Don’t Risk It: Avoid These Common Mistakes When You Outsource Software Development

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Imagine that you’ve decided outsourcing is the best route for your software development, and you’re hoping to realize benefits such as cost savings, a faster ramp-up and more time to focus on core competencies. However, do you know where to start? I’ve seen a few common mistakes ruin tech executives’ efforts to outsource.

Below, I’ve outlined three common mistakes I’ve seen people make when trying to outsource, and how you can avoid making them yourself.

Mistake No. 1: Neglecting To Ask The Big Questions Upfront

The results from outsourcing software development can be great, but the initial step is to ask questions and have serious conversations before selecting an agency. For example, do you know the technical and business criteria that you’re looking for in a potential software provider?

“It’s critical to fully define your requirements before you sit down to evaluate an outsourcing company,” says Tim Porzio, an information systems and technology vice president for Sodexo North America, in a blog post. He suggests that companies enter the vendor selection process well-prepared. “Start with your desired end result in mind. Ask yourself, ‘What does an exceptional experience and partnership look like to me?’”

Robert Moskowitz from Intuit Quickbooks suggests that a company ask one crucial question at the start: How stable is the vendor? “By outsourcing essential tasks, you’re making your company dependent on a third party,” says Moskowitz. “A vendor’s errors and shortcomings will invariably affect your operations, and any instability may make it difficult for your employees to do their jobs. Inspect the premises and the equipment a vendor plans to use to meet your service requirements. Check the vendor’s references (i.e., talk with its other clients), so that you’ll know what to expect.”

Other common but important questions to ask your software service provider include: What is the technical focus of your company? What is your hiring and team-building process? What are your rates, start dates? How do you handle intellectual property rights? Security also needs to be on your list of questions. I don’t know any company that outsources technology initiatives without giving serious thought to the topic. Find out how your software provider handles incident management, disaster recovery and data security.

Porzio also suggests that if you only ask one question, make sure it’s: How do you ensure that our data is properly secured? Porzio says: “Be sure to listen for responses that include documented policies and procedures, certifications to meet industry regulations, use of third party audits and, lastly, regular assessments of their systems to look for vulnerabilities.”