Ideally, expectations should be clear at the start of any type of professional relationship. This is especially true when you are working with a person, a team, or company outside of your own. Unfortunately, this does not happen all the time.
While outsourcing is becoming the go-to solution to improve business production at a fraction of a cost, many clients dive into outsourcing software developers with the wrong expectations.
In the software development industry, there are many misconceptions resulting in wrong expectations. A mismatch between the clients’ expectations and the reality of the situation can cost time and money.
Avoid having false expectations at the outset of your software development project. Here’s a list of wrong expectations most clients have when outsourcing software development services.
Mistake #1: Fixed-priced project equates to cheap, fast, and quality work
Many clients get into outsourcing to save on costs and demand fixed pricing on their projects without having thorough requirements. Unfortunately, providers who give the green light to work on fixed-price projects are only setting the project up for failure. Some providers use this tactic to win the project, only to ask for additional charges once the point of no-return is reached.
While it’s nearly impossible for a client to provide the outsourcing team a complete list of requirements for an entire project, it is possible to have very well defined requirements. However, most clients and providers jump into the fixed-cost ship way too early in the requirement definition process, leaving lots of room for interpretation, and therefore delays and additional costs.
Software development is a complex job. It requires constant improving and tweaking along the way. Putting a cap on how much you’re willing to spend on the entire project – if you are not willing to define it very well from the start – limits the ways to solve issues of your software that can arise. Down the road, it will force your developers to cut corners and neglect other tasks which result in a low-quality software since your project will have been grossly underestimated.
Mistake #2: Proprietary CMS, framework or platform is easy to learn and use
Letting your service provider build your software on a proprietary framework instead of a widely used one will cause problems later on.
A proprietary framework or platform, while it’s convenient for the provider who has developed the solution, poses many issues down the road if the relationship goes sour, or if the requirements evolve over time and become too different from the initial idea. Some framework is just not evolutive enough. The end-product will likely be hard to maintain by another provider, lacks support, and can only be upgraded by the same provider. It sounds like a forced marriage.
It’s better to have your project built on a widely used and supported framework with a vibrant community such as Symfony, Laravel, etc. This way, even if you part ways with your first developers, you or your next service provider can quickly pick up where the project left off, with a minimal learning curve which is inherent to any software development project.
Mistake #3: It’s okay not to have source code access on a regular basis
Don’t let your outsourced software development team keep you in the dark regarding the status and components of your source code. Instead of allowing your provider to keep the source code until the final payment, demand the latest version of your software’s source code every time you pay.
It would be better if you have someone with technical know-how on your side to regularly check the source code and look over the progress of the development. By doing these, you can pinpoint issues or if something is amiss early on.
Mistake #4: Price is the only deciding factor
Cheap software development rates can be very tempting, especially if you’re a startup with a limited budget to spare for the project. However, what you really should be looking for is an outsourcing company that can provide value for the fee you’re paying.
Check first if your chosen development team possesses the right skills and experience to get the job done. It’s better to pay extra when you know that your developers will surely deliver quality work rather than risk getting a lousy output for the promise of saving a few bucks.
Mistake #5: Having a software development partner who can code is enough
When you’re outsourcing a team of software developers, you probably expect them to just do the programming. Don’t limit yourself to such an arrangement.
On top of their software development expertise, look for an outsourcing team that has the ability to offer other services you might need as your relationship and your company evolves. Your chosen provider should also be able to guide you throughout the project. Find developers that can understand your needs and improve upon your initial project plans with additional services such as UI / UX design, business analysis, software architecture, customer or user support, server management, etc.
But remember, no amount of skills will save your project if your developers simply don’t care enough to deliver the best output possible. You’ll be working with your development team in every step of the way, so make sure to thoroughly evaluate your team before jumping on the ship.
Mistake #6: Development firms can do the job without your support
Many clients don’t take on a hands-on approach when outsourcing software development. Their rationale is that developers are the ones with the skills and all that’s left for the client to do is to wait until the product is done. This shouldn’t be the case.
Collaboration should be the foundation of your relationship with your service provider. This means that you should work with your partner from building or by refining the specifications of the project until it is delivered as you expect it. This is a regular and time consuming but highly rewarding process if done well.
Likewise, you should be open to their comments, suggestions, and questions to keep the project moving towards the right direction.
Mistake #7: Stock or stock options are ideal ways to fund initial software development
While work for equity is an option, remember that monetary payment for the software development project will enable it to progress faster.
If your outsourcing company is essentially working for free on your project, you probably won’t get that much attention once they get paying clients lined up. When your project falls down the priority list, so does its quality and timeliness of its delivery.
Great (Yet Well-Managed) Expectations
Wrong expectations can only lead to bad results. Start your outsourcing relationship right by clearly laying down your project specifications and requirements early on. Keep communication lines open at all times to foster involvement and collaboration. By outsourcing with a clear mind and goal, it’s easier to manage expectations and create a superior software.
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