Outsourcing software is simple when you ask the right questions

Outsourcing of software can bring strategic advantages over in-house development. Outsourcing is so popular that its market size values more than $65 billion. Software outsourcing is one of the subsegments that has registered rapid growth and is forecasted to continue to expand because organisations prefer to hire experts to develop software rather than to train or hire.

But working with the wrong partner is risky because failure is the guaranteed outcome when you don’t hire the right developer. So how can you make sure you hire the right company?

You need to ask the right questions.

And if you have no idea what they are, then we have a checklist.

## Did you handle similar projects?

Their experience in completing tasks similar to yours shows how successful they are at developing the software you need. Would you hire a plumber who has zero experience?

Focus on projects from the same industry as yours, with similar requirements, technical stacks and features. Did they work with similar companies (in focus, style, and size)?

Go through their portfolio to see what products they developed, and ask them if you can test one of their solutions. When the team has experience in working in your domain, they have a better understanding of the project and can solve problems during the development phase.

## Can I speak with former clients (from the same industry as mine)?

The best way to get feedback is to contact former clients who can share their experience. Speaking with clients offers an independent look at the performance of the products they develop. Ask them to provide references from the same industry as yours because they can offer the most relevant feedback.

Ask the clients to offer an assessment of their experience with the software company. Ask them how well the software developer organised the project, and what the quality of the final product was.

And don’t forget to check how they handled pressure and deadlines because you want to know how flexible they are.

## Do you understand my business goals and target audience?

To create a successful product, the software developer needs to correctly understand your business model, target public, and needs. You can use a product workshop tool to share information and create a software prototype.

It’s essential developers and clients to be on the same page. A deep understanding of the expectations of the audience, and the business goals ensures an app tailored to the client’s needs.

If the software developer fails to understand the goals, target audience or business model, they cannot create a product that speaks to your public.

When the company doesn’t mention words like proof of concepts, prototypes, minimum viable product, and wireframes in their quote, they probably have no tool they use to understand your requirements. If you’re not happy with their answer, ask them a direct question. How do you make sure you don’t miss the goals?

## Do you offer long-term support?

The job of the software company doesn’t end when they deliver the product. You need additional support to modify it according to the feedback the users provide. You need to upgrade it to fit the requirements of the market. And you need to change its features to keep up with your company’s evolution.

Outsourcing of software implies finding a partner that supports you in the long term. When your software developer doesn’t offer assistance for the long haul, you don’t have full access to your software, and it cannot support your business growth.

Don’t assume that once they deliver the product their work is done. The job of a software developer is never over because as long as you’ll use the app, you’ll always need assistance.

## How will we communicate?

Communication is the key to every successful project. You need to know how often you communicate with the developer and what tools they use to facilitate communication. Do they prefer Slack for instant messaging? Are they more into video conferences? Do they use a project management board you can access? Make sure you use solutions you’re familiar with.

Don’t communicate through a third person, especially if they aren’t part of the project. Direct communication prevents misunderstandings and keeps you informed about the progress.

You should also make sure you can quickly contact them to communicate any changes.

## Can I visit a local office?

It’s common for organisations to hire off-shore companies when they outsource projects. But some software developing companies also have local teams you can contact to develop face-to-face relationships.

If you are the type of business manager who prefers direct interactions with the people you hire, check if the company you plan to hire has a local office you can visit.

Building software is a bumpy process and you may need face-to-face conversation to make sure they understand the features you want the app to include. Take time to research for companies and identify the ones that operate in your area. Only because you outsource software development it doesn’t mean you need to hire an off-shore brand.

## What does the development process look like?

Make sure the process is organised. Do they follow SCRUM? Do they have daily meetings to check on the progress of the project? Do they meet with you weekly? All these interactions influence your collaboration because they must consult you at every step to ensure they get the software right.

Ask them how the developing team works, how they share tasks, what steps the building process implies, and how much time does it take for designing, creating, and testing the software.

Final thoughts

Creating software to improve your business effectiveness is exciting. But you aren’t in the driving seat for this project and you must make sure that the driver can take you to your destination. You need the software firm to convince you they can deliver a product that meets your ideas.

You want them to get it right the first time to save money and time, so evaluate them thoroughly before handling them your baby.