Checklist For Choosing An Outsourcing Partner That Fits YouWritten by Solomiya on December 24th, 2015
A cheat sheet of the most important questions you have to discuss and agree upon in order to reduce the risks and find the right outsource-fit for the job.
What do you need, exactly?
You need to prepare a precise and focused information on the project in question for further discussion and sign-off through senior management in your company, before you send it to the potential outsourcing partner:
- Scope of the Project (incl. a comprehensive statement of the work to be performed and the way you want it to be performed)
- Expectations (your service level expectations from the company, as well as your expectations evaluation criteria (how do you judge the outsourcing company))
- Specifications (on contractual non-standard requirements; copies of the contract or any document that is setting how you govern your relationship)
- Project Team (requirements, wishes, expectations)
Who is your potential outsourcing partner and how do they work?
After you state your specific needs you have to analyze your potential outsource partner; this gives you the possibility to find out more about the company’s culture, business model, employees, management, technology, solutions, success, and security and ultimately to find out whether they are right for the job. Here’s your cheat sheet:
- Basic info on the company: industry, name, address, years in business
- Experience: on project related to your field
- General tech setup details: development tools, methodologies, preferred architecture, databases, etc
- Implementation phases & timetable: highly detailed explanation of the implementation phases and timetable, the checkpoints, the change of control handoff, and the life cycle expectations
Project implementation-related information
- proposed size & structure
- ramp-up stages (setup time and cost)
- expertise of people that will be working on the project
- What is the composition of a dedicated team. What is the role of each member?
- What are the escalation procedures?
- To what level will senior management participate in planning, development, and other aspects of this account? What options are available?
- What experience does the management team have?
- Provide a description and background of the implementation team. Will the implementation team also act as the ongoing service team?
- What what training programs are established for your employees?
- How do you keep up to date with the latest industry knowledge and standards?
- Can you scale up quickly? How much time is needed? How would the process look like?
- Do you use subcontractors for any work performed on the project?
- What security measurements do you have to protect my company’s intellectual property in respect to information and data?
- Do you ensure our IP with the security and confidentiality of the data you require and are all legal and technical measures in place?
- When was your last technological upgrade and what was upgraded?
- Do you outsource any services yourself?
- Ownership for code, process, hardware, licenses, etc.
- Intellectual Property
Make sure the quality of the results is guaranteed. The partner should have standard industry certificates to prove the caliber of its services.
- What industry standards are used by the company to ensure quality and customer satisfaction in the field?
- What are the standard quality deliverables during the project lifecycle?
- Elaborate on the reviews, testing, and satisfaction measurements used by the company
- Describe software domain, applications, and infrastructure expertise of the company(e.g. database, networking, driver development, deployment technologies, Web, etc.)
- Describe the availability of the company software environment such as your databases, application servers, etc.
- Do you maintain partnership or support levels with industry leaders in software? ( ie. Microsoft, IBM etc. Enlist those companies.)
- What are the large-scale software projects the company has developed in the nearest past – in terms of lines of code?
- What tools do you use in your software life cycle to author the code, gather and report on code and quality metrics, defect tracking, and change management?
Shaping the structure of cooperation
In the process of selection of an outsourcing partner you have to choose the way you will collaborate: it might be a very structured and efficient process or a more flexible and collaborative, interactive process. The working relationship is of utmost importance. You might have the best contract in the world, but it will be simply worthless if your relationship is not working, therefore we advise to go over the relationship details in advance. It would be advisable to check on the working procedures of the outsourcing partner, namely – if such are determined. Also – find out what process approach is best for your project and will suit best for easy collaboration and communication during the cooperation.
A clear discussion of the financial terms is required in order to avoid hidden cost, cover all payment schedules and taxing questions. Flexible pricing procedure might be tempting, however – you should not let the price govern your outsourcing relationship. We advise to discuss following issues with your potential partner:
- Pricing models proposed & applied to the project
- Cost of the agreement, exception costs based on performance metrics, price stability, and any hidden costs
- Time accounting
- Milestone management
- Payment schedule
The idiom “the devil is in the detail” is quite applicable to the concept of a good RFP, nevertheless – do not overdo it. The goal is to be specific in choosing and asking information which will be useful for the cooperation within the project. A successful selection should narrow your potential outsourcing partner list down to a shortlist.
How do you check credibility and reliability of an outsourced partner? You need to do a proper background check regarding the work efficiency of the partner under consideration. Many of the outsourcing companies have an online trail of information on their project, capability, credibility. You should research the internet for such information, comments, reviews on the outsourcing company. The partner should use legitimate production techniques and have a reputation of delivering on time and should not be regarded as a company that is known for breach of deadlines and going over budget etc. You can also find information on social media websites like Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and LinkedIn.
Proper background check on the credibility of outsourcing companies can lead to finding excellent talent, save costs and adds experience to your operation.
Generally speaking quality consists of two things: people and the process. By hiring the right people for the project, documenting your expectations and clearly outlining the process, making sure that your partner is following agile software development principles, the latest quality standards in the development process, and by having a certified QA specialist on your devteam you will receive the quality you expected.
You should have insights on the people being recommended for the project and the final decision right on those; furthermore, close cooperation and communication during the development project helps to produce the expected outcome.
It is quite easy to find a low price freelancer to create a pilot project on your request it does not secure their credibility; the essential complexity lies not just only in finding a craftsman but in building long lasting trustworthy and valuable partnership for the business.
Finding a trustworthy valuable business partner in an outsourcing company, who helps you avoid all of the problems mentioned above, and is there to rescue you if the project becomes complicated is gold and through working with such you will take full advantage of the outsourcing capabilities.
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