4 Pitfalls of Outsourcing Software Developers (and How to Avoid Them)

Outsourcing software developers is a different journey for everyone.
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Outsourcing software developers has become quite a common practice for enterprises and businesses across every industry. From telemedicine to nuclear power, organizations of all shapes and sizes are taking advantage of the cost-efficiency and high-quality delivery of software products that outsourcing brings to the table. 

However, we are not here to talk about the bright side of outsourcing. We are here to learn about what to do when things are not that smooth. Outsourcing software developers isn’t always a walk in the park, especially if you are working with a vendor that doesn’t quite fit with your company. 

Thus, you can find yourself facing some pitfalls that might jeopardize your entire project. Is there a way to avoid them? Sure! Here are 4 ways to prevent some of the most common issues in outsourcing. Let’s get started.

 

1. Miscommunication

Communication barriers are perhaps the most common speed bump that outsourcing projects run into. Why? Because the most sought-after benefit of software outsourcing (accessing talented developers) also puts a few key obstacles in the way: time-zone compatibility, language fluency, and cultural similarities. 

Although it isn’t that hard for smaller projects to find a way around them, medium-sized and larger operations don’t often have this possibility. And, being honest, we would all prefer not having to deal with such problems at all. From odd-timed meetings to major misunderstandings throughout the software development cycle, it’s always better not having to worry about miscommunication. 

The funny thing is that, even with miscommunication being one of the most common issues, it also is one of the easiest to avoid. Nearshore software development (also known as “Nearshoring”) completely neutralizes timing issues by creating partnerships between a client and a vendor in the same time-zone. Companies like BairesDev, for example, have taken time-zone compatibility to the next level by establishing multiple Dev Centers across America, which makes outsourcing software developers so much easier for US companies. 

And, in terms of language fluency and cultural similarities, it’s all about outsourcing to a region that shares the same influences as your homeland. That’s why, for example, Russian companies tend to outsource development to eastern European countries and USA companies tend to outsource development to Latin America. 

 

2. Undefined Goals and Deliverables

Before outsourcing software developers (and before any outsourcing project, really), it’s critical for you to clarify what you expect from the vendor. This includes all the requirements and deliverables that would be presented on a defined timeline. The success of the final product will always depend on this initial step. 

Failing to do this would most likely result in an unfocused and messy software development process. Both your in-house and outsourced teams would rapidly fall into knowledge silos that slowly and steadily would put distance between your vision and whatever is under development. Without a doubt, this is a recipe for disappointment.

Avoiding this requires legwork. You need to know what you want to achieve before hiring a software development team. If you’re not sure, a few hours on the internet can take you a long way. Even better, ask colleagues or other people who have outsourced software development before about their experience and how they got everything running. And, finally, it’s always helpful to contact an IT Consultant from the company of your choice that can paint a clearer picture for you. 

Start by writing a detailed Request for Proposal (RFP) that lists what you need and what you want to achieve. If you’re not sure what information to include, we recently wrote an article with all the information you would need to include in this document. A properly-made RFP will help you organize your requirements and plant the strong roots your project needs. 

 

3. Underwhelming Progress

We all know that things don’t always go as planned. However, most companies outsourcing software developers can’t afford the luxury of downtime. When your project is just not meeting the deadlines or the expected quality points, it can be very demotivating. In my experience, this can be the result of an overestimation by the client or an overselling offer by the vendor. Most of the time it’s a combination of both. 

However, the entire responsibility of the client lies in defining what is expected of the project, which we just talked about above. Once the vendor agrees to these goals (or a new version of them), it’s their job to make it happen. Whether what they offered was possible or not is on them. Of course, there are another million reasons why a project could slow down, but it shouldn’t. 

The key to avoid this is knowing your partner before starting development. Always, and I mean always, check references and past projects. These will give you some insights into their quality of work and let you see for yourself if what they do matches your needs. After that, it’s all about the talent of the developers you hire. At BairesDev, for example, we only hire the Top 1% of IT Talent to guarantee high-quality software delivery for our clients, every time. 

 

4. Subpar Collaboration

In software development, it takes two to tango. Outsourcing software developers is not as simple as passing a list of needs to someone else and expecting excellent results.  Whether you are outsourcing individual engineers or end-to-end software development to your IT partner, as a client you will always have to provide valuable feedback that moves your project forwards.  That’s why every development process must establish a clear workflow, which will vary from organization to organization. 

Your shared workflow will come down to how effectively you can communicate with your outsourced development team. Both parties should aim to shorten feedback loops, maintain a detailed backlog, and follow the development roadmap established at the beginning. There are 5 tactics you can use to keep up with all of this:

  • Live Chat: Chat apps such as Slack, Wrike, or Stride help establish easy, frequent, and real-time communication channels. These are the most uncomplicated ways of information-sharing. Their accessibility level is unmatched.
  • Daily Calls: Daily catch-up calls are great for getting quick progress updates and discussing any urgent issues. Everyone should be up to date in less than 15 minutes. As a client, this is great to keep on top of all the iterations of the project.
  • Backlog Meetings: Being part of the backlog meetings will give you the chance to stay on top of the product backlog, where you can contribute to how your outsourced team defines requirements, estimates, and blockers. 
  • Sprint Reviews: Attending the Sprint Review is a must. This is the moment your feedback has the largest effect and where you’ll be able to tell if the project is fulfilling your vision.
  • Face-to-face Meetings: Although not always necessary, face-to-face meetings are great for building trust and rapport between both parties, which leads to smoother cooperation down the road, and is fairly easy to arrange if you’re nearshoring.

If you want to learn more about collaboration and workflow matching, take a look at our guide on how to coordinate your workflow with a nearshore team. Also, keep in mind which software development metrics matter most for your project.

 

The Road to Success

Outsourcing software developers is a different journey for everyone. However, working with the right software company can truly be the difference between a smooth project and one full of inconveniences. What’s more, avoiding these pitfalls will get you 90% of the way there. So be sure to watch out for them in your next project!

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