Sibedge Expert Shares Tips and Tricks to Build Trust with an Offshore Software Partner

In this article we explore best practices for maximizing trust with external vendors when outsourcing software development.

Start with a Discovery Phase

Open discussion of the project increases trust between the parties. Based on our experience, the study phase can take 20-40 hours for medium-sized projects and one to two months for large projects. It gives also a great opportunity to find out whether the vendor meets your expectations.

Be aware of the risks

The service provider usually gives you an optimistic and realistic picture of how the project will progress. Be sure to ask them for a full list of risks, as well as provide the most pessimistic scenario.

Remember the time zone difference

Choose vendors so that your time zone overlaps with the developers is at least four hours a day. If you have extensive experience in managing a distributed team, the time zone difference may be large. If you are not used to working in flexible mode, be sure to include a manager in the team of external experts who will be responsible for the effective communication planning.

Meet the CTO

Arrange an introduction to the service provider's CTO. On the one hand, CTO is a decision-maker, and on the other — a chief expert in technology. If you have a good relationship with this person, you will be able to understand much better how the development process is organized. If you are planning to build a long-term partnership with this company, it will be useful to talk to other key personnel before deciding on which contractor to choose.

Personal meetings with the team

When it comes to long-term projects (over 12 months), we recommend organizing an on-site meetup for external developers. Communication is more effective when engineers visit the customer's premises and get involved in business processes in person. In addition, this will significantly speed up the onboarding process. Be sure to check with your vendor, how they feel about business trips.

Keep in mind the expertise

If your project requires developers to have specific expertise and dive into a complex subject area, bear this in mind when selecting a contractor. Do they understand business processes in your industry? Are you sure that you will not have to teach developers something new and spend your valuable time on it? Be sure to check whether the vendor can provide cases for projects similar to yours.

Fix the agreements

Should the vendor suggest the conclusion of a Service Level Agreement (SLA), carefully study this document. It is a guarantee of ensuring the proper level of quality of the services you pay for. If it is not possible to sign an SLA, try to fix the agreements in the form of a charter or some other document at the start. It is important to specify such points as:

  • Non-standard situations management.
  • Issues and changes management. 
  • Release management, etc.

Create a healthy atmosphere

In any team, especially a remote one, it is important to maintain positive work environment. Don't get too involved in micromanagement and try to control absolutely everything. You should trust your developers. Listen to them in retrospect, motivate them with challenging tasks, learn to accept their mistakes and work together to get out of difficult situations.

The risks are always higher when you deal with the outsource team. My experience suggests that keeping an eye on every task shows your professionalism. But refrain from micromanagement. It is a very common mistake that can cost you dearly. IT specialists are extremely creative and need some freedom to unleash their inspiration.

Seva Morotskiy, CTO at Sibedge