination.
The Agile methodology favors the lean approach. In the most common model, the product creation process is broken down into sprints that are usually two weeks long. Each sprint has a goal (the product increment), which is typically a feature or functional component. After the product increment is developed, it is then tested and demonstrated at the end of the sprint.
Agile allows for revision on the go and adapting the development process to changed requirements. Over the lifecycle of a project, this reduces the need to redo finished components to a minimum.
In the course of project development, the scope of the project may either grow or reduce, with resulting changes that need to be implemented. If this happens, the initially selected team should be scaled up or down. It’s arduous to do that with in-house development.
And anyone who has built an in-house team knows that it is not easy to quickly find another team member with the required skills, especially if those skills are needed only for a single project. If you need to reduce the team, you will either have to dismiss people and risk being unable to replace their skill set in the future or continue paying their salaries to keep them onboard for future projects.
With software development outsourcing, you can avoid these problems because the agency usually has sufficient staff to cover your project needs. And when unique skills are required, they can contract a trusted freelancer or part-time team member on an hourly basis as needed. Similarly, reducing the team is no problem for an outsourcing agency since they may be running more than one project at the same time and can transfer the colleague to another assignment.
The practice of startup outsourcing has been around for quite a while, with a list of successfully outsourced projects easily in the hundreds, if not thousands, and the geographic scope covering the entire planet. Opera, Slack, and MySQL are great examples of successful outsourcing. Do you want to join the satisfied and successful crowd?
The Cons of software development outsourcing
Of course, outsourcing is not a panacea. Whenever you assign a project to a new team, you run a certain risk. Even with good reviews and positive first contacts, there is still a chance of miscommunications, delays, features developed differently than you expected, and other challenges.
Critics of outsourcing point to a lack of transparency. With outsourcing or offshoring, information about quality control and labor conditions are often missing from your effort to gain insights into the company processes and activities.
So, how do you outsource the development of software to a third-party vendor with minimum risk? Start by contracting an agency for a small task. Make a detailed agreement specifying the quality, deadlines, rates, acceptance criteria. If you are satisfied with their performance, go ahead and sign a contract for a larger chunk of functionality or even for the complete project.
On the other hand, if you see that the agency is not up to the task, you can cancel the agreement at any time (just check the contract carefully, so you don’t run into legal troubles).
Under some contracts, you can terminate the agreement and still keep the developed project components. That allows you to start looking for a new software development outsourcing company to pick up where the first left off.
Software development outsourcing models
The outsourcing software development process involves more than simply paying a third-party vendor to code something for you. In fact, the development begins with the selection of an outsourcing model.
Here, we’ll discuss three main options: time and material (T&M), fixed price (FT), and dedicated team. Let’s explore each one in more detail.
Time and material
Using T&M, the client pays for the time spent exclusively on the development. This model is best suited for small or medium projects without predetermined requirements. It is also ideal for projects that require only limited resources (1-3 resources).
- Flexibility. Since the initial specifications are unsettled, the client can quickly change the work plan if circumstances require. As a result, T&M combines ideally with various agile methodologies.
- Client engagement. Due to the adoption of agile methodologies, the client can see all stages of development. This increases the likelihood that the end result will align with the client’s expectations.
- Budget. Undefined requirements make budget estimations challenging.
- Slow time-to-market. T&M involves lots of communication throughout the project, which slows down the process.
The fixed-priced model assumes that both parties agree in advance on the specifications, project scope, and of course, the price, hence the name. Since modifications are not an option, this model works best for small projects. FP is a perfect solution when you are testing the waters with a new software development vendor.
- Specifications. You will get what you need, within budget.
- Time-to-market. Since the time frames are agreed upon in advance, the project is more likely to be delivered on time.
- Risks. The FP model doesn’t leave room for any changes, making risk management extremely difficult.
With the dedicated team model, throughout the project, the client pays a fixed monthly salary to the hired specialists in addition to administrative costs. This collaboration type is well-suited for long-term projects with vague requirements and large in-house projects when the client’s staff lacks specific expertise.
- Control. The client has full control over their dedicated team and the workload.
- No onboarding hustle. Since the vendor handles all the hiring and administrative tasks, you can focus all of your attention on the business aspects of a project.
- Unclear requirements. The lack of well-formed specifications gives a remote team room for creativity, which can result in discrepancies between the client’s expectations and the end result. You can leverage those experiments with a top-rated software development vendor.
For ease of reference, Relevant’s dedicated software development team have summarized the key aspects of each model in the table below:
|Project size||Medium, small||Small||Large|
|Price type||An hourly wage||A fixed price for the entire project||Fixed salaries for individual resources|
As you can see, there are no right or wrong models. Your choice will depend on your business type and project requirements.
How to set up your outsourcing strategy?
Increasing productivity, improving product quality, and saving costs are only a few of the benefits outsourced software development has to offer. You won’t successfully outsource IT development without thorough planning, though, so having a solid outsourcing strategy is the first step toward hiring a vendor to cater to your needs. But how can you create one? Below are a few things for you to consider.
Define your goals
Reducing cost is a common reason to outsource, but it’s not the only good reason to do so — don’t limit yourself to searching for a vendor based solely on price. Capitalizing on advanced technologies, streamlining processes, and reducing the risk of business expansion are other benefits of outsourcing. Your goals should be realistic, well-balanced, and achievable.
Define tasks for delegation
While some companies are known for coding excellence, others offer stellar consulting services. To find a perfect outsourcing fit, it’s critical to define exactly which tasks you want to outsource.
Hint: at the beginning of your outsourcing journey, delegate tasks that are of less importance to you.
Determine your technological profile
Since software development outsourcing usually takes place in a remote setup, it’s crucial that your vendor has a technological profile suited to your needs. To this end, we recommend making a list of the resources your project requires. And don’t forget about security and data protection features since data leakage is not uncommon.
Establish a good job climate
Foster good relationships between your staff and outsourced employees: inform them of the outsourcing goals, avoid rumors, and close any cultural gap between your team and your vendor’s team. Make sure your company is actually ready for changes.
How is software development usually done?
No matter how complex a software product is, it needs to be flexible, easy-to-maintain, and upgradable. This can be achieved by planning each step in advance, from brainstorming to maintenance. Phases of the software development life cycle (SDLC) differ from vendor to vendor. At Relevant, they are:
- Deployment and maintenance
Let’s examine each one more closely.
Every project starts with an idea. However, ideas don’t come out of nowhere. First, you must identify a business need and then consider ways to bring it to life. In most cases, the project initiation phase includes the following:
- Conducting a feasibility study to evaluate the likelihood of successful project completion and to minimize possible risks
- Determining the project’s scope
- Identifying deliverables (the project’s expected results)
- Identifying stakeholders
- Developing a business case that provides the justification for undertaking the project
- Developing a statement of work that specifies the project’s objective(s), scope, and deliverables
The planning phase typically includes the following components:
- creating a project plan
- building your team
- identifying the role of each team member
- estimating the budget
- making sure everyone has the necessary resources (both hardware and software)
- anticipating risks.
A critical component is to make sure that the necessary development tools, platforms, and communication channels are all available and accessible. Basically, you want to ensure flawless daily processing without draining resources from or interfering with your ongoing development.
Another cornerstone of your success is well-organized documentation. Consistency around documentation at every stage is vital for maintaining proper communication, work processes, reporting, and facilitating interaction between team members.
It’s strongly recommended that you summarize everything done during the planning stage with a software requirements specification (SRS) — a document that specifies what a product should do and how it should be developed.
Design is a crucial component of the software project’s lifecycle. It may include the following:
- Architecture — the overall design of the product
- User interface — the way users will interact with the product and how it will respond
- The definition of platforms on which the product will run (Android, iOS, etc.)
- Communications — ways the product will communicate with other assets (the central server, for example)
- Security — measures to protect the app from data leakages, such as SSL encryption, password protection, and the like
The design phase may also involve creating a prototype, the visual representation of how the project looks and works.
As the backbone of the SDLC, this stage is all about ‘translating’ the product’s design into the actual software.
While a small project can be completed by a single developer, for large projects, all tasks are divided among team members based on their areas of expertise. Thus, a front-end developer builds the product’s UI and its communication with the server; database administrators add all the necessary data to the database.
It’s vitally important to make sure that the code meets the project’s requirements and lives up to the stakeholder’s expectations. No wonder that this stage is the longest. Yet, if the ideation and planning were carefully completed, it’s also the easiest one.
The goal of this phase is to build a working product and a source code document.
As soon as the development phase is completed, it’s time for QA experts to check if it meets all the requirements. For this purpose, the software undergoes several types of testing:
- Functional testing, to verify that the software performs its stated functions in a way users expect
- Performance testing, to see how the software performs under a heavy workload
- Unit testing, to make sure that each module performs as expected
- Security testing, to ensure that the software is free from risks and threats that can cause data leakage
- Usability testing, to find out if the software is intuitive and responsive
Once an identified error is fixed, developers then forward the software back to the QA team for re-testing. This process repeats until the entire product is bug-free.
Deployment and maintenance
As soon as the testing phase is successfully completed, and there are no identifiable bugs or other imperfections in the product, it is delivered to the market for beta testing. During the beta testing, the support team collects user feedback, and if any problems arise, the development team fixes them.
Only after the product is fine-tuned in response to real-world feedback is it finally rolled out to the market. Its life cycle doesn’t end there: instead, the product is regularly updated to improve performance and cater to the ever-changing needs of its users.