Outsourcing has become a strategic imperative for companies looking to streamline operations, reduce costs, and accelerate their software development projects. Whether you’re a startup looking to build an MVP or an established enterprise aiming to scale your IT capabilities, choosing the right outsourcing partner is crucial. After all, the success of your project depends on the competence and reliability of your chosen partner. In this article, we’ll share eight smart tips for evaluating potential outsourcing partners to ensure you make an informed decision.
What are the benefits of having an outsourcing partner?
There are many benefits to outsourcing. However, it is essential that you choose the right outsourcing partner. As my colleague Christian Schraga mentioned in a recent blog post, offshore development is usually much cheaper than developing in-house, however offshore outsourcing comes with a lot of risks that need to be managed.
At CodeStringers we like to think that we’re the “best of both worlds” because we can offer offshore pricing while at the same time offering senior US-based leadership that can minimize the aforementioned risks.
Regardless of whether or not we can convince you to partner with us, we sincerely hope that we can persuade you to take your choice in outsourcing partners seriously. We have come up with eight rules that you can follow in order to increase your chances of making the right choice.
8 Tips for choosing an outsourcing partner
1. Establish Industry Experience
One of the first things to consider when evaluating an outsourcing partner is their industry experience. Look for a partner who has a proven track record in your specific industry or a related one. Industry-specific knowledge can make a significant difference in understanding your unique business needs, compliance requirements, and customer expectations. An experienced partner is more likely to provide valuable insights and deliver tailored solutions.
Look for an outsourcing partner that not only claims industry experience but can provide concrete examples of their work in your field. For instance, if you’re a healthcare startup, consider partnering with a company that has previously developed compliant healthcare software. Their understanding of regulations like HIPAA can streamline development and ensure data security.
See Our MasterControl Case Study for an example of how industry knowledge is essential when developing applications in the healthcare space.
2. Assess Technical Expertise
Technical expertise is the backbone of successful software development. Assess your potential outsourcing partner’s technical proficiency by reviewing their portfolio, examining the complexity of projects they’ve handled, and evaluating the qualifications of their development team. Ensure that they have experience with the technologies and tools relevant to your project.
Assessing technical expertise goes beyond checking a partner’s list of technologies. Ask for case studies showcasing how they solved complex technical challenges. For example, if you need a mobile app, inquire about their experience in optimizing app performance, dealing with cross-platform compatibility issues, or implementing robust security features.
On a related note, if an outsourcer is vehemently pushing you to use a particular technology, that is a red flag. It implies that they want you to use a technology that they know rather than the one that is best for you.
3. Ask for Client References and Samples
A reliable outsourcing partner should be able to provide client references and samples of their previous work. Reach out to their past clients to inquire about their experiences. This step can help you gain insights into the partner’s professionalism, communication skills, and project delivery capabilities. Additionally, reviewing their work samples will give you a sense of their design and coding standards.
When contacting client references, ask specific questions about the outsourcing partner’s performance. Did they meet deadlines? Were there any unexpected hurdles, and how were they handled? Request to see samples of their code or project documentation to gauge quality and adherence to best practices.
You also might want to consider contacting the clients that they DONT tell you to contact. Go through their client list and pick one at random. You might get a more honest assessment of their abilities than by talking to the reference that they cherry pick for you.
4. Inspect Communication and Client Management Systems
Effective communication is essential for a successful outsourcing partnership. Evaluate how the potential partner manages client communication. Do they have robust project management tools and processes in place? Are they responsive to emails and calls? A partner with efficient communication and client management systems will keep you informed and involved throughout the project’s lifecycle.
If you’re operating in a different time zone, your outsourcing vendor must make sure that both of your working hours meet to a certain degree to minimize communication gaps.
5. Check Infrastructure and Technologies
Review the infrastructure and technologies that your outsourcing partner uses. They should have a well-equipped development environment, secure data handling procedures, and the ability to scale resources when necessary. Ensure they stay updated with the latest industry trends and technologies to provide you with cutting-edge solutions.
If your project requires data handling or storage, inquire about their data security measures. Ensure they comply with data protection regulations like GDPR or CCPA if applicable. A real-world example would be to verify that they use encryption protocols for sensitive data and have robust backup and disaster recovery plans in place.
6. Calculate Costs
Cost-effectiveness is a significant motivation behind outsourcing, but it’s essential to understand the pricing structure and any hidden costs. Request a detailed breakdown of pricing, including hourly rates, project estimates, and any additional charges. It’s also crucial to consider the overall value you’ll receive, not just the upfront costs, to make an informed decision.
People said that “Fixed project costs can give you huge savings”. But you should be careful with the “fixed costs”. Performing a project under a fixed-price contract is riskier and less flexible than other projects (Lowden, G. & Thornton, J., 2015). Three main behavior patterns emerged quickly and persisted throughout the project: Over promising and under-delivering; Padding invoices due to “scope changes”; Shoddy work quality, etc.
7. Evaluate the Workforce
The success of your outsourced company will largely depend on the workforce and other factors with your outsourcing team. That said, you could review your vendor’s hiring policies and processes to help you highlight the knowledge, discipline, and technical and soft skills your business requires.
It might also be healthy for your company if your partner understands your corporate culture, including your values, beliefs, vision, mission statement, and medium of communication, and can adopt it into your outsourcing environment.
8. Gauge Financial Stability
The financial stability of your outsourcing partner is a critical factor. You want to ensure that they will be in business for the duration of your project and beyond. Evaluate their financial records, stability indicators, and any partnerships or alliances they have with other reputable organizations. This will help mitigate the risk of project disruption due to financial issues.
To gauge financial stability, look at their history of partnerships with established organizations. If they have a track record of collaborating with reputable companies, it’s a positive sign of their financial stability. If they’ve been around a while, odds are that they’ll be around a while longer.
Choosing the right outsourcing partner is a pivotal decision that can significantly impact your project’s success. By following these eight smart tips, you can make a more informed choice and increase the likelihood of forging a successful and long-lasting outsourcing partnership. Remember that thorough research and due diligence are key to finding a partner that aligns with your business goals, technical requirements, and budget constraints. With the right partner by your side, you can achieve your software development objectives efficiently and effectively.