The 5 key success factors in offshore software development
If you have considered outsourcing or offshoring software development recently, you may have thought about the key success factors to ‘make it work’. In the past years, I have gained substantial experience in how to (and how not to) manage an offshore cooperation. Trying to summarize this knowledge in a simple format brought me to ‘the 5 P’s of offshoring’.
It all starts with the people in your offshore software development team. No matter how well you define your requirements, how solid the process of your supplier look: you need to have the right person doing the right things in your projects. In order to build a strong dedicated team that will produce results on the long term for you, it is crucial to have an influence on the selection of your team members. Ideally, you co-develop a recruitment process together with your supplier, where you can hold interviews, tests or any other screening method.
There needs to be a common understanding of ‘how we work’. As an outsourcer, you need to have a basic structure on which all people involved can rely. In the beginning of the cooperation, the process might be written down on one page, but over time it should evolve into a well documented, proven offshore process document. A few crucial aspects that need to be described in the process are: how do we make requirements and who is responsible for what part; What online project management tool do we use and how do we use it (instruction guide); if your team is a team of programmers: what is our coding standard; how do we communicate (meetings, methods, systems); what are the steps involved from project inception until implementation.
Take the time to prepare for the offshore cooperation. Invest time in meeting the key people on your vendor’s side, to define processes, to select the right people in your team, to prepare contracts, to define projects, to get your existing organisation ready for the new situation. Before ‘doing the work’, a solid foundation has to be created by thinking about the ‘how we work’ . Your existing people have to get used to the change and they need to get the big picture.
Before and during the cooperation, the bottom line should be that offshoring brings your company profit. This should not be limited to the cost-savings, the maths should take into consideration: increased flexibility, possibility to take on more projects and grow in revenues, to realize faster time to market.
All the people working in the cooperation should create productive output and this needs to be measured. Regular evaluations of the team members on aspects like productivity, quality, personal skills, team skills, billed hours, can increase the insight you have about each persons output.