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April 4, 2016

How to Keep Outsourcing Partnerships Fresh and Productive

No matter how you look at it, business partnerships take work. And there are times that even the best relationships can become a little too comfortable. Over time, the initial excitement of finding a new business partner who can help you achieve great things might wane, but that doesn’t mean the engagement needs to end.

Every relationship is different, but ensuring that all partners remain engaged and dedicated to a combined goal is key to keeping the spark alive. Here are six ideas that can help bring excitement and longevity to any partnership, particularly outsourced software development relationships.

1. Schedule Regular Meetings

Many clients and outsourcing partners meet regularly in the initial phases of an engagement. However, as time goes on and tasks become routine, meetings transition to sporadic emails, and excitement from working together can wane. Maintaining regular meetings can ensure that everyone is in alignment on priorities, facilitate brainstorming and can be used to educate partners on new projects or products.

Meetings also enable teams to socialize. Taking the time to learn more about one another on a social level before or after a meeting can be an important factor in building camaraderie between teams and forging more interpersonal connections.

2. Verbalize Your Feedback

Don’t forget to express your thoughts, both negative and positive. While it’s true that 52% of people like to hear negative feedback because they feel it’s necessary to do their job better, constant criticism can lead to a hostile environment – which isn’t healthy for you or your outsourcing partners.

When speaking with your partners try the Sandwich Method when giving feedback. By placing constructive criticism between two positive comments, you can improve your working relationship without alienating people. Instead of saying, “You did a horrible job coding our new application,” you could say “You did an excellent job on the user interface, but the coding on the back end could use a little work. With a bit more time, I think we’ll have a really great app.” Who wouldn’t prefer to receive feedback in the second manner?

3. Try a New Project Together

Participating in a new venture together can keep things exciting. You might have one of your outsourcing partners in a box based on the tasks they’ve previously performed for you. While you know what they can do and they do it well, that single service has been the only thing they deliver for you. Maybe it’s time to try something new together.

Brainstorm with your partners how to improve your existing work with new capabilities or bring them a different project than you normally would and work through it together. A willingness to learn and try new things will help keep the engagement strong and focused on providing quality work.

4. Establish Joint Goals

Create goals you can work on as a team. These may or may not be directly related to financial outcomes, and that’s okay. Creating a valuable relationship goes beyond what you can express in purely monetary terms.

Set goals that are challenging, yet achievable. You don’t want to create hard to reach goals only to fail or have your outsourcing partners quickly realize you’re off track, which could lead to a loss of faith and productivity in your initiatives. Remember, there are many ways to develop goals, like the SMART framework, but a good goal should communicate not only the focus of your partnership, but the expected timing for achieving the goal.

5. Ask Meaningful Questions

When you’re first considering bringing on an outsourced software developer or other outsourcing partner, you ask a lot of questions. Questions about their experience, capabilities and work philosophy. Over time you might feel that you know everything you need about your outsourced team, and your questions become more operational.

When you’re considering a new project, don’t be afraid to ask your outsourcing partners what they think, even if you don’t feel they have the experience. They could surprise you. You’re probably not their only client, and they are likely always learning new skills and approaches that could be a match for your new endeavor. By asking partners what their approach would be instead of just asking if they can do the work, you will learn a great deal about them and – if your team is offshore – you’ll get some excellent cross-cultural thinking.

6. Spend Quality Time Together

You probably spend most of your time connecting with your outsourced teams remotely, either because they are far away or because virtual meetings are more efficient for you. However, there are many benefits of face-to-face meetings, and – while they don’t need to be as frequent as your other meetings – they should still be a priority.

Meeting with your outsourced teams in person allows you to get a sense of who they are beyond what you can see through the Skype or WebEx window. It opens up the possibility of small talk to learn and connect with your teams and deepen your business relationships. As there are a number of non-verbal – not to mention cultural – nuances at play with many face-to-face meetings, getting to know the other team on a deeper level and learning what makes them tick can be a major asset to your working relationship.

Outsourcing is a true partnership that requires maintenance to keep the relationship strong. At Accelerance, our software development experts work hard to find you the best teams to work with anywhere in the world. If you have any questions on selecting great outsourced teams or need to find a team for a new project, contact us today for free.


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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