Five Questions to Help You Approach Outsourced Product Development With Offshore Companies

5/1/2014, written by Cindy Wolf

Categories: Product Development, ISV

Blog-for-Outsourcing-Scorecard_imgProduct companies looking for an outsourcing partner for software product development have a lot to consider. Finding the right partner is tough enough under normal circumstances. But adding considerations for different geographies and time zones makes an effective product codevelopment partnership more complex.

With almost two decades of experience as a global provider for outsourced product development services to leading Independent Software Vendors (ISV), Nagarro can shed some light in this area. We’ve handled all sorts of partnership engagements across the map, and can help you anticipate issues you’ll need to resolve for successful product development in a distributed setting.

Here are five questions that should help you “think through” some of your challenges:

Q1: Will you know the status of each task, even when it is 2pm in your office and 2am at your outsourcing partner’s location?

 

Time zone differences can be both a blessing and a problem. While many believe a ‘follow the sun’ approach of 24×7 development is the way to go, the reality is that such an approach is very difficult to implement successfully. It is important to define your engagement strategy and provide a methodology for communication and status reporting of tasks, especially if the work hours do not significantly overlap. Does your prospective partner offer a communication and status tracking process that works with your needs?

Q2: Will you be informed whenever an issue is raised or there is a roadblock, and if so, is it within seconds or days?

 

There may be issues or bugs that occur that are critical to the successful and timely release of your software product. Throughout the product development lifecycle, defects and issues need to be escalated promptly, systematically and if possible, automatically. Do they have an escalation or notification system in place to inform you whenever there is an issue?

Q3: Can you ensure that the development team is responsive enough to keep up with changing requirements?

 

If you are like most fast-growing product companies, you can expect requirements to change during the development lifecycle. While this may be from factors outside your control, managing the new requirements and executing on them may be critical to success. Are you confident that your development team can dynamically track the changing requirements, modify project plans and assign extra resources if needed?

Q4: Have you considered how to manage agile development processes in a distributed setting?

 

If you have aggressive time-to-market deadlines and plan for the continual integration of new requirements, you might opt for agile development models such as Scrum, XP or Crystal. Agile models can help product engineering teams increase productivity and flexibility, while decreasing overhead. These processes also reduce formal documentation; however, they increase the emphasis on face-to-face and informal communication. Do they have the collaboration systems in place to leverage the benefits of agile processes in a distributed setting?

Q5: Are you confident the product development program will not be affected by personnel changes?

 

Attrition and re-organizations are a fact of life and may affect the composition of your product engineering team during your partnership. If you choose to be in a long-term engagement with your outsourcing partner, future releases and new product development would also depend on ensuring the continuity of key skill sets. Do they have robust knowledge management practices to ensure that transitions occur with minimal impact?

These five questions help to show the scope of collaboration you’ll need to work out with your offshore software development partner. It should be clear from this exercise that finding the right outsourcing partner will be critical to your success.

Are you trying to evaluate which prospective software development partner would be the best fit for augmenting your current product engineering capabilities? What key issues or questions are you discovering as you conduct your search and evaluation process?

We’ve found from our experience that many product companies can tend to overlook some important criteria in the vendor selection process. Sometimes they intrinsically understand critical selection criteria such as cultural fit or depth of technical talent, but may not know which tactics can best reveal the extent of these key qualities in their prospective partners in the short evaluation period.

It includes valuable perspective for deeper insight regarding outsourcing partner selection criteria, as well as a comprehensive scorecard to help you systematically compare your different options.

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