Onshore America
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Whether you are a business looking for a competitive advantage or an entrepreneur looking to bring an idea to life, selecting a software development outsourcing team can be an intimidating task. Now, the virus has increased the importance of some factors which have always been part of the decision-making process 

Decisions on outsourcing software projects are typically a big deal for businesses trying to improve their performance or to catch the competition. Getting your custom software project done correctly within time and budget constraints is a complicated task for anyone to undertake even under ideal conditions.

The reflex decision (because it seems to be an easy metric) is to judge solely on price. Typically, deciding by price alone is a mistake.  (See “The $9/HR Software Developer” at https://pssolutionsdev.wpengine.com/news/?postid=1871 ) Disputes of scope, quality, speed, and billing accuracy almost always come to the forefront in dealing with the low bidder.  

When you are not in the business of regularly hiring software developers, that complicates the issue even further. To help businesspeople access better information when deciding to outsource their custom software or mobile application projects, we have identified three important Covid-19 era questions you need to ask of every potential software development outsourcing team:

First: How am I going to be informed about the progress of this project?

Strong, regular communication is probably the most crucial factor in getting a successful result in a software outsourcing project. In today’s Covid-19 world, requests to help companies address issues in a work-from-home world are inundating the software industry. The stresses put on the industry increase the likelihood that multiple projects will be competing for available talent. Unless your project leader stays on top of the progress of the project, timelines are likely to slide or quality is likely to diminish as overworked developers are pushed and pulled in multiple directions.

You want to be working with a company using an Agile software development methodology. From a non-technical standpoint, Agile software development approaches development through collaboration between the software development teams and the customer. 

Not only does it require proper planning, but it requires continual improvement while still allowing teams to be flexible as customer needs change. This means that you (or your company’s project manager) should be regularly involved in meetings with the development team getting updates on progress, reports on problems, and getting your input on what adjustments you need. 

By having this type of strong communication with your outsourcing company, you will be in a better position to identify and correct delays or inefficiencies that are going to be more frequent in the current environment.

Second: How stabile has your development team been over the last five months?

It is important to hire an experienced team. Just like in sports, teams that have been working together over time become more efficient, skilled, and effective based upon the experience of working and solving problems together. It has been roughly five months now since the pandemic shut down many operations.  

In interviewing outsourcing companies, it is good to ask how they handled their teams through the shutdown. 

Did they transition quickly to work at home? How did the company maintain or improve coordination with their team members? What has changed since? Are they all back working in development centers or still at home?  

You can get great insight into the type and quality of company you are dealing with by seeking to understand how these companies responded to the crisis themselves. Ask how they adapted and how their teams reacted when they were ordered to shut down and work at home. These answers will give you a good insight into the mentality of the company you are dealing with and their ability to respond effectively and creatively to any problem that may arise during the development of your project.

Third: Where will the work be done?

The working conditions and mental environment of employees after Covid-19 increases the concerns you should have with “where” your project is getting done. 

Is the team working remotely? Are they in this country? Do they have a strong understanding of what the crisis is that you are facing based on their own experience? How strong is the environment in terms of having sufficient technology infrastructure to deliver the code through a reliable system?

Different countries have been impacted by the virus differently, and their governments have responded to the virus differently. That response could dramatically impact the outsourcing company’s ability both to understand and deliver the project on time.  

Finding your way through the maze of software develpment requires asking the right questions.

We have always argued that these projects should be kept onshore and in their country of origin. The software or mobile applications should be developed in the same country where the ultimate product is going to be used. CoVid-19 has done nothing to change that. It has elevated the importance of having your software development team in the same country as you and your team.  

Software development outsourcing typically involves significant projects that can dramatically affect your company’s future. Making the wrong decision because some offshore team can supposedly do the deal at half the price, could do nothing more than cause delays, diminished quality, or failure to deliver. In a changing world, it’s important that you obtain the right information and evaluate the right factors before making such an important decision.


Wayne Hippo is an owner and Managing Partner of PS Solutions, a software development and consulting firm with offices in Altoona, PA, Pittsburgh, PA, and Wilmington, NC.
You can reach Wayne at whippo@pssolutions.net

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