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5 risks and challenges in software developments outsourcing

Published on 
July 3, 2020
Danil Vilkhovskiy

Despite all the huge benefits software development outsourcing may provide, it is also associated with many risks and challenges. So, let’s discuss the most common outsourcing pitfalls and find a way to mitigate their worst effects.

3 common communication risks and challenges

Two-thirds of misunderstanding issues with outsourcing comes from poor communication. It seems so easy nowadays to establish good communication via Zoom meetings, Skype calls, etc. However, the risk is still at present. And still, hundreds of customers fail to get their software developed the way they require just because of poor communication. So, this is not a subject of technical means but of other factors that beget and increase the communication risk:

  • Language barriers
  • Time zone difference
  • Lack of clearly defined communication plan

Language barriers will ruin all your attempts to establish efficient communications. Simply put, if your vendor’s developers are not able to understand you, how can they deliver the result you need? The other side of their poor language skills is their failing to explain and negotiate their issues and solutions.

Time zone difference is not only your option to get the job done while you are sleeping (though, it really is). The difference may also pose a physical communication gap. For example, there is an 8-hour difference between your development team and vendor locations. In this case office hours of your vendor’s developers end right before your in-house developers start their working day.

Lack of clearly defined communication plan, perhaps, is the most crucial problem in terms of establishing efficient collaboration. Moreover, it touches all the factors we mentioned above. On the one hand, both parties need to know exactly when and how they may talk over the project issues and alterations, voice and discuss their concerns and suggestions. On the other hand, regular meetings and discussions make your vendor increase their self-organization and work more efficiently. Thus, a lack of clearly defined communication plan ties both hands and may even result in project disruption.

2 quality risks

A quality risk is, perhaps, one of the biggest headaches you may get with outsourced software development. To clarify, it splits into two parts and stands for risks of getting a solution with such shortcomings as:

  • Lazy debug
  • Inconsistent and hard to maintain code

Lazy debug means your vendor’s developers and testers don’t bother themselves to run appropriate life tests or build poor test coverage. Instead, they bother you and your developers to find these bugs and spend tons of time to send numerous bug requests. This reduces the project cost-efficiency as you have to pay your in-house developers for these routine instead of engaging them in more high-value tasks.

Inconsistent and hard to maintain code may be of no concern now but cause a lot of problems in the long-run. To clarify, it lengthens a learning curve for other developers and reduces room for further upgrade and customization. Thus, with inconsistent code, it will be hard to evolve your solution in the future.

How to avoid the risks

Language-associated challenges. Make sure development team your outsourcing company plan to assign for your project or, at least, a person who will oversee the project is fluent in the language you plan to communicate. This person (project manager, scrum master, etc.) acts as a link between you and developers. Thus, his language skills are of great importance for efficient collaboration and project success. The best way to check this is to contact him to talk over your project. But you need to do this due diligence before entering the contract and outsourcing your software development.

Time zone difference. This is not something you can change. However, make sure the project pipeline for your outsourced software development is tuned to mitigate the impact of this difference. Discuss the hours when your vendor guarantees the availability of an assigned project leader. Discuss an opportunity to contact him in case of an emergency.

Lack of clearly defined communication plan. Well, the only way to prevent “no-plan” challenges is to establish it as soon as (or, even better, before, at negotiation stage) the project starts. So, schedule sprint planning and review meetings and adjust this schedule according to the project progression and project pipeline alterations.

Lazy debug. Try a team you are going to outsource a large software development project with a small pilot project. Thus, you will have a chance to check them for their life-test and QA laziness.

An inconsistent and hard to maintain code. Establish a KPI system that includes such metrics as the number of bug requests with a lazy-debug nature. This way, you may increase your control over the project as well as the vendor’s awareness of their responsibilities. Thus, you can hold them accountable. And, once and again, a pilot-project practice can be of use in this case as you get a chance to check their coding practice.

To sum up, though outsourcing challenges may be fierce and severe, you can successfully overcome them at the initial stage of your outsourcing path. So, do not be afraid of the pitfalls but know how to avoid them and be proactive.