Startups, mostly due to constraints in resources, may consider working with an outsourced team to develop their product. Apart from costing less and eliminating the management an in-house team, dealing with an outsourced team means that the startup has access to a collective wealth of knowledge and experience that the team has.
Whether the outsourced team is an established company or several individuals, here are a few things to remember to make the engagement painless and productive.
1. Have a solid plan but be open to suggestions
This goes without saying but having a solid plan or idea of how you want your product to work should be the place to start. This is most specially helpful if you are working with an outsourced team. Presenting a clear idea would make the information gathering and planning part of the development quicker, as you need only to work with the team to clarify points of your plan. Of course, it is also best to be open to suggestions; with an outsourced team’s (presumably) vast experience building various products, they are well-informed on what works and what doesn’t.
Decide from the beginning how much involvement you want your outsourced team to have in the development of the product. And always remember that collective knowledge is a veritable well of information.
2. Never underestimate the newbies and don’t overestimate experience either
While there is wisdom in getting someone with a lengthy experience in development (they wouldn’t get projects if they aren’t good after all), you also don’t want to stuck in the mind frame that experience trumps all. The world of technology and innovation is fast-moving, and you don’t want to miss out on what the younger set knows just because you feel comfortable dealing with developers with longer work experience.
Similar with hiring decisions, it all boils down to skills, potential, and whether or not said skills and potential fit well with the product you are building.
3. Cultivate a good, open relationship with your outsourced team
You definitely do not want to be at odds with the people building your product. While your engagement is technically a client-supplier one, you do not want to be that client they vow never to work with again. Outsourced teams may not technically be a part of your company, but they do have a stake in what happens to you. Make sure that your experience working together is one that is positive, productive, and has the potential to be ongoing.
As with most types of relationship, honesty and consideration is the best way to go about dealing with your outsourced team. Make sure that everything – responsibilities and expectations – are clear from the get go and, more importantly, that you keep up your end of the agreements.
4. Keep your ass covered
Having a good working relationship with your outsourced team does not mean you should be remiss in making sure that all legalities are in order. Specifically, important things such as ownership of the product, payments, and schedules should be clearly stated in written legal documents, with copies given to involved parties. This ensures that whatever circumstances may arise in the future, everyone involved have a tangible basis for their responsibilities and expectations.
Any project you get into with an outsourced party should have a clear, comprehensive agreement that is signed by all involved parties. And that goes for all types of working relationships, not just with a outsourced development team.
5. Have a plan for transition
Even at the beginning of the project, you should have a plan for how to transition from an outsourced to a full time development team. It may seem to be unnecessary, especially if you’re at the very early stages of your company and not yet quite sure how the product and the business will shape out to be, but having even a rudimentary transition plan is helpful down the line. This not avoids confusion as to timelines, but also ensures that your outsourced team have enough time to train the people who would be handling your product once the project ends.
Milestones are good indicators for the transition. For example, you can begin hiring developers to manage the updates once the product has launched, and more when you begin adding new features. The key is to be clear with your plan to make sure that the transition goes smoothly.
6. Clean breaks are infinitely better than muddled connections
A great working relationship between outsourced development teams and companies have a potential to become long-standing agreements that can be beneficial to both. On the side of the outsourced team, they have an income flow from an ongoing project, and on the side of the company, they have a team that knows their product that usually costs less than building their own teams. However, it is best to not confuse the original agreement by adding more responsibilities and conditions to it.
Go about it on a per project basis. If the initial development of your product is done and you still want to engage the services of the team, begin anew. Close the previous project, marking the agreement fulfilled, and draft up another one.
Featured image credit: dolgachov / 123RF Stock Photo