IT Outsourcing: Getting it right
IT outsourcing is growing faster than ever, but how do you know it’s right for your company? Here are ten educational tips from Lanna Softworks to help you make the right decision with your IT Outsourcing decisions.
Is Your Project Right for Outsourcing?
Not all projects are suitable for IT outsourcing. Projects that benefit most have specific requirements or require skills that your in-house team may lack. For software companies, outsourcing core components may not be a good choice, but add-ons and extensions can be. Imagine your company is developing a large add-on component for a software application. This component requires a framework that your developers aren’t familiar with, or it’s large enough that it requires a team of developers that you can’t allocate. Instead of giving up, you can outsource it to a team of dedicated professionals who will develop, test, and integrate the component into the core application. At the same time, your internal development team can focus on the quality and features of the core product.
Form a Plan
Before an outsourcing vendor can understand your requirements, you need to understand them yourself. Clear, realistic objectives with well-defined timeframes make it easier for vendors to provide realistic proposals. The more information you give, the better they can estimate the size and cost of the final project. While not all plans go as expected, a well-defined plan has a much greater chance of recovery than a poorly-defined plan.
Choose Someone You Can Trust
Your service provider becomes an extension of your organization so choose a provider that not only understands your industry, but is also fully aligned with your business objectives and culture. For larger projects and long-term contracts, you might consider launching a small pilot project to form a relationship with the vendor.
Get a Dedicated Team
Many IT outsourcing companies offer development services in the traditional ‘Time & Material’ model. With T&M, payment is based on the time and scope of the project. However, many providers allocate T&M projects to their developers based on availability rather than previous experience. When outsourcing multiple projects or long-term contracts, waiting for new developers to get up to speed can become costly and time-consuming. Dedicated teams are quickly becoming the preferred model for companies looking for specialized and exclusive development resources. Dedicated teams are made up of developers who work on your project from inception to completion. The result is a team that thoroughly understands your needs, allowing you to focus on long-term projects without the cost and overheads of training new developers.
Agile Development is characterized by multiple development iterations, frequent deliverables and constant communication. Compared to traditional models, the Agile model uses shorter development periods with smaller milestones. Testing is done concurrently with development, and multiple revisions are delivered before the final release. Additionally, this model lets you handle changes with greater flexibility and ease. One benefit of Agile Development is that it works for companies of all sizes. Some years ago Yahoo! trialed an Agile model known as Scrum across four teams. After completing initial training, each team split their development cycle into 30-day iterations known as sprints. After just one sprint, an internal survey showed 74 percent of the respondents found Scrum to be more effective than their previous methods. Most respondents also found that it helped clarify development goals, increase collaboration, reduce the amount of wasted time and work, and improve the quality of code. In short, Agile Development allowed Yahoo!’s development teams to deliver a higher quality product faster than they could before.
Don’t Choose Based Solely on Price
Price isn’t always the best measure of quality. The best vendors are those that offer a balance of value and quality. A common recommendation from experienced outsources is to immediately discard the highest-priced and lowest-priced bids. You’re more inclined to choose a vendor based on what they provide rather than what they charge.
Outsource Your R&D
The rise in outsourced development has been linked to a rise in outsourced research. Many organizations prefer in-house R&D since it allows them to maintain complete ownership over the knowledge gained. However, outsourced R&D helps organizations tap into resources that often offer more expertise, more manpower and a faster time to market. Virtual Captive Units are a form of outsourced R&D where vendors create an offshore R&D center focusing solely on the needs of the clients.
Documentation is a big factor to tracking the progress and functionality of your project. Not only does it provide insight into the actions of the vendor, but it ensures your internal developers can quickly start working on the project after the end of the contract. Documentation can come in the form of code comments, API documentation, manuals and user guides, code commit messages or issues submitted to a centralized tracker.
Constant communication ensures both parties stay engaged and aware of changes to the project. This can be somewhat difficult when offshoring, especially when both parties are spread across time zones. However, the success of the project depends on both parties quickly communicating any quality issues, concerns and requirement changes. If you can’t communicate face-to-face, over phone or video-conferencing, consider using email, project trackers or other forms of asynchronous communication.
Own Your Project
As an IT manager, stay involved with your outsourcing project as though it were being handled in-house. Track changes, updates, and objectives. Be sure to monitor the quality of the code and convey any concerns or doubts immediately. You don’t need to micro-manage the developers – that’s the provider’s job – but you do need to ensure that they remain aligned with your timeline and goals.
Why outsource to Lanna Softworks?
Lanna Softworks can help with many aspects of IT outsourcing. We have a strong track record of satisfied clients. Contact us today for a no obligation discussion about the IT outsourcing services we offer to clients locally, regionally and globally.