New business founders often find offshore programming to be a good solution to cheap development for an idea that is in the early stages. However, most start-ups fail because of lack of management experience on outsourced projects. Problems occur in four steps.
- i. Founders lack software development management experience.
- ii. The early and critical stage in development is driven by offshore vendors because founders are inexperienced. Business founders rely on vendors for technical expertise and advice.
- iii. New business founders change their ideas constantly due to new feedback in the market resulting in frequent change in software requirements.
- iv. Lastly the changes are not clearly communicated to the vendors due to language barriers, time, distance as well as cultural differences. Engagement fails when relationships sour and the project often falls apart.
I have made a list of ideas that can assist new business founders improve the rate of success for offshore programming projects.
1. Improve Your Knowledge in Software Development
It is advisable for start-up founders who do not have any programming background to familiarize themselves with software development principles. It is good to be able to at least know what impacts the whole system design and analyze the work flows. My recommendation is the book, UML for IT Business Analyst.
2. Improve Your Offshore Outsourcing Knowledge
Founders should also ensure they improve their offshore outsourcing knowledge, and more so on software development. It is good to know and understand the processes of contractor selection, proposal evaluation, defining requirements and management of outsourcing life cycle. Some of these may be normal business practices, but some specifically apply to offshore outsourcing such as remote team’s project management, cross cultural communication and labor rates. I recommend a book called Outsourcing Handbook.
3. Provide References and Have Clear Requirements
For any start-ups it can be difficult since some ideas may still be in the making, but it is good to provide software requirements in intervals avoiding long development cycles. It is important to communicate every detail needed by the offshore team to ensure they take into consideration future scalability.
4. Find a Local UI designer
I have witnessed many failed projects due to issues in the user interface. UI design is often influenced by culture. The UI usability acceptance between Americans, Chinese and Indians can be very different. It is important to obtain mock ups from a local User Interface designer before coding. This will ensure you have a great local design style and assist your offshore contractors to visualize your application before coding is done.
5. Get Dedicated Developers
I recommend hiring full time offshore software developers to work on your application in its early stages. Having a full time virtual team means you will have a dedicated work force working on material and time basis. It is always great to work with your team as you refine your ideas. If proper execution is done, even the total project cost can be reduced. Work with your offshore team manager to ensure you have a good team with the right skills and time to work on your project for the full hiring period.