Choosing the right software development partner is the key factor in successful outsourcing. How do you find the best outsourcing partner? Where to start and what your requirements should look like?
There are a lot of aspects you should take into consideration during the process, the same way as they were when purchasing a final product. People tend to look for the lowest price and the best fit for their requirements.
What they are forgetting about is that hiring a vendor is like hiring a team of engineers for your project. It should be as much thought through process as in the case of employing people. You would not take hire the first person whose resume lands on your lap. Therefore, you should not take the first outsourcing company you come across.
At first, you might feel overwhelmed by the number of vendors to pick from. It seems like nowadays everybody seems to be into outsourcing in one way or another. Hiring a ready-made team is the best option from the business point of view.
You do not have time or money to spend researching single developers and trying to create a team. Somebody who is been working together for some time in the same office will deliver the best, most cohesive work while following well-defined and established a set of rules and practices.
Generally speaking, the entire process of choosing a custom software development company can be narrowed down to three steps:
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1. Search for outsourcing companies
Looking for potential outsourcing partners can be done in one of three ways: by searching the internet (including online catalogues), a personal reference from a friend or another company and finally, you can be contacted by the vendor directly.
A personal reference is the most common way of getting vendor information. In this industry, relationships are important that is why outsourcing companies take care of their relationships with their clients.
Googling vendors is also an option. When doing so, remember to be specific, use technical keywords, but try not to type in long phrases that can narrow down the search results. You can visit catalogues like clutch.co or goodfirms.com where many firms position themselves.
It is also possible that the vendor will contact you on its own. Here you should also pay close attention to who they are and what they do, do not put them on your list of potential candidates just because they came to you, but on the other hand, don’t cross them out straight away.
What to look for
When you find your candidates, visit their website and carefully go through it. Here are some key points to look out for:
Companies tend to publish their clients’ testimonials on their websites or previously mentioned firm catalogues. Client reviews will give you an idea of the collaboration process and the vendor’s relationship with previous partners.
Take a look at their portfolio and case studies. They usually include detailed descriptions of their previous works, functionalities, technologies used.
Many companies have a blog where they share their technical as well as business knowledge. This is a good source to look into when reviewing specific developers.
Take into consideration the number of years of the market and the company’s size - to make sure there are enough qualified engineers you are looking for. Ask about the structure and type of management. Choosing a company that works with Agile principles will bring a lot of benefits to the overall quality of your product and a better return of investment.
2. Key criteria and vendors sifting
This is the time to dive deeper into the process. You can take different approaches to choosing the right partner:
This is the most common among first-time outsourcers. Price is the easiest and quickest advantage to compare and if you are on a budget it will definitely have an influence on the final decision.
This approach depends on the main focus of your development. If you need help with UX you will look for partners with experience in website design. On the other hand, you can decide to go with a vendor that has previously worked with companies within the same sector as you. You can also decide to choose your vendor focusing on the main technology of expertise if you are already started developing your product in a specific language.
Some founders decide to focus on vendor’s management principles, how they run their projects, how they handle communication, what is your role in the process. The most popular approach is using Agile methodologies.
People who have outsourced before and do not have the best experience connected to how the communication was handled will take a communication-oriented approach. In outsourcing, it is crucial that your service provider communicates clearly and has a good understanding of your needs.
When you finally narrow down your choices, this is the right time to schedule calls with your prospects. Calls are more personal than emails and will help you check the overall communication, English skills etc.
The call is your opportunity to ask more detailed questions, like the ones from our recent article - 10 questions you should ask a software outsourcing company.
In this step, you can also ask developers to perform a trial job - this way you will be able to check out their code proposed solutions and speed of development.
3. Choose your custom software development company
The final step in the process is, taking everything into consideration, to choose the vendor that will be your development partner. This is also the step when you have to negotiate contracts.
When negotiating, take into consideration aspects like:
- security matters - there will be sensitive data involved, no matter the project type. It is crucial that your partner takes security seriously
- rights to the intellectual property - you are the owner of everything that will be produced during the outsourcing process
- copyright assignment - it is usually a separate part of the contract to assign all the copyrights to you
- term and termination - the contract should include the length of the collaboration and the conditions under which each side can terminate it
- conflict of interest - both companies should agree not to enter into agreements with competing businesses
There are many other elements that an outsourcing contract should include. Before you sign anything, remember to contact your attorney for professional legal advice to avoid potential problems.
When discussing the agreement and legal protections make sure to talk about the technical and physical protection that you will both use. VPN, encryption and firewall should be enough to protect electronic documents and the source code. Physical security like locking the computers in secured rooms or even hiring security guards (in larger businesses and some countries) should also be discussed.
The success and quality of your future product depend on the skill and experience of the software development company you decide to work with. This is why you should take time to research agencies that will help you achieve your business goals. The above points are just guidelines that can lead you through the process, so feel free to dive deeper.