10 Essential Checks When Choosing Your Offshore Development Partner
Saving money is one advantage, clearly, but simply choosing the cheapest option is a recipe for disaster. Although an offshore web development company will doubtless be able to undercut your in-house costs, a quote that is too low will probably reflect a tendency to cut corners and go for low quality solutions.
You need a genuine partner with a commitment to quality and a team capable of delivering. The truth of the matter is that the best people command higher rates, and this is just as true offshore as it is in the UK or US.
Various other factors will enable an offshore web development company provide you with a significant cost saving, but skimping too much on costs probably means smaller teams, less qualified employees and no access to the latest and most effective technology. Working with an offshore development partner will almost always save you money and help protect your bottom line. It can also enhance flexibility and widen the skill-set you can call on. By working through this checklist for choosing the right offshore development partner you’ll be able to combine much needed savings with a commitment to quality.
Sit down and draw up a coherent and detailed account of your business goals and exactly what you need from your offshore web development company. Too often, the onus is placed on the offshore company to explain exactly what they offer, how they work and why you should choose them.
In reality, however, it’s just as important that you explain exactly what you need and what you hope to achieve through offshore development.
You may know instinctively what you’re looking for, but you need to interrogate those requirements in order to set out a description clear enough for your outsource team to deliver. Don’t be afraid to set out clear milestones – a good developer will welcome them.
When you know exactly what your requirements are, you’ll be in a position to look for an offshore developer able to deliver those requirements. This is the stage at which you need to do your research. Check out the bios and histories of potential partners, using information such as customer testimonials in order to ascertain if this is the company that aligns most with your needs.
Draw up a list of skills, methods and practices which you decide you simply can’t do without (perhaps you want a company that offers marketing support in addition to web development, for example) and use this list to filter the various options. Before too long you’ll have drawn up a workable shortlist.
Although this checklist for choosing the right offshore development partner will, naturally, place a lot of emphasis on technology, there’s no escaping the importance of the people you choose to work with.
Choosing an offshore web development company means choosing a genuine partner, as if you’re taking on new members of your team. For that reason, you need to ask your potential partner for as many details as possible about the people who make up their teams. Ask about the qualifications and experience they have, as well as the work culture and ability to communicate. This last point is particularly important when working with an offshore team, as difficulties over communication can undermine even the most technologically advanced solutions.
Sometimes the answer can be as simple as asking someone to show you the numbers. In the case of choosing an offshore web development company this means asking about their working history and gaining detailed information on the solutions they’ve delivered for other vendors.
Look into their market history and make use of customer feedback, which is an invaluable source of unbiased opinion. They should be able to provide you with concrete examples of the projects they’ve delivered in the past, and you could make use of platforms such as Clutch and LinkedIn.
Results are one thing, and clearly very important, but this process involves choosing a true partner. If you make the right choice then the offshore web development company you choose won’t just be a partner for a single project, they’ll be someone you can turn to again and again over the longer term.
That’s why it’s important to find out exactly what kind of processes they use, and how they use them. They may describe themselves as Agile, for example, but do they have the same understanding of Agile processes as you do? Ask them to detail the practices they utilise and request details of the ways in which they’ve delivered projects for other clients.
When you start asking questions of an offshore development team it can be a relief to hear lots of positive responses. After all, you’re keen to get started on developing the project in question and it can be a relief – particularly if you’ve already had to reject a few options – to find a company which promises to deliver what you’re looking for.
In reality, however, this is something of a red flag. Once the project is underway, the last thing you need is to be working with yes-men, incapable (or unwilling) to question what you’re asking for and suggest superior alternatives.
One of the best attributes of a developer is initiative, combined with the flexibility to move beyond exactly what you’re asking for and deliver what you need. In this way the company you choose will perform as a genuine partner, consultant and adviser.
The offshore web development company you choose will have its’ own set of business requirements and targets, just as you have yours.
The key to an effective working partnership lies in ensuring that, when working on a joint project, you both share exactly the same goals. Building the foundation to make sure that this happens begins at the earliest stages of the relationship, and revolves around your ability to set out your goals, and the offshore development company’s commitment to delivering those goals.
When you enter into a relationship with an offshore web developer you may have the parameters of your project firmly set. No plan ever survives 100% intact once the process of delivering it is set in motion, and the offshore web development company you choose needs to have the ability to shift and change the way they work in order to deal with changes in circumstances.
The ability to scale up what they’re able to deliver over time is equally vital, since any long term partnership will involve a scaling up of your own business. One of the key advantages of working with an offshore web development company is the fact that they can grow or shrink the team they provide as and when requirements demand, and the models of engagement they offer should reflect this.
Communication is at the heart of any effective partnership. The ideal situation is for your offshore web development partner to feel and act as if they are just another part of your team.
Clear and open lines of communication are at the heart of this. Find out exactly when your prospective partner will be available – time zone differences could have a huge impact here – and whether they make themselves available outside standard business hours.
You also need to find out what type of communication tools they utilise – whether they make use of a platform such as Slack, for example, and whether there will be a central point of contact in the shape of a project manager.
This final tip is, in essence, the other nine tips rolled into one. The offshore web developer you choose shouldn’t function as a separate entity simply delivering a specific project.
In order for the relationship to be truly effective, the company you choose needs to become a fully functioning part of your team. Many of the tips listed above – communication, team skills and shared goals – will play a major part in making sure this happens. While you won’t actually know whether a smooth integration has taken place until the project is under way, following the right approach when choosing a partner will greatly increase the chances of it happening.
Choosing an offshore web development company is like choosing an entirely new team for your own company. If you get the choice right, then you’ll have found an endlessly flexible asset capable of scaling up or down as requirements dictate and of delivering a range of projects as the focus of your business shifts. Get it wrong, on the other hand, and you’ll be looking at an individual project being delivered badly, late or not fit for purpose, combined with the frustration of having to start the search all over again.