In the early days of software development outsourcing, I always heard the same few misconceptions pop up in conversation:
"They don't speak the language", “They won't get our culture." or “I'll have to work at midnight."
While these first-generation hang-ups have been largely disproved (and seem almost silly to bring up today), there are new misconceptions taking their place. These “next generation software outsourcing misconceptions” are becoming more commonplace – but just like their predecessors, they can be disproved by digging a little deeper.
Misconception #1: Software Outsourcing Companies work at bargain basement prices
Yes, outsourcing is less expensive and your project is likely to come in with a lower bottom line. But you really do get what you pay for, and hyper-discounted service rates are not really a benefit of outsourcing anymore. In fact, the very low-priced options are less likely than ever to provide properly-executed service. You’ll just get inexpensive and inexperienced junior programmers you have to manage yourself from a distance.
Outsourced developers are skilled workers, and companies should not expect to get high-quality development at rock-bottom prices. I’ve always felt that shopping for price only, or even as a major factor, is a mistake. Expect to pay a reasonable price (but one that is still competitive and probably lower than domestic options). And in so doing, expect to get a higher level of skill that will mean a project completed to your standards. Risking the success of your project on the lowest possible price isn’t worth the “savings”.
Misconception #2: Software Outsourcing Companies can ramp up instantly
Quickly? Yes. Instantly? Probably not. Like any business, international software outsourcing companies need time to add and acquire the talent to execute your project. Especially if they are custom building a team to meet the needs of your unique project.
I recently heard of a project where the client wanted to assemble 10 programmers immediately because they “wanted it now.” It turns out they had waited six months before they rang the software development fire alarm. They found that the outsourced development companies had maybe two or three programmers on the bench at that time (not enough to effectively complete the project). They had to wait until more could be found – similar to a domestic development firm.
I advise companies to take 4-6 weeks to build the right team for the right project. It’s fine to want it now. But if you do, just put your plan in motion a couple months in advance.
Misconception #3: Software Outsourcing Companies require everything to be explained in precise detail
This is perhaps the greatest of these new misconceptions – thinking that your outsourced development company needs to be told everything in excruciating detail. Not only is that a significant strain on you, but it robs you of the chance to benefit from the experience and business knowledge that your chosen vendor has. There is no need to sit down with a legal pad and scribble painstaking step-by-step directions. These companies actually have a wealth of experience in business and software development that you should look to take advantage of.
If you tell them your final objectives, they can help create and propose a solution to any challenges that may arise. Think of them just like you would any other business partner and a solutions provider. You are paying them for solutions, not just software, so let them do what they do best. In the process, they might come up with fresh ideas – maybe ones you wouldn’t think of. But if you are micromanaging from afar – and having them read endless directions from headquarters – you won’t benefit from the full potential of what outsourced software development companies can offer.
Don’t Fear the Next-Generation Misconceptions
As the world of software development outsourcing becomes more advanced and sophisticated, it shouldn’t surprise that the misconceptions are keeping pace. Just as the first-generation ones were ultimately addressed and overcome, these new ones should be no different. As always, open dialogue and clearly stated expectations will go a long way to achieving your goals, with the added benefit of getting your projects completed on time and within budget.