While considering outsourcing of any IT Solution or Product development, the key is to choose an Outsourcing Partner (OP) with old world traits like integrity, honesty, efficiency and most importantly transparency in communication. Skill match and competency is a given and choosing an Outsourcing Partner is increasingly about background checks, due diligence & capability assessment. As a client, if the route of finding an Outsourcing Partner is taken via an IT Marketplace then these issues are addressed better, since a good marketplace will ensure pre-qualified vendors only. Nevertheless, it is in the interest of the client to conduct independent assessment. While there are many factors to consider while choosing an OP, these 5 are not to be missed.
2 R – Reliability & References
Make sure you have complete details on the OP, the years they have been in business, whether they have full-time employees or are further going to sub-contract the project. How was the experience of their earlier clients? Make a few calls to friends and peers in the industry. Is the OP well known in the IT world? Are the clients happy with their work and do they get repeat projects? It is a good idea to check on Social Media & discussion forums for any pointers.
Look at their client list. Check on the kind of project have they worked on. Do those projects compare to scope & scale of the current project? Will the team which executed the past project be working on this project as well? Learn more about the inadequacies of the past project and incorporate them.
2 C – Communication & Culture
The team on client side and OP will need to act as one for successful completion of project. The fit has to be right culturally and there has to be open communication. At the basic level, make sure that a communication protocol is set up. Speak with the team Lead, when there is progress in the discussions, to know more about their work culture. The initial conversations and communication will be a strong indication if both companies will work well together. Try to assess what core beliefs of the OP. Sometimes shared common beliefs provide the best foundation on which to start work. Get the confidence that things will work when talking to OP, when the project passes through tough and trying phases.
Life Cycle Costs
Make sure there are no hidden costs in implementation, documentation, number of users, testing, training, connectivity, infrastructure, transition, etc. Keep the project variables to the bare minimum and ask for fixed cost engagements (providing there are no unexpected problems on the client side), and what is needed to get a fixed cost pricing on a project. Most OP that have experience in IT product development take on fixed cost projects.
Make sure there is clarity on deadlines and be realistic. If a project takes say 800 hours, ask for a contingency plan if there is any change in their resource strength. Assess if the timelines aren’t a stretch which can affect the quality or the outcome of the project. Get fully comfortable and keep asking questions till there is common understanding. If there are open issues, then probably the fit is not right.
Go into the project after assessing all the risks and mitigating them. Chief risk is around data / IP security. Ensure safety of your data and sign an NDA. Make sure they fulfil security requirements with firewalls, access points, data control, data encryption, etc. If the development is sensitive, get a background done on the team working on the project. Understand data loss prevention and back up plans they implemented for development cycles. Make sure the contract covers the situation in the OP becomes insolvent.
These 5 tips provide a good start while deciding upon a reliable Outsourcing Partner for IT development projects and lay the foundation for a successful delivery.