Accelerating business processes, reducing costs, and eliminating inefficiencies are the main goals businesses hope to achieve by turning to remote development teams. To a novice, outsourcing software development may appear risky. But any dramatic consequences can easily be avoided with a bulletproof strategy. Since much depends on your initial steps, we’ve decided to share a few guidelines to keep in mind when kicking off a project with a remote software development team.
Choosing the right vendor/partner
Hiring a suitable software development vendor or partner is already half the battle. But how can you make the right choice when there are thousands of options available? Skills, domain expertise, product and project management competency, and reputation are the main factors to consider when choosing the right software development team for your project.
Choosing a software development vendor based on their technology stack is wise. If you’re unsure what skillset suits your project, a vendor with broad expertise will be the best option. Also, make sure your potential software development partner is familiar with the specifics of the technologies needed for your project, knows all industry requirements and standards, and has all the necessary tools and integrations.
On top of that, it’s preferable to hire a vendor with broad expertise who’s capable of covering your project from end to end. This is a lot more efficient than dealing with multiple vendors, which is usually associated with extra efforts and issues.
- Product and project management competency
There’s a risk that your remote software development team is knowledgeable in a particular product and project management methodology that doesn’t suit your project’s needs. Since every project is unique and there’s no one-size-fits-all path, choosing the wrong methodology can be wasteful. That’s why it’s important to make sure your potential IT development partner is well-versed in your chosen project and product management approach.
Yet even if a vendor is familiar with your chosen project and product management methodology, keep in mind that a methodology almost always has to be adapted to the specifics of the project and/or domain. Your vendor has to understand the unique aspects of each development stage, stakeholder requirements, and industry standards and provide their expertise in setting up the right approach.
Though a stellar reputation is one of the most obvious factors to look at when choosing a software development vendor, a company’s reputation is sometimes difficult to assess. Checking out client feedback on a vendor’s website seems the easiest option. The only problem is that we all tend to showcase success stories, keeping failures shrouded in mystery. To get a full picture, we recommend requesting references from real clients.
Planning is the foundation of any project. Based on the size and specifics of a product, the planning phase takes from two to several months. A separate team consisting of a business development manager, requirement analyst, designer, quality assurance engineer, developers, and project manager is usually assembled for this part of the project. The purpose of the planning phase is to achieve alignment between requirements, define the project’s scope and roles, establish a communication plan, and create a project roadmap.
- Reaching alignment between parties
A professional software development vendor should first gather requirements from all project stakeholders (including the company’s top management), define and align project goals, and finally develop and align the project plan. While this might sound easy, in most cases, making sure all these requirements are known prior to implementation is one of the most critical parts. Clarifying requirements will help you build clear expectations while avoiding changes, scope creep, budget revision, and other planning failures in the future.
- Project scope and requirements management
While the end goal of the project is almost always defined at this stage, the crucial thing here is to have a clear picture of the entire scope of the project in a detailed requirements breakdown.
Besides, defining the project scope is closely related to finding and aligning the optimal requirements management approach. Having (and importantly, following) the right methodology helps to ensure that during implementation all stakeholders understand the business priorities, all important details are considered and implemented as expected, and the project is moving at the right pace. In case requirements change, there should be a clear change management procedure in place.
- Defining organizational roles and responsibilities
As soon as you’ve defined the project’s scope and assessed the project’s feasibility, project organization becomes a primary consideration. Who makes which decisions? What procedures are required? Who owns which parts of the project? These questions come to the fore. A clear definition of functions and roles on the parts of the client and software development team ensures both sides are working together and accelerates project execution.
- Communication and collaboration
While the project initiation phase is conducted in close collaboration with the client, the implementation phase is typically run in an isolated manner. Yet an effective communication plan is key to fast decision-making, progress monitoring, and constant stakeholder alignment. Our recommendation is to create, align, and maintain a communication plan that will set clear guidelines for how information will be shared, who will be responsible for sharing this information, and how frequently information sharing will occur.
- Project roadmap and definition of milestones
The next step is to build a project roadmap with defined milestones. A detailed plan is helpful for tracking implementation progress. Also, it’s a good practice to plan milestones in a way that generates value for your business. This will allow you to get feedback on the impact of any action earlier and get value before the final release.
Before putting things in motion, a vendor should also take care of project infrastructure: the business processes, tools, techniques, training, and organizational structure essential for the project’s success. Put simply, these are the project’s needs. The project environment, data security, and tools are key elements of project infrastructure.
- Project environment
First and foremost, a vendor must align their infrastructure requirements with all stakeholders. The software development team must have access to tools, documents, and data of remote teams as well as to standard practices and policies to comply with. This will guarantee a continuous development process.
- Data and security
A data breach may lead to disastrous consequences for your project, destroying trust in your business and your brand. To avoid this, a software development vendor must place a high priority on your data security throughout your project’s entire lifecycle. Adopting the right tools, processes, and practices will keep security at the highest level.
- Project tools
Before they set the ball rolling, a good vendor should set up and configure project management tools for analytics, project status tracking, document management, task tracking, test management, and more — after aligning these with the client, of course.
For a remote project to be successful, a software development partner should regularly provide a clear picture of the project’s status. Measuring the project’s status will help the project manager and client stay on the same page with the development team, make timely predictions, and act promptly when necessary.
- Define progress criteria
Defining a set of criteria is vital for measuring a project’s status. Issued on a weekly or monthly basis, a typical project status report includes information on hours and budget spend to date, issues, and roadblocks as well as completed tasks and upcoming milestones.
- Change management
We live in turbulent times, and being able to promptly adapt your project to ever-changing circumstances is critical. Since such changes may heavily impact the budget, time, and resources needed, establishing an efficient change management procedure can ensure that all needs are met and that changes are successfully incorporated.
Monitoring & project escalation
The project lifecycle is never smooth sailing. Every now and then, unexpected problems arise. If unresolved in time, these issues may lead to unnecessary delays, conflicts, and even the collapse of the project. Regular monitoring and a clear plan for resolving issues will help you avoid an unpleasant outcome.
- Regular monitoring
The rule of thumb is to establish a proper issue management procedure before any issues arise. To this end, your project roadmap should contain slots for technology reviews and a dedicated time when your team can resolve the most critical issues.
- Project escalation
For cases when project escalation is inevitable, it’s important to define the client advocate on the vendor’s side. If any problem arises, the client advocate can act from within the vendor’s organization, making sure the client receives the highest level of service.
While outsourcing provides a plethora of benefits for your business, starting a project right is the cornerstone to success and long-term cooperation. Choosing the right vendor, going through the planning phase properly, having suitable project infrastructure, regularly tracking project execution, and providing due monitoring are fundamental elements of beginning a project right.
At Intellias, we embody all these principles in our project management and delivery framework. When you choose Intellias, you can hire a development team fast and shorten your time to market while bringing a high-quality and unique product to your end customers. Contact us for more insights.