Clearly define the product, audience and deliverables
When you’re outsourcing software development, a failure to clearly communicate key requirements guarantees a disaster. Be clear about what you want, whether it is a database migration, new software application, a smart phone app or something else.
Clearly identify the user so you can select the right user interface. Are you going for the general consumer who could use the app or play a game? Are you trying to sell to other businesses software that helps them do their job? Determine who your customer is and what they want so that you can ensure the end product meets their performance characteristics to ensure software compatibility.Do your due diligence with potential software vendors
Sole sourcing is common for many businesses, but this is a mistake. Research what types of skills are needed for the latest project. Verify that your current software vendor can deliver on the project but remember to shop around. Be open to your preferred IT vendor outsourcing to a more qualified software development company
, but require transparency. Know who has access to your system and data. Verify that the people doing the actual coding understand your requirements. Ask about their portfolio of work and successes with projects like yours.Be part of the project
Don’t hand off your requirements list or basic design and leave it to the software developer. Assign the most expert person on your team to supervise the project. They should act as a technical liaison, explaining requirements as needed. Another role is providing feedback on user interfaces and assisting with testing to make sure you’re happy with the result. A side benefit of assigning one of your best coders to the project instead of a project manager is that they’ll recognise when the developer takes shortcuts that undercut key aspects of the software’s design.Manage change managementChange management
is the process of managing and tracking changes to a project. Implement change management so that someone doesn’t throw in extra requirements not reviewed by others, much less having the impact to the schedule and budget discussed.
Don’t let someone chip in new designs, randomly revising the user interface or website. Nor should new features be added to the to-do list, since this will only slow down the project and possibly impact on the quality if the project schedule and budget aren’t changed. Regardless of who you select, adopt agile principles so that you can make rapid changes.Create an outsourcing department if you do it often
If you will be outsourcing projects regularly, set up a dedicated team for oversight. This dedicated team should include your top IT experts as well as project managers. This keeps the software project management expertise within the company and keeps your company in control of IT development regardless of which software developers you use. Now there are designated points of contact to project feedback and established lines of communication.
Software development done right saves time and money while leaving your own team free to pursue other projects. However, you can’t just give them a vague generalisation and expect a finished product that does everything you want and need.