Top 10 Tips for Small Businesses Outsourcing Software Development

Rachel Stidworthy of MSM Software gives her top ten tips for outsourcing your IT

Top 10 Tips for Small Businesses Outsourcing Software Development

According to a recent survey*, 36% of businesses have seen an increase in IT outsourcing over the last 12 months.

Although this is a significant increase, this statistic isn’t unsurprising. The pace of technological change makes it a constant battle for small businesses to retain and recruit the necessary skillset in-house. As a result organisations outsource to specialists to ensure they remain competitive.

One such specialism is software development. The entire project can be a highly skilled and resource intensive task – from establishing the requirements and matching these to the right platform, language and database; all the way through to development, deployment and support. If each stage isn’t perfected it can result in a poor performing and costly application. So if you are considering outsourcing a software development project, what should you consider?

  1. Prepare a good Request for Proposal (RFP) – a response to your proposal is often only as good as the RFP itself. Spending time in the early stages will not only ensure you get the requirements specification right, but also save you time and money in the long run.
  2. Do you have a software problem? If so, make sure you fully understand the issue and clearly communicate your findings to your potential suppliers to give them opportunity to recommend a solution.
  3. Think about your long term goals. Technology requirements change on a consistent basis so make sure you consider future as well as current requirements. Will you need a scalable application? Will you need your supplier to provide support?
  4. Get stakeholder buy-in. For your software development project to be a success all stakeholders will need to be engaged – from the budget holder to the end user. Consult with the end users to ensure the application will meet all of their needs and ensure everyone involved fully understands the business reasons and benefits for the project.
  5. Set a guaranteed delivery date. The lack of a guaranteed delivery date can see projects continuing well past their due date, increasing costs and potentially leading to project failure.
  6. Decide if you would like to outsource onshore or offshore – will your decision impact your customers? Will any language barriers or time differences affect efficiency?
  7. Consider your cultural fit. It is important that you get on well with your supplier. It may seem simple but regular communication from the outset will be essential to achieve a successful project.
  8. Prepare questions for references. Before you select a software developer you will carry out due diligence and ask for references, so consider what questions you would like answered.
  9. Consider cost vs value. Although a cliché, rather than focusing on a sum of money place greater emphasis on the return on investment. Ask bidders to quote an estimated return on investment as this will give you an idea of whether they understand your project sufficiently.
  10. Select a supplier which exceeds your expectations. Your software developer should be more than an extension of your team – they should offer you something you can’t achieve. You need to feel confident that your supplier will achieve this at every stage of the project.

* The research was commissioned by MSM Software and presents quantitative research carried out with 100 IT managers to identify the changing nature of IT.

Rachel Stidworthy is Marketing Executive at MSM Software

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