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Outsourcing for excellence: How to find the ideal partner and create a healthy relationship

(Image credit: Image source: Shutterstock/gpointstudio)

There is a skills gap in the UK tech industry. Everyone knows it. But how do you solve it? Upskilling can be difficult and costly. Using an external partner can be brilliant, but only when executed well.

Outsourcing is a scary word for some. Not all outsourcing teams are created equally. Some have been burned by working with the wrong organisation and ended up paying more in the long run.

To pick the right outsourcing team, you need to know what to look for. Having worked with hundreds of clients from various sectors, on small projects to massive developments that take years, we’re in a pretty good place to know what to ask and what to do when you find the right partner.

Share your passion

Find a team that not only can deliver technically, but also match your organisation’s passion. Without that drive and emotional connection to a project, you have a team out of sight, who will do what you ask them and deliver mediocre results. For some projects, where you are delivering something really simple, this is fine. For others, where you need to be positively challenged and want to create something brilliant, you need a team that shares your drive.

This is easy to say. But harder to actually assess. The only way is to talk to the teams, explain your project and find out their reaction. If they are instantly keen and enthusiastic, you have a good team. If not, maybe keep looking. 

Ensuring quality

There are many software developers that can write high-quality code but that doesn’t necessarily translate to a successful enterprise project delivery. All outsourcing organisations will say they can do whatever you need them to, but check if they have the accreditations to back up what they are saying.

Although accreditations are good indicators that the team have the skills you require, you also need to consider what will happen if the project starts to go sideways. Pretty much every team will run into a problem and minimising risk is crucial when working with an outsourced structure. Find a team with a quality management system that is ISO certified. Some software development outsourcing companies can ignore these standards and only provide body shop resources, so it is important to get to the root of their offering.

Become part of your team

If you treat an external team as an external team, they will deliver something that is not quite right for you. Treat them as if they were new members of staff. Tell them EVERYTHING they need to know. If you hold back on anything then this will cause issues down the line. Understanding and openness creates an environment where the outsourced team can thrive and be positively challenged to make something brilliant.

If you need a team for a complex project, then a dedicated team is the way to go. They can fully immerse themselves in what you are trying to achieve. When working on multiple projects for multiple clients, this makes it tricky for a team to wholeheartedly embrace a project. Fine for simple builds, less useful for more complex projects.

Communication and agile working

An agile way of working is the most effective means of keeping a project on track. Daily ‘scrum’ meetings will ensure all issues are flagged quickly and resolved throughout the process. Keeping communication constant but also concise is crucial. Processes can be implemented to flag whether meetings are frequently over-running and this can be rectified quickly before becoming an issue.

Keep everyone onboard

Projects can go off track if key stakeholders are not involved in the process. Keeping everyone involved at every step ensures that anything that arises along the way can be dealt with immediately and time-consuming rebuilds can be avoided. If the key decision makers cannot attend every meeting, they need to be involved regularly enough to ensure the project stays on track.

Use a system to stay on track

Whatever the project, you will encounter some issues. The old boxing cliche comes to mind. It’s not how hard you can hit, it’s how hard you can get hit and keep moving forward. Whether it’s a member of staff on holiday or off ill, or a nuclear attack, you need to be ready for anything.

At Amdaris we developed our own software to highlight potential risks and alert key staff to how to mitigate these risks. We also use collaborative relationship management software that means we can ensure the partnership is productive. A Joint Management Team is made responsible for setting objectives and monitoring progress and produces a joint communication strategy which establishes how the teams will communicate and how frequently. We’ve not figured out how we’d deal with a nuclear attack yet, but that’s the next step.

Flexibility of skills

The more you peel back a project, the more intricate they become. What starts as a simple build can often evolve and you need to be flexible enough to roll with the demands. Pretty tricky when you use an internal team, but by working with an external team, increasing and decreasing resource is a lot simpler.

Finding the ideal outsourcing partner can be difficult, but by taking your time and finding an organisation that can match your passion, deliver what you require and utilise a set of processes to ensure your project is a success, you will save time and money in the long-term.

Andy Rogers, co-CEO, Amdaris

Andy Rogers is co-CEO of software developers Amdaris.