How to Outsource Your Web Development And Make It Count
Thinking about Software Development Outsourcing? Check out common concerns and real risks, like different time zones and language barriers, to get to know how to evaluate your potential outsourcing partner and make the process transparent, cost-effective and efficient.
The popularity of web development outsourcing is ubiquitous today. The outsourcing business is booming and thriving because it provides direct access to top technology talent on an at-need basis at reasonable prices.
Leading companies, who want to maintain a competitive edge, cut costs on software development and focus on their strategic goals, are turning to web development outsourcing. That’s because it’s a reasonable and affordable way to build your website or web application, without the need to invest resources hiring and retaining an in-house team of web developers.
In order to outsource web development successfully and smoothly, your company needs to be aware of the common pitfalls and know how to avoid them.
Common concerns and real risks of outsourcing web development
It’s possible for hidden costs to add up to 60% onto the initial price of outsourcing services! Unforeseen expenditures may be incurred by a variety of factors commonly overlooked when project requirements are being determined.
Some hidden costs that could easily remain unaccounted for:
- Travel costs (it’s likely that you will want to visit your service provider and invite them to your office at least several times).
- Operations and infrastructure realignment (new virtual environments, change to internal processes, security, and authentication, etc.).
- The transition of knowledge (training and explaining your processes to an overseas team).
- Taxes (double-check the tax lines in the outsourcing contract, because you may not be responsible for paying some of the local taxes).
- Management of the remote team (managing an overseas provider may add up to 10% to the final price).
Before concluding the contract, always question your potential partner about the possible hidden costs. You should obtain a very coherent picture of how much you will have to pay and for what exactly.
It’s no secret that effective communication is the key to successful collaboration. First and foremost, make sure the employees of your outsource web development company speak enough English to follow your requirements. They don’t have to be fluent, but if there is a communication barrier, it will be extremely hard to get the work done correctly.
Such a barrier would come from four sources: pronunciation, syntax, vocabulary, and accent. In addition, non-native speakers may tend to use the sentence structures of their native language.
To help reduce the impact of these issues, there are a few things you can do from your end to help reduce and overcome the language barrier:
- Use common words. Try avoiding complex turns of phrase, specialized vocabulary, and professional jargon.
- Avoid slang, idioms, and metaphors. Even if the level of English of the other person is reasonably high, they may misinterpret some notions and jokes.
- During calls speak at a steady pace, and make short pauses between sentences so the other person has time to process what you are saying.
Different time zones
You may feel uncomfortable if your remote team is sleeping while you are operating at full capacity. This can be particularly inconvenient if your project requires active cooperation and constant direct communication.
The practical solution to this problem lies in the maximum utilization of “golden” overlapping hours, when both your in-house and remote teams are up and working. Even if you have only several hours a day of overlap, they may be enough to schedule meetings, review work done, and discuss further plans.
Sensitive data about your company that you transfer to your outsourcing partner could potentially be used by someone to manipulate or sabotage your business. One of your first priorities when assessing a potential partner is to find out about their approach to protecting your data. If something seems wrong with the company’s attitude to security, it probably is.
Carefully discuss the security methods of your web development outsourcing partner, and keep them accountable for sensitive data protection. Question them about any past security problems and how they dealt with them. Be sure to sign a data processing agreement with your vendor.
Lack of control
Nobody knows your business better than you. Not being physically present with the team may naturally cause a feeling that you’ve lost some control of what’s going on. This may be unnerving at first. The key solution to this problem is to require complete transparency throughout the course of your project to help you “feel the pulse”.
Project transparency includes:
- Timelines for meetings
- A defined working schedule and task distribution
- Regular progress reports
- Usage of communication tools, issue trackers and requirement-tracking software
- Access to all the project-related data
- Active involvement in decision-making
- Ensuring you and your outsourcing service provider are working towards the same goals
- Assigning “a single point of contact” from your company
Quality control is one of the most significant parts of software development outsourcing, but it’s the hardest one to keep an eye on. To avoid the risk of receiving a product with bugs or which doesn’t operate properly, ensure your outsourcing partner follows the latest quality standards. Ask, if they are certified to any international standards, require documentation, ask them upfront for examples of when something went wrong on a previous project and how they handled it. Set your quality control expectations from the beginning.
Remember, that reliable outsourcing services provider will not refuse to familiarize you with their quality control standards, and will include the quality requirements in the software development agreement. Insist that QA processes should not be implemented only at the end of the project, but should be built into the development lifecycle.
Nevertheless, you shouldn’t be frightened away by the above-mentioned risks. As we’ve discussed, they can all be handled with proper management and commitment.
On the other hand, outsourcing of web development comes with numerous, undeniable benefits:
Every project has a budget, and every budget has a limit. Reduced costs are one of the most powerful motivations to engage in web development outsourcing. Obviously, it’s much more profitable to hire an established team of web developers than to employ an in-house one. If you hire an outsourcing team, you are not responsible for their workplaces, equipment, computers, environment, vacations, taxes, utilities and coffee.
On top of that, you should carefully consider that the rates of web developers vary in different locations. While their hourly rates in the USA are approximately $100-120/hour, in Ukraine you can hire experts for $25-50/hour. This means a saving of between 20% and 70% for your budget.
Focus on key business activities
Business owners spend up to 40% of their working time on time-consuming tasks that don’t build the company. Managing your in-house team of web developers, getting into the nuts and bolts of the development process, becoming involved in any of the details of the process will take up a lot of your time. Being busy doesn’t always mean being productive though. The key is to spend your time on your business, not in your business.
If you hire a remote team of web developers, you can focus on your strategic work, maintain your operations, look for new partners and connections, and do what you are best at and what really matters.
The IT outsourcing market provides an enormous pool of highly professional and talented experts. The available technical specialists have both extensive experience and up-to-date knowledge to serve the most sophisticated projects. Another benefit of outsourcing experts is that they are constantly learning. They frequently attend international tech-related conferences, take courses, attend training events, and read relevant literature.
The most considerable benefit of outsourcing talent is that you can deploy them on an as-needed basis, complement your team with the precise specialist you need to scale up or down your remote development team. Furthermore, the hiring process can be a matter of a few days, rather than months.
Knowledge and skillset
Web development outsourcing offers you a unique source of knowledge right at your fingertips. Usually, remote teams are already equipped with top-notch web developers, quality control engineers, project managers, UI/UX designers, to name a few. On top of that, you will always be able to ask them for advice in the fields they are experts in, and they will be delighted to share their creative ideas with you. Plus, they might come up with ideas concerning your project that you’d never considered and suggest smart innovations.
Process organization and fast development speed
If you want to get the fastest possible time to market (TTM), you should definitely consider a web development outsourcing team. In this case, you will not have to spend any time and resources on organizational issues, because the team would already be established, and they’ve gone through so much together already. From the very first day of your engagement, they will actually start working on the project and developing, not setting up organizational processes.
Most web development outsourcing companies understand the importance of flexibility in today’s ever-changing business environment and quickly adjust to the changing demands of their partners. They operate in a way that efficiently adapts to any changes to operations, and identifies the approach that will work best for the situation. The flexibility of web development outsourcing companies helps mitigate possible risks and progressively increases the value of the outsourcing engagement.
One of the principal advantages of outsourcing is that the service provided can upscale or downscale resources as required. Web development outsourcing companies have the necessary staff to complement the team and handle the increased volume of work. And vice versa, when the busy season is over, they can scale back down to a smaller group. Scalability helps reduce overhead and cut costs on staff.
It’s true, outsourcing does have the potential to be a risky affair. Underperformance, data breaches, theft of intellectual property, inability to deliver due to force majeure – these are very real threats. However, reliable web development outsourcing companies have developed efficient strategies to correctly identify and eliminate possible risks and implement risk mitigation strategies from the very beginning of every outsourcing engagement.
Outsourcing companies assess every risk using two basic criteria: probability and impact. Those risks that have high probability and high impact are obvious candidates for deeper consideration.
Ongoing business support
Trusted and reliable web development outsourcing companies are often entrusted with activities that are the lifeblood of their partners. They are focused on long-term collaborations, that’s why they are ready to cover not only software development but also strategic planning, marketing, competitor analysis, business processes, and customer management.
There is no way to ensure 100% security of software written by a third party. It can always introduce an unacceptable level of risk in the form of security threats and vulnerabilities. Some of the threats include financial loss, operational risk, regulatory compliance regulations, reputational damage, and disclosure of sensitive information.
However, reliable and trustworthy web development outsourcing companies do their best to proactively protect their customers’ data. They leverage secure outsourcing best practices that eliminate most security risks. Among these practices are the signing of a non-disclosure agreement (NDA), data encryption, data fingerprinting and watermarking. The companies ensure the code and processes are as secure as possible.
Now let’s look at the key elements and benefits of working with different types of web development outsourcing: hiring freelance developers, a local web development team, and an outsourcing web development company.
|Freelancer||Local web development team||Outsourcing web development company|
|Rates||Usually low. However, hiring a lot of freelancers for different parts of your project may turn out to be expensive||High, because you need to not only pay salaries but also the social package||Reasonable|
|Service quality||It depends significantly on the quality of the specialist you hired||High||High|
|Skills||In general, one freelancer has professional expertise in one specific area||It depends on the composition of the established team and the skill sets its members have||Companies usually offer full-cycle web development services, including initial consulting (often free of charge), business analysis, UI/UX design, prototyping and business idea validation, development and deployment. Everything in one place|
|Deadlines (possibility to deliver on time)||Depends on the professional and personal qualities of the freelancer you hired||Yes||Yes|
|Schedules||Freelancers love freedom, and they are likely to set their own schedules and work irregular hours. Their working schedule often depends on when the inspiration comes||Local teams are very strict about schedules. But you will have to cover the overtime if necessary||Companies always have established schedules and workflows. Teams work 9-to-5, and overtime when necessary. Also, as soon as one developer becomes temporarily unavailable, they are immediately substituted by another one within the team|
|Team management (PM included)||You will have to manage a freelancer on your own or assign a person responsible for their management. An extra freelancer may become an overhead to your team management, as they will require additional time||Yes||Agencies usually have their own, in-house PMs, so you will not be responsible for the management|
|Quality of work||It depends on the freelancer’s professional characteristics. In the end, you may receive a decent piece or a disaster||High||High|
|Project scalability (add more resources)||No||No||Yes|
|Legal issues||Freelancers work as independent contractors or separate entities and typically cover all legal issues by themselves||You will be responsible for all legal issues||Companies are legal entities. They will take care of all documents and agreements required to start the cooperation|
Define business goals before web development outsourcing
You need to know precisely what you want to develop and have your concept ready before you get in contact with a web development outsourcing company. Avoid vague requirements and unclear expectations at all costs. What should you have ready in advance?
Do your homework
- Define why you want to develop this product
- What are your business goals
- Do extensive research about your prospective users and clients
- Develop a general description of your web project
- Define the budget you are ready to allocate for the project
- What specific business needs should your product cover
- Run a product discovery workshop with your web development partner
- Define the technology stack and tech requirements
- Compile a list of questions for the pre-screening process for the web development outsourcing team
- Develop proper documentation of the requirements
- Follow and track development activities to make sure the final result will meet your expectations
Find the proper web development outsourcing vendor
Before putting your web development project under the care of an outsourcing company, you need to invest some time and effort to carefully evaluate potential partners.
Don’t fall into the trap of considering the lowest rates on the market, because you can get into some trouble that way. Partnership with an untrustworthy service provider can quickly lead to hidden costs which outweigh the overall profit of using the outsourcing engagement in the first place. A bad vendor can also lead to loss of customers due to poor software, security breaches, and a taint on your company’s reputation.
You should carefully evaluate your potential outsourcing partner using the following steps:
- Conduct a screening process.
- Compare their service models and cooperation approaches, investigate their best practices to make sure you deal with cutting-edge professionals.
- Read reviews and feedback from their previous clients on Clutch.co, GoodFirms, Manifest, Upwork. Browse the team’s activity on Quora, Dribble, GitHub, and Behance.
- Make sure you are not going to engage with amateurs. Evaluate the company’s history, previous experience, number of employees, content on their official website, their positioning, tech specialization, and capabilities. Get as many details as possible.
- Interview the members of your potential team. Consider their level of English, communicative skills, knowledge base and experience. Find out how they approach remote work. Pay attention to whether they ask you lots of project-related questions.
- Request information about internal software development processes, methodologies, quality assurance processes.
- Read case studies. Here you will find information about their approach, technology stack, previous experience, issues, and challenges handled, and the value they brought to their clients.
Arrange efficient communication during web development outsourcing
Proper communication is a very sensitive issue. The importance of it cannot be underestimated. Poor communication leads to numerous misunderstandings, unclear requirements, and expectations, and missed deadlines.
We’ve prepared some tips that can be incredibly helpful in building strong communication with your web development partner:
- Communication plan. Collaboratively develop a scheme of communication and stick to it. Pay attention to the difference in time zones and local holidays. Schedule regular meetings with the responsible persons, team leads, and developers. Keep your project on track with status reports. Also, keep minutes of your regular meetings and send them as a follow-up email to all participants. They will serve as to-do lists and ensure all the relevant details about personal responsibilities are well saved.
- Build a strong rapport with every individual member of the remote team. Everybody should be on the same page. Make sure every member of the team understands your strategy, knows where you are all moving, and is clear about exactly what he or she is responsible for. Keep your goals and objectives clear.
- Assign “a single point of contact” – a dedicated project manager from your company. This person should know your strategic objectives from the inside and be capable of properly communicating them to the development team, as well as helping eliminate possible bottlenecks and solve misunderstandings.
- Use collaboration and project management tools. Google Drive, Dropbox, TeamViewer, Join.me, Basecamp, Confluence, JIRA, Asana, Trello, Slack, InVision will all make communication more efficient for all responsible stakeholders. Use GitHub and GitLab for source code management.
- Establish personal connections. Don’t underestimate the paramount importance of personal connections. They help develop team cohesiveness, boost morale, reduce stress, and develop trust. During meetings, always find some time for small talk. You might be surprised by how many things you have in common. Show people you care about them, and they will be glad to deliver you more value.
- If something goes wrong or you disagree about something, don’t hesitate to directly communicate it to the allocated project manager.
Locations and rates of outsourced web development
When considering your outsourcing destination, pay attention to the following criteria:
- Time zone
Eastern Europe is currently among the leading outsourcing destinations because of the reasonable rates, good level of general education (and therefore good English), and the abundance of highly professional web development teams. Ukrainian experts offer enormous technical expertise and lots of professionals that have been working in IT for 10+ years.
Naturally, there are pros and cons of web development outsourcing – it’s not a quick-fix for all problems. For all that, the benefits outweigh the possible risks.
Hiring a remote team for web development outsourcing will bring you their vast technical expertise, save you time and money, and ensure faster TTM. Outsourcing web development may serve as a great cost-reducer if managed correctly.
Web development outsourcing can take the weight off your shoulders, as it provides you with instant access to a vast pool of exceptional IT talent, which can handle tech tasks while you are focusing on your strategic goals.
Contact us for a free consultation!