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Building successful outsourcing development partnership: View from inside

With every business in the world trying to get as efficient as possible, the concept of outsourcing has become a key to building successful companies without overmanning and overpaying. Thousands of businesses nowadays outsource their non-core competences to professionals across the world, and IT is among the most popular areas thanks to its location agnosticism.

Stanfy has been working in mobile application development for more than six years, in which we did quite a few projects as outsourcing partners of companies from all over the world. This experience “from inside” allows us now to outline the most important things about choosing an IT outsourcing provider.

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Tech is important, but that’s not all

Although it is very important to check whether the outsourcing provider you’re looking at has the technical expertise you require, there are things that matter even more than that. These are the culture and business processes built in the company.

The reasoning here is simple: experience in doing a certain type of work and having suitable engineers in staff are something that can be gained in the process. People who bring the experience and expertise can be hired, but the way the provider runs its business is much harder to change.

Well-defined business processes and streamlined structure can in most cases guarantee smooth and predictable partnership. In addition to that, efficient communication inside the company is often a sign that allows you to expect it to be as good in your collaborative efforts.

We wouldn’t say you shouldn’t think about the technical part at all — just don’t forget to take everything else into consideration. What’s important here is how good the company is at attracting and retaining talent, what the business culture is like, and how happy are the employees, who may be working on your projects in the future.

Communications are key

The world of outsourcing is small and flat, as countries and continents are nowadays just one click away from everyone sitting behind the computer screen.

Among the popular IT outsourcing destinations are Central and Eastern Europe, India, Pakistan, and a few countries in Southeast Asia. All of them have certain peculiarities, but generally there’s nothing that should stop you from looking at any of them.

You need, however, to bear in mind that there definitely will be differences between yourself and people you’re about to work with. The key question is how significant these differences are and how big is their influence on the future collaboration.

When looking at an IT outsourcing provider abroad, talk to the relationship manager and key developers to ascertain there’s no language barrier that could make your communication troublesome. Another thing is different time zones: although working a few hours apart can be beneficial for both sides, make sure you agree up front upon times and frequency of face-to-face video conferences.

Always check twice

Looking for a company with proven track record in IT services is likely to help you avoid disappointment in the collaboration process, especially if you’re choosing a partner for long projects.

Obtaining references from people and companies who’ve been working with the outsourcing provider previously is a vital step in the selection process. Find out who the clients were, how big were the projects they outsourced and how satisfied they are about the collaboration.

Don’t settle on a few paragraphs or video clips on your potential partner’s website, but go ahead and contact the referees in order to get first-hand reviews and descriptions of their experience.

In addition to that, don’t forget to ask whether your partner is going to hire any subcontractors to do work for you. If this is the case, do the reference checks for them as well.

See by yourself

If circumstances allow, don’t miss a chance to come down to the outsourcer’s office and see in person what’s going on there. Nothing really can substitute watching your potential partner working “in the wild.”

Take your time to look at how the engineering team is working and talk to its members. Even if you’re not on the tech side of things, ask them about their development methodology, tools they use and the team’s overall organization. These details can give an invaluable insight into the company’s business and help make the right decision.

When in the office, it’s pretty obvious what to look at. Nice and spacious rooms with quality furniture and equipment are good, a cramped attic with developers sitting on each other’s heads not so. Just imagine yourself being a talented engineer and think if you’d be willing to work in the environment you see.

Start now

The earlier you start looking around for the an outsourcing provider, the bigger are your chances to be able to choose the best one. Don’t wait until you have to rush and contract the first company you see: take you time now and go through all the steps we’ve described in your own pace.

 

Image credit: Yuri Samoilov / Flickr

February 17, 2015

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