Pitfalls in Software Development Outsourcing
Software development outsourcing has become a common practice in recent years. An experienced and knowledgeable outsourcing partner brings numerous benefits to the client, including access to a wide talent pool, high quality of services, and an opportunity to save the budget.
At the same time, there are several hidden rocks in software development outsourcing that not all clients are aware of. The pitfalls that should be carefully explored before outsourcing include issues with communication and project management, differences in cultures and time zone shifts and others. To help you prevent such situations, we collected the biggest pitfalls that software development outsourcing hides and recommendations on successfully preventing them.
Below you will see the biggest pitfalls that outsourced software development may bring. However, do not perceive them as cons but rather as potential risks that may occur.
Communication is the cornerstone of project success. It all starts with requirements specifications and, throughout the development process, communication helps both parties (the client and the development team) stay on the same track and ensure that they share the same vision.
The biggest issue with outsourcing the development team is the potential risk of poor communication and hence, problems on the software project. While you can approach your in-house development team at any time, things are different with the outsourced team. There may be different time zones, the team members may not be available at the time you need it, or there are issues with an Internet connection and you cannot get in touch when you need it. All that may result in missed deadlines, unclear requirements, and misunderstandings.
It is, therefore, critical to establish reliable communication practices and follow them. This includes negotiation on the preferred method of communication, frequency of reports on the project status, etc. As well, it is recommended to have a Project Manager on every project to ensure there is always a person who knows all project aspects and can be reached at the bespoken time.
Differences in time zones and/or culture
Outsourcing implies hiring specialists from a different country. So if we were to explain the ethical pitfalls, this would include the potential problem with the culture of an outsourced team that may drastically differ from yours. And don’t forget about the time zone shifts either.
Time zone shifts may be a problem if you want to contact your team at any time or there are some emergencies that need to be resolved as soon as possible. However, if your communication processes are well-aligned and organized (as discussed in the point above), the time zone shifts should not be a problem.
Things are a bit more complex with cultural differences. Different cultures have a specific attitude towards work. A five-minute delay in the Skype call may incredibly annoy the client but will be absolutely normal for the development team.
Therefore, when looking for an outsourced development team, it is important to select the developers with the attitude towards work that is similar to the one of a client. Otherwise, there will constantly appear minor issues regarding the deadlines and quality of work that will inevitably lead to project failure in the future.
Risk of poor code quality
The project's success greatly depends on the code quality. Sloppy code will not only prolong the estimated deadline but will also result in bugs and product malfunctioning. As a result, the project fails and the client loses time and money. Unfortunately, poor code quality is among the pitfalls of outsourcing programmers.
While the client can constantly monitor and check the code quality of your in-house developers, the process becomes more complex when working with an outsourced team. It’s the first time that you work with these developers and you have not checked their code quality before. So there are very vague guarantees that the code quality will be sufficient for your requirements.
One can estimate code quality by seeing how many bugs there are, whether other developers can easily understand the code, whether it is neat and well-written. To prevent unpleasant surprises after starting the actual work, it is recommended to give a test task to the potential outsourced team and hold a technical interview to check whether skills and knowledge correspond to your requirements. As well, do not forget to regularly perform quality assurance tests to see if software matches the requirements.
Lack of quality monitoring
The quality of the project depends not only on the code but on other factors as well. Timely testing, proper development methodology, and availability of clear software requirements specifications heavily impact the quality of the final product.
When working with an outsourced team, it is relatively easy to fall for the promise of the team to deliver the result and patiently wait for it with no monitoring. This is quite a common mistake that should be avoided at all costs.
It is recommended to work by Agile methodology in order to timely implement any needed changes, constantly monitor the project status and ensure that at every stage the product performs as intended. As well, make sure to perform 360-degree testing and code review and do not forget about the project management tools that facilitate the project management process.
Before starting any new initiative, like a long-term collaboration with an outsourced development team, it is an absolute must to prepare for it. Preparation may include research of the company’s current status and its processes, market research, writing of the specifications, the definition of business goals, etc.
When a company approaches an outsourced development team with a ready list of business goals and the issues to be resolved, the future collaboration will bring benefits to both parties. But if you are trying to cut down the development costs and this is the only reason you chose outsourced software development, the results may disappoint you.
Outsourced software development is a practice that needs to be approached carefully. On one hand, there are significant benefits that such work brings to the software development projects. At the same time, if the client ignores the offshore outsourcing pitfalls described above, this development method will not only shift the project deadlines but can mess it up so bad it will take a lot of time and resources to recover. Add to that the possible pitfalls in software development company infrastructure and the results will be disastrous.
However, a professional outsourced company knows about these possible risks and takes initiative in preventing them. In SoftTeco, for example, we always suggest a certain plan to the client after carefully studying their request. In this way, we ensure that there is no clash of opinions and that the team understood everything in the right way.
Alex ZubelView all articles by this author.