Outsourcing via the Internet is becoming more and more common place as we all take advantage of globalisation. The challenge is to find the right supplier to outsource the software development work to and have a successful deliverable. Here in this Outsourcing Software Development Project Checklist I’ve added all the things that I learnt from my own experiences of hit and misses when outsourcing software development projects on freelancing websites such as Elance, odesk, GetAFreeLancer, and Fiverr.
Outsourcing Software Development
- Leave a few small gaps in the proposal on purpose and see if the provider picks up on them
- Always list your mandatory requirements and deliverables – make this the topic of all conversations
- Are you going to communicate solely via written communication? If so, interview both the commercial and technical people via Skype – see how quickly they type, the content and chat about non-project things – try to get a sense of the person.
- Ask what they see the complex / challenging tasks in the project to be and discuss their solution approach
- Watch out for saley front people
- Watch out for culture differences and be sensitive to them
- Work out the time difference, discuss how the project is going to work from a management point of view, do they work weekends?
- Set expectations by stressing the expected turnaround time for replies and what happens if there’s a delay
- Who’s providing what supporting project tools? (I like to make sure I provide these in case the supplier changes over time)
- Scout the available provider list and send personal invites if you see any potentials, don’t wait for them to come to you.
- Reject any providers you don’t get a warm feeling about – first impressions are usually right
- Do they answer the question or avoid it?
- Communicate with at least two people from the organisation, have them on the same conversation so you can see how different they really are
- Ask the same question in different ways, do you get a different answer?
- Find out who exactly will be working on the project
- Agree project pricing milestones BEFORE awarding the project
- Try and get at least 3 different bidders to quote to (self-)check their estimates
- Ask for a project plan with milestones for delivery which includes software code reviews
- Get a NDA signed if you want to and feel it necessary
- Ask the potential supplier to provide coding examples based on your requirements to showcase and preview their skills
- Can they provide three real client references? Two happy and one not?!
Reminders when posting software development project
- What’s the project scope? To make it easier to understand compare the project to something that already exists.
- Estimate the work (time, cost and labour) yourself as a starting point
- State what date you hope to award the project to
- State when you want the project work to start
- State what you want to see in their proposal. Example work, code samples? cvs, references, work plan? Proof of experience, feedback from others on the outsourcing website, rating?
- State what technologies you expect to see/use
- State what the User Acceptance Testing (UAT) terms are and how that is linked to payment release
- Make sure that software code reviews happen before releasing payments
- Who’s uploading to production site?
- How long will the supplier fix bugs for free?
Finally remember, you’re the one spending the money, only award the project when you are 120% ready to.