An increasing number of businesses are taking the outsourcing route when it comes to product development. This is most apparent amongst small and medium scale business owners, who neither have the money nor can hope to command the kind of resources that large corporations have. For a domain such as product development, what proves to be expensive is not exactly the actual work, but also the period of relative inactivity that captive or in-house teams are bound to have. Hence, the current trend. However, money is not the only motivation here. By outsourcing it to a specialist agency, one also is able to utilize their professional expertise and years of experience in the field. That said though, it is important to keep a few things in mind while outsourcing product development to an agency, especially an agency abroad.
- Stay plugged in and retain control- Under no circumstances must you press the off switch at any point during the product development. Remember, it is your product, your project and your idea! Nobody, not even the best in the field, can replicate your idea exactly as you have envisaged it. Maintaining control over your product development process will ensure that nothing gets lost in translation and the project never veers too far of course. There simply have been way too many cases where the client has turned off and allowed the project to drift. Developers, despite their best intentions, end up coming up with a radically different product than what was originally intended. A classic case is shown in one of Virtual Employee’s 100+ case studies where ScerIS Vice president Larry Spencer describes how despite choosing a CMMI Level 5 certified company, his project failed to take off. Listen to him talk about his experience here.
- Maintain regular personal supervision of resources- Keeping checks and balances and maintaining a robust supervision of the resources that you have outsourced your development work to ensures that the work goes on smoothly and is finished within the given deadlines. This is also part of being “plugged in” and by playing a direct supervisory role helps in elevating the project from a “client project” per se for the developers and other resources to more of an “in-house project”, a situation where developers aren’t just following the brief, but actively engaged in improving it.
- Outsource to an agency instead of freelancers- There are a lot of great freelancers out there and they keep churning out exceptional work. However, the safer route to take is to engage an agency which specializes in this sort of work. Agencies provide you with a safety net by getting into legally binding agreements with you, agreements where your interests and data are protected by law. Agencies ensure professionalism, data security, observance of ethical standards and in-house supervision and mentorship- things always good to have despite your involvement in the project. Of course agencies end up costing a tad more than freelancers. However, the amount you need to pay extra is quite negligible.
- Outsourcing should add value and not just reduce costs- Please remember the thumb rule of outsourcing is not just saving money or hassles. Yes, that’s important, but while developing your product, if the developers you have chosen are not adding any value, then they are probably not what you should be looking for. Select where you outsource carefully and ensure that the knowledge flow is both ways and not just from you.
- Don’t just look domestic- Don’t constrain yourself in your search for a good product development team or agency by looking just within the States. There are plenty of entrepreneurs who hire offshore software development services and end up saving not just a lot of money, but end up with a far better product than they had initially envisioned. The established offshore development agencies are all very experienced with the right talent on board. Having catered to thousands of projects globally, offshore professionals are often hardboiled professionals who will do the job better, quicker and cheaper than most on shore developers.
Product Development is the most important phase of any business. A well-developed product, done in time and in budget is the precursor for commercial success ahead. A professional and punctual approach to development will also inspire investor confidence in you and your business, making you a more viable bet for future investments.