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June 27, 2023

Which Software Development Tasks Can You Outsource?

Outsourcing has evolved from all-purpose coding teams to delivering specialist skills in everything from software R&D to artificial intelligence and virtual reality.

A decade ago, if you looked over the shoulders of developers working in outsourcing companies in India or Vietnam, you’d have seen a familiar sight - lines of code in Python, Java, C++, or SQL filling their screens.

Web and mobile apps were in hot demand, while payroll, inventory, and billing systems were undergoing a wave of modernization. In some respects, the story hasn’t changed - organizations all over the world continue to outsource all or parts of virtually every aspect of software development.


They do this for three key reasons:

  1. To take advantage of lower labor costs, which are the key component of the total cost of developing a software application.

  2. To access talent that is otherwise difficult to secure due to a tight labor market and long hiring cycles.

  3. To put software development in the hands of skilled professionals so they can focus on their core business - acquiring customers, making sales, and delivering great service.

Any software outsourcing provider worth its salt will offer capabilities in a handful of the most commonly used coding languages and will at least claim to be able to turn its development team’s attention to a wide range of applications and use cases.

But at Accelerance, we’ve also observed the rise of hyperspecialization, where software companies are developing capabilities in particularly valuable areas of emerging technology, such as artificial intelligence (AI), virtual and augmented reality (VR/AR), Internet of Things (IoT), robotics and advanced data analytics. 

The nature of software has also changed in the last decade with the rise of cloud computing and software as a service (SaaS). Rather than building applications from scratch, many outsourcing teams are now employed to customize off-the-shelf software or develop application programming interfaces (APIs) to connect existing platforms.

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Here are 10 areas of software development that are most commonly outsourced:

  1. Application Development: Outsourcing the development of entire applications or specific modules is still a common practice. This includes tasks such as designing, coding, and testing software applications. With a typical web application taking 4.5 months to complete, it is often more cost-effective and quicker to give an entire project to a trusted outsourcing team and let the in-house development team work on higher priorities.

  2. Web Development: Website development is commonly outsourced, including front-end and back-end development, content management system (CMS) integration, and e-commerce solutions. Certain outsourcing companies have built a reputation as particularly accomplished web developers.

  3. Mobile App Development: Outsourcing the development of mobile applications for different platforms, such as iOS and Android, is a popular choice. This includes tasks like UI/UX design, coding, and app testing.

  4. Quality Assurance and Testing: Outsourcing QA and testing tasks can help ensure the quality and reliability of software products. This includes functional testing, performance testing, security testing, and usability testing. Software developed in-house can be handed off for extensive QA and testing.

  5. Maintenance and Support: Ongoing maintenance and support of software applications can also be outsourced. This involves tasks like bug fixes, updates, and user support. This is a large and overlooked part of the outsourcing industry.

  6. Infrastructure and DevOps: Companies often outsource tasks related to infrastructure management, cloud services, server administration, and DevOps practices like continuous integration and deployment. This is a growing sector as businesses move to multi-cloud arrangements, and the complexity of their IT infrastructure increases as they offer more diverse services.

  7. UI/UX Design: Outsourcing UI/UX design tasks can help create visually appealing and user-friendly interfaces for software applications. Design is everything when it comes to building attractive and effective apps and websites, so finding an outsourcing partner with deep experience in UI/UX design can make all the difference.

  8. Data Analytics and Business Intelligence: A hugely important, fast-growing part of software development, as gaining insights from data becomes a top priority for every organization. But skilled data analytics and business intelligence experts who can develop systems that will offer those valuable insights are hard to come by. A whole cottage industry within outsourcing has emerged to serve this need.

  9. Software Documentation: Companies may choose to outsource the creation of software documentation, including user manuals, technical guides, and API documentation. Good documentation can aid training efforts and smooth the way for the successful roll-out of software to employees and customers.

  10. Project Management: In some cases, project management tasks can also be outsourced to external companies that specialize in managing software development projects. After all, outsourcing companies live or die on their ability to manage projects efficiently. If you struggle with this internally for software projects, why not put it in the hands of the pros?


What shouldn’t be outsourced?

In reality, virtually nothing. It used to be that a start-up or established business would put an in-house team to work secretly developing a new product feature or novel new offering, tightly controlling development to protect from leaks of intellectual property. Following that, development work would then be outsourced once the product was in the market.

Now the power of first mover advantage is so strong that businesses regularly secure an outsourcing partner upfront, with an in-house team able to move faster and overcome problems with the help of experienced and trusted specialists who respect and protect clients’ IP.


Rather than asking what shouldn’t be outsourced, it's worth posing these questions to yourself to make certain you understand why you are considering outsourcing software development:

  • Can we do this ourselves? Take a hard look at your organization and internal team. Do you really have the skills, time, and resources to develop a new app, service, or product in-house? If you have doubts in your mind, it's better to address them now than down the road when a project starts to go off the rails.

  • Does it matter if we don’t do it ourselves? Software products are being produced daily; there really is very little in the way of novel software development. There’s a very good chance a quality software outsourcing partner has already created a version of the app, website, or platform you seek to build. You can short-circuit the process by handing off the project and probably save yourself time and money in the process.

  • Is this essential to the business? It’s only natural to want to retain control over aspects of your product stack that are vital to your business operation. That’s why many businesses put key platforms, infrastructure, and applications in the hands of their seasoned, in-house team and outsource everything else.

Whatever you choose, it's important to carefully assess the requirements, budget, and expertise required for each task before deciding to outsource. Communication and collaboration with the external company should also be well-established to ensure successful outsourcing.

This is where Accelerance can help. We’ve pre-vetted 8,000 software development companies, choosing to work with the top 1% we know have all the attributes of a suitable outsourcing partner.

Get in touch with our advisors to find out how our global network of partners can help you advance your software development goals.


Rich Wanden

As Chief Customer Success Officer, Rich oversees Accelerance marketing and sales operations globally with a focus on helping customers make the best decisions for choosing a software development team and working together. Prior to joining Accelerance, Rich has worked in management consulting, IT advisory and...

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