With economic uncertainty in the UK, is now the time to outsource development?

A blog about outsourcing software development and some tips on what to look for in the selection of the right partner.

With economic uncertainty seemingly a mainstay of life in the UK, businesses are naturally keeping an eye on future spend and potential ways to reign in cost. One of those options is to consider outsourcing your software development needs to remote teams.

Getting a great team of developers in the one place isn’t always easy, but software development isn’t different to any other business problem; great team dynamics and strong communication is absolutely vital. Whilst some may be hesitant, organisations shouldn't feel that having a remote team is a barrier to success.

I have teams in Hungary and Spain servicing a number of clients in the UK and there is one key differentiator that provides the best chance of success; we have senior representatives from these teams and a management layer living in the UK. Whether the work goes to Spain or Hungary, we’ll always kick off the relationship face to face with members of our remote teams delivering the work.

There are a number of factors involved in answering the outsource question, but here are a few examples of when it might be the right time:

  • When your budget is constrained and you don't want to hire permanent developers
  • You don’t have any interest in technology or hiring and managing a technology team
  • You don't want to increase the size of your team, but your roadmap is always full to bursting

Many companies are waking up to the fact that having a development team directly under your nose doesn’t mean it will be effective. The tools and methods for remote working are successfully embedded in some very well-known enterprises. For the price of cobbling together a disparate team of skillful but inexperienced developers, you could have a remote team with bags of experience, assembled for the client need and with an appropriate layer of management ensuring it all stays on track. If you’re looking at outsourcing development, here are some tips of what you should look out for:

  • They should have highly skilled leaders who can help make the right calls about your technology stack
  • They have a local presence to shape your requirements and deal with any issues face to face
  • The team is well established and has well refined remote working practices
  • They should be looking to build a Continuous Integration/Deployment platform or embedding themselves into yours
  • If you’re interested, they should be open to allowing you access to their Github (or equivalent) code commits and you should expect these commits to be happening regularly
  • They should be able to offer regular demonstrations of their progress
  • They should be willing to keep your backlog/board up to date to view progress at a business level
  • They should be willing to work with your team, but tactfully raise issues if your team are potentially slowing down delivery
  • They should treat your platform with great care and not as an experimental toy
  • They should be asking to collaborate on an instant messaging platform (such as Slack). The ability to regularly communicate with the product owner(s) is crucial

A decent place to kick off a new outsourced relationship is identifying a small project or prototype. This should spotlight the willingness and quality of the partner you’ve chosen.

From a suppliers' perspective, it's important your new partners be given space to succeed and not be tarnished by any negative experiences of previous incumbents.

I’m always interested in the experience of others, therefore please feel free to share some of your own, be they good or bad!

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