Scope & Glory: How to get the best from an offshore software development team
Outsourcing to an offshore software development team has lots of advantages. In fact, it’s the natural choice for many startups or scale-ups looking for fast and effective software development. The challenge is how to get the best outcomes from your offshore team.
Successful outcomes from any partnership require good communication skills, strong teamwork, and effective collaboration. Setting clear goals and reaching agreements on the scope are also essential. In this blog post, we share our best practices for managing scope and achieving glory.
1️⃣ Start with an MVP
When it comes to scoping a software project, there are two common scenarios. Some companies know the main essence of what they want to build. However, they don’t know the finer details. For example, they know they want to build an eCommerce app for the health sector. Other companies have a much more detailed plan for their requirements. They have a wish list in mind, and they’ve identified the core features.
With over ten years of experience in offshore software development, we know the best outcomes start with a minimum viable product (MVP). That’s because software products that begin with minimal functionality are quicker to build and go to market faster. Once on the market, we can iterate on the product, concentrating on building out the most important features in order of priority.
2️⃣ Agree on the timeline first
Software development is highly complex. Even with the most meticulous planning, things can and will go wrong. At the same time, priorities change. Customer demand can drive changes in the work to be done, so the scope is always liable to change. That’s why agreeing on the complete scope upfront can be problematic.
One thing that should be fixed about the development process is the timeline. Rather than agreeing on the full scope of a project upfront, we’ve learned that it’s more beneficial to agree on the timeframe and then identify what can be achieved within certain chunks of time. Using a Scrum framework, we typically work in fortnightly sprint cycles, but this can change depending on the client’s needs.
The reality of this approach is that not everything on the client’s wish list is going to be done immediately. Features and functionality are enhanced incrementally based on demand. For example, an eCommerce app might be initially set up to accept credit card payments only. Later on, customer feedback might reveal that they would like the option to use PayPal. So facilitating this takes priority in the next sprint.
3️⃣ Expect ongoing negotiation
Defining everything at once can create problems. Developing software incrementally means features and functionality are prioritized based on business and customer needs. This requires ongoing negotiation.
A great example is a standard log-in page. Early iterations might require an email address and password. Over time, it may become necessary to add additional layers of security, such as two-factor authentication. If the scope has been rigidly pre-defined, it can be both inconvenient and challenging to accommodate changing priorities. An iterative approach means new priorities can be easily incorporated into the next sprint.
A good offshore software development partner will listen to your business goals and do their best to align development with your needs. It’s not realistic to expect that all aspects of the build can be covered-off in one go. There will be challenges along the way, and negotiation over the work to be done in each sprint.
Iterative development takes ongoing collaboration. If communication falls silent, that’s a red flag.
4️⃣ Seek a more consultative approach
Offshore software development companies are specialists. They do this all the time. The right company will have invaluable knowledge and learning around the type of software they’re building for you. So to get the best value, listen to their suggestions and let their experience help steer development in the right direction.
A good offshore software development company will help you identify and fix milestones within the agreed timescale. For example, the first milestone might be user onboarding. The second might be registration and log-ins. The third might be core functionality. However, if they’re not experts in your particular domain, you’ll need to clearly communicate what’s needed. In this scenario, you have to be realistic about the impact their learning curve will have on development time.
5️⃣ Focus on core functionality
Developing software iteratively means companies release as soon as possible and iterate incrementally. This means that early versions of any software product will be incomplete. By taking care of the core functionality, you give your product a solid foundation on which to build.
As we’ve already seen, building an entire software product in full before releasing it means you could be wasting time, money, and resources developing functionality that isn’t needed. By releasing a product in stages, it’s much easier to control the quality, and it also means you have the flexibility to adapt to changing priorities. From a marketing perspective, it can also help to create a sense of anticipation and excitement within the user base.
There’s also another powerful benefit to doing this. By releasing a minimal product, users have the opportunity to request new features, and therefore influence what gets built next. This is an important shift. Product development is no longer led by what a company thinks customers need, but by what they actually need. If the entire scope of a project is agreed in advance, there’s no room to maneuver when these golden opportunities emerge.
Scope out Proshore
It might be tempting to want a finished software product before taking it to market. But that significantly delays its release. What if your final product flops? It’s all been for nothing. A better approach is to agree on a broad scope and key milestones with your offshore software development company so that development can be led by actual customer needs.
Anything can be improved. What’s important in software development is to focus on building out functionality that adds the most value for both your customers and your business. Avoid spending time and money on developing features that customers don’t need, and invest it in building a quality product that gives customers what they want.
Looking for a reliable and experienced offshore software development team? Find what you need with Proshore’s development teams as a service.