Outsourcing has become a common practice in almost any industry today, but the IT industry is the leader in this field. According to Statista, IT functions being most outsourced, as of 2017, were software development and maintenance, followed by data centers and IT infrastructure.
Although the revenue of global outsourced services industry has been inconsistent over the past few years, in 2018 it amounted to 85.6 billion U.S. dollars.
Outsourcing includes contracting out the business process to a third party, in order for the business not only to avoid or reduce the costs or to find appropriate capacities at more competitive prices but also for many more reasons.
If you decide to outsource, take a look at some potential issues so you can prevent them on time and ensure smooth work process flow:
Issue #1 — Whom to choose
If you consider going down the path of outsourcing, be sure to spend time and research before engaging with a specific company.
It refers to checking multiple references and the team of developers that would be assigned to your project as they can affect the quality of the delivery. If you want to speed up the process of your project development, you would need a dedicated team of developers since having a team that is stretched over multiple projects may end up unable to deliver the desired output in the time agreed.
Usually, people hand over the project once they find a reliable partner, however, if you don’t want to risk your overall project, you would need to start small, being ‘PILOT’ project — this way, you ensure mitigating any potential risks and being able to follow the development.
Issue #2 — Poor Communication
Since you’re not physically present to overview the entire process, it is also hard to determine the pace of the process and the outcome. If it happens that the time zone difference or a language barrier are additional obstacles, it can be even more difficult to rely only on the word of the company, so be sure to spend some time on research of a potential mobile partner prior to plunging into development adventure together. Once you do that, set up proper communication tools (Slack, Jira, etc.) and make stand up meetings (video) a regular practice so to ensure clear communication between the teams.
Communication with the team, management, and the founder is a cornerstone, so make sure to lay the foundation for successful cooperation as this is the most important thing.
If you’re outsourcing, be precise when communicating — be specific and detailed on what you want otherwise, you may face the situation of plenty re-dos in the process.
Issue #3 — Insufficient business analysis
Prior to any action, a proper business analysis should be made from the beginning — the sooner, the better. This can help you to save time and resources on further development phases, as the business analysis can prevent and anticipate potential threats and risks.
The business analyst can help to maintain communication among stakeholders, to interpret client’s business requirements into tasks for developers, present future development tasks to the client for easier understanding, make adjustments if needed and to conduct validation of the project.
Issue #4 — Poor technical documentation
Prior to any outsourcing, you need to think through which parts of the process should be developed in-house and which parts may be outsourced.
Technical documentation includes defining the requirements of your mobile app idea. These specifications are used and followed so to complete the same requirements accurately.
It is crucial for you to have clearly defined technical documentation so to prevent any risks or overspending. Technical specifications are a roadmap for your outsourcing development team — it is the best to write it as detailed as possible, setting major points such as idea or introduction, overall description, specific requirements, supporting information, concerns, etc.
Don’t forget about hardware and performance requirements as well — you cannot expect your outsourcing team to guess what you want and if you do that, you create a recipe for project failure.
If you think that you cannot specify the mobile app development process, think again. Of course, you don’t have to write ALL details but if you standardize the procedure for your outsourcing team, it will facilitate the entire process and prevent any delays when coding takes place.
Issue #5 — You don’t protect your intellectual property
Your app idea, no matter if original or not, is your own property and you should protect it — don’t assume that your outsourcing partner will do it by default as some countries don’t have such regulations at all.
First priority is NDA (non-disclosure agreement) — making sure that all participants sign NDA provides legal protection for your idea as well as the perception that your secret information belongs only to your company and no one else. When creating NDA, you have the freedom to split up the source code to independent sections, to limit access to the database or control sharing of confidential information depending on the situation.
If you don’t have signed NDA, no copyright assignment of the document specifying exact duties for each participant, you put your IP to risk. Also, don’t assume that your outsourcing vendor’s IP is safe — always check properly. Additional security measure can be to check if the vendor has proper agreements with its own employees prior to commencing the work.
Issue #6 — Mediocre app development methodology
Following the path of the mobile app development process is highly important but there can be some points which you can do improperly: CTO or a developer to manage app development or hiring a person with limited technical knowledge instead of a proper project manager.
Many times it happens that you don’t set milestones for your outsourcing team or dictate the release process to them thus causing empty promises and additional stress.
If you don’t set each participants’ roles clearly, they will be confused with their tasks and priorities.
Use proper coding standards and ask your engineers to document their source code. What is important to keep in mind is that both of your teams (in-house and outsourcing) must work together to accomplish the goal — don’t make a strong difference between them as you risk causing lack of teamwork and communication failure.
Issue #7 — Delayed QA
QA (quality assurance) is a crucial part of the mobile app development process. You can cause bigger issues if you don’t use a bug tracking system immediately yet keep it for later. Keeping track of issues, bugs or defects is essential for the process and lack of QA will most certainly affect your overall app quality.
If you wait to start with QA until just before the release, you risk rushing the process and getting an unsuitable product out to the market — this way, your users will find bugs themselves and their user experiences can produce negative reviews which can lead to a failure of your app.
Don’t wait for automated testing to be implemented as you can find a large number of bugs which later leads to extensive rework and the delay in releasing your app.
Issue #8 — Time Zone Differences
We live in a global marketplace but what if you need immediate feedback or update and your outsourcing team is offline? Let’s face it, outsourcing team is often located outside of your own timezone. This means that the problem cannot be resolved until tomorrow and it may create delays within the project deadline.
But, don’t worry, this obstacle can be overcome as well — your outsourcing team can take the tasks during your nighttime and you can check the output results the following day. This way, you save time and prevent any delays with the project development process.
Sometimes, it can be tricky to manage agile methods and Scrum with two different time zones so be prepared to work on these challenges as well.
Issue #9 — Outsourcing to companies being behind global trends
If your app requires to be designed as per the latest trends or technologies, you must pay attention to outsourcing mobile app development company policy, its design and UI/UX. If they seem outdated to you, it is probable that they are behind the global trends. Behind cheap price is the reason why so don’t give in to attractive prices but choose the company that understands technological innovation, keeps the pace with the current trends and puts effort to follow the culture of your country.
Also, there is a possibility that some companies may offer you the technologies that they know the best instead of the ones that fit better. Always make sure to check if the outsourcing vendor has presented the solution which will bring the best result and save your resources.
Before you decide to outsource your mobile app development, you must get familiar with potential risks and dangers that come along. As the use of outsourcing is growing rapidly, ensuring that you can mitigate the risks will bring you significant benefits — from cost saving (including accompanying costs: recruitment, overhead, office and equipment costs etc.), a chance to bring brilliant experts to the project and all the way to the possibility to find a reliable long-term outsourcing partner.
Outsourcing your mobile app development doesn’t carry more risks than other types of mobile app development — just bear in mind the potential risks when collaborating with your team and together with better planning and better ongoing management, you will outsource with confidence.