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March 10, 2016

5 Ways to Keep Software Outsourcing Engagements On Track

5 tips for keeping software development outsourcing on trackCommunication challenges ware common when it comes to organization and tracking progress of your software development. Risks increase with outsourcing software development and may lead to problems you want to avoid. Ineffective features, frustrating bugs and costly project delays are just three examples. That's why software development management techniques are critical to the success of your outsourcing engagement.

How can project managers keep their outsourced – especially offshore or nearshore outsourced – projects on track and on budget? These five helpful management tips and tricks can  minimize risks and maximize  opportunities for success.

1. Over-communicate
Consciously explain your software goals and requirements. The most important thing you can do to keep an engagement  on-track is to over-communicate to ensure that your software outsourcing company entirely understands your company’s business goals.

Share what you need your outsourcing company to know about your company, customers and procedures. This helps your outsourcing team get in sync with you, which can offer real value. Collaboration tools are a great way to ensure optimum work is produced. Several software management tools are effective for key areas of offshore software outsourcing management, such as software development, collaboration, project schedule and cost management.

Also, if working with a software outsourcing company whose second language is English, you may want to provide supplementary diagrams, charts and other visual aids to ensure nothing is misunderstood. The more specific you are, the better chance you have at receiving exactly what you requested.

Over-communicating might sound pretty simple, but when you factor in accents and time zones, your ability to communicate well can be stunted. Unanticipated interruptions and delays can occur when people and resources are allocated to too many deliverables. Make sure that all outsourcing team members are included and use shared electronic calendars and project management solutions to keep everyone on task and on the same page. This also helps stakeholders devote less time to hunting down information and more time to being productive.  

2. Treat Your Outsourcing Company Like A Partner
Treating your outsourced software development team members like true partners – rather than hired vendors – is just as important as over-communicating. Periodic face-to-face visits (even if online) are crucial to making your project runs smoothly and helping your team be more productive. Become acquainted with one another and establish a strong relationship. Whether through video conferencing or other means, put faces to names and know what makes them tick. Try to keep all project communication in one place by using messaging tools like Google Hangouts or Slack. This will enable all team members to communicate in real time and increase accountability.

Your chances of success increase when the outsourcing partnership is built on a relationship of mutual trust and respect. Loyalty is forged when all team members are dedicated to the same project and business goals.Read more about staying in touch with your outsourcing development team. 

3. Try Agile Development
Many offshore software development management teams deliver success with the Agile development method. It more smoothly accommodates changes to your software development projects and even embraces them. I write extensively about the method in my book, Software Without Borders.

Agile works by your outsourced development team working on a small set of features that you determined to be the highest priority in a predefined window of time, or “time box.” The features should be completely implemented and tested when the end of the time box is reached; then you are ready to tackle the next set of features. This ensures that your software development never gets too far off track before it’s too late to do something about it.

4. Use Frequent Testing and Continuous Builds
One way successful software development teams can ensure their software integration run smoothly is to have frequent builds. This allows any software integration problems to be caught early on rather than letting them pile up. The next step is to automate testing to avoid the tedious and error-prone process of manually testing each software release. This step confirms that your existing functions are not broken by the new integration and helps ensure that bugs are discovered quickly and can be fixed accordingly.

5. Set Realistic Expectations
All this being said, if you neglect to set realistic expectations, you are setting yourself – and your customers – up for disappointment. You should set realistic completion dates as early on as possible to ensure precise end goals. Meeting deadlines and keeping projects on time and on track with your financial objectives requires commitment from all team members involved.

Once you’ve established your goals and expectations, periodically reexamine them to check that they are still realistic. Lofty expectations of vast instant savings have soured countless outsourced development relationships. To maintain constant support for your international outsourcing strategy, a realistic and cautious set of expectations is required. A careful return on investment analysis that offers a conservative tactic and provides details into when you can expect the benefits will be of utmost value. You should consider this strategy a long-standing investment with significant ongoing benefits.

When all is said and done, effective communication, particularly with new or off-site team members, is fundamental in creating a more effective, productive and cost-effective project. International outsourcing can provide great success for your company. Though there might be obstacles involved when outsourcing across continents, the potential benefits more often far outweigh them.

Keeping your team and project on track is essential for achieving your project and business goals, and it’s important that you have a software development outsourcing company that understands this as well. Meet the world's most qualified offshore or nearshore outsourcing companies with an Accelerance Rapid Referral.

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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