Outsourcing Your Software Development Team: Pros and Cons

Outsourcing your software development team makes sense when your business strives for fast product development and aims to maintain the pace of an internet audience. However, before making the plunge into outsourcing, businesses have to consider the strengths and weaknesses of this kind of arrangement. Speed is valuable, but so is quality. What are the pros and cons of software development outsourcing?

Pro: Fast development

Agile and Kanban are software development strategies that emphasize small, expert teams capable of working together, failing together, and innovating together. Choosing a one-person full-stack developer might seem like a good alternative to hiring a team, but one person is rarely expert in all realms of software development. Additionally, fast development occurs because team members challenge one another and keep up the pace.

Con: Choosing the wrong team

Non-software oriented businesses may choose the wrong kind of team. There is a difference between your in-house IT person and a software development team. IT runs on two speeds. Slow speed IT, though essential, includes system maintenance and little else. If your company is looking for a dynamic website, a customized database or solid security, then a high-speed team software development team is the one you want.

Pro: Expert teams and fresh tools

Another benefit of an outsourced software development team is its access to experts and new developments in the IT industry. Since small teams specialize in software development, they are constantly learning and creating within a highly competitive industry. This expertise increases the quality of your software outcome.

Con: Unhappy employees

An outsourced software development team still relies on expertise within your organizations to guide product development. Every agile team includes stakeholder representation. Unfortunately, morale may decrease when current employees believe that the team may replace them, or that the team might be developing a product that could replace them.

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Pro: Lower cost

If your company or business does not specialize in software development, than spending resources creating a team simply isn’t an option. In fact, a Mood International survey of IT directors found that 52 percent of them outsource with a focus on cost reduction.

Con: Communication Issues

Both software development teams and businesses who use them agree that expectations need to be clear up front. Financial agreements must be met, contingency plans should be drawn up in the event that a project takes longer, or is more costly, than the original agreement stipulated. Establishing these details at the beginning of the relationship is important so that communication issues do not develop later on. This is especially true for off-shore outsourcing, where local laws differ and both parties may find themselves without proper legal recourse.

Other communication issues, such as language barriers, should also be mitigated early on. Fortunately, as more and more outsourced teams are scattered across the globe, solutions to language barriers have been developed, including translation memory software that breaks down languages into segments, for simple, quick translations. These developments are becoming more necessary as critics of international outsourcing claim that differences in time zones, geography and culture impede development speeds.

Outsource or Not?

Partnering with a software development team is essential for most businesses who aim to keep their website optimized for usability, security and data collection. But, can a company avoid the cons of outsourcing?

Brian Borack, chief operating officer of Soft Serve, believes that referring to the outsource relationship as a partnership rather than a contractual obligation, builds the software development team’s sense of ownership in the product development process and in the product outcome.

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If you are still unsure about outsourcing your software development team, then choose a smaller project and hire a team you trust for a trial run. Then, develop your own list of pros and cons to determine if outsourcing is right for you.

Lee Flynn is a freelance writer. Through small local workshops and articles, Lee trains and teaches others on home preparation, healthy living, food storage techniques, and self reliance. 

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