Eight questions to ask before you choose an offshore software development partner
First and foremost, no serious entrepreneur can bring their start-up idea to life with a freelancer or two. New founders need dependability and experience, none of which comes with freelancers who can abandon projects at little or no notice. Software development companies have a reputation to defend and will remain professional and see your project to fruition, no matter what.
The right development partner can be the difference between success and failure for a startup or scaleup. Here are the eight most important questions that you need to ask to choose the right one -
1 — How technically skilled are your resources?
If you don’t have a technical background, this is a tricky one. Most companies flounder at the question “What is your hiring process like?”. Since this is a rare question, they usually don’t have a rehearsed answer. If you find one who answers with great detail, you know they care deeply about the kind of developers they’re hiring.
2 — How will you monitor employees and report my project’s progress?
No project gets kicked off without a time and effort estimate. Such an estimate is futile without daily documentation of actual time and effort, like a status report or even a daily update call. Ask for a sample or two. When developers know they can be questioned on the number of hours they spend on a task, there’s lower chances of fudging up numbers.
3 — What is the communication protocol?
Whether verbal or written, this is what can make or break a remote relationship. Talk to their project managers, engineers, designers, etc. to get a sense of their communication skills. Ask for samples of documentation they have prepared for other clients. It will give you an insight into their style of working.
4 — What tools do you use to track development, testing and deployment?
Do they use services such as Sentry, Swagger, Docker etc.? What is their product development and deployment process? What is their testing philosophy? It’s a well known fact that many developers don’t like to test their own code.
5 — What kind of clients have you worked with?
The kind of clients your partner has worked with says a lot about the level of compatibility you can expect. Are these one-off clients or returning clients of the company? How was the relationship with these clients structured — single or multiple points of contact? What went well and what went wrong during their projects?
6 — How did you arrive at your pricing estimate?
It is unfair to expect a single price for your entire project. Any company that quotes you one figure for your complex idea hasn’t taken your product seriously. Successful product delivery requires multiple phases and modules. This helps you closely track progress and gives you the freedom to cancel an ongoing contract at the end of any stage.
7 — I don’t want a full-fledged team right now. Can I start small?
With an offshore development partner, it can be hard to get the working relationship right the first time around. Why not start small, with only a designer and/or a developer/tester? Test out your partner for a month or two, perhaps only with a designer and a developer at first, gradually introducing more developers into the team. Partner-client fit is just as important as product-market fit.
8 — Do you have more resources that I can use as the need arises?
Can I work with your Product Manager for two weeks to write detailed requirement docs? Do you have a designer I can use for some artwork? Most importantly, can you provide me with on-going support? It’s essential to have the capability of end-to-end solutions.
If you are considering expanding your engineering or trying off-shore development, don’t make a decision before going through leanfolks.com or talking to one of the experts from leanfolks