Have you decided to get a new website or a mobile app or make your current website mobile friendly? Great. Go for it. That’s the first 20% of your job done.
For most of us the biggest challenges are the technical skills needed to pull-off the project allied to a stable delivery that offers businesses value for money. When it comes to designing a serious web application, an iOS app or a responsive website an overwhelming number of companies choose to outsource it to a third party.
The vast majority of organisations don’t have the in-house talent needed to execute projects like these. And shouldn’t. Companies should focus on their core capabilities, whether it’s retail, Ecommerce, publishing, manufacturing or motor mechanics.
So how do you go about finding a suitable partner, and what should you expect from a well run project?
1. Look at their client portfolio and testimonials
This is an obvious point...the more varied the portfolio of a technical partner, the greater the chances are that they can meet your unique business requirements. A varied portfolio indicates that their team has experience with different technologies and industries which can be of tremendous benefit to you. Software engineering is a tough game. Your partner needs to be able to understand your business regardless of the sector in which you operate.
2. Insist on a project manager
Before inking the deal, make sure that you will be dealing with senior level, permanent employees. A project can be quickly thrown into chaos if your liaison is not senior enough to make major decisions, or quits suddenly. That said, it’s always good to have a clear escalation matrix in case you are not satisfied with your liaison.
3. Assign your product owner
While you are at it, assign the responsibility for the project to someone in your company who has relevant experience in creating, managing and liaising between business requirements and a technical solution. Or get trained.
You should also involve your IT department, especially if the deliverables are impacted by corporate IT policy.
4. Documentation is your friend
Put this in the contract: the outsourcing partner does not get paid in full unless they provide proper documentation, so that the project can be maintained in the future by any third party you select.
5. Work with project management and collaboration tools
Though a reputed partner will use these kinds of tools by default, you should not neglect this aspect during negotiations. Using project management tools like Jira or Merlin and collaboration tools like MediaWiki or Confluence can make life easier for everyone involved.
6. Decide on a ticketing and a version control system
The nature of the work involved means that your team and your outsourcing partner will need to access a ticketing and a bug control system throughout the project such as Jira. Also, you will need a version control system as the bugs get fixed and new features added. For these purposes, check out software like Git or Subversion.
It’s all about risk. At the end of the day, mitigating the risk of a failed delivery is the primary focus for partner selection. After all, your business and/or career could well be on the line. Working with technical partners to outsource development can be effective however it can also be stressful. Choose wisely, follow these tips and you can get the maximum bang out of your buck.
Do you have any tips to share?