The software development industry is full of its fair share of outsourcing horror stories. Talk to any software project manager or SaaS startup owner, and at least 1 out of 3 will recount an experience where they were let down by sub-par code and shady practices. But on the other hand, a number of tech startups and software firms have utilized outsourcing to their advantage, gaining an edge over competition and ultimately fueling business growth. Are remote development teams a business risk, or a potential source of high quality talent for your company?
In order make the tactical decision of whether or not to outsource software development remotely, project owners must choose the right remote development team by carrying out an expansive market research. In doing so, there will be a stack of important questions that will need to be addressed for better judgment of the market, and eventually picking the more qualified remote development partner. These questions can then be translated into a set of practices, procedures and guidelines that if put in place will ensure efficiency throughout the development process and an optimal output.
Selecting a Remote Development Team Partner
There is a vast number of remote development service providers to choose from, but a structured market research and a few top-of-the-mind questions will lead any company looking to outsource, to the right vendor. Best practices for selecting a remote development team should include asking for verified reviews, assessment of service delivery infrastructure, and analysis of value additions provided.
- Does the remote development service provider have reviews of their service? These can be in the form of client testimonials, case studies, comments, ratings and similar measurable metrics. But most importantly, how many of these are verified reviews?
- Are their service delivery centers up to the mark and do they offer state-of-the-art infrastructure?
- What kind of value-added services does the remote development partner provide? Is there direct access to the developers involved?
The next step in finding the right outsourced vendor for a development project, is to look into the profiles and work history of their individual developers on offer. Best practices for developer vetting should include technical and communication skills assessment, and assessment of business culture knowledge.
- Is there a system for rigorous technical assessments in place, attesting developers’ level of proficiency?
- Are the developers put through written and verbal communication tests to ensure their ability to communicate with clients?
- Are the developers imparted with the ability to learn and adapt to international business cultures?
- If the developers are of a certain programming expertise such as .net development, are they educated to view that as just one single tool in their development stack arsenal?
Other than the regular legal formalities, there are certain other important steps that must be taken to in order to ensure investment security and project deliverability. These must be to make sure that every aspect of the contract is crystal clear and the development service provider clearly outlines exactly what they will provide and what they will not. Best practices for the onboarding process should include contract details and flexibility, as well as operational and legal security provided within the contracts.
- Does the remote development partner award clients more authority over contract continuity and processes? Are the contracts renewable on a month-to-month basis?
- Is there an option to scale up and scale down development resources as needed?
- Are non-disclosure agreements put in place as an essential contractual element to protect the client’s intellectual property? Is there awareness and enforceability among the development teams so as to prevent the client’s code and other technical information from being leaked, disclosed or copied?
- Are the contract and confidentiality agreement binding by international law?
The first impression that a service providing firm makes, will be the judge of what that firm is capable of. For the purpose of smoothing out the initial steps in a development project, the best practices for project inception should include an accurate estimation of development sprints, their timelines and deliverables, and role assignments for all remote team members.
- Are project sprints, milestones, tasks and deliverables estimated accurately and set before work begins?
- Does the project lead ensure that the number of employees assigned is appropriate and meets the client’s requirements? For example in an average sized development project, there may be a single UI designer, 2-3 backend developers and a team lead.
- Are role assignment done accurately, and is everyone clear on their responsibilities?
In addition to the initial steps that require project sprints to be created, there is a process of milestone creation along these sprints that may be on a daily or weekly basis, depending upon prior agreements. Best practices for development sprint cycles should include accountability measures for each remote team member and all others involved.
- Does each individual have a set of targets related to their performance, input in the project, deliverables met, as well as personal learning and skill development during the project sprint cycles? To what extent are they meeting their targets?
- Do these milestones allow the client to readily check actual work progress and how each member of the remote team is performing?
- Is the entire duration of a project sprint optimized to ensure collaboration, accountability and tasks deliverability? Are there value-ads such as a working hours overlap to facilitate real-time communication?
After vigorous coding, testing and optimization processes, the development project hits a final milestone: the completion and delivery stage. Once the final deliverable is confirmed by client, the project may then be deemed complete or renewed for further enhancements. Best practices for project delivery should include code security, proper QA, working demos and client/end user satisfaction.
- Is the code transferred to the project owner in a secure manner?
- Is there proper quality assurance carried out to make sure there are no bugs post-deployment?
- Are end user demos provided to the client?
- Do the developers put in their 110 percent until the client as well as end user are satisfied?
- Is there on-going technical support post project delivery?
More often than not, hiring remote development teams can be a reliable alternative to the costly option of hiring in-house resources. While there are many outsourcing companies that fail in service delivery due to a lack of standard procedures, smart outsourced development service providers are opting for a hybrid team model to sync their services at par with client requirements. The addition of a structured set of best practices ensures that there is minimum to no lapse in service quality throughout the entire software development process. These best practices should therefore be the criteria for choosing and managing an ideal remote software development team.
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