Offshore software development in Sri Lanka continues to increase both in terms of market presence as well as demand, owing to the value it offers local and international clientele alike. Numerous tech companies thrive in the space, employing the finest local talent for serving globally leading brand names, all while offering substantial savings through lower costs and a favourable currency exchange rate. Albeit sounding performant, affordable (and quite frankly, downright convenient), offshore software development isn’t devoid of caveats. Whether it’s joining meetings at odd hours due to time zone differences, or experiencing gaps in communication, offshore software development has the potential to fail, if not executed correctly.
This is where software outsourcing in Sri Lanka stands apart from the rest of its global competitors; offering skilled English-speaking talent that is nimble enough to adjust to changing requirements, Sri Lankan software outsourcing companies go the extra mile in ensuring clients are offered what they need to solve their business pains and meet KPIs. Whether it’s with a fully-fledged dedicated team or with an individual resource, software outsourcing companies in Sri Lanka successfully cater to organisations of any niche, volume and industry.
In turn, the industry of software development in Sri Lanka is active with opportunities – both for IT professionals as well as businesses that are looking to establish an offshore software development presence. Thanks to cloud-based tools that enable remote collaboration, businesses now have access to the best talent, thereby empowering leaders and decision makers to remove any geographical constraints that were previously involved when recruiting software development teams.
In this article, we focus on how to build bespoke software solutions that are suitable for your business’s unique requirements, through offshore software development. This includes everything from currently trending technologies, as well as evergreen strategies to always keep in mind, irrespective of whether you already outsource software development, or are about to embark on the same.
Although AI and machine learning have been well established across the technology landscape for a long period of time, the unveiling of disruptive tools such as ChatGPT have substantially revolutionised the way AI is not only used, but perceived today. Likewise, offshore software development also stands to be impacted by the same, as machine learning or deep learning algorithms detect patterns in big data for actionable insights. Whether it is for business decision making at an executive level, or for training bots to offer smart recommendations, offshore software development also stands to benefit from AI’s many popular use cases.
With subset technologies such as Natural Language Processing (NLP) and conversational AI gaining much attention from B2C businesses in the interest of enhancing CX, offshore software development teams have also embraced the bandwagon of custom training big data sets to detect patterns, test outcomes and refine final results, in the interest of constructing chatbots, virtual assistants and even self-service kiosks for intelligent yet streamlined service interactions on behalf of their clientele.
Workflow automation and RPA have both become increasingly renowned for assimilating manual and administrative tasks into predictable workflows, so teams are freed from any monotony, and able to focus their undivided attention to matters of a more strategic or analytical nature. AI and machine learning have once again been key constituents of workflow and robotic process automation. However, numerous tasks can be automated even without, and through simple automation techniques such as rule creation or policy management for a certain module. Task and field dependencies also enable automation on a small yet impactful scale, as entering or selecting certain forms of data can programmatically alter related data points as well, without any manual intervention.
Robotic Process Automation (RPA) specifically observes human behaviours and interactions, and then emulates the same via a bot that can then perform certain tasks automatically, and with no involvement required from a human team member. Particularly useful for managing project management roadmaps in the case of offshore software development, many teams that are especially inundated or running on tight deadlines can make use of RPA to automatically assign tasks to relevant team members, sort bugs based on priority, and even send automatic reminders to team members for approaching deadlines.
Albeit being another well established trend, virtual collaboration technologies also continue to evolve in the interest of providing interactions that are more innovative yet precise, as well as engaging. Many cloud-based video conferencing tools, for example, now offer more than just a means to share video and audio; they come in-built with workspace tools that facilitate screen sharing, annotations and presenter controls, so businesses need not look elsewhere to adopt another solution for such capabilities.
Add to this cloud computing – both for virtual infrastructure to build, store and operate applications, as well as centralised document management systems. Platform as a Service (PaaS) and Function as a Service (FaaS) are two out of numerous virtual infrastructure capabilities that eliminate the need for on-premise infrastructure on the part of offshore software development teams, while only being chargeable based on when these services are used. Cloud-based document management, on the other hand, facilitates data collection through digital forms and signatures, so teams don’t need to undertake the hassle of manually entering data from paper-based forms, whether it’s by typing or via document scanning. Leading document management platforms also offer version control capabilities, so multiple team members can work on a single document on a real-time basis, without having to worry about duplicate copies of the same document, or overriding any changes made by someone else.
No matter what project management methodology you are using for your software development project, centralising all tasks within an official project roadmap shall provide everyone a go-to source for knowing what needs to be executed, as well as who is responsible within designated timeframes. Leading cloud-based project management tools offer access to multiple users on a hierarchical level, while maintaining one updated workspace with version control.
Other forms of project management formalisation include Kanban boards, a simple yet popular way to streamline tasks for smaller projects. However, Kanban boards are still used by larger teams, but on a department level; those within the same department usually coordinate among themselves with easy Kanban boards, only to then escalate their updates over to the larger roadmap once executions are completed, or when any feedback needs to be added.
In the case of offshore software development, the tools and methods used for project management become even more crucial, as teams are distributed, working remotely and don’t have the opportunity to engage in the micro interactions that offer clarity on tasks – something that is conveniently possible in a traditional workplace. As a result, having annotations, comments, tagging as well as automated reminders on tasks can go a long way in offering clarity without requiring a video meeting for something that’s more ad-hoc.
Communication is highly important in any business setting, but becomes even more so in the case of offshore software development as teams are distributed, remote and working in multiple time zones. Add to this any gaps in culture, accents and how thoughts are articulated, and this makes communication more imperative than usual. Scheduling regular video meetings is a first step, which can usually be led by the project manager. Even if it may seem like nothing substantial needs to be discussed, convening briefly for sharing quick updates all around can still offer team members insight on what other team members are working on, whether any adjustments need to be done on the part of individual team members to stay aligned, as well as the overall health of the project.
Communication soft skills also need mastering, especially for offshore software development teams that experience a lack of contextual understanding in terms of how international clientele function and perceive the project at hand. Clear communication is once again an imperative here, and asking for clarification in the event of any doubts is a surprisingly effective way of bridging any gaps in cultural understanding during the early stages of such projects.
Although most projects start out at a size that is relatively manageable, this can snowball into a backlog of untouched tasks with time. This is why it is a good idea to always stick to smaller goals, so that team members are burdened less with deliverables that are complex, bulky and time consuming. Bite-sized goals also significantly help with Minimum Viable Products (MVPs), as these preliminary versions of any software can be architected with only the most essential features. Subsequently, teams are also made to focus on only building functionalities that matter, while any embellishments can be saved for later.
Furthermore, the features that follow an MVP’s future version will only be built based on what users like and dislike, since user feedback forms the basis for updates. Again, bite-sized goals that genuinely add user value are of focus here, as offshore software development teams can deliver better on tasks that have less demands and criteria, especially as they work remotely. As a result, smaller project goals can ship software to market much faster, while lessening the burden that your offshore software development team needs to bear with the project.
As teams work remotely and customer demands take priority, technical debt can fall on the sidelines. However, all software development teams (be they offshore or internal) need to spend some time understanding the level of technical debt that currently exists, as well steps that can be taken to clean, fix and/or reorganise key components and infrastructure. If left unattended for long periods of time, technical debt can also slow systems down, reveal additional bugs and heighten exposure to security vulnerabilities. Therefore, setting aside some time on a regular basis to discuss where technical debts lie can offer teams insight on what falls within their scope of duties to rectify and improve.
Whether it’s suboptimal code, a lack of documentation or inadequate software testing, examples of technical debt can vary from business to business. By identifying such debt and taking steps for remediation, your software development project will be proactive in its part to keep your software’s code, documentation and other infrastructure in smooth working order. In the case of offshore software development teams, internal discussion for technical debt should be of priority, as well as the first step to understanding overall scope. Upon doing an assessment, this should then be conveyed to the client, together with offering insight on the consequences of leaving technical debt unattended – before finally prioritising on what should be tackled and rectified.
Offshore software development is a thriving space that provides much potential to those who serve the industry, as well as businesses that use these services to build bespoke yet cost-efficient software products. Removing the geographical constraint that companies had to contend with before when it came to hiring suitable professionals, offshore software development also contributes to significant cost savings when outsourcing to a country like Sri Lanka.
Thanks to SaaS conferencing and collaboration tools, software outsourcing companies and their clientele can coordinate virtually and in real-time, to build, execute and monitor their software development lifecycle. While video conferencing apps provide high-resolution video and audio calling, cloud-based project management tools can offer the workspaces teams need to build roadmaps, assign tasks to relevant team members, monitor pacing as well as identify any problems so they can be solved well beforehand.
Although modern cloud conferencing and collaboration platforms are optimal solutions for remote teamwork today, evolving trends such as AI, machine learning and RPA continue to influence how distributed teams collaborate; through pattern detection, intelligent recommendations and workflow automation can be facilitated, thereby empowering teams even further to reduce manual and/or repetitive tasks, and only focus on what truly demands their attention.