The Problems with Outsourcing
Outsourcing can be a frightening prospect for many companies. Moving internal process and workloads over to a third-party organization isn’t a walk in the park. We are faced with a lot of difficult and complex problems when working with clients. They are usually unique to a specific project and require us to find new angles of approach. We have identified some of the leading problems faced by businesses looking to outsource and how we solve them.
Misunderstanding the Specifications
Nailing the requirements on day one will save a lot of frustration further down the road. It is important the nail those requirements as soon as we can to give us and the client a better picture of the road ahead. A minor detail at the starting line can have a major impact on the finished product. We also know how difficult it is to define the specification at the starting line – there are hundreds of factors which will not show themselves until the project is underway. Using our past experiences when defining a project can help us pick out some of those hidden bumps in the road waiting to spring up. We also allow for changes to the project scope during its life cycle which helps with planning for the unexpected.
Client Side Team Integration
Making sure we form a good relationship with any client-side teams is crucial to the success of the project. We will integrate the teams on the client side with our own to ensure a seamless framework is in place. A clash of personalities can be a real problem and is something we are eager to act on as soon as possible. To make sure we are fully in sync we will implement measures like the use of Trello boards and live video stand-up meetings to include the whole team on both sides. It is important to keep an open and constant line of communication which is why we also use tools like Slack – this means we can also link to other tools like Jenkins to help centralise discussion over automated testing.
There has to be an understanding that there will be a requirement on our side that the client, to some extent, must be in the loop. Maintaining a clear line of communication is key to the success of an outsourced project. Being left in the dark is never a good feeling. We take pride in knowing that our communications are as clear as possible. We do something many companies would never dare to do – we invite our clients to be part of the development Slack channels. These channels are used by the developers and Scrummasters every day to monitor automated testing and discuss current tasks and issues. They are an informal but crucial part of our commitment to providing full transparency to our clients. Being able to get right into the thick of it and get a first-hand view of what’s happening can really help.
Keeping up with the competition means being able to adapt and move with rising trends in the market. Our ability to implement and release updates and new features swiftly is paramount to the success of any software development project. We define the timeline, not the scope. This gives our clients the option to take the helm and change direction quickly when needed. As our development cycle is Agile, we can rearrange and re-prioritise feature requests which can then be added to the following development cycle or “Sprint” as we call it. We take pride in our reaction speeds and make sure that our clients know this. There are, of course, a handful of other factors to weigh in on when deciding to make quick feature requests. The most important being the delay to current work within the project timeline. We will always outline the risks and complications that may arise and suggest alternatives if possible.
We put our clients first. When we build teams, they are crafted using a range of calculations and unique factors to build the perfect setup. We understand that circumstances may change over time and that the requirements of a project may shift drastically, causing us to change our setup. As projects grow, so will the capacity of work – we are constantly on standby with a huge pool of potential new talent which we can tap into to help expand our work output for you. On average, we receive sixty applicants for every one hired. Our in-house recruitment team work hard to guarantee the right talent is found for your project.
Before we even discuss skill sets with new applicants, we assess their ability to work as part of a team. Our first interview with anybody looking to work for us will be about their teamwork skills and their ability to work on shared projects. We’re not looking for rock stars, we’re looking for team-players.
Defining priority in the first place is a big task. It might not seem like it is but actually breaking down the critical list of things “we need now” can unearth list upon list of other prerequisites. The initial workshops will be to determine the actual order of priority and where they fall on the development timeline. We operate in Sprints where we decide on the tasks that will be done during a set time period. It is unusual that we will add features during an active development cycle as this will impede our ability to complete the scheduled workload which also has a higher priority.
“We need all of this to be up and running to 1 million customers in 3 months” – Okay, so that may be possible if the team size is 100x larger along with the budget. A lot of outsourcing companies will say yes to any requirement, in any time-frame, for any cost. Just so they can win the contract. This is a bad way to go about outsourcing and is something we’re strongly against. We want to manage a client’s expectations from day one. Each client has their own team. We don’t trade developers between projects and we don’t keep them waiting on the backbench driving up costs. If a scope is drawn out with the correct requirements and an achievable timeline, we will tell you. If it’s unrealistic, we will also tell you. There is little point in agreeing to an unachievable goal.
Outsourcing seems to have picked up a bad name somewhere along the line and it’s something we’re eager to change. We make the process as transparent as possible. We push back against decisions if we believe they are harmful to the project and suggest alternatives. There is no easy route to take when moving to an outsourcing solution. Our experience has taught us that the end result is worth it. We are now over 100 strong, developing long-term projects for some of the largest companies in the world. There’s no single path when outsourcing a project. Each scenario will have its’ own unique set of problems to overcome and will need detailed analysis before a project can commence. We aim to make this process as simple as possible.
Come and see us on stand TT82 at TTE to find out more about outsourcing.