Posts

Outsource or not outsource: offshore software development

Software is everyware, sorry, is everywhere. Everything you can put your eye on is somehow connected with software. Every product or business process needs a software solution. No wonder software development market is growing day after day, hour after hour.

And software development is now not only the privilege of a highly developed economy but a worldwide industry. It  involves people and businesses from practically every country. Moreover, it is a current trend for mature businesses to have their software development departments offshore or outsource its software development to specialized companies overseas.

Advantages

Offshore software outsourcing has proved to be an effective model. The formula of success is very simple: high quality services at reasonable prices.

But let’s list all the advantages of offshore software outsourcing comparing to inhouse or local market software development:

outsourcing advantages

  • Time saving. You don’t have to waste time and efforts to hire your software developers and provide a needed training for them. You also don’t waste time waiting until your developers become a real team. While outsourcing developers already have a well trained and loaded to work crew.
  • High technical skills and training. It is an already established market of offshore software development with a rather high competition. Most high-skilled developers are concentrated in big and proven outsource software development companies. High competition makes them providing high level of skills and expertise. More likely that you will find the best developers on the market if hiring offshore software developers.
  • Effectiveness and fast results. Outsource software developers deal with many customers, many projects and many technologies. So they can provide a qualified analysis of your project and suggest a better solution or even share an original idea of its implementation. And any outsource company will be interested to finish your project as faster as possible, because swiftness is one of the factors of its profitability.
  • Quality control and confidentiality. Since quality and confidentiality are the major risks in offshore software development process, offshore outsourcing companies dedicate much attention to these aspects. They know about customers’ concern and provide the best quality and confidentiality control methods. Additional quality control factor – reputation. All outsource companies are interested in a long-term cooperation or at least in a positive feedback and recommendations.
  • Sharing the risks. Software development process involves some risks. Outsource software developers are specialists in this area and posses a better risk-management approaches. They will share the burden of risk in software development and suchwise optimize your major business risk portfolio.
  • Cost saving. You save on costs of development since labor rates offshore often are highly competitive. You save on recruitment, retention, company overhead costs as they are not involved when it comes to outsourcing. Add here training expenses, hardware and facilities costs. Outsource developers already have all needed equipment and resources. Besides you don’t have to compensate idles and outages if you have your inhouse team.

Disadvantages

software development outsourcingIt would be fair to mention about disadvantage of offshore software development, since you all know that it is quite a challenge to invest money into a “dark horse”. Yes, you will be at greater risk if you are trying to hire the cheapest company on the market. When choosing an outsourcing company even offshore you should keep in mind that you are going to hire a dedicated team of professionals who value their time and expertise. Quality, effectiveness and expertise are the major benefits which come with outsource software developers.

Another concern is if offshore software developers are motivated enough. We can easily imagine the situation when you set a task to a software developer and go back to your main business. And now when a dead-line comes nothing is ready. That’s a stereotype: since it is a specialized software development company you can leave it to chance.  A client and a developer are a part of the same team. If a client stays out of the process, the result may not be exactly what he was expecting. Refer to agile software development methodology to learn more.

Communication skills, confidentiality control, legal issues are also considered to be sensitive disadvantages.  However the major risk of losing control over the project or confidential data lose are often arise when informal agreements with a developer take place. An official contract and nondisclosure agreement can be at least a legal guarantee for a client. During initial negotiations you will assess communication skills of your developers and discuss all delicate moments of the cooperation process at least to hear the methods and approaches offered by a prospective developer.

Conclusion

When considering if to go with offshore software development we may surely conclude that the last word will always be for the customer. But if you are still not sure having read all mentioned advantages and disadvantages, just look at what market says. And it shows a steady trend of growing economy involved in offshore software development. It’s not a notion, it is a reality of today’s digitalized and  informationalized society.

Agile methods of software development

Probably everyone who is engaged in software development knows what “agile” is. If to put it simple, agile is a number of methods or approaches of managing a development process and team work. Agile implies following a set of software development values fixed in agile manifesto. Based on these values several methods were worked out. Namely: DSDM (Dynamic Systems Development Method), Scrum, XP (Extreme Programming) and others.

Main principles of agile

Each method has its set of principles. However many principles are shared so we can list most common of them to figure out what the core idea of agile methodology is.

1. Client must be actively involved.
2. Team’s opinion is also an argument.
3. Requirements may change but schedule never.
4. Better deliver small parts but constantly.
5. Best practice is delivering before deadlines.
6. Test, test, test.
7. Don’t move to another feature until current one is not complete.
8. Collaboration and cooperation between both parties is vital.

Agile is very popular if not to say more. It is considered to be more advanced than for example Waterfall software development approach being more flexible and less formalized. But it is not a cure-all solution anyway. Agile has its drawbacks and weak-points which also have to be considered when you choose your software development methodology.

Disadvantages of agile

Client’s involvement, close collaboration and cooperation. These are the fundamental principles of agile which ensure that result will be exactly as it was expected. However, this principles fail when a client has not sufficient time and not always available upon the first request. Also these principles affect the pace and swiftness of the development process.

New requirements emerged and modified. This what makes agile being a very flexible method of software development. However this is how never-ending projects appear with constant improvements and enhancements. And this, in its turn, leads to a more unpredictability in business planning. Moreover both parties are at risk. A developer can’t effectively schedule his upcoming projects and a client can face an unexpectedly excessive budget.

Constant testing. This insures quality and saves from unpleasant surprises during the final testing. At the same time this increases the cost of development significantly since it involves more resources (man/hours).

Deliver by parts, don’t move forward until the current feature is done. This principle of course is meant to ensure quality. But if you look closer to the real order of things you will understand that this approach can be excessive. Developer has to contact his client as soon as another line of project is ready; client has to test it up and express his opinion. Reliable? Yes. Time-consuming and requires constant control? Of course! Besides, put developers shoes on. It’s mentally quite tediously to follow each delivery iteration. Since we talk about agile as a flexible method, let’s be fair to all parties and don’t forget about another principle: team’s opinion is also an argument.

Early delivery. Well, both developers and clients are interested in fast delivery. But let’s face it: rushing almost always means lack of quality. So, it is not recommended to make fast delivery a number one priority.

Conclusion

It is hard be a 100% agile. Every project, every client and every developer team has something new to add to the development process. Agile is not a Codex but a collection of smart ideas based on experience and knowledge. Agile values are good for initial discussion about terms and conditions of the project. But it’s never too late to add something new, something advanced to this methods to make them work even better. So the best method of development project management will be the one discussed and agreed by all parties. And may agile be with you.