Imagine your organization has decided to opt for Outsourcing Software Development. Now the question that can come to your mind is will Outsourcing Software Development affect the software quality? The answer is No, provided that you choose the right Outsourcing Software Development partner.

Choosing the right Outsourcing Software Development partner will not compromise software dev quality, and we assure you of that.

However, you must be wondering how I can decide which Outsourcing Software Development provider is the best for my project? We have made your task simpler by compiling down all the important points to be considered before the Outsourcing Software Development team.

Checklist Before You Outsource Software Development Team

Basic Preliminary Check

The following questions will help you narrow down to 2 – 4 prospective software development partners. After doing the initial background check, one should send out the request for proposal (RFP) to the shortlisted partners.

  1. Do they have your industry experience?
  2. Have they handled or completed projects similar to yours?
  3. Do they have expertise and experience in the technologies you are looking to use?
  4. Do they have a good reputation? Look for reviews, testimonials, and client base.
  5. How many clients do they currently have?
  6. Do they offer end-to-end services? What additional services do they offer?
  7. Can they add new areas of service whenever required?
  8. What is the time it has taken to get started with a project?
  9. What is their financial condition?
  10. What is the size of their team?
  11. How soon can they hire a replacement for resources leaving a project, if any?
  12. Which cities are they based in?
  13. How is the availability of talent in those cities?

Once the basic background check, we need to assess the selected software development partner in-depth.

Pricing Model

The most popular pricing models that software development partners propose are:

  • Time & Material (T&M)
  • Fixed Bid.

While a fixed bid may give an idea for a budget, it is wise to understand what changing the requirements would cost in the future. Usually, the requirements change, especially when following a Scrum Agile methodology. This adds to the total cost of the project. It may also become difficult to get additional budget approvals during the development phase. T&M may work better as you can control both the budget and product outcome/delivery.

Note: It is also important to check if the development partner is ready to scale up or scale down the resources as per business changes.

  1. What is their pricing model?
  2. What is their payment schedule?
  3. What is the cost of changing requirements?
  4. Can resources be scaled-up or scaled-down as per business changes?

Process Management

  1. Are they ISO/CMMi certified?
  2. What methodologies are used – e.g., Agile/DevOps/Microservices?
  3. Is the methodology flexible to suit different product/delivery requirements?
  4. Is there a process for review and feedback at the end of each sprint with the customer? (This check will ensure features are fit for purpose and potential issues are rapidly resolved.)

Requirements Gathering

  1. What methodology is used for requirements gathering?
  2. Check if any tools are used for requirements management and what are they?
  3. If no tools are used, find out what the collaboration processes their team uses are?
  4. Are system reviews held with customer representatives throughout the duration of the project?
  5. What is the required approval process followed by the vendor?

Development Process

  1. Does the external development team have the right mix of resources between Product Owners, Scrum Masters, Developers, and Testers?
  2. What systems and tools are used for development workflow management?
  3. What tools are used for project management?
  4. Does the vendor have CI/CD capabilities?
  5. Are they using a version management system?
  6. How are software artifacts dependencies managed?

Project Governance & Delivery

  1. What are their reporting guidelines and escalation matrix for deliverable and performance?
  2. What is the response time for escalation?
  3. How is the time accounted for?
  4. Find out how their team will log hours in the development process?
  5. What is the process for milestone management?
  6. What tools are used for reporting code & quality metrics, defect tracking, and management changes?
  7. What are the communication methods and tools used?
  8. How do they ensure transparency of communication?
  9. Are appropriate dashboards in place to measure progress on work, test execution, automation, code quality, defects, and other metrics throughout the project?
  10. How do you ensure proper knowledge transfer when a resource leaves the project?
  11. Does the vendor supply the CVs of people assigned to the project?

Quality Standards

  1. Is there a Testing Strategy to ensure the project maintains high quality throughout its duration?
  2. Is Code written consistent with a well-defined team coding standard?
  3. Is continuous integration and testing used to find potential defects and fix them early in the development cycle?
  4. Do they use proper test environments and data to ensure that test execution is done in a near-real-world setting?
  5. What percentage of testing is automated?
  6. What tools are used for Quality Assurance operations?
  7. What are Quality Assurance metrics tracked?

Organization & Workplace Culture

To select a good software development partner to outsource software development, also look at the general internal atmosphere in the vendor company. The check is usually done to get details such as how they treat their employees and the company mission and values.

  1. What is the mission or vision of the organization?
  2. How do their business objectives relate to what you do?
  3. To what extent is the customer a priority?
  4. How is the management style throughout the organization?
  5. What is the current overall performance of the company?
  6. Are the organization’s plans/roadmap shared with the employees?
  7. What programs do they have for personnel development?
  8. What kind of employee benefits are in place?
  9. What kind of rewards and recognition do they have for their employees?
  10. What is the attrition rate in the organization?

Legal and Security

Just checking the technology capability, processes, talent, and quality does not give the whole picture. You also need to check the business and legal side of things. This basically means the SLAs, NDAs, SOWs, and other practical aspects of the project.

  1. Are there security and confidentiality guidelines in place to protect your Intellectual property/ Source codes and other sensitive data?
  2. Who will own the code, the licenses, the hardware, and other things required in the project?
  3. Does the vendor provide any warranties for intellectual property and work deliverables?

Delivery Team

Being intentional about team design, roles and responsibilities is key to successful collaboration and accountability.

  1. Are all team members identified and their respective roles and responsibilities so that the entire team (internal and external) knows each other and understands how they will collaborate?
  2. For the internal teams, have these critical roles been identified and resourced appropriately?

Product Manager — This person is responsible for the overall project direction, customer requirements, and priorities for the development team. They are also responsible for the customer validation plan and coordination with project stakeholders.

Architectural Representative — This is the architectural contract for the outsourced team and is responsible for consistent architecture across products and features.

Stakeholder Group — Leadership representatives responsible for overall project success.

For the external (outsource team), have these critical roles been staffed;

Technical Lead— whose ultimate responsibility is for the outsourcing development team’s technical advice and programming and partner with the client-architect team to ensure architectural consistency.

Product Owner — whose role is to partner with the client Product Management team and is responsible for breaking down and refining user stories and acceptance criteria and coordinating with the development team.

  1. Does the external development team have the right mix of resources/talent between Product Owners, Developers, and Testers?
    Are the external teams co-located and broken down into individual teams no greater than 7 people?
  2. Did the internal and external team leaders together to determine and agree on roles and responsibilities for key product development deliverables?

Agile Project Management and Delivery

Continuously adapting and adjusting with iterative sprint cadence allows the team to execute effectively, learn from mistakes and recover quickly.

  1. Are the key planning and sprint deliverables (requirements, sprint plans, daily stand-ups, definition of done, etc.) agreed upon by the team and in advance of starting the first increment and sprint?
  2. Are clear roles and responsibilities, including points of collaboration, defined for each key deliverable to reinforce ownership, accountability, and teamwork?
  3. Are project deliverables planned iteratively through the course of the project in no greater than 3-month increments? For example, What do we plan to accomplish in the next 3 months, Epics, priorities, the risk to resolve, etc.
  4. Are the appropriate dashboards in place to measure progress on work, test execution, automation, code quality, and defects throughout the increment?
  5. Are backlog items assigned to the increment and sprint and worked on in relative priority order to ensure the team is working on the highest priorities early in the project?
  6. Are Sprints no greater than two weeks in duration and a sprint plan and goals completed at the start of each sprint?
  7. Is there a clearly defined Definition of Done for each User Story and sprint, so there is a common understanding of completeness and transparency of progress?
  8. Are the aspects of defect lifecycle management, like definition of Severity/Priority, bug status transition, etc., clearly defined and unambiguous for all stakeholders?
  9. Does the team determine and have the necessary capacity or velocity to accomplish increment and sprint goals in the allotted time?
  10. Does the team hold a daily stand-up and review and update the team board daily to increase collaboration and project transparency?
  11. Does the team review Epic/ Feature at the end of each sprint and provide feedback to the development team on fit for purpose?
  12. Is there a milestone checkpoint at the end of each increment with the core team and key stakeholders to review and align on project progress and issues and resolve open items?
  13. Does the team use a standard and shared set of development tools for collaboration, project management dashboards, source control, bug management, test management, and test automation?
  14. Do all team members and stakeholders have full access to the project management tools and dashboards to drive a mutual understanding of status and issues throughout the project?
  15. Does the team have a common understanding and agreement on Source Control Management, Configuration Management (a.k.a. Build), and Deployment practices around branching, merging, executing product/component build(s), and deployment to pre-production? When estimating capacity, does the team allocate time for vacations, meetings, and unplanned work such as customer escalations, resolving unknown items, managing risks, etc.?

Conclusion

Whether you are a startup founder looking to create a development team from the bottom up, or a longtime business owner trying to find additional resources to grow your existing tech team, this checklist will assist you in shortlist software outsourcing vendors effectively and enable you to make informed decisions for your business.

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