An Outsourced Software Development Team Can Become Trusted Advisors
The way we work has changed dramatically in the past several years. From logging in remotely to sharing coworking space, we are more mobile than ever. In a lot of ways, we are also more nimble. Many functions, such as working with an outsourced software development team, can be shared outside company walls in order to tap into the best resources and skill sets.
So, if you do opt to outsource work, how do you develop a mutually beneficial relationship with a team of people who are not your employees?
As a business owner or manager, you already understand that communication is of paramount importance in any working relationship. With remote workers and outsourced teams, however, it can reach a whole new level. When you communicate with a person or team mostly by e-mail, text or IM, some nuances of rapport-building can be lost.
At the beginning of the working arrangement, make your best effort to meet each team member in person or by video call. That live interaction will help you create a more solid foundation for strong communication. After that, schedule regular check-in calls or team meetings to ensure effective, two-way reporting and dialogue.
Tom Fountain, CTO of software company Pneuron, shared this advice with CIO Magazine:
“Take some time to get to [know] the members of [the] team. Whether through a video conference or other means, put faces to names and get to know what makes them tick. Bottom line: treat your outsourced team like the partner you expect them to be and they will be.”
Goals and Measurement
One key to successful outsourcing is shared goals and clear measurement. Everyone on the team, both internal staff and outsourced contractors, need to be on the same page. If the goals and parameters for a project have not been shared with the whole team, the potential for miscues and frustration can skyrocket.
Most companies are familiar with key performance indicators (KPIs), or benchmarks that indicate the success of a project along the way. Service-level agreements (SLAs) offer another roadmap for measuring the success of an outsourced project. This site offers a list of some key IT performance indicators. These measurements should be identified at the outset of a project and agreed upon by all parties.
Beyond KPIs and SLAs, however, are some intangibles highlighted by seasoned analysts Christine Ferrusi Ross and Barbara McGann. They advocate using desired business outcomes as a way to gauge satisfaction with an outsourced project. As McGann writes:
“The point is not to move away from KPIs or SLAs in a contract, but to use them as building blocks for achieving real outcomes that make a difference to the client’s business goals… and in a way that can flex and change in order for the partnership between the service buyer and the service provider to stay relevant over time.”
Collaboration and Feedback
A successful outsourced project is really a collaboration between your internal team and the outsourced team. Neither should be working in a vacuum. Find ways to open lines of communication and foster teamwork with your vendor. That said, try not to get bogged down with intricate processes that will distract your outsourced team from their primary purpose. Choose your collaboration tools and processes with ease and efficiency in mind.
In addition, both positive and negative feedback should be shared with the outsourced team. If you like the direction the project is going, say so. If you have concerns, speak up. Your contractor or supplier needs to know if reality is meeting expectations. Early feedback allows them to make any necessary adjustments before the project veers off course.
A relationship with an outsourced team should be based on strong rapport, clear goals and open communication. You have hired the team to fulfill an important function for your business, and it works best when you can rely on that team as trusted advisors and experts.
To learn more about our high-quality onshore outsourcing for your software development needs, contact us today.