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Avoid These Seven Deadly Dangers Of Outsourcing

Learn from the mistakes other companies have made with outsourcing.  You may recognize these seven deadly dangers from your own software development experiences.  However, many companies do not address them as part of an overall software development strategy.  See if you avoiding them all with your present approach.

Here are seven dangers of outsourcing your software development. They become deadly if your career or entire company depends on the timely release of your software.

Danger #1- Ignoring Outsourcing

It may seem safer to ignore outsourcing and stick with what has worked well in the past -- hire employee programmers and work with them directly to get your software developed. There are situations where concerns about intellectual property or security make this the only choice. But if you do not have these constraints, then you are wasting money and time by hiring your own programmers.

Danger #2- Hiring the Wrong Team

It is a common mistake to look for an outsourcing vendor only in your immediate circle of friends and acquaintances. Considering ONLY your friend's roommate's brother in Bangalore, or his cousin in Kiev, is unlikely to provide you the outsourcing vendor that best matches your software development needs.

Don't hire an outsourcing vendor that will be distracted by developing their own products. The best teams are dedicated to providing software development services for their clients and already have multiple happy clients in the US.

Danger #3- Not Protecting Your Intellectual Property

The dangers of not protecting your intellectual property (IP) are multiplied when working with outsourcing. Are you using all three types of IP protection - physical, electronic and legal?

Make sure your outsourcing vendor has a secure facility and uses computers without removable media to reduce the risk of unauthorized access to your IP. Use firewalls, VPN and encryption to protect your IP when in transit over the Internet. Use proper legal protections including written agreements and NDAs that are enforceable in the US. A clearly stated contract helps avoid disagreements later and keeps you from the expense of litigation.

Danger #4- Not Knowing What Your Software Should Do

Having good requirements and specifications are key to successful software development, and especially for outsourcing. Fortunately, outsourcing can be successful with only a high-level specification and an outsourced team that can collaborate and communicate with you to determine the details.

Danger #5- Meager Engineering Management

Unfortunately, you cannot completely rely on an offshore team to manage your software development. They will do their best to meet commitments to schedules and a high level of quality. You can outsource the programming but not all the responsibility for creating great software.

Danger #6- Mediocre Software Development Methodology

How do you go about the process of developing software? Do you create an excruciatingly detailed spec and then micromanage? Do you pile up the features for a single stupendous major release? And do you make sure the offshore team must cram all those features in the software by next Tuesday? If so, you have a mediocre software development methodology.

Do you assume "No News is Good News", if you have not heard from your offshore team? Do you NOT have a standard software release procedure or source code control system? If soFree Web Content, you have a mediocre software development methodology.

Danger #7- Quality as an Afterthought

QA is a critical part of the software development process. It is also a major concern when you outsource to programmers that are far away. You cannot wait to start testing until just before you release your software and rush an unacceptable version into use. Having your users find the bugs is a bad strategy.

You don't need to repeat the mistakes of other companies that have tried outsourcing and failed. Avoid these seven deadly dangers take advantage of outsourcing as an effective strategy to develop your software.

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Steve Mezak is an expert at onshore, nearshore and offshore outsourcing. As an internationally acclaimed speaker, author and consultant, Steve has shown hundreds of software executives how to use outsourcing as a major strategic advantage for developing their software.

Steve has over 25 years of software development experience.  He is a veteran of 6 Silicon Valley startups in roles ranging from technical lead to CTO and CEO.

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