Outsourcing, probably the hottest trend in web development in recent years, is still surrounded by mystery and keeps puzzling clients everywhere. Giants like Microsoft or Apple have successfully adopted this practice, yet small and medium clients still feel nervous around the idea of entrusting an overseas firm with the digital packaging of their product.
So, grab your caffeinated drink of choice, sit back, and accompany us in this process of untangling and understanding this practice, its advantages, and how to do’s. Trust us, it’s worth it.
What is outsourcing?
In generic terms, outsourcing is the practice of delegating a production task to an outside partner instead of completing it with the help of an in-house team. We’re all familiar with the label “Made in China” attached to a T-shirt designed in Italy. In theory, outsourcing in web development is not much different, but in practice, they couldn’t differ more.
For example, outsourcing for both physical products and digital ones is done for cost reduction reasons. But while with the production of physical goods, there’s always this concern, and often rightly so, that cheaper is lower in quality, outsourcing in the web development world couldn’t be more different. More often than not, the talent pool might be much wider overseas and the capabilities greatly higher than on homeland.
Outsourcing can be defined in geographical terms as well, helping clients and entrepreneurs choose which type they are more comfortable with. First, there is the onshore type of development where one opts out of different time zones or languages and selects a vendor from her own country. The most cautious businesses could start like this for their first project, although smaller rates might be hard to come by, especially if you’re in the US. Then, there is the near-shore development, which implies contracting a vendor in the nearby countries, within just a few time zones. And finally, there is offshore web development, where the contracted firm might be more than 4 time zones away. Over time, this last option proved to be the most successful in terms of costs and quality.
There’s no shortage of advantages when it comes to outsourcing web development and the ones championing this practice delight in finding more and newer angles. But for clarity purposes, we’re going to analyze in-depth, just the main reasons why outsourcing digital products might be the solution for you:
- Insanely lower costs. Yes, insanely! Let’s say you’re a US company looking to launch a new product online. You’re just testing the waters, by looking to create an MVP, so naturally, your budget is very limited. Well, by outsourcing the web development tasks to South-Eastern Europe, in a country like Romania for example, you could save up to 70% in comparison to hiring a local firm. The region is simply flourishing in terms of talent, with thousands of specialists joining the web development ranks every year.
- A sophisticated cocktail of skills and expertise. A strong team made up of developers, software engineers, project managers, designers, might take years to build and hundreds of thousands of dollars to maintain. With outsourcing, it’s a few clicks away and decidedly less expensive. An overseas vendor has created a team with the whole process in mind and a framework like Scrum, having somebody ready for any particular challenge or with problem-solving capabilities. By comparison, your firm might not have these people in the in-house team. Hiring somebody new just because a particular project needs a niche set of capabilities, like AR or VR, doesn’t make sense in the long term either.
- Production and delivery at top speed. Depending on your area of activity, you probably haven’t optimized your processes as well as a software development firm. Their business model relies heavily on client satisfaction so meeting the deadlines is a top priority. Besides, since a digital product can always be optimized, outsourcing vendors look to build up a long-term relationship with their clients, so leaving a first good impression is key
Best way to do it
“Yes, you listed the benefits, what about the pitfalls to avoid when outsourcing a software development project?” We thought you might ask that. So, we elaborated a step by step guide to doing things right. Following this plan will get you to the treasure and away from the monster-infested swamp.
- Step 1. And probably the most important: have a clear goal. Nothing puts more obstacles in the way of accomplishing a task, that involves multiple people and teams, than going at it blindly. The observation is valid for both in-house and outsourcing teams. Only start window-shopping for software development firms when you have a clear brief to put on the table.
- Step 2. Start screening for the best vendor to complete your project, with a clear intention. Maybe you need a niche capability only a handful of firms offer, or you decide on outsourcing to a certain region.
- Step 3. By now, you’ve decided on a vendor and you get in contact. Now, it’s time to find or build rapport with the firm. A project manager will probably be the interface between you and the company, so establishing a trusting relationship with clear and fluent communication in English is essential. Signing an NDA should settle your fears of losing precious or confidential information.
- Step 4. And the final before diving into the actual work. Communication plays a key role in the process, from the beginning to the end. So, make sure you agree on a communication plan through Skype, calls or email, or a combination of those. There are tools as well, helping clients supervise the project, like InvisionApp, JIRA, or Confluence.
Outsourcing a software development project can seem scary when you’re not in the know. Innovators might consider this option scary at first. But actually, they might put their thoughts in order with us, formulate a plan and innovate with one of our UX experts. abac’s mission is to help startups and mature enterprises in designing, developing and maintaining software products that will bring value and deliver solutions.
Therefore, with a plan, strong communication skills in place, and transparency, outsourcing can be one of the best decisions you’ve ever taken.