Keeping control of your project when outsourcing software development

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Business

Outsourcing certain aspects of your business, such as design or development, through staff augmentation or another method is becoming more and more popular. And with good reason - there are many benefits of outsourcing which make it a viable and cost-effective choice for businesses.

Just like with any type of work arrangement, however, there are going to be certain challenges or concerns that come with outsourcing. In this article, we’ll take a more detailed look at one of them: keeping control of your project, specifically when you’re outsourcing software development.

What it means and why is it important

You can be the owner of the product that needs to be built, or a consulting business that provides implementation services to clients. In either case, you’ll of course want to make sure that the development aligns with the goals and mission of your company. At the same time, you’ll also definitely want to keep control of the resulting intellectual property.

By keeping control of the project’s management throughout its development, you’ll guarantee that all its requirements and goals are met. Trust is a key element here, especially with larger teams or when outsourcing larger parts or entire projects. 

Trust enables you to relinquish some of the control because you know your outsourced developers are aligned on your needs and objectives. You’ll be able to keep control without having to micromanage, which will be a win-win for both you and the development partner as you’ll be left to do what you do best.

As for keeping control of your IP - this is just a no-brainer. With fewer people augmenting your in-house team, you won’t need to worry about this. When outsourcing an entire project, however, look for a partner that provides white-label development so you can rest assured that you will remain in charge of the resulting IP. 

 

Different outsourcing strategies mean different degrees of control

How much control of your project you keep is directly tied to the type of outsourcing strategy you go with - this means that it’s wise to choose the type of outsourcing based on what degree of control you want to keep.

Infographic of differently structured outsourced teams

Managed services

If you don’t have in-house development and you’re happy leaving the project’s development up to the partner, then managed services is probably your best bet. With managed services, the partner will take care of the entire development, both the management and the execution, and you won’t need to get involved during the process.

These types of projects are very often fixed in scope, also called turnkey projects. Make sure that the partner offers white-label services, so that you’re guaranteed to remain the owner of the intellectual property once it’s delivered.

 

Dedicated teams

This type of outsourcing strategy is a kind of middle-ground - you aren’t just augmenting your team with one or a few people, but rather outsource a whole section of the development, or even the entire development. In contrast with managed services, though, with dedicated teams it is your project management that is in charge rather than that of the partner agency.

This way, you retain control of the overall progress of the project while leaving the technical nitty-gritty to the experts whom you’ve hired for this specific expertise. 

It is ideal both for companies with no in-house development as well as those that do have in-house developers, but lack certain skill-sets, aren’t familiar with a new technology that’s required or would like to form a new team rather than augmenting an existing one.

 

Staff augmentation / team augmentation

The option where you keep the highest level of control is staff or team augmentation. In this case you only need a few people to boost your in-house development capacity, either to fill a skill gap or because a project needs a large amount of a specific expertise. 

If you only need a single developer, hiring a freelancer is a viable option. As soon as you need two people or more, however, it makes more sense to contact an agency specializing in staff augmentation, so you don’t spend extra resources on several hiring and vetting processes. 

The partner agency will guarantee the quality of their staff and will be able to provide adequate replacements if something unexpected happens with the original hires. 

By augmenting your team this way, you’ll keep control of both the organizational and the technical aspects of the project, and will consequently automatically be the sole owner of the resulting product or service.

 

What to look for with outsourced development

Here are some of the qualities you should look for in an outsourced development partner that will help you to be satisfied with the level of control you have over your project, no matter what kind of outsourcing strategy you ultimately decide on.

  • Technical expertise: this is another no-brainer. By selecting a partner with verifiable expertise in whatever you’re looking for, you’ll be able to leave even more complex tasks and processes to them without worrying about a low-quality outcome. 
  • Good communication: transparent communication is the number one thing for ensuring trust right from the get-go. If your development partner proves to be a good communicator, you can feel safer leaving certain aspects of your project in their hands.
  • Company culture: if the agency you work with has a company culture that’s similar to yours, it’s easier to determine if they share the same values and will see things the way you do and thus execute them the way you want them to. Again, similar values will result in better alignment and no need for you to manage everything. 
  • Compliance with standards and best practices: by working with an agency or freelancer that has demonstrated their commitment to following standards, you’ll feel safer about their respect of your intellectual property and any potential NDAs involved. Furthermore, it will be another indicator of the final result’s quality.

 

Looking for a development agency?

We hope this article will help you in selecting the best outsourcing strategy for your needs as well as the right partner to entrust your development with. If you’re currently looking for a development agency to partner with and Agiledrop seems like the perfect choice, reach out to us or learn more about how we can ensure the success of your project: