Top 7 questions to ask a software house before outsourcing an IT project

20 January 2020
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What can you help me with?

That’s the first question to ask a software house before outsourcing an IT project. A wide variety of services should be offered by a software house in order to get you covered in every stage of your product development. From project and technology consulting through product design and development to QA and testing and  DevOps just to name a few. The wider the offering is the more certain you can be that your partner will be able to help you throughout the entire product lifecycle. 

The same goes for technology. Providing technology consulting and bringing on board the latest future-proof technology stack that can be easily merged into any preexisting system is one of the main expertise you should be looking in your IT project partner.

What does the process of application development look like in your company?

A software development process should be clear from the start. Before starting a cooperation with a software house you should agree upon the development process. What technologies will be used, what methodology, what are the milestones and deadlines, and so on. Having a clear understanding of what the cooperation will look like from day one will ensure that both parties are on the same page. 

Granted that software development is a live process and it might be a subject to many changes on the fly. So the overall roadmap might change a lot during the development phase. Especially that in many cases the software will be in direct correlation with your business model which is prone to many, often major, changes in order to satisfy the market needs.

What is the quality of the people you employ?

The high quality of engineers is the most valuable asset of any software house. Top companies take the evaluation of their employees very seriously with multiple verification steps including specific technology-related tests, logic tests, personality verification, and background checks. Asking about these details will give you a good idea about the quality of the employees.

Reviewing CVs/Resumes or project portfolio will give you an even better view on the engineers’ experience and qualifications in relation to your particular needs.

What if I’m not satisfied with the product or service?

Customer satisfaction is one of the most important factors for any IT company. It’s one of the things that move the business forward and keeps customers coming back. So being satisfied with the cooperation is one of the major goals for both parties. 

Communication is the key when it comes to any successful cooperation, starting from the very beginning and all the way down through the project, so that you all can be on the same page when it comes to expectations in terms of scope, milestones, deadlines, etc. Keeping in mind that the actual scope is constantly changing, so it’s crucial to adopt an adequate project management methodology (like Agile methodologies) that allows the demand and solutions to be constantly evolving by ensuring continuous collaboration between you and your vendor.  You can more on Agile user stories here.

There are many more ways to ensure the quality of an IT project. A first smaller trial project is a good way to start the cooperation. It allows both parties to get to know each other and give you a better idea of how the cooperation will look like. Contracting a particular module to a vendor might be a good way to kick off the cooperation with minimal risk for both parties. And then expand your cooperation if everything is going well.

If that’s not something that could work for your particular needs, you might want to consider a system design or technology audit workshop for your project. This is a great way for a software house to generate an added value for your project in a fairly simple manner. And on the other hand, this will give you a good idea if they are a good partner for your project. 

There are many more ways to verify a software house before outsourcing your IT project. Understanding how a particular company works, what is their experience, what are their straight and weaknesses will help you make a better decision when choosing your partner.

Are you able to double the size of the team involved in the project if the need arises?

Your business needs can change drastically over time. Sometimes your business will require major changes in a very short period of time especially during project peak or when developing a new product or a new version of your product. It is crucial that your partner is able to quickly adapt to these changes and has the capacity and resources to support you in pursuing your business. 

Flexibility in assigning team members effectively to a different project as required by the client is one of the crucial traits companies look for in the software development partners. In many cases, this might be the bottleneck of their business development strategy.

Do you have any testimonials or referrals from satisfied customers?

Any high profile software house will be more than happy to give you testimonials from their clients. In most cases, you can find them on the company’s website. This will give a good idea for what kind of clients they worked, on what kind of projects, what was their part and how was the cooperation going. 

It’s also worth to check external services like Clutch.co where you can find verified reviews placed by customers.

If you want to go one step further you can always ask about a direct contact to their previous or current clients. Bringing a third party into the conversation will give you an opportunity to better understand who their clients are and what’s the actual added value that the software house can bring to your company. Most high profile software houses will be more than happy to provide you with such contacts. 

If you want to know more on how to properly verify a software house before starting a cooperation you can check out this post

Why should I choose you and not hire my own software development team?

Choosing an external vendor instead of an in-house development team comes with many advantages (and some downsides). It all comes down to what your goals and capabilities are. Outsourcing an IT project to a software house and bringing an external team on board for your project will give you access to a larger pool of talents especially if you have an option to offshore your development, which often comes with somewhat lower development costs and much higher flexibility in augmenting your team. 

Michał Olędzki

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