Your company has an idea for building an app, but you don’t want to leave it to the internal resources because you lack experience or time. You’ve almost decided that it’s best to hire the talents of an outsourcing agency, but you expect certain challenges to the proposed partnership. What should you check to ensure that your cooperation with an external team is fruitful?
The keyword here is, of course, partnership – working with a development agency will be a pleasure only if you collaborate with what feels like a scalable, internal team. But how to look for it? In this article, we list seven things that are often not obvious in the process of recruiting the agency. After reading it, it will be easier for you to set specific criteria that are important to you, and ensure that you are choosing the right agency.
Remember that when the external development team is doing most of the work, they will complete it according to their own culture. Each agency has their ways of creating a product, and they may not have business processes that fit your best practices.
The team you hire should employ similar management methodologies, such as the Agile software development process. In this process development team works through a series of iterations in the software creation process. Each Agile iteration could involve different people. Some of their employees might work on multiple iterations of your project, and others might only participate in one iteration, which makes the project scalable.
When the Agile approach is executed right, you are in constant communication with the external team. Effective project management strategies help finish each project on time and ensures that it meets your expectations.
Working With a Team Composed of Internal and External Participants
When you partner with a development outsourcing agency, you may have less control over who’s working on your project. You may have some techies internally who need to collaborate with the external people. What’s more, the agency’s software engineers, designers, business analysts and coders may have trouble establishing effective communication patterns with your people. There can be various levels of trust and different ideas on how to complete each stage of the development process. These obstacles can add more time to the project, but good team leader ensures that issues get prioritized and resolved.
Finding Cohesion as a Team
Sometimes, working with people from an outsourcing agency doesn’t feel like leading an internal team. You need advanced project management skills to ensure cooperation throughout the process. You aren’t sure if your colleagues on the other side of the world have the capacity to develop your product.
You should talk with people, analyze their behavior, and trust your gut feeling on this one – if they respond to your messages slowly before even starting to work on the project, it won’t change later. On the other hand, if they seem committed, bounce a lot of ideas off, and aren’t focused just on mindlessly writing the code you want, it’s a good sign for future cooperation. Talking with your soon-to-be team should feel like talking with your internal team from the very beginning.
Handling Software Documentation
What your company views as appropriate levels of documentation may differ from the partner’s expectations. Additionally, an external agency might have team members who speak different native languages. There may be translation required to communicate back and forth, but the best agencies handle documentation in English and use multiple tools such as Slack and Confluence to avoid slowing down the development process. When you choose the right agency, you’ll get constant updates, especially through frequent video calls.
Technology and Resource Possibilities
If your team collaborate with external workers in the development outsourcing company, make sure they have all competencies that will be required to create a finished product. The partner agency could reassure you they have worked on similar products, but you should check their background carefully. Read case studies on their website, try using a couple of products they developed, and ask them a lot of questions. It may turn out, for example, that their staff doesn’t have experience with the technology you want to use. Even if it won’t occur to you as a dealbreaker at first, you should know that developing a finished product may eventually surpass their capabilities. When the project grows, the process often requires more resources. Be sure to check if your agency can add more of these to the project.
The partner agency could reassure you they have worked on similar products, but you should check their background carefully
Ensuring Who Will Work on the Team
The partnering agency’s executives will decide who gets assigned to each phase of the project. Sometimes you may get stuck with a lead software engineer who is difficult to get along with. Agency’s leader could also change during the project. Your internal project lead must try to make the relationship work because you don’t want to abandon the partner agency in the middle of the development process.
You should also choose the right internal team to work on this project. Sometimes companies face internal cultural resistance from people who are accustomed to the ways things are done and have been done in their organization for years. If they are not keen on the idea of outsourcing, they may slow down the process and not provide the data or creative input on time to finish the app.
Obtaining Business Advice and Post-Launch Support
The agency that you select might not have the ability to support the finished app on the business level. An app will need advanced research and marketing as it is being prepared for the software market. A new app will also require support during the sales and early servicing stages. The perfect agency won’t only create the code and design – the team will also help you establish the right business model, as well as ensure post-launch testing and frequent updates to provide fixes to problems that first-time users might complain about.
To Wrap Up: It’s All About Management and Communication
In a perfect world, your CTO will select a partner agency that creates the app everyone wants. The app will exceed all expectations and experience a strong product lifecycle. In the real world, many bumps in the outsourcing process require excellent communication and collaboration between people from different worldviews. Only effective project management and talented people can make it happen in a way that will satisfy you. When you choose the right agency, you get an app that exceeds your criteria.
What are your tips for creating and sustaining valuable partnerships with an outsourced digital agency? Let us know in the comments below!