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8 Questions to ask an outsource development services provider:

In the coming years, 70% of companies are going to outsource more(1).  However, once the decision has been made to outsource development, the next step is to consider which providers should be approached to carry out the work.  Below, are eight key questions that organisations should ask prospective outsourcing software companies to ensure the desired technology business outcome.

1. Do they have the right technology accreditations?

If your organisation is looking to develop, modernise or migrate to a specific technology, is the company being considered adept at it?  Whilst case-studies and customer testimonials can go some way to demonstrating that they can work in that technology, an accreditation demonstrates that they understand it – and describes their level of competence.

Let’s take the example of Microsoft.  Microsoft is a growing economy and as such there are a multitude of companies jumping on the bandwagon to develop in .Net or implement Office 365 and Dynamics 365 solutions.

If you are looking to maximise your Microsoft investment, you would benefit from using a Microsoft Gold Partner.  To obtain such an accreditation, they have demonstrated to Microsoft that they have a best-in-class capability, which can only be achieved by passing their rigorous tests.  These Microsoft Gold Partners have access to the latest Microsoft platforms and support channels and due to their access to various product licences, can create Proof of Concepts (POC) for their clients.

2. Do they run a UK led development practice?

Whilst an organisation may have a UK office, it does not guarantee that their development practice is run from the same location.  Choosing to outsource development to a UK led provider has several benefits.  These include:

– Faster, more efficient communication: Time zone differences can make it particularly difficult should you have an urgent enquiry or simply want to talk to someone on the phone. Misunderstandings through language barriers are also avoided.

– Greater synergy between your and their compliance with regulations & legislations: UK-led development practices, are well versed in the regulations and legislations for the UK and the industries that they cater for. This understanding helps avoid non-compliance and pre-empts any issues.

– Tighter control of a project: A UK-led approach enables the outsource development company to work closely with the client and really understand their business needs. Your requirements are not received third or fourth hand ensuring a high level of confidence that the deliverables will be as agreed and within your control.

3. Do they offer a flexible pricing structure?

The total cost of delivery will ultimately be a determining factor when choosing a development outsourcing company.  However, selecting a provider with onshore, nearshore and offshore capabilities allows you to explore different cost options.  By combining these application development services with a UK approach, will provide the most appropriate location and effective cost point.

4. What do they offer by way of Quality Assurance?

When outsourcing development, you want to know that the solution you receive will be as promised, at the agreed time and of the required quality.  An effective way to ascertain this is the maturity level of their Quality Assurance (QA) framework.  To assess this, you need to know what techniques they employ, such as automation, performance and security testing.

Another positive indicator is to know how early in the development process that QA begins.  A good framework is involved from the start and QA teams work collaboratively with the client, the development and delivery teams.  There also needs to be clear and transparent reporting that provides you, the client, with proof of the solution’s quality.  For example, would you be given full access to their test collateral and test results?

5. What development method do they use?

Most businesses will have an affinity to a specific style of project management and software solution development. This could be an agile, iterative or waterfall approach.  Consider whether the prospective IT outsourcing provider works to the same principles as your organisation and how can they demonstrate this.  For example, if they run an agile development practice, do they have scrum masters and agile mentors?  Are their developers certified? Can they coach product owners?

Alternatively, if your organisation is unsure of the best approach or are considering moving to a specific framework, does the IT outsourcing provider have extensive expertise across all?  If the answer is yes, they may be able to offer consultancy to find the best method for your needs and develop the solution accordingly.

6. What level of development experience do they have?

Another key consideration when selecting your IT outsourcing partner, is the level of experience that they have both in the type of development required and the individuals that will be working on your project.  For example, if you are looking to modernise a legacy estate, have they carried out complex, enterprise-scale legacy transformations before?

Hardened experts will be familiar with the relevant pitfalls involved in carrying out these sorts of projects, enabling them to foresee potential issues, prior to development, and know when issues are likely to arise.

Lastly, will the project be run or overseen by senior resources to ensure the highest quality is delivered?  Having the confidence that experience practitioners are leading your project Is a strong foundation for a successful relationship.

7. What range of IT development services are offered?

Approaching an outsource development company with a breadth of development services has considerable advantages.  Rather than the risk of your business needs being shoe-horned to fit an existing service offering, options can be explored to best suit your timescales, resources, in-house expertise and budget.

They may be able of offer: technical consultancy, provide qualified and vetted developers to complement your own IT team or deliver part or all of your project.  Perhaps even a combination!

8. Does their business offer any other complementary technology services? 

If you are considering a complex development project, can the outsourcing software company offer complementary services such as project management, architecture and business analysis to support a successful IT project?

As you can see there are many things to bear in mind when selecting your technology partner.  However, by asking the right questions, you can create a supplier shortlist with the necessary accreditations, services, methodology, experience, QA and price for your business needs.

If you would like to know more about outsourced development services or have a specific development question, contact us.

Source: GSA

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