Outsourcing · Developers

What do you consider essential to evaluate when outsourcing developer teams?

Fernando Karl CEO at turbup

June 9th, 2015

I heard some complains about speed, doubt about final costs and quality. How to translate into criterias for evaluate proposals?

Emmanuel Haller Senior Manager and Leader in MedTech

June 10th, 2015

The famous triad: quality-price-time (to delivery), but also culture resp. attitude of the contractor. The latter shall match your organisation, so that everybody speaks the same language around the table. 
Boutique development offices might become eventually a great partner, so check around for smaller companies, the larger developer offices are rather greedy and larger customers will always have the priority over a SME.

Siarhei Harbachou Specialty Market Researching

August 13th, 2015

No way to solve this triangle. And according to latest PMI changes, this is already the star: cost, time, quality, resource, risk, scope.
So, the law is: when you touch any item of this start, it impacts the rest.

If you are concerned about this, use Agile approach. E.g. Scrum methodology is very popular.

It will bring you more control of all elements of the star, and you can make corrections faster.

Also I recommend to have good manager who will manage Scrum team. He is called Scrum Master.

If you are interested, I can offer packaged service we offer for startups: PM + analyst + development team.
And you shouldn't care about this triangle (star), you care about your business.

Siarhei Harbachou

Caitlin Bolnick

June 9th, 2016

If you need help vetting or looking for a good outsourced development team, I highly recommend that you check out our site VentureApp. We have excellent web development services to fit any price or need. The website is www.ventureapp.com. I also just recently wrote a buying guide on how to pick a web development firm. If you'd like I can pass this over to you! 

Gursimran Singh Software Analyst & Consultant

June 7th, 2016

While evaluating the main thing is the detailing of the scope . 

Most of the outsourced projects fail because of unclarity of the development tasks.    

Quality with on time delivery would be the main factors. 

Eleanor Carman Incoming BLP Sales Associate at LinkedIn

June 9th, 2015

Hey Fernando - this is a popular question! There are tons of previous discussions about this very topic that will certainly be able to answer your question. Here is the link to all of our outsourcing discussions from previous posts. 

Vishal Wadher CEO & President at atmosol

June 8th, 2016

Interview them as if they are an internal resource you're hiring. Ensure the scope of work is very detailed and agreed to by going over each item line by line and hashing out any assumptions made. Go over use case scenarios of day to day communication and project management. Go over their process and response times for emergencies. 

Overall, we have found it to be a good long term relationship when there are no surprises. And the only way to accomplish that is to discuss and clarify upfront what the work is going to entail and what the processes are for each use case that will come up during the engagement. 

Vishal Wadher | CEO | www.atmosol.com

Michael Bower B2B Ecommerce Consultant and Agency Owner

June 9th, 2016

This is a good question and one that made me think a lot. I have a lot of experience hiring outsourced individuals as well as teams, so I have strong opinions on the topic. As the question is in regards to teams, I'll keep my answer focused on that.

Outsourced teams are all over the board when it comes to speed, cost and quality. We have all experienced teams that fall short on two or more of these factors, but there are definitely lots of excellent teams that when managed properly are able to quickly produce extremely high quality results for an excellent price point.

I find that when I am hiring a team, the biggest factor that determines everything about the relationship is whether I am looking for low cost or low touch.

If I'm highly constrained on the cost side, I come to the table with the following expectations:
  • I will always start by providing a single reasonably small project that has some level of difficulty nonetheless so it's a real test.
  • I will provide an exhaustive, tight scope that leaves nothing open to interpretation, has payment tied to dated milestone deliverables.
  • We'll use the waterfall methodology for PM. We'll have biweekly meetings to review every step of progress.
  • I'll reserve at 40-50% of my budget for the possibility that things will go sideways / I have to bring on additional resources.
  • I will provide project management and QA.
  • The terms of the engagement will strictly be work for hire, with deliverables provided every week regardless of completion status.
  • I'll push hard for everything to be plan to be content with 70-80% quality.

This approach works fine if all of the above are carefully performed. It just requires unrelentingly tight control because at the end of the day the vendor's and my motivations are at odds -- they aren't being paid much, so they need to deliver the project with as little effort as required, and on my part I want the work to be executed to a certain standard of quality.

If I'm not constrained on cost, I take an entirely different approach:

  • I still start with a small project in which I define an objective and other constraints and leave it at that. My goal is to see if the vendor can impress me.
  • Assuming the small project goes well, I negotiate an hourly / daily rate that is at least what they are expecting.
  • We use the agile scrum methodology, with weekly or biweekly sprints and a minimum of meetings (generally one or two per sprint).
  • I expect the vendor to provide PM and QA.
  • I'm more lenient when it comes to terms of service. I expect that better players may come to the table needing to protect existing / new IP.
  • If I see signs that the vendor is losing their touch, I express my concerns immediately and see if there is improvement. If not I begin lining up another resource.
  • I look for noticeable improvement in each iteration, ultimately aiming for 95-98% quality, means I am more flexible on how quickly deliverables are produced.

This is the way I have found works best and has allowed me to find and keep top talent. It works especially well with software development projects, because a lot of the best development firms act like developers -- they want a bit of space, don't want to be pressured. These are the firms that are able to produce world-class results.

Other than for the cost reason, the only time I would modify the second approach is if I really need something done by a particular time, and in that case I would still mainly stick with the second approach and just stress to the vendor the importance of timeline over quality.


June 8th, 2016

When evaluating candidates (in-house or outsource), do some background check plus references. If time allows, do a test run with a small project. 
Before the project starts, there is a list of "do"s and "don't"s that a good project manager knows, so you'll need a solid manager to drive the project and oversea its production. 
Hope this helped.