Business Process OptimizationProduct Development

IT outsourcing services – common mistakes and how to avoid them

Has it already crossed your mind that you should reach out to an outside vendor to help you out with your software and process optimization? That’s grand! Just don’t rush in headlong expecting top results with minimum involvement. IT outsourcing can be indeed very much rewarding, but there are rules to be followed and pitfalls to be avoided. Let us walk you through common mistakes people make when they decide to farm out IT services so we make sure your experience with these services is as great as it can be (and it really can be).

Two men sitting in front of a computer

Contents:

Unclear project objectives

If you want to secure high-quality results for your project, you need to start with the right assumptions and expectations. Make your requirements crystal clear and detailed, and it will be easier for the contractor to keep their side of the bargain. Lack of coherent vision for the whole undertaking will mean that the external software team will struggle with no clear-cut direction and move forward tentatively, unsure of its own responsibilities. That’s why before starting a project you have to be aware of what it is you want to achieve, exactly, and decide what kind of job you want to get done. But this should also be accompanied by direct involvement from your partner. A good software house is surely going to ask a lot of questions, which is a visible sign of its commitment and the desire to understand the business goals of the project and the project itself.

 

Examples

  • A company from the ultra-fresh food industry faced a problem of inefficient production planning because all analytics were done manually via Excel spreadsheets. Their needs: a custom data-integrating app.

 

  • A Swedish non-profit organization dedicated to sequester carbon through regenerative farming in Swedish agriculture wanted to bring together farmers, researchers and agricultural organizations, and build a knowledge repository. Their needs: a user-friendly platform for uploading and sharing data and facilitating contact between all involved parties.

 

Discovery Workshops – a good foundation of any successful project

Here at Inwedo, before we embark on our work on any project, we organize Discovery Workshops (more on that in greater detail here and here), thanks to which we get to know the full context surrounding the product, the process and our client’s budget. We have sit-downs with our partners or connect online to get a deep understanding of the aims of the project and to plan success criteria and milestones as well as flesh out the roadmap for app creation. We also lend a helping hand with creating the brief.

For optimal results, we recommend the services of an Agile Team on Demand. With them on-board you get a fully independent, self-managed team to provide you with a broad range of expertise that is able to take full ownership of an outsourced project or an aspect of a project you are working on. They have their own technical lead, product owner, front-end and back-end developers, QA team and test automation specialist. And a confirmed history of working together on various complex projects. They are like a commando team of the IT world: you give them a mission and they get things done. Period.

Man writing ona a whiteboard and others looking at it

Lack of transparent communication

This point is very closely connected to point no. 1. If communication is less than effective and messages just don’t get through – whether it’s just one side that is faulty or both sides equally – you may find out that the end result of your project is not even close to what was originally envisioned – what you originally envisioned. Flaws in the communication process may appear at any stage of your relationship with the IT outsourcing vendor company – starting from misinterpretation of the contract and ending on irregular project updates.

To prevent this from happening, it is necessary to plan ahead and establish ground rules for communication with the IT outsourcing services provider. And it’s best to do that before signing the contract. You should take all the various factors into account, e.g. time zone differences or language issues, and avoid ambiguous clauses in the contract itself.

Open minds and open communication

Inwedo believes that any collaboration should be based on pro-active communication and regular updates about job progression. We contact our clients in a consistent fashion and report on resolutions we came up with. Like one of our QA specialists says: “Our clients don’t have to be experts in our field themselves, but they need to be informed about what we’re doing.” Because of that, opportunities for improvement emerge naturally and we grab any chance we can get to smooth out any kinks in the process.

 

Example

  • Our work on the Green Planner app for the fresh-food company was divided between four stages, starting from creating a database for data collection and ending with interconnecting that database to forecast demand. At every part of every stage we had daily meetings, catch-ups, and phone conversations with our client, and also provided them with documentation and presentations. On their end, the client provided us with constant feedback about visible effects of our work but also delegated people to work with us that would become day-to-day users of our software solution; because of that they could inform us about the specific needs of their industry and challenges they were facing, so we could design and redesign the tool accordingly as we went on with our work.

Client–vendor mismatch and reluctance to provide the team with industry guidance

Not providing the external team with insights into your specific industry and distinct problems encountered in your line of work will put them at a great disadvantage. This is actually another oft-encountered point of concern. But just think about it – surely, even the cream of the crop of software engineers might run into a stumbling block when they experience a specific problem they never have been exposed to before.

That’s why it’s absolutely necessary that you pass along as much context surrounding the particular project, your company and your industry as possible. This will save a lot of time and money but also make onboarding and communication that much easier. It’s worth investing more time in preparing yourselves for the preliminary product workshops because in the future it might save you a lot of unnecessary troubles and misconceptions.

 

Examples

  • Working on a solution for the agriculture industry in Sweden required discerning the users and their needs. Since the core target group would consist of farmers, we had to ensure that our web solution would be easy to use and not discourage from uploading the data or communicating with the community because of the tool’s complexity. Here, the success depended both on initial communication and feedback provided after our project entered the pilot phase. Early functional version of the administration panel became more user-friendly and the user journey was shortened by half.

 

  • The fresh-food branch is a very specific part of the food industry. We had to understand its complicated aspects: short expiry date of raw materials, high flow rate of goods in warehouses, the fact that a customer order is produced and dispatched on the same day.
    High speed is paramount to keep the operations running and any developed software would have to take this into account. But reaching this stage of awareness required asking questions constantly, and our client also had to understand that only a constant flow of information would allow us to shape the solution to match their particular needs. And thankfully, they did in fact understand that and supported us at every step.
App dashboard

Successful partnership is a two-way street

There’s one thing we can’t stress enough: both the vendor and the client should be matched on the basis of mutual understanding of business needs, work ethics and – last but not least – values that form the foundation of their operations. At Inwedo, we are always on the lookout for the kind of partnership that is rewarding for both parties and is founded on the principles of open communication, mutual respect, and Non-Violent Communication.

Going for the cheapest solutions and lowest costs at the sacrifice of everything else

Cutting costs is one of the most frequent incentives of farming out IT services. You no longer have to invest in hiring new employees for your company or concern yourself with recruitment. An IT services outsourcing vendor has got that covered for you. A good software house has its own dedicated team of specialists that are ready to tackle new challenges and help you with your problem. However, going straight for the cheapest solution – however tempting it might seem – and focusing too much on saving money, forgoing everything else, especially when it comes to building apps and QA side of things, is simply a bad practice. In the long run, it will turn out inviable because of the quality of the service provided. Even the greatest IT specialist won’t do much if the budget allows only for bare-bone functionalities and there is no one to manage the project or even test the software because someone skimped on Quality Assurance.

Choosing the right vendor should be dictated by cost-effectiveness in tandem with high quality of the work delivered. At Inwedo, we make sure our model of collaboration fits our client’s needs. The size of the outsourced team and the length of time they will provide their services for will dictate the costs of the operation.

 

Example

  • During our work on a software solution for a company in the fresh-food business, depending on the stage of the process, there were always 3–5 people from our team working on it, including a project manager, software engineers, a QA specialist and a graphics designer. That way we could deliver a functioning, visually attractive solution on time and on budget, and in the end allowed our client to increase the orders processed, the number of their clients, and reach a 20% growth target. They wanted a full service and got the full benefits.

They can help you, but only if you help them

IT outsourcing services can generate a lot of value for your company and get that IT-related burden off your shoulders. But like every other business decision, reaching out to a vendor requires some forethought, preparations and, later on, direct involvement to ensure that what you want and what you’re getting are the same thing.

 

If you’re still feeling on the fence and want to make double-sure that no mistakes are made and the outsourcing solution you’re getting is indeed the one you should opt for, Inwedo will be more than happy to help you make the right choice.

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