Your step-by-step guide to outsourcing software development

Outsourcing is a popular business trend, especially when it comes to app or software development. Many companies hire an external team of developers to carry their vision through to completion, and it’s easy to see why. Saving money, conserving time, and bringing in experts are just a few of the reasons to outsource.

But if you’ve never outsourced before, where do you start?

Here are some tips and steps to get you started.

Which pricing model should you use for outsourcing?

One of the great things about outsourcing is that there’s not just one way to do it. Depending on your project, resources, and objectives, you can chart your own course using one of the following models:

  • Project-based
  • Dedicated team
  • Staff augmentation
  • Time and material
  • Fixed price
1. Project-based

In this model, you outsource the entire project from beginning to end. Your outsourced team handles all components of the project, including management, then hands it back to you once the project is completed.

With this model, you’ll generally decide pricing ahead of time, which means you don’t necessarily pay by the hour. That makes this a great model for projects where the scope is fixed and the requirements won’t change.

2. Dedicated team

Other times, it may work better to simply outsource a team to work on the project with you. In this case, you can hire professionals to serve as an extension of your team, but they’ll still work in conjunction with you and your internal team throughout the project. In this model, you’ll usually decide pricing based on the number of team members and number of hours.

3. Staff augmentation

In this approach, you’ll still hire an outsourced team to work on the project, but you’ll manage them. This may be a good approach if you want to be deeply involved in the development process.

4. Time and material

Many developers prefer the time and material model. This approach typically follows the Agile methodology, which allows you to be involved in the development and remain in open communication with your outsourced team.

If parts of the scope change during development, which often happens, this approach makes it easy for you to reassess and keep moving forward. Pricing is typically calculated based on hours of work.

5. Fixed price

Fixed price used to be the way to go, but these days, most people prefer a more flexible model. In fixed price, you determine pricing and scope upfront. That means that if you run into bugs, decide to add more features, or realize you need to adjust your project goals, you’ll have to open a new contract. Doing so will usually cause a significant delay.

Then again, if your project is small and clearly defined, and if you’re 100% sure the requirements and schedule won’t change during development, fixed price may be the right model for you.

3 steps for smart, successful outsourcing

So how do you go about outsourcing? Where do you start, how do you find a team, and how do you choose the right one? Here are three steps to get you on your way.

1. Clarify your goals for the project—and for outsourcing

If you haven’t already, write down your goals for the project and communicate them clearly to your own internal team. Make sure everyone who will be involved in the project is on the same page regarding what your goals are.

Next, think about what you plan to accomplish by outsourcing. While the benefits of outsourcing are many, try and narrow it down to just a few. Are you outsourcing because you need a capable team? Need your project completed quickly? Need to conserve resources?

Once you have all these goals clearly defined, it will be easier for you to both choose an outsourcing team and communicate your goals to them.

2. Search for outsourcing companies

At first glance, finding your outsourcing partner may seem like the hardest step in the process. Luckily, in the internet age there are plenty of ways to go about finding great developers.

As usual, one of the best ways is to ask around. If a development team comes recommended, you can be more confident that they’ll do the job well.

But an online search can be just as fruitful. Sites like Toptal, Hired, and Upwork can help match you with a developer for your project, and allow you to sift through applications for the best fit. Ideally, look for applicants who have high ratings and plenty of experience.

Alternately, you might simply try a Google search. Plug in something like “best development companies in x” and see what comes up. Again, look for companies with experience, portfolios or case studies, and good reviews.

3. Narrow it down

Narrow it down Once you’ve created a shortlist of a few companies or developers you think would be a good fit, it’s time to reach out. As you talk with potential developers, be sure to communicate the goals you defined in step 1

It’s also a good idea to ask about each developer or development company’s work process, how big their team is, which technologies and development languages they use, and whether they’ve worked on projects similar to yours in the past.

Based on the answers you get, you can narrow it down to the developers you feel will best accomplish your goals and mesh with your own team.

Next steps

Once you’ve chosen your outsourcing team, you’ll want to meet again to decide pricing, scope, and the best way to get started. If your outsourced team is experienced, they may have their own suggestions for how best to do that, including which platforms to use, documents to sign, and outsourcing model to follow.

No matter which model you choose, it’s vital to keep communicating openly throughout the project, whether by email, regular virtual or in-person meetings, or a team platform like Slack.

With clearly defined project goals, a well thought-out pricing model, and a stellar outsourcing team, you’re on your way to a successful project

Need an experienced, highly rated outsourcing team? We have more than 20 years in app and software development, and we’re happy to talk. Contact us now to get started.

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