As the business landscape continues to evolve at a breakneck pace, organisations are constantly under pressure to perform amid uncertain economic climates. With employees and consumers alike depending on virtual environments for attending to their responsibilities, maintaining robust software applications to facilitate the very same is top of mind for competent companies that aim to differentiate themselves from their competition.
When it comes to software development, outsourcing to Sri Lanka has been an attractive option for big and small businesses alike from around the world. What’s more, having a partnership with a leading cloud service provider (such as an AWS partner, for example) on the part of either business or developer streamlines the process all the more, since a variety of services can be rendered from a single, centralised source.
The flexibility provided by software outsourcing is unmatched, and as a result, continues to encourage businesses to engage in remote talent – even if it’s halfway round the world. Video conferencing and hosted collaboration tools further enable clear, transparent communication – so all parties are on the same page, and accountability is maintained at all times. Savings in costs, overheads and other resources have long been cited as the key drivers of software outsourcing, and this still rings true owing to many reasons.
Although software outsourcing can significantly help your business teams slash downtime and focus on tasks which require more of their strategic/analytical attention, software outsourcing isn’t free of challenges. Like any other business process, it has its obstacles. However, with the right tools and techniques, these can be overcome in order to create a productive working environment, where everyone is aligned towards the same goals for ultimate business success.
Since software outsourcing consists of an intricate mix of resources both tangible and behavioral, it is a system that will certainly take some time to get accustomed to – especially if your business is doing so for the very first time. With the right approach, software outsourcing can become a crucial part of your business operations, but without having to sacrifice long-term scalability and the ability to switch resources around as required.
Here, we outline the fundamentals of software outsourcing, its benefits, challenges, and how to overcome any problems that may come your way.
Software outsourcing refers to any form of software development task (or the entire process itself) being delegated to an external company that specialises in the very same. Software outsourcing in Sri Lanka, for example, engages with clientele across numerous industries, from around the globe. From providing quality assurance/testing services to configuring fully-fledged custom ERPs, software development in Sri Lanka overall consists of an assortment of services which can cater to any business requirement at scale – no matter how unique it is.
Software outsourcing has been made conveniently possible, thanks to cloud support services. With infrastructure hosted in the cloud, availing whatever is required via a PaaS or FaaS approach (Platform and Function as a Service respectively) allows software development teams to scale up or down as needed – without having to pay predetermined costs for resources that may have been reserved in advance, but left under-utilised. This way, resources are optimised, thereby reducing wastage – and only paying for what is used.
This has been one of the greatest benefits of software outsourcing, and subsequently, the greatest driver for businesses to make the move. With talent hired, trained and supervised by an external company, businesses are spared these responsibilities, thereby creating significant cost savings in both the short and long term. On top of that, the cost, time ,and effort needed to maintain office space, furniture, and other equipment are also saved – thereby making software outsourcing an all-round saver for businesses.
With software outsourcing, there’s no need for businesses to confine themselves to local talent; hire from anywhere in the world, without having to worry about long commute times, accommodation allowances, or immigration formalities. As a result, this enables businesses to focus on hiring skilled talent that precisely meets objectives, as opposed to worrying about administrative hurdles.
As software development is outsourced to a dedicated third-party company, businesses can now focus on other vital tasks which help achieve end objectives. This doesn’t mean that software outsourcing companies can be left to their own devices with your project; supervision needs to be done, but minimally, without any administrative burdens, and only for project-related responsibilities.
With outsourcing teams located across different continents, it is common to encounter disparities in terms of how thoughts and ideas are articulated – even if both parties speak a mutual language, and accents are comprehensible. As a result, many things can get figuratively ‘lost in translation’, as key communications may fall through the cracks owing to incorrect linguistic expressions.
What this means is that it isn’t sufficient to hire a team which speaks fluent English (or any other language of your choice); knowing how precise they are with expressing ideas is just as important.
Again, cross-continental projects mean that multiple time zones will be involved. As a result, one or more parties will need to work during hours that are at odds with a regular daytime schedule. Working a graveyard or semi-graveyard shift may not be convenient for everyone, thereby causing problems in terms of scheduling meetings and reaching deadlines. This can hamper productivity; especially as night-time work can make much less efficient than they otherwise are.
Although remote work environments have afforded better work-life balance for office workers by eliminating the time and money it costs to commute to and from work, it has also contributed to increased levels of isolation among teams. As each member or team works in their own bubble, it is easy for small but pivotal details that may have otherwise been communicated personally and within a matter of a few minutes, to be missed. This can have a domino effect, as these minutiae can still cause problems along the development lifecycle.
Disparities in language, accents and articulation may be common, but that doesn’t mean teams cannot step up to close these gaps, and work towards making communication easy and streamlined. Articulating ideas clearly yet succinctly is more of an art, than a science – even in traditional, in-person environments. Remote work environments layer an additional challenge on top of this, as only channels such as video conferencing, IM and email are at one’s disposal for communication.
Even if your software outsourcing team starts off with communication issues, do not panic by thinking that you may have made the wrong decision in hiring them! Observe how they are adjusting to these challenges, and whether they are meeting them head-on by making a concerted effort to better the manner in which ideas are shared. This could mean improved language skills, using specific collaboration tools, or both. Noticing such improvement is a definite positive sign. If not, assess what alternative options there are with your internal business teams, in order to hire another software outsourcing company for your needs.
With cross-continental software outsourcing, there will always be odd working hours involved, for either your software developer or for your own business teams. Irrespective of how wide time zone gaps are, it is always possible to find overlaps where both parties are able to synchronise. This doesn’t have to be for a stipulated eight-hour shift; not even for half a day, in fact.
Even if it’s only for a couple of hours each day, teams can conduct virtual meetings during this time to go through daily duties and ensure everyone is on the right track. Outside of this synchronised schedule, teams can work independently and keep the pipeline rolling.
It’s about how you collaborate – not how much you collaborate! For one, regular meetings are truly important, even if it feels like everyone is executing away from a plan that was finalised weeks ago, and there doesn’t seem to be much to discuss.
Regularly meeting for an hour each working day and giving every team member a chance to share what they are working on will not only help everyone stay abreast of what their colleagues are up to – but how others’ duties correlate to their own. In turn, any concerns will naturally be raised and subsequently addressed, then and there.
Regular meetings of this nature will also allow team members the opportunity to mention the smallest concerns (in an otherwise isolated remote work environment). What team members may not find important enough to send an IM over, will naturally flow in spoken conversation.
Before you scrutinise software outsourcing companies, it is crucial to first know what your business’s needs, aspirations and goals are. Gather various members across teams to learn just what these objectives are, and collate them into a brief. This written document will not only help you reveal the current status of your business and where it needs to go, but will also serve as the primary point of reference for vendors who you will ultimately correspond with.
Now that you’re aware of where your business stands and what end goals you need to achieve with the right software, it’s time to start looking at vendors. While an online search will reveal numerous useful results to pursue, do not rule out the value of recommendations from other professionals you trust. An assortment of vendor options is the best for selecting a suitable software outsourcing company, as opposed to starting with a narrow list of only one or two.
Although discussions around timelines, budgets and responsibilities are necessary, go beyond the routine by asking questions surrounding the new software that needs to be built. Focusing on the problems plaguing your business teams is a great place to start; ask how these can be solved, and what the long-term scope is.
Conversely, notice whether and how your vendor prospect is trying to solve the problems you face. This means that you can expect to be asked questions about your business (and the contents of your assessment), in turn. Is the prospect asking you questions to deepen their understanding on a granular level? Are they suggesting viable outcomes through use of their skills and technologies at their dispense?
Observing whether or not a prospect’s responses in these regards is positive can aid you and your team in your final vendor selection.
Software outsourcing is a highly productive yet cost-effective means of building quality software applications for your business. However, just like any other business partnership, it needs to be handled mindfully, perceptively and with plenty of attention to detail.
Serving benefits such as cost savings, exceptional talent acquisition and the autonomy for business leaders and their teams to focus on key organisational goals, software outsourcing is a popular alternative to in-house software development for a bunch of very good reasons. On the other hand, the likelihood of language barriers, time zone constraints and team isolation are also prevalent.
However, these can be remedied with the right tools and techniques (such as teams learning how to share their thoughts and ideas more clearly with the rest, and/or using specialised collaboration tools to centralise task management, for example). As a result, software outsourcing is a business operation that any company of any size or industry can undertake, thanks to its high level of adaptability and ease.