Managing software outsourcing projects are no different than managing your in-house projects and team. It is surely another type of engagement, but most of the processes of managing the project look quite similar. But unlike the in-house teams, the outsourced teams are far more under pressure to meet the project's goals as their work is contract-based.
Because all software projects are different, there is no such thing as best practices per se, as projects are manually fine-tuned to meet the goals. However, some best practices share common ground, can be found across the projects, and seem to be good enough to consider as the practice used from one project to another.
One of the important components of the outsourced project is to follow the progress. Integrating your process with the vendor’s business environment lets you stay current on the project's progress. That means that the vendor provides transparency of the project status, including team activity, planning, and progress on the project.
Some vendors may have tools and techniques to ensure the project is on track. Additionally, you may ask a vendor to explain the techniques used during the project. Effective remote team management is vital, and analyzing developers' digital footprints is the key to success.
One of the basic rules is to lead the team from the first day you hire them, starting at the inbound interview. It should consist of a well-prepared, standardized set of questions and a set of tasks to give the candidates.
Let’s review what’s found across some of the successful software outsourcing projects:
- Every outsourcing project should have a dedicated stakeholder at the company who is responsible for the project's output. It can be the CEO or a CTO at the early stages, but the company can grow to a large corporation with procurement departments.
- It’s good to have a dedicated person responsible for onboarding. They should be in communication with new team members from their very first day, answering their questions, showing them around, and sending them interesting information. Your vendor is most of the time responsible for onboarding the new teammates and showing them around, but you may want to meet the new hires and introduce them to the rest of your team.
- As your company grows, at some point, you’ll probably realize that you need to collect all the information about the company and its history in one place so that your team members can easily find answers to common questions. Build a project wiki from day one and ask your teams to keep it current.
- A developer should focus only on a single task at any given time. This allows all participants in the project to understand exactly what each developer is doing right now at every point in the process.
- Ask the vendor for reports stating the team's hours spent on each particular task or function. It is very important to present the report on time and ensure that it is accurate and error-free.
- Developers don’t spend all their time writing code. They often use chats to learn important details, ask questions, and discuss issues. Their Slack activity can also answer your questions about what the engineer is currently busy with.
- Remote team culture often lacks a personal element, and holding internal, online meetups is a great practice to foster friendlier relationships among team members, including outsourced.
- JIRA has one of the must-have tech tools for remote employees. It’s called “remaining estimate,” and it helps developers understand how much time they have left to solve a problem.
- Practice early code review and write the tests ahead of time. This allows you to send a pull request for review at the moment the main functionality is written while the developer is still focused on the code.
- GitHub is a wonderful contribution activity tool that can help you analyze your developers’ performance. Around 90% of projects are on GitHub.
- Each developer should send their work to the repository at least once a day. There might be a system that monitors the daily activity of engineers in all repositories. If the system finds that an engineer has not made a commit in the last two days, it sends a Slack notification to the engineer and their managers, team leads, and account managers.
- Plan retrospective meetings with the team to address some of the critical questions about overall progress. Those meetings can help significantly improve performance.
- Ask the outsourced team to plan every iteration by transferring features to the task dashboard, estimating the tickets, and tracking the time spent. This will highly increase the project transparency and ability to plan and track budget and timeline.
Again, every project is unique in nature, and your vendor may have lots of good practices in place, so you don’t need to worry about stacking up additional tools and resources. However, it is in your best interest to ensure the project is delivered on time and within budget, so discussing with the vendor how to set this up should be on your roadmap.