It’s no secret that software outsourcing has evolved into a widespread market that even boutique companies are keen to implement. Thanks to significant cost savings, improved quality control and greater transparency across distributed teams, today’s software outsourcing model is more versatile than ever before.
Businesses now also have a greater incentive to offload software development operations; from reducing overhead costs to delivering better focus towards core operations, businesses are happy to use the extra help. While this means more opportunities for software companies, it also indicates the need to scale in order to meet client expectations.
With numerous leading software outsourcing markets based in Asia, Eastern Europe and Latin America, these agencies have much to accommodate and facilitate. From meeting clients at their convenient timings across wider time zones, to complying with regulatory bodies, modern software outsourcing has become more challenging by the day.
Software development in Sri Lanka has also long since evolved from merely being a destination to outsource menial or repetitive tasks; it is now a hub for building world-class software products following the stringent strategising of software architecture, while establishing post-deployment systems such as DevOps to maintain continuous delivery and integration.
In this article, we focus on everything you need to know about software outsourcing as a business leader, and how you can get started with a software development team that is suited to your needs.
Modern software outsourcing has come above and beyond the execution of unwanted tasks, to a central source of strategy for all things pertaining to application development. As global outsourcing and EFutures hand-in-hand, we’ve learned quite a few things as a software outsourcing agency based in Sri Lanka.
Here are some insights we have to share, when it comes to modern software outsourcing:
Albeit evolving drastically in terms of importance over the years, successful software outsourcing is still a result of adhering to certain evergreen rules. So here’s a reminder of some classic tips that are still relevant for software outsourcing today, in order to foster a long-term relationship that benefits both your application development endeavours, as well as your business’s bottom line.
All processes need to revolve around clear communication, without any doubt. As teams are scattered across geographically distant boundaries (and oftentimes all across the world), it is vital to share accurate information with fellow colleagues – and on time, that too. Failure to do so could mean tough repercussions for subsequent tasks, which is an outcome that neither agency nor business wishes to entertain.
Today, there are numerous ways to engage in effective communication if your teams work remotely. Video conferencing solutions are the most common, as they enable instant face-to-face discussions among team members, no matter where they may be located. For a more centralised approach, teams can also incorporate a UCaaS (Unified Communications as a Service) solution that offers a workspace where team members can create tasks, assign them to colleagues and edit files with version control.
Even if a UCaaS solution isn’t implemented, cloud-based project management tools can also facilitate real-time team collaboration through task creation and assignment, thereby enabling effective communication as well as accountability when tasks are assigned to relevant team members.
With software companies in Sri Lanka serving client bases that are most often based in North America or Europe, large gaps between time zones are also just as common. Albeit being rather challenging to coordinate around, competent software outsourcing teams have adjusted to accommodate client requirements. This indicates a strong attribute of versatility – something that is crucial in order to conduct software outsourcing successfully on the part of an agency.
As a result, many software outsourcing teams flexibly work at night, in order to meet clients virtually or manage any application development processes in the wake of a launch. On a proactive level, teams and product owners need to build and agree on a schedule where both parties can meet each other regularly, in order to discuss development progress as well as communicate any problems or bottlenecks that may arise in due course.
With software outsourcing and client teams located halfway across the world, it is common to encounter differences in terms of accents, communication etiquettes as well as national holiday structures. While it is normal for such differences to cause some disconnect in the beginning, immediately addressing them should help create a schedule and structure that all team members are comfortable with.
For example, is your software outsourcing team relying more on emails in order to detail a system bug? This may be a suboptimal mode of communication, especially if the bug is a complex one. Therefore you can direct your software outsourcing team to reach out via an ad-hoc video meeting instead – while the presence of the bug can be formalised through email with all relevant team members on CC.
With teams working remotely and seldom available in person, knowing who needs to attend to a certain task, and how long they have to meet deadlines is crucial for all team members who are involved in a project. This also includes team members who may not directly be involved in a specific task, but may need to know who is responsible as some of their operations may depend on it.
Additionally, accountability becomes vital as teams need to know who is responsible for a task to be delivered within a certain timeframe, and more importantly, when something goes wrong. The task assignment capability in most project management tools today can help facilitate this; as simple of a feature as this is, both parties massively benefit as assigning a task also doubles up as assigning accountability at the same time.
As a software outsourcing agency that has been serving international clients on a long-standing basis, EFutures has some key steps that businesses can follow when it comes to determining the best software outsourcing partner, no matter how niche or specific any requirement may be.
These steps have been built for businesses that are embarking on hiring a software outsourcing partner for the first time. However, they can also serve as reminders for companies that are already working with software outsourcing teams.
Before you reach out to prospective software outsourcing agencies, conduct a thorough assessment of the current condition of your business from a software/application standpoint. Start by inviting relevant team members across the organisation hierarchy to a discussion, so that each team member can voice their concerns surrounding existing business systems.
To get the conversation rolling, moderators can ask questions pertaining to:
Asking only one or two questions shall usually suffice, as the ice is broken and more team members pitch in with their own thoughts. All items discussed can then be collated into a brief, which shall then serve as a central point of reference for all discussions going forward.
Using the brief that you built as part of your business assessment, reach out to prospective software outsourcing agencies to get strategies as well as quotes based on your specific requirements. Gauge agency competency by observing whether your most pressing problems are prioritised on or not, while also tallying services that will be provided in accordance to any quotations. Identifying which agencies are offering the most value for your money may take some trial and error, but comparing quotes against one another over the span of a week or two can help you and other decision-making team members decide which agency will be the best for your needs.
Gauging overall sentiment from agency prospects is also vital; although not tangible, you and your team members can still get a visceral feel of whether a prospect will be easier to collaborate with or vice versa, following a few conversations. This is important, as any relationship with a software outsourcing agency is bound to be a long-term one. As for meeting prospects in the first place, asking colleagues you trust for recommendations will be a notch above the usual online search, as you may be introduced to agencies that have reaped guaranteed positive outcomes for others in the past.
Once you select your software outsourcing partner, it is important to set some ground rules in terms of who will do what, when and how. If wide gaps across multiple time zones are present, then it is also important to discuss and decide on meeting schedules, so all parties are comfortable with suggested timings on the calendar. Address any other areas of importance that are known to teams from the get-go as well, so there is no confusion or silo affecting anybody’s work.
Even after establishing a set of rules and expectations that are common to all teams, adjusting these is going to be an ongoing process in any software outsourcing project. Owing to ever-changing requirements, customer demands and even seasonality, it is important to always keep an eye on existing systems of working, and iterate when needed.
Other variables may also come into play, such as cyber threats, system upgrades and rebrand initiatives, in which case both agency and business may need to overhaul the manner in which they function on a daily basis. Although not necessarily an easy endeavour, most successful software outsourcing liaisons overcome such challenges by working together seamlessly, communicating both the good as well as the bad, and also taking accountability where necessary.
Software outsourcing is now a norm for most businesses that need to scale their software development efforts in record time. What was once just a means to offload mundane tasks is now a key source of strategy, planning and analysis when it comes to custom software development, in addition to end-to-end design, development, testing and deployment.
As a result, businesses and agencies both have had to step up their game, with businesses requiring a greater sense of accountability from agencies, while agencies accommodate significant changes to working schedules due to widespread time zone gaps.
As tough as it may be to function with so many opposing variables at play, it is still possible for software outsourcing to be successful through clear communication and adherence to a carefully planned schedule – in the interest of saving money, time and effort in the long run.