Companies have been outsourcing their software development for decades, and it is still a stable, viable complement or even an alternative to in-house development. The reduced costs associated with outsourcing must certainly be considered; wages are substantially lower in most of the countries in which outsourcers are located than they are in most Western countries. Furthermore, you can take advantage of the time zone differential, allowing near 24/7 operations. You also save on infrastructure costs. However, there are many other benefits to outsourcing your software development that are more subtle and often overlooked.
Availability of Skilled Personnel
Not every project requires identical skills, and it is common for a single project to require proficiency in multiple programming languages, platforms or technologies. For most organizations, it is not feasible to hire multiple employees to gain access to the precise skills needed for a project, especially if the company cannot be sure that these employees will be needed once the project is complete. Furthermore, recruiting, onboarding and training new employees can be time-consuming as well as costly.
When you outsource, you gain access to developers possessing the right skills for your project. Tangential costs, such as recruiting and training, are the responsibility of the outsourcer, just as salaries and the cost of benefits are the outsourcer’s responsibility.
The number of developers needed can change over the course of the project. At times, more developers are required to meet goals, but at other times, the project requires fewer. Outsourcers can reassign employees according to the needs of each project.
However, if you develop a project internally, you could find yourself scrambling to find employees with the right skills when you need to ramp up. When you need fewer, you are left with the question of what to do with the extra employees. You could be faced with the unpleasant task of terminating developers who have performed admirably. As an alternative, you could attempt to find or create positions, allowing you to retain them. Virtually no business, however, can afford to pay employees who are not contributing to the company’s profitability in some manner. If you outsource your development, then these type problems all go away!
Changes in Technologies
Outsourcers must remain current on technologies and methods that change rapidly. They must know which trends are evolving and which technologies are poised to become true innovations. They know when new versions of platforms or operating systems are scheduled for release, allowing them time to ensure that their developers are ready to embrace the new versions as soon as they are released. They know whether a particular language or platform is falling out of favor as well as the reasons why.
The technological knowledge amassed by outsourcers allows them to advise their clients on the best solutions for their particular project. They can lead clients away from solutions for which future support may be difficult to find. They can also advise whether the client’s hardware will be sufficient for the prospective project.
When you outsource, you are mitigating your risks. Due to the outsourcer’s expertise and the reduced time to deployment, changes in market or business conditions are less of an issue. You can react more quickly to what the competition is doing or to new government regulations. Your outsourcer’s expertise with new technologies helps ensure that your software is developed using the latest methods and platform to provide you with a longer life for your product.
Those who own or manage a business typically prefer to focus on running their business. They must compete in a global economy, so they need to concentrate on making their operations more efficient, marketing their products and growing their share of the market. Managing an in-house development project can take valuable time away from their core business duties. Outsourcing frees them to devote more of their attention to other matters.
Interestingly, outsourcing typically increases management’s awareness of the overall project. Without the distractions involved with overseeing all of the details, you can gain a better perspective of how the entire project is progressing.
Outsourcers have typically worked on hundreds of projects for clients in a wide variety of industries. They know how to plan a project from initial specifications to deployment, allowing them to allocate resources appropriately. They know the questions they need to ask a client to ensure that they understand the client’s requirements thoroughly.
An in-house project leader may have less experience than a typical outsourcer and would greatly benefit from the outside collaboration. As an employee, there may be a reluctance to ask pertinent questions or to challenge a superior over an “un-doable” requirement. As a result, the project could take longer to complete or fail completely.
Good outsource providers are much more than just vendors. They function as a business partner to their clients, prioritizing the needs and best interests of their clients. They take the time to understand a client’s business and any special regulations or compliance issues that the client must meet. Outsourcers know that they can be successful only if their clients are successful, so they are constantly asking themselves whether they are contributing to a positive outcome for the client.
This commitment to their clients allows outsourcers to offer assistance in a variety of ways. The outsourcer, for example, might know of opportunities for a client to expand or grow that may have been overlooked by the client. Outsourcers may be aware of weaknesses in a client’s network that could be exploited by hackers, resulting in an embarrassing and costly security breach. Clients may also receive guidance on securing mobile devices or initiating a bring-your-own-device policy.
Time to Deployment
There is an old saying that “time is money.” Whether clients are developing software for their employees or their customers, the longer it takes to deploy it, the more money they stand to lose by continuing to use inefficient, inadequate or vulnerable software. It is very common for deployment times to be substantially shorter when outsourcing software development than when developing a similar project internally.
Choosing to have a project developed using agile methodology can accelerate deployment even further. Under the agile method, individual modules can often be deployed separately and in a matter of weeks. This allows clients to begin realizing a return on their investment quickly.
DevOps (development and operations) is a coined phrase used to describe a type of agile relationship between Development and IT Operations. This integration brings speed to the production side of software, just as agile methods do for the development side, enabling shorter time-to-market. The goal of DevOps is to improve communication, collaboration, and processes between the various roles in the software development cycle, in order to improve and speed up software delivery.
Having an operations team embedded with the development team allows the developers to broaden their focus and really see and understand the ecosystem in which their software needs to fit while they’re building it. Automation tools help in creating development environments that more closely mimic production environments, giving the developers the right place to test things from the start. Processes of continuous build integration and automated migration help to automatically compile code and move it into production so nothing gets lost and the quality of what’s created stays high.
Levelling the Field
In the modern economy, small companies, start-ups, entrepreneurs and mid-sized businesses must compete with major corporations. However, major corporations have much larger budgets and often have internal teams of software developers. Smaller companies cannot outspend the corporations, so they must find other ways to level the playing field if they want to compete.
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