Increasing numbers of businesses are choosing to offshore their development projects, for both smaller, defined projects and through a long-term outsourcing partnership model. Your organization may have even tried it as a way to get access to highly skilled software development experts for less cost, and scale development resources up and down as you need them. But more often than not, we hear about IT outsourcing failures. People say things like: “The offshore developers just didn’t understand our needs” or “They developed a completely wrong thing” and “We missed all possible deadlines because of communication issues”.
Here are the three major issues that you most probably will encounter when working with an outsourcing programming team:
- Communication difficulties
- Quality of the development provided
- Lack of physical proximity to the development teams
Communication is key to any successful project development. It can become the difference between a success and a failure of an IT outsourcing project. Most often, the outsourcing firm will have language barriers and huge time difference with you, which means, you need to come up with a perfect communication pattern with your offshore team.
Bad communication bears a risk for your offshore programming team to misunderstand your project requirements. You may have heard many firms complain about the “poor quality code” that they received when outsourcing overseas, or statements that the developers “didn’t get it.” In most cases, offshore developers fail to meet expectations not because of their professional ability, but because they misunderstood the project requirements.
How to solve this issue?
Never let a software developer to guess at what you want built:
- While there are many different paths to building the same product, not all may be acceptable to you. To avoid disappointment, clearly define your requirements. It is important to approach the requirements development phase of a project as the most critical to complete, prior to starting development
- When considering an outsourcing team, evaluate what processes they have in place for gathering project requirements and for translating these requirements into system specifications that the developers can use. A good outsourcing firm will have a project manager with excellent knowledge of English to keep constant communication with you
- In order to have a better control over your outsourcing project, agree on the project management path at the beginning of the project. How often do you want to get updates on the project development? Do you want to review the code every day? Depending on the size and complexity of your outsourcing project, the project management might vary. Find the one that suits you best
Quality of provided service
Bugs are an indispensable part of any software development project. No matter how good your team is, you will need to check your software for bugs and issues. A major issue with outsourcing your development project is that you cannot be sure if they have an adequate QA/testing processes in place.
How to solve this issue?
Before hiring an outsourcing team, make sure they have a good QA process set up. Good outsourcing teams have their own QA testers that work with the developers to implement a test plan for your software. Carefully check that your outsourcing team’s QA process, including tracking and documentation. The process should be compatible with industry standards.
Also, don’t fully trust your outsourcing partners. It is crucial that you also test your software before it is released.
Lack of physical proximity to the development teams
Lack of physical proximity is an issue on two levels: communication barriers and different internal processes.
Each development firm will have their own management processes and methodologies set up. To decrease the risk of failure, you need to analyze and understand their processes before getting started.
To solve the issues associated with differing processes:
- Agree upon a consistent methodology based upon industry best practices that your firm and the outsourcing team will follow prior to starting the project
- Monitor compliance with the agreed-upon standard
- Set up specific times to clarify and answer questions
- Weekly team meetings and status reports to keep you updated
Offshore outsourcing provides numerous benefits from improved productivity to reduced costs. However, it is a complex process to manage, so you need to plan thoroughly to get the expected result on time and within your budget.