Fleur Leong

What are your experiences with outsourcing the development of your digital platform offshore?

I am collecting information on the advantages, disadvantages and risks to help SMEs learn from other business owners' experiences.  

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5 Answers

David Bradbury

David Bradbury , Founder & CEO at Selector

I ran an RFP late last year with the mission to identify and engage with an offshore development company, we are now 5 months into the development of a Comparison Platform and the report card is as good as I could expect. So what did I learn from this process in terms of the key success factors:

1. As you would for an Australian RFP write a detailed document focusing on questions which are going to give clear relevant insights on the vendors. I found a 2 stage RFP to work best where I started with a list of about 10 who responded to a short RFP focused on their business, which I cut to a short list of 5 who then responded to specific questions about the project.

2. Use local associations as a means of selecting your initial RFP list for example, The Association of Ukrainian IT Outsourcing Companies

3. As part of the RFP ensure you ask tight questions on the processes and technologies they propose to use to overcome the challenges of managing a project remotely. If you are not familiar with the tools they are suggesting ask to see demos. These tools will be critical to keeping abreast of how the project is going, how the time you have booked with the vendor is being used and what the schedule looks like going forward.

4. Consider which universities the vendors are located close to, are these universities top tier for Software engineering? As it will be these institutions which will be feeding them the talent. Often looking at the regional as opposed to main city vendors will be rewarding.

5. Linked in is a great resource to cross check credentials and identify Vendors who operate in the same country/region, as you'll find the good ones tend to have employees who have worked across a number of the companies which allows you to gain a view of the landscape and breadth of companies available.

6. Once you have reached a short list interview the team by Skype, do not just speak with the New Business Manager/team, ensure you speak with the project manager who will be managing your project and the lead software engineer. This allows you to check English language ability and also their understanding of the project 1st hand.

7. Ask to speak with referees, if possible identify projects on their web site which have similarities to yours and request calls with those as opposed to the vendor feeding you whom they'd like you to speak with.

8. Once you have identified the winner of the RFP, award them a small test project, which maybe a small piece of the larger project. This approach will allow you to access how you work together, the quality of the work and if the vendor lives up to the RFP responses

9. Have the code developed during the test project audited by an onshore resource to ensure its up to scratch.

Trust this helps.

 

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Swee Yeo

As with all things, it depends on who you hire. I hired a guy from the Philippines and he was very good. He is in the top 25 percentile as compared to other Australian developers.  He was recommended by a colleague. I suppose recommendations are important eg doctors, lawyers, physio...

Communications is important - My impression is that outsourcing companies in Philippines and India can be as good as Australian outsourcing companies. Others are duds. It is not the dollars you spend. Say you save 50% as compared to a quote from an Australian outsourcing company but the Indian outsourcing company did not understand your requirements and delivered a dud - it would seem that you have wasted 50% of your money as opposed to saving some money.

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Iain Dooley

Hi Fleur, we've been outsourcing technology work overseas for several years. The experience differs depending on the type of project. I think the most important thing for successful outsourcing is to develop the policies & procedures *in-house* rather than outsourcing to a team and hoping for the best. There are people with success stories of outsourcing to a "company" overseas, but anecdotally I can tell you they're far outweighed by stories of heartbreak and misery.

Basically, if you don't know how to do something (or at least know the basics of how it works), it's going to be very hard for you to consistently get good results when outsourcing. This is the value that a "local expert" can add - either as a consultant or a separate business - when getting your project outsourced.

It's very easy for miscommunication to creep in, and for projects to seem on track when they're completely not on track.

Hiring is hard to get right, but if you put in the yards you can get amazing people who deliver very high quality work consistently.

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Kevin Mallen

Kevin Mallen , Business Development Manager at Virtual Coworker

Hi Fleur, 

Running an outsourcing company out of the Philippines, I've seen what works well and what tends to fail. With anything IT, it all really depends on the specifics of what you're trying to accomplish.

Do you have a CTO that is capable of hiring and managing offshore staff? Or are you looking for an offshore company to build the platform for you without you having to project manage?

Regards,

Kevin Mallen 

 

 

 

 

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Kevin Mallen

Kevin Mallen , Business Development Manager at Virtual Coworker

Hi Fleur, 

Running an outsourcing company out of the Philippines, I've seen what works well and what tends to fail. With anything IT, it all really depends on the specifics of what you're trying to accomplish.

Do you have a CTO that is capable of hiring and managing offshore staff? Or are you looking for an offshore company to build the platform for you without you having to project manage?

Regards,

Kevin Mallen 

 

 

 

 

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