May 30, 2023
Your business is unique, but is your software? Too often we see businesses with software that doesn’t work the way they need to achieve their company goals. If this sounds all too familiar, you need a custom software solution. Unfortunately, your internal IT staff probably has too much on their plate or they lack the expertise to make the necessary software changes.
So what do you do?
Delaying a custom software solution for your business can be risky. You could fall behind your competitors, or constantly feel like you’re missing out on revenue opportunities.
When your internal team can’t take on a custom project, it’s time to look outside of your company. You need to find a partner that specializes in outsourced customer development.
Outsourcing has many advantages, but it can sometimes be hard to tell when it is the right time to hire out the work. In this blog, I’ll use my 30+ years of business and software experience to share the ins and outs of outsourcing services and help you identify if your organization is facing the three signs that it’s time to outsource software development.
What Is Software Outsourcing?
Software outsourcing is the process of hiring a software development company to help you develop custom software to meet the unique needs of your business. Using an outsourced partner gives you access to professional software developers at a lower cost than hiring in-house developers.
Your software development partner should complement your internal IT team members with qualified and experienced developers who have specific experience delivering the solutions you need. They help augment your team by providing expertise, skills, and capabilities that help you identify problems and create innovative, solution-oriented software products for your business.
Businesses choose to outsource for a lot of reasons, but focused expertise and full-time dedication to the project are two huge benefits of software outsourcing that shorten timelines and keep projects in budget.
There are a number of ways you can engage a software development team to help you with your custom software solutions.
Fixed Scope Projects
It’s common to start out on a project-basis with a software partner. This way, your partner can deliver a quick-win project to demonstrate their abilities, earn your trust, and prove their value. Starting with a project is a great way to make sure your companies will work well together.
Typical custom software development projects run from three to six months initially but can take more than a year for complex projects. One drawback to a project-based relationship is the scope of the project tends to be fixed. If changes to the original scopes of a project are needed, this will often require a costly change order to adjust the project deliverables.
Agile Software Projects
Agile software projects follow the agile software development methodology, which allows your developers to adjust the project’s scope and make changes to the software as it’s developed. Each part of your project goes through the entire software development process so you can test and give feedback as it's built. This makes it easier to ensure your software solution conforms to your company's needs and constraints.
This approach works well when you need to develop a solution that requires multiple iterations to get right. Because there are more changes involved, agile software projects tend to be more costly than fixed scope projects.
On-going Software Development Support
Sometimes, all you need are ongoing resources to help you develop software. Software development partners can provide a dedicated team of committed, experienced developers with the skill sets you need as long as you need them. Usually engagements last for a set period of time, such as 3 months, 6 months, or 1 year.
In this arrangement, your software partner will dedicate a developer to work on a full-time or part-time basis, depending on what you need. Their job will be to assist your company in continuously innovating its software and working toward improved operational efficiencies.
Overall, it’s most important to choose a partner and relationship that is going to best suit your company’s needs and give you the return you’re looking for.
When to Outsource
There are plenty of reasons to outsource software development — experience, access to specialists, scalability, reduced cost, etc. More important than knowing why to outsource is often knowing when to outsource. Strategically planning your outsourcing can help your business get the most from a partnership and see the best results and return on investment.
Implementing a Big Change to Your Status Quo
In the early days of EnterBridge, I called on a prospective healthcare client. After several productive sales calls, I put together a proposal to outsource a portion of the daily operations of their existing healthcare management system.
I thought it was a rather compelling offer. After all, they would be saving more than $300,000 in operational and labor costs. But they turned it down.
The CEO told me, “Erik, I already have people that are excellent at maintaining my existing operations. I don’t need you for that. I need your company for your expertise, creativity, and innovation to build new capabilities. My team are experts at keeping our systems running effectively but they lack the skills and experience to build new solutions.”
I was grateful for her valuable wisdom and for her willingness to see a second proposal. They ended up taking us on and we built an entirely new software infrastructure that revolutionized their operations and drove tremendous growth for their organization.
The truth is most internal IT teams are built to maintain business operations and they are exceptionally good at it. Unfortunately, these support duties mean they don’t have enough time or resources to ideate and build new software that helps the business evolve with a changing market.
So, if you are looking for new capabilities or a way to stay ahead of your competition, that’s a huge indicator that you should outsource your software development.
Innovation in an established company needs to be treated more like a start-up. Going with an outsourced partner presents less risk, a shorter timeline, and minimal disruption to your daily operations.
As we have recently seen, economic downturns and recessions have huge implications for businesses. Budget cuts lead to devastating layoffs and a bigger emphasis on saving company money.
An unfortunate side effect of lay-offs is that they damage company culture. Key resources you have decided to keep tend to doubt the future of your company and begin to look elsewhere for employment, leaving you with gaps in your company’s critical skill sets. Software development partners can help fill that gap and keep your organization functioning at your best in these challenging times.
One of the biggest benefits of using an outsourced team is its cost savings. It’s typically cheaper than hiring and retaining a professional staff in-house. Especially in times of recession or economic downturn, businesses prioritizing cost reduction will turn to outsourcing. It can help you keep your budget in check without compromising quality or productivity.
In short, if your company is experiencing financial effects of economic hardship and need to find a cost-effective way to stay afloat, consider outsourcing your software development gaps to a partner you trust. It’s much less risky to take on a third-party company than to try to hire and retain full-time employees when you can’t afford it.
Temporary Capacity Changes
A big benefit of outsourcing is its flexibility. If your business is facing a time of decreased capacity for your in-house team, outsourcing software development is likely a good call. You can free up your internal team to focus on day-to-day tasks and use your software developer to focus on big-picture or long-term projects. This means you can have the best of both worlds without stressing your staff and while maintaining a positive company culture.
Sometimes, outsourcing software development services is a great recruiting tactic. You can find high-quality talent that understands your business thoroughly and who you know works well with your staff.
Pro Tip: Another great way to deal with high turnover rates is robotic process automation (RPA), an EnterBridge specialty. You can read our blog about RPA and the tremendous impact it has on reducing mundane daily tasks to reinvigorate your employees and do more with less.
Choosing a Qualified Partner
As you might have guessed, the benefits you get from outsourcing software development are directly tied to the team you choose to work with. You should look for a partner who has exceptional business experience and skills that align with your development needs. You need to find someone you trust, who meshes well with your internal team.
To find a partner that can deliver what you need, ask yourself the following questions:
- What type of service do I need? (app development, platform, tech stack, etc.)
- What’s my timeline?
- What’s my budget?
- What type of support am I looking for? Fixed project, agile project, or dedicated support team?
- Does the partner I work with need to have prior experience in my industry to be successful?
- What projects have they worked on to demonstrate their ability to help me with my initiatives?
As you research potential partners, compare them to your answers to these questions. It’s important to only consider companies that meet these established criteria. That will give you the best chance for a successful relationship.
Is It Time to Outsource Your Software Development?
In this time of economic challenge, it’s imperative that you look to outsourcing your software development. Economic downturns present a unique opportunity to pivot and outpace your competitors. Teaming with the right software development partner can make that possible.
If you’re ready to leap forward or are facing a staffing crisis due to recent layoffs or high employee turnover, look to outsourcing your next big software project. You’ll retain your employees, protect your budget, and find a way to create a competitive edge for yourself to stay afloat.
At EnterBridge, we help businesses create custom software solutions to a wide range of business problems. Contact us today to see how we can help your business succeed.