February 19, 2015
Thousands of companies are now outsourcing work to developing countries to cut down on human resource costs. Every 10th IT company probably has an outsource partner in India, Pakistan or Bangladesh. They’ve probably been burned quite a few times before landing with a competent and trust-worthy partner. So what is it that you should look for in an outsourcing partner? Below is my assessment in order of importance from a Web applications development firm point of view:
1. Work Quality: A lot of companies will promise big returns for little money, but stop for a second and think. Will they really deliver? Can you trust them with your product? How do you know? When you’re starting out with a new company always:
• Check their portfolio. Make sure it has links to live websites / apps and, if possible, check the website on various platforms and browsers to confirm that it works equally well on Chrome, Firefox and all other browsers and platforms (meaning that it’s also responsive). Also check it on W3C school for compliancy rules and on Firefox’s YSlow add-on for page speed.
• Make sure they have amazing testimonials that are recent. With little effort you can tell between a genuine and a fake testimonial. A genuine one will be more personalized and will have reference to a specific project. A good example of genuine testimonials can be found here. Notice the length of the testimonials along with dates and company logo and / or client photo. This stuff is hard to fake or may get you into trouble if you were to try.
• Ask for referrals. A deep-rooted company will be more than happy to provide referrals from your region. Make sure that you call/ e-mail the referral and find out about their experience.
• Set realistic milestones.
• Check references. If possible check their team resume to find out how qualified and experienced the team is. At times young college graduates join heads for some extra cash and portray themselves as a company. You wouldn’t want to end up there because a year later they may probably move on leaving your project hanging in mid air.
2. Attention to details: When you start talking with an outsourcing company, keep an ear out for attention to detail. This will tell you a lot about how the firm functions. If somebody is going straight out and telling you “Yes we can do it for $xxx, please send us the project and we will begin tomorrow!” without listening to full details and asking questions, then there’s your red light. STOP.
A good partner will listen to you with patience, ask intelligent questions, give suggestions and may even set up two or three meetings with you to understand the full scope of the project and your business model. Also another thing that you should look for is if the company is owning the project. How can you tell? During your sessions, they will honestly bring up possible pitfalls, might disagree on some part of your model and ask question like ‘how will this help your business?’ They’re actually taking time out to make sure you get maximum profit from the solution. If your project succeeds, you become a return customer — so it’s actually profiting the firm. Which reminds me, strong companies will tell you that a big part of their marketing is from“word of mouth.”
3. Rates: Some companies will charge you as low as $5 per hour. It’s hard to figure out how they can manage to deliver quality product at that rate, even in a developing country. The rate of inflation, software licensing cost, seamless and fast Internet connection and 24/7 power supply (the power is out most of the time and you have to rely on generators) are some of the major factors that affect cost.
Plus retaining trained IT professionals is also a challenge in this part of the world. Most qualified individuals will jump for better job opportunities abroad. An established software house will charge anywhere between $12 to $25 per hour. You should always go back and inquire about the infrastructure and team qualification and experience before making a decision. But please don’t choose a company just because its charging you very little. It’s probably cutting corners somewhere and most of the times you realize that ‘after’ the job is done and paid for.
4. Affiliations: Check if the company is affiliated with national or international bodies. Usually ‘mushroom’ software houses don’t have the budget or don’t think it’s necessary to get affiliated.
Please feel free to offer your comments and opinions below.
Shamim Rajani is the co-owner and chief operating officer (COO) at Genetech Solutions, a one-stop shop for all your Web services needs, specializing in Web development, mobile applications, business applications, virtual staffing and other IT related services. Other than work, Shamim is an avid reader, loves cooking shows and gardening. You can reach her at: https://twitter.com/shamimrajani or https://www.linkedin.com/profile/view?id=81883447&trk=spm_pic.