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June 25, 2014

3 Questions to Ask When Choosing Your Outsourcing Partner

During a visit with a client and a business development VP from one of our partners in Argentina who happened to be in town we met for breakfast at the Café de la Presse in San Francisco (which I recommend you try if you’re ever in the area), and as I was enjoying my breakfast and watching the interaction between the two, I realized how proud I was to make the connection and introduce this partner to the client.

Of course I was proud – I brought these two together knowing that they would work together well. But the question I’m often asked is how do you know when an outsourcing partner is good?

There are 3 major things we look for when we assess a partner. In my experience, these 3 indicators give the best insight into future success.

Is it an Engineering Culture or a Business Culture?

The first thing we look for in an outsourcing company is intelligent people who know how to recruit additional talent. Additionally, they speak directly to the needs and the concerns of a client: “What kind of company is this?” “Are they just going to throw programmers at me?” “Are they going to provide a competent service that I can talk to as a technologist and solve the problems that I have?” A good outsourcing company will employ fellow problem solvers and engineers.

When a company has an engineering culture of a company and perhaps a CEO who is an engineer by training, is an indication that the company will work with you to solve problems. When you have a new problem, many companies will help you, but their help will always be measured in terms of dollars and cents. The technical buyers will be attracted to companies that want to help because they are sharing the journey and doing what is necessary to get the job done. You are not going to skip over the payment part of the relationship, but it shouldn’t be the primary factor, which brings me to the second thing that I look for when choosing an outsourcing company.

Are They Solution Oriented or Profit Oriented?

You must have a passion for solving problems and for developing quality software, rather than just making money. I have always advised entrepreneurs in the Silicon Valley: Don’t start a company because you want to be a millionaire; start it because you have a passion for solving the problem or providing value to customers. Similarly for software outsourcing you want to find a company with an established track record for demonstrating passion and solving problems, and that is what will bring you success in the long run. Of course everyone wants and needs to get paid for their work, but that shouldn’t be the first priority for your potential outsourcing partner.

Do They Have a Track Record?

Long-term success is the third thing that I look for when choosing an outsourcing company. The fact that the company I referred to my client during our breakfast meeting had a track record – they started the company in 1993 and have been in business for 20 years – demonstrates that they have a lot of experience and that they have not been driven out of business. They have been successful for other clients and they can be successful for you.

So software outsourcing companies should:

  • Have an engineering culture versus a business culture
  • Be solution oriented versus profit oriented
  • Show a history of success

There are many software companies, and many of them have these qualities. We can help you find the right software outsourcing company for you.


Andy Hilliard

As CEO, Andy leads and advocates for the globalization and collaboration of great software teams with companies in search of talent, innovation and a globally-distributed extension of their engineering function and culture. Andy founded the ground-breaking nearshore software development services company, Isthmus Costa...

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