Written by Alex Pavlyuk, Head of Sales and Co-Founder at Idealogic
Seems like almost every software development company (of course if it cares about content marketing) has already written an article or a blog post about how to hire an outsourcing company. While such posts may be useful for newcomers, they usually boil down to telling potential clients about the advantages of the outsourcing company that authored the post. Meanwhile, I decided to slightly reverse this self-advertisement trend and, instead of writing about Idealogic and our values, talk about what one should avoid when deciding to outsource.
You will find a few hints on how to save your budget, time, and most importantly, your nerves — before you choose whom to outsource your idea, particular task, or whatever you have to outsource.
1. Never hesitate to tell a salesperson about the budget in your mind
It’s apparent that you don’t want to spend more on the development process than is necessary and that you want every single cent to be spent effectively. When you contact a couple of service providers, they should compete not only from the quality point of view but definitely from the pricing one as well.
At the same time, you have to realize that almost every salesperson you’re going to talk to knows what a typical price for the project you’d like to create is. If we focus on the custom software development industry, a proficient sales executive always wants to understand if it’s worth fighting for your project or it’s a complete waste of time. I’ll give you a quite straightforward example: if you want to create an Uber-like mobile application with custom logic from scratch with a $10,000-20,000 budget, the only option for you, in that case, is a low-cost company from Asia — a trusted software development boutique will require a much bigger budget.
I do not encourage you to declare the maximum budget you can afford as it’s probable that something may happen or you may need to change the logic of an app later. But my advice is that you shouldn’t hesitate to help a salesperson during an introduction call when he or she asks about your budget expectations.
2. Never rely on one expert opinion
If you had decided to hire an outside software developer, chances are that you’ve had a couple of moments of inspiration while discussing your idea with someone you trust — the one who is an expert for you. In earlier posts, we have already touched on this issue and argued that if you’re a pure business person, you’d better get someone with technical expertise on your side — it will highly simplify your future negotiations.
However, the presence of a technical expert in your team cannot guarantee that everyone will get and share your point. Instead of relying on one person’s opinion, I highly recommend you to ask a potential partner about his take on the app’s architecture, technology stack, and timeline expectations. Practice shows that the truth is always found somewhere in the middle.
3. Never forget to check testimonials, references, or use cases
As Head of Sales at Idealogic, I could say only one thing — don’t think that it’s a waste of time to have a couple of calls with former or existing clients of your potential outsourcing partner or to install a few apps created by him. The finished product will give you much more understanding than any presentation can. A potential software development partner may have hundreds of positive reviews but it doesn’t mean that their UI/UX standards will work for you. For instance, the team may have never worked with your target audience which may lead to a number of significant issues.
4. Never believe statements like “We will find out how to do it later” or “We will definitely allocate resources somehow”
When I pitch a lead in an area that our team has never worked in, it’s always a challenge. Since we have to prove our ability to satisfy the client’s needs while having no significant track, the only thing that helps me to be sure of my team’s capability is a clear plan of how we could explore the target area and use our previous experience as well as understand how it may affect the timeline and budget.
If a sales executive doesn’t have a clear understanding of how his company is going to develop and deliver a project, you’d better not work with them. Of course, if it’s not the case when there is a pure rocket science project where nobody will be able to provide you with some simple scenario.
Sometimes you may feel the lack of credibility in a particular salesperson who has little experience. If you nevertheless like the company’s profile, feel free to dive deeper into the company and ask about a meeting/call with shareholders — it will help you to understand if they are the ones you can trust.
5. Never rely on a timeline that you got before the project’s start.
While some software development companies offer fixed-price guarantees, others work on an outstaffing/dedicated team basis, and the level of responsibility varies significantly. The accuracy of the project’s timeline depends on a number of factors such as the difficulty of an idea/project, the number of developers working on it, the project management quality, etc. In my experience, I had never met teams that were 100% accurate in their preliminary forecasts — you should always have some time above the declared deadline.
The low expectations will always protect you and save your nerves during a failed negotiation or a tough marketing start. I’m not saying that you need to add 50-100% to the discussed terms, but it should be borne in mind that the human factor cannot be predicted — especially in our times when half of the team may unexpectedly get COVID and be unavailable for a couple of weeks.
I’d like to finish this post with quite an obvious statement: “Nobody can understand you and your needs better than yourself.” I encourage you to be realistic and help your future partners better explore your expectations before and during the development process.
This guide may not work in the enterprise-level software development environment or for freelancers, but we definitely think that it would be useful for those who want to hire a middle-size team for their needs.