06 May 10 top ways to find a great development partner
If you’re the CTO or head of development for a software company you know the routine: half-a-dozen emails per week from outsourcing providers around the world, all claiming to be the best and coolest team, ready to work for you exclusively and carry out the most difficult tasks for almost no money.
Can they all be right? Obviously not. Should you ignore the emails. Probably.
Until the day you need extra people for software development. Then the questions start.
‘How to find a development partner?’ ‘Which software developer offers the best value for money?’ Is it one of those hopeful emailers – and if so, which one?
Netcorp is here to help. We’ve made a list of 10 essential indicators to consider when you’re looking for the right outsourcing partner.
So let’s get started:
Which region is best for software outsourcing?
- Travel costs: It’s important to meet your outsourced team in person. How easily can you make the trip, what will it cost, and do you need a visa? How long does it take, and can you get a direct flight? For example, it might take a couple of hours and €200 to get to Poland, but the flight to India might cost €650 and take most of the day. That’s a big difference if the co-operation is long term and several people are traveling.
- Working culture: Watch out for misunderstandings and false expectations. Indian developers have a lot to offer but don’t expect German precision or Scandinavian pro-activeness.
- EU or not EU. The EU gives member states a stable legislative and regulative environment – a major plus if IP rights are important, or you need your outsourcing partner to be accountable for its deliveries. Also, (spoiler alert) not all European countries are in the EU. Would you want to start an IP court case in Russia?
- Developer talent and skill-sets. Look at universities: what level and quality of engineering studies are provided, and how many graduates are they turning out. Is the region best known for innovative solutions, or for working on older technologies?
2. Technical skills
Some companies focus on specific areas, and others mix things up a bit. Some claim to have all the skills you need under one roof.
So check out which technologies they’ve truly mastered and how many skilled people they can deploy when you need them. For example, if you need Android developers, how many do they really have?
3. Are they selling what you’re buying?
Providing an excellent software solution from a remote country is inherently difficult, and even more challenging if your vendor is doing it for the first time.
You wouldn’t trust someone (I hope) to build a mobile banking solution if they’d only ever worked in WordPress. So check if their experience is a good fit for what you want them to develop
4. Size matters
How many developers do you need now, and how many a few years down the line? If the answers are ‘3’ and ’20’, then a company with 15 people might struggle.
On the other hand, an outfit with 500 developers won’t fall over itself to serve a small customer that only needs to use a couple of them. And don’t expect their undivided attention if problems occur.
5. Company culture
“The fish rots from the head,” as the saying goes.
Company culture dictates who gets hired, whether developers are proactive or reactive, how the staff is trained and supported, motivation in the workplace, working atmosphere, and how internal problems are dealt with.
Ask yourself – ‘Would I like to work here?’ If people are happy working for the company, they’ll probably stay on your project for longer as well – and that can save you money in the longer term.
6. Communication skills
Good communication is crucial in outsourcing projects. But what does that really mean?
If you’re from an English-speaking country, you’ll want to work with an English-speaking software team. The company directors may have perfect accents and excellent grammar. However, if half the development team doesn’t speak English, you may struggle to get your point across. Take time to verify the communication skills of all team members before you sign up.
And remember that communication isn’t limited to speaking and understanding a language. It’s also about the ability to listen and draw the right conclusions.
Misunderstandings are a major cause of expensive mistakes in software creation. So make sure the company has well-honed procedures for handling client communications – if they don’t, it’s a red flag.
7. Outsourcing experience
A great software development company may not be a great outsourcing partner. Cross-border remote work demands specific procedures and experience.
Look for a partner that has already worked with a client from your own region – especially if you’re outsourcing for the first time.
8. References and testimonials
Once you have a shortlist of potential vendors, ask to speak to previous clients.
Everyone will give you contacts for their most successful projects, but it pays to dig a little deeper. Try to find out what kind of project it was, the vendor’s exact role, and how they handled communication and dealt with problematic situations.
There is a lot to learn from these discussions. For me, it’s a deal breaker if a vendor can’t provide references.
The best outcomes happen when both partners value long term co-operation. The vendor isn’t just interested in billing hours, but also in understanding clients’ problems and proactively finding solutions.
How to find the best price for outsourced services?
Hourly rates can be misleading. You also need to consider transparency, consistency, and value for money.
By transparency, I mean no hidden costs: those annoying extras you may not notice until it’s too late. (Read more about the issue in this article.)
Consistency means that prices are more or less fixed for the agreed term. Some vendors will double their prices if a customer has a problem and needs a quick solution.
The most challenging measure is value for money – since there are so many factors involved. Code quality, development speed, quality of project management, maintenance cost, regression bugs, and communication overheads all need to be taken into account.
If you want to cut through the complexities, there are two ways to assess whether the price is reasonable or not:
- Compare the price to regional average rates
- Run a test assignment and see if what you get is worth the money
11. Bonus: sharing the dark side
Did I say ten indicators? I meant eleven.
Everyone you talk to will say how good they are. However, everyone also has projects that didn’t go 100% to plan.
The very best outsourcing companies will tell you about their f*ckups and the lessons they learned. It’s a sign they’re confident about the quality they provide.
And that’s how you find a good development partner!
That’s my final and most important tip.