HomeBlogTen questions to ask before you hire a software development outsourcing firm

Ten Questions to Ask Before You Hire a Software Development Outsourcing Firm

Ten Questions to Ask Before You Hire a Software Development Outsourcing Firm

More and more companies are choosing to outsource software development. There’s a bunch of reasons for this. After several lockdowns, working with remote teams has become a usual practice. By outsourcing software development, businesses get instant access to the global talent pool. It becomes easier for them to scale projects and teams quickly.

Moreover, outsourcing is faster and usually more cost-efficient than in-house hiring. In 2020, 87% of companies reported expecting or facing talent gaps. IT skills have remained among the top five most sought-after competencies. 55% of employers are willing to hire foreign professionals, with only 33% sticking to hiring domestically.

It’s not surprising that outsourcing keeps gaining momentum. It serves many purposes and suits companies that are looking to:

  • develop new software
  • maintain or scale their existing products
  • adopt new technologies
  • optimize in-house development

One of the core factors of successful outsourcing is choosing the right partner. Knowing what questions to ask a software development company will make it easier. In this article, we’ll help you figure out what to specify and pay attention to during your first conversations with outsourcing firms.

How many years have you been in software development?

As a rule, you can find the company’s foundation date on their website or LinkedIn page. So, does it still make sense to ask about the years in the industry? Yes, and here’s why.

On the one hand, the company’s age indicates stability. A business that has existed for years or even decades has proven its ability to function under various circumstances. On the other hand, new companies are often founded by professionals with huge backgrounds. The company itself may be young, but the people who make it can be seasoned professionals.

This question will help you figure out how much of the relevant experience the team actually has. For example, DigitalSuits started in 2015. Over the years, we have extended the range of services provided and developed exclusive proprietary solutions. But the tech background of our founders and many team members goes beyond 2015.

Have you worked with similar projects?

Domain expertise and experience with relevant technologies are often a starting point in conversation. And it’s only logical.

If a company has handled projects similar to yours, their experience is more likely to align with your needs. It means they understand challenges and particularities specific to your niche. They will need minimum time to grasp your business goals and product requirements.

Ask about the provider’s tech stack. Make sure the team is well-versed in the tools needed for your project or at least ready to work with a vast range of technologies. Look into the team’s composition and skill set. It is crucial to secure the right mix of talent for a project. You can also inquire about certifications or other proof of industry recognition.

Don’t rely only on what you see online. Updates take time. Inquiring about experience and expertise directly will give you the most up-to-date information.

For example, e-commerce, fintech, real estate, and insurance are the focus industries for DigitalSuits. But the team’s expertise isn’t limited to that. We also work with legal, events, security, blockchain, agriculture, and beauty niches. Our team will gladly tell you about the completed projects during the introductory call.

Ten Questions to Ask Before You Hire a Software Development Outsourcing Firm

How do you collaborate with the clients?

Good partnerships don’t come out of nowhere. They are a result of clear communication between companies. It’s essential to establish effective interaction from the very start. That’s why we have collaboration next on our list of questions to ask before hiring software development company.

Begin with the engagement models. Every outsourcing company offers several of them. Then, discuss communication channels, processes, and the level of involvement you can expect.

There are a few things that will help you clarify how collaboration works in practice:

  • Make sure you understand what time zone the team is in and how many common hours you have.
  • Find out how a company usually handles communication. It can include update reports, project management platforms, online meetings, or a mix of all. Make sure there’s an option that suits you.
  • Learn what communication tools the team uses – email, chat, video calls, or some other software.
  • Ask about the frequency of updates and what’s included in them. Both parties should stay on the same page regarding the progress, milestones, and potential issues.

If something doesn’t align with your plans, inquire whether it’s possible to adjust it. The lack of compatibility in channels and procedures can become a huge problem.

In DigitalSuits, we always adapt to the client’s processes. The tech team has experience with a vast scope of communication and project management tools. This includes Jira, Slack, Asana, Google Meet, etc. The team is available via support chats and emails. The specialists can participate in regular meetings if necessary.

We keep an excellent level of communication despite the time zone difference. Clients often state in their reviews that responsiveness and clear communication are among our team’s strongest sides.

How do you handle project management?

Software development is always a lengthy and dynamic process. You need to be sure the potential partner is familiar with the methodology you use or prefer. Knowing that a firm has a standard process flow in place is also reassuring.

When preparing the clarifying questions to ask software vendors, focus on the following aspects:

  • Project planning. Learn how the team defines the scope, sets milestones, estimates deadlines, and tackles unexpected obstacles.
  • Change management. Ask how they handle alterations to the project scope, deadlines, or requirements.
  • Risk management. Make sure the company understands how to identify, assess, and mitigate risks.
  • Tool usage. Learn about the tools for project management, collaboration, and progress tracking. Ensure the team is willing to adopt something new if needed.
  • Knowledge transfer. Discuss how the firm manages documentation and ensures knowledge transfer.
  • Project delays. Look into their approach to handling delays, roadblocks, or unforeseen circumstances during development.

You can find some information about the company’s processes while researching. For example, DigitalSuits is open about our approach to risk mitigation. It relies on the increased attention to the Discovery phase and requirements elicitation. You may find it appealing to initiate further conversation. However, don’t hesitate to ask precise outsourcing questions later. It’s great to delve into details at this early stage of discussion.

How do you guarantee the high quality of software?

Quality assurance (QA) and testing are a part of our software development process. Even the best experts cannot produce 100% bug-free code. Besides, the implementation of an idea in theory and practice can differ.

QA becomes critical for releasing a functional product. It confirms whether the software works as intended. It also points out the existing problems. Hence, QA improves user experience and prevents potential failures.

It is essential to have dedicated experts to run testing. Leaving it for developers, project managers, or end users is never a good idea. There’s a huge risk of critical bugs slipping into production. In turn, it results in a high cost of fixes and other problems.

You can use a rather general “What quality assurance measures do you have in place?”. In addition to that, there are a few more good questions to ask a software company:

  • What types of testing do you run?
  • How do you determine test coverage?
  • Do you test on physical or virtual devices?
  • Do you run automated testing?
  • What tools and frameworks does your team use?
  • At what stage of the development do you involve QA engineers?

What indicates that a provider cares about quality? They can clearly explain the role of testing in the development pipeline. Also, they describe a rather standard set of QA procedures as an example but emphasize that QA experts always need product requirements for more precise estimates.

Remember that you can order software testing as a part of a development package or find a separate team for this role. DigitalSuits also shares this approach. We always include QA in planning. We can also test products created by other teams if a client is looking for an unbiased opinion.

Are our tech and business data secure?

It must be among the top questions to ask a software development company. Your data is a valuable asset. You have the right to know how an outsourcing firm handles it.

Start by learning about the security policies and practices in general. Request information about user authentication, data storage, encryption, and access controls. Then, make sure the outsourcing provider complies with relevant data protection regulations. These can include GDPR, HIPAA, and industry-specific standards.

It makes sense to learn about the control of physical access to sensitive information. With a strong focus on digital, firms should still pay enough attention to potential unauthorized on-site access to valuable data.

As a follow-up, you can use a few more questions:

  • How often do you review and update your security practices?
  • How do you handle security incidents or breaches?
  • Do you have disaster recovery and business continuity plans?
  • Do you have security training programs for your staff?

In DigitalSuits, we treat compliance with data protection regulations seriously. It starts with signing the agreements that guarantee safety and confidentiality. The team has all required security protocols in place and a risk mitigation strategy. We are fully committed to eliminating any risks before they arise.

Will you be able to scale the team?

Software development is dynamic. In other words, even if you have the most well-thought-out plan, no one can guarantee it will work perfectly. That’s why companies need flexibility. Meanwhile, products that grow also require resource and team adjustments. So, you should always consider business scalability early.

Find out if it’s possible to switch between cooperation models. Most teams need to scale up or down at some point. Regardless of your case, it’s better to enter the cooperation knowing you have this option.

One more point of attention is infrastructure. As a project and its team evolve, the tools and technical capabilities should also do so. It can include covering multiple team roles, technologies, and platforms.

There are a few more scalability-related questions to ask a software vendor:

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