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5 Software Outsourcing Challenges and How To Solve Them

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Development
8 min read
Software Outsourcing
Contents

Introduction

As our digital world continues to expand, so do remote work opportunities and partnerships. In a post-2020 world, today’s companies have better infrastructure for supporting long-distance work relationships, whether within the country or globally. This has opened up a whole new pool of talent for employers to hire from or outsource to — ensuring every project has a dedicated expert.

The software development industry in particular has benefited from the uptick in remote work capabilities since development work is often individual project-based. Hiring and keeping a full-time, in-house team for development is often an unnecessary expense in companies that aren’t fully tech-focused.

While software development outsourcing is meant to provide long-term cost savings for expert work, it also comes with obstacles. When handling a project issue isn’t as easy as walking over to the next office, communication can suffer. Add in different time zones or different cultural understandings, and a software project’s outsourcing plan can easily fall into misalignment. 

If you are looking to outsource software development for an upcoming project, it’s important to learn how to recognize and bridge potential gaps in expectations, communication, and work styles. Find out what the five most common software outsourcing challenges are and how to solve them. 

Common Challenges in Outsourcing Software Development

From varying standards in quality assurance to inconsistent legal requirements, software outsourcing challenges can seem daunting. However, by putting the right measures and expectations in place ahead of time, you can leverage the many benefits of outsourced software development while minimizing the hidden costs.

1. Communication Barriers

Open, shared, and clear communication is a fundamental building block to any successful project team. The risk of miscommunication exists even in traditional office settings, but for remote teams, it’s amplified.

A discussion you would normally have in person may instead occur in an email or chat, causing misunderstandings without any non-verbal cues to support your message. An issue that requires immediate attention may be prolonged if you can’t reach the project lead. And if you outsource globally, language barriers may add to the potential for misunderstandings.

Solution 1: Nearshore Partners

Nearshore software outsourcing partners often employ developers who speak English. Consider looking into a nearshore partner, and ask them about their English-speaking requirements for their employees.

Solution 2: Tailored Communication Strategies

Software outsourcing contracts can end in dispute if you do not set clear expectations at the start, run regular check-ins to ensure progress is on track, and have a system for updates as issues arise or plans change. Creating custom plans for effective communication at the outset of an outsourced software project is the best way to empower your team to communicate well and stay on track throughout.

A few options to consider for enhanced clarity during the project process include:

  • Choosing a dedicated project manager or point of contact from every party involved
  • Specifying which team members are in charge of which part of the project at the outset
  • Creating a regular schedule of project check-ins to maintain consistent communication throughout the term of the contract
  • Clarifying each party’s preferred mode of communication upfront
  • Setting clear procedures for how to get ahold of someone if needed and specifying which team members are more or less often available to help based on work capacity
  • Create communication boundaries upfront (i.e., what regular work hours for each party are and whether or not they can be reached outside of them, especially where time differences exist)

2. Quality Assurance and Control

When outsourcing software developers, ensuring the work completed outside of your physical office meets your quality standards often requires more effort than evaluating in-house project quality. However, working with an experienced vendor who has created similar software projects to your needs can actually enhance the quality of the finished product.

Solution: Robust Quality Assurance Processes

You can make sure each detail of the project reaches the level of quality necessary by setting up the proper internal review processes and oversight. Set the expectations for quality of work with your outsourced developer up front to avoid disappointment down the line. During the planning phase of the project, mutually agree upon procedures for checking and evaluating quality. That way, every team member will understand what a successful project should look like, and how that will be measured at the project’s end.

Make sure to delegate responsibility to a specific person or team to check the work quality against the initial project plan and catch any issues early. Also, ensure that your development partner has sufficient quality control processes in place by asking about their usual project oversight policies and pre-launch testing procedures before agreeing to work with them. 

3. The Nuances of Cultural Differences

Working with people from different cultures and backgrounds can often result in net positive benefits for development teams. Diversity can promote creativity for better, more holistic problem-solving. However, cultural differences can also add to the risk of miscommunication among team members, who may interpret phrases and behaviors differently. Different outsourcing countries will have different cultural norms.

As in other aspects of custom software development outsourcing, expectations play an integral role in whether or not conflict arises. For instance, in one culture, people may expect colleagues to respond to questions within a couple of hours. In another, the normal time period for responding to a query might be 24 hours or more. This situation may lead to annoyance on both ends since each professional’s actions fit perfectly into their own cultural expectations while the other’s expectations may seem unreasonable to them.

Solution: Leverage Cross-Cultural Training and Collaboration

A great solution for avoiding misunderstandings due to cultural differences is to teach each team about each other’s cultures at the outset of the project. Ask each other questions about their work styles up front, and encourage team members on both sides to remain open-minded, patient, and respectful of potential cultural differences while working with one another. Nearshore development can often mitigate the level of cross-cultural differences between organizations.

This type of training aims to create a more light-hearted environment for all involved to interact and learn about each other prior to beginning project work. This will help to build a level of trust and camaraderie between the two different teams that will enhance communication and collaboration throughout the contract’s duration.

Again, clear communication and planning are the antidote to most forms of misunderstanding while outsourcing software development. Encourage all team members to ask for clarity whenever necessary and avoid assuming the worst in possible miscommunication scenarios.

4. Time Zone Differences

One of the toughest obstacles many offshore teams face is collaborating across different time zones. This often requires asynchronous communication, which can be a difficult transition for internal teams who may be used to conversing about a project more quickly.

Solution: Establish Clear Communication Protocols and Asynchronous Strategies

When making your initial choice of partner, consider a nearshore software development partner. With this solution, the bulk of the development process occurs in nearby countries. Due to the U.S. developer shortage, domestic options for timely software outsourcing are often slim. Nearshore options solve this, combining the cost benefits of offshore outsourcing while minimizing the associated communication obstacles like language and time zone barriers.

However, our emphasis on clarity continues here. Setting and adapting procedures for communicating within different time zones (no matter how small the difference) will save you from many issues that can arise in asynchronous teams. Set expectations for asynchronous communication processes that take into consideration both parties’ normal working practices, preferred communication methods, and regular hours for working.

When setting rules for communicating, establish when certain team members are available and when they aren’t. Determine the best way to contact one another when out of the office and how to prioritize messages received when off work. Discuss what each team’s expectations are in receiving timely project updates and responses to questions. Also, define what constitutes a work “emergency” in which those established rules can be broken. 

5. Legal and Security Concerns

Cybersecurity and intellectual property (IP) laws differ across regions, so it’s important to be well-informed about the rules in your area and your developer’s area before moving forward with a contract. Establish a formal agreement of ownership before starting a project and, in the planning phase, set necessary standards of cybersecurity that the outsourced developer must put in place before beginning the work.

Solution: Implement a Robust Security Framework

In initial conversations with an outsourced software development company, you and your team should ask extensive questions about the potential outsourcing partner’s cybersecurity measures. Learn about the measures they currently have in place to protect sensitive information and IP. If their current system isn’t up to your standards, test their willingness to make changes in order to comply with your preferred level of security.

Work with your own IT professionals, cybersecurity experts, and legal team to come up with relevant agreements and protocols ahead of signing the contract. Discuss the outsourced developing partner’s pre-existing security framework and your own and how the two may work together to keep your IP safe. Ultimately, you and your software development partners should combine your efforts and knowledge to build out a robust, custom security framework that fits the project’s unique needs.

Conclusion

At Flatirons, our dedicated team of innovative developers focuses on maximizing UI and UX, deploying strategic testing methods, and prioritizing superior quality. As our past clients will confirm, our expertise and excellent communication practices set us apart from other outsourced software options. Reach out to discuss how we can help you avoid common software outsourcing challenges in your next project. We will work with you to seamlessly bring your ideas to life.

Software Development Outsourcing Solutions

Outsource your software development to Flatirons for quality, efficiency, and innovation.

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