How to Choose a Development Team for Outsourced Projects
The thought of outsourcing development work can catalyze anxieties for some.
It can be difficult to imagine a team accurately understanding your needs, mission, and values without prior experience working with you. Of course, there are plenty of business partnership horror stories to go around as well.
However, selecting a solid development team to collaborate with doesn’t need to be stressful. Many teams have an impressive depth of skills and thoughtful project management procedures. All you have to do is find the team that fits your needs. Then, your partnership will be smooth and successful.
While searching out a best-fit partner sounds daunting, you can find the right development team simply by following these 6 steps:
- Gather requirements for the project
- Read reviews on development teams
- Get referrals from trusted sources
- Create a shortlist of your top choices so far
- Conduct thorough interviews with shortlisted teams
- Foster a transparent rapport with all candidates
No matter the project's scope, gathering requirements is an essential first step for any software development project.
By clearly defining your firm’s goals and needs for the project, you will ensure that you fully understand what capabilities you need. Then, you can move toward finding these skills in a development partner.
For instance, imagine you are building a social media app. You could probably generate functional requirements such as “in-app chat function” or “photo-sharing capabilities” pretty quickly.
However, nonfunctional requirements may be more challenging. Non-functional requirements may be “must be compatible with mobile and desktop browsers” or “must-have applicable data security provisions.” They might not come to mind so easily. However, knowing these requirements may help you pare down your potential vendor list.
When your internal team maps requirements, you should consider the two types of business requirements any project will have: functional requirements and non-functional requirements.
Functional requirements will encapsulate specific features of your finished product. Non-functional requirements will outline the environments in which your product should successfully function.
Acknowledging both types of requirements gives you a complete understanding of your needs. It also helps you visualize how a potential outsourced team fits your needs.
By clearly and thoroughly outlining your project requirements early on, you will be sure to select a development firm that can efficiently deliver on all your needs.
Scan Development Reviews
When researching the best place to get dinner in a new city, you would probably turn to Yelp, Google Reviews, TripAdvisor, or another ratings service. After all, you don't want to blindly choose a restaurant.
Taking a similar approach to outsourced development team selection will help you truly understand the strengths and weaknesses of a potential partner before you reach out to them.
The prospect of finding reviews for a development company may seem challenging. At least more difficult than finding reviews for a restaurant or other consumer-facing business.
However, websites such as Clutch offer an in-depth analysis of many different firms from past clients.
You should adequately vet companies you're considering by reading reviews. It may be helpful to check multiple review platforms for a holistic understanding of the companies. Additionally, when you come across negative reviews, take note of how the company responds to them.
If they provide a constructive response rather than a dismissive one, it may be worth discounting the negative review.
One of the main drawbacks of online review platforms is the potential for unreliable reviews. With referrals, you can ensure the evaluation of a prospective development partner is coming from a credible source.
Aside from asking professionals you trust, be sure you clearly outline the scope of your work when asking for referrals. This way, others can accurately gauge their contacts’ fit for your project.
In addition, make sure you find out when the referrer worked with the firm they are referring to you. Companies’ competencies can shift over a relatively short time, so accepting a dated referral may leave you with a subpar vendor pairing.
Create a Shortlist
At this point, you've solidified your project requirements and used referrals to get a feel for the vendor landscape. Now, you should feel comfortable creating a shortlist of firms that best fit your needs.
Your shortlist should feature about four vendors that you feel most confident in.
The reason for creating a shortlist is simple: the next steps for properly vetting an outsourced development company take some time and effort.
You may have found up to 20 companies through your search up to this point. However, having an introductory meeting with them all would take you away from other responsibilities and extend your project timeline.
By putting together a shortlist of the most highly qualified vendors for your project, you will be well prepared to conduct further in-depth evaluations of the best possible outsourced candidates.
Conduct Thorough Interviews
With a shortlist of the most qualified vendors assembled, you and your team are ready to reach out to each firm and set up an introductory meeting.
These meetings are crucial. They allow you to gauge the company’s strengths as they relate to the specifics of your project. Furthermore, you will evaluate their team’s soft skills and determine if working with them will be an enjoyable experience.
You should be sure to budget as much time as possible for these interviews. This gives each company a detailed look at all phases of your project. After doing so, here are some evaluation questions to ask yourself:
- After speaking with their team, do you feel more or less confident in their technical skills?
- Were they engaged in the discussion?
- Did they seem like they have their direction for the project that differs from our vision?
- Were they condescending or respectful when explaining technical concepts?
By taking the proper time to interview each development team on your shortlist, you will be able to gather the helpful information. From there, you can move toward your final decision on which vendor to choose.
Be Transparent About Needs and Concerns
Due to language barriers, cultural disconnects, time zone differences, or lapses in technology, outsourced development relationships are prone to miscommunication.
While some of these factors may be inevitable in certain situations, you can help mitigate them by being transparent throughout the vendor selection process.
The other steps discussed in this article, such as defining project requirements, researching vendors and creating a shortlist, and conducting thorough interviews, give your business the perfect setup to remain transparent.
You should have a good understanding of your needs and a general understanding of the potential weaknesses of your prospective partners. Be sure to ask about these issues directly when you meet with vendors. Through their responses, they should assuage your concerns. If not, the development firm may not be the right fit for you.
Select a Development Team That Addresses Needs
Your priority when choosing a development team should be to ensure they have the capabilities to meet project requirements. By following a thorough process, you can determine which team is right for you. During the team selection process, you should consider:
- Gather project requirements
- Read trusted development team reviews
- Get referrals and recommendations
- Create a shortlist of top companies
- Conduct thorough interviews
- Be transparent about your needs throughout the entire process
If you commit to following these steps, you’ll be sure to choose a development team that understands your business needs.
Need help selecting a company?
Based on your budget, timeline, and specifications we can help you build a shortlist of companies that perfectly matches your project needs. Schedule a free consultation with an analyst.