The rise in cloud popularity has brought a corresponding increase in the number of companies outsourcing their cloud software development. Yet things can get a bit complicated when a business sets out to find a compatible partner. While companies know they need to find a supplier that can deliver the right solution within their timeframe and price point, they aren’t always sure of the best practices to use in maximizing the partnership benefits – or even the right criteria to use to examine prospects.
Outsourcing partners can be found easily, but when it comes to cloud development and all of its intricacies, the needs change, and your choices become much more narrow. Add in an Agile methodology at your home base and it’s even narrower. So just how do you form a profitable and secure alliance with an outsourcing partner? What are the chief qualifications you should look for during the selection process – and what kind of attributes should you avoid?
Agile Intelligence. If you’re an experienced Agile development practitioner, your first priority should be compatibility with your outsourcing partner. Will you be able to marry your methodology with your supplier’s? Your teams should be able to work together by following the same flexible, team-oriented Scrum or Kanban approach and practicing the same tenets, from huddles to shared priorities to adaptability and collaboration. Staying in sync through Agile’s fast and reactive response cycles means good, regular communication is critical, so make sure the collaboration chemistry is there.
Release Cycle Service. One offering every partner should bring to the outsourcing table is a release cycle service, which dictates when software components will be completed. Why? Because release schedules are more frequent and more complex in cloud software development than with on-premise software, making them an indispensable element of managing and optimizing cloud infrastructure. They also have a greater impact, since deployment is immediate and universal via the cloud.
Security. Given the threats and complexities that come with the cloud, competencies around security and PCI compliance are vital. Companies should look for a partner who has implemented coding standards that meet security compliance based on their industries; examples include PCI for eCommerce and payment processing, and HIPAA for healthcare. The engineers should be certified as well. Remember the Scrum approach mentioned above? It should cover the coding standards applicable to each particular technology stack and be flexible enough to add industry specific standards on top without altering its foundation.
Expertise. Your ideal partner should possess a solid technical knowledge of the different cloud platforms, along with any tools associated with the data migration from former platforms. They should also be able to provide an end-to-end solution, from development to deployment to support. An adaptable process framework that covers all aspects of Lifecycle Management is critical to overcome any differences in standards, processes, and systems.
Just as important as choosing the right outsourcing partner is to avoid choosing the wrong one. You should be alert for potential warning signs during your due diligence phase, and, steer clear of potential partners that show these signs:
Agile Discrepancies. Any gaps in Agile methodologies should be analyzed immediately to determine if they’re worth bridging, or they could dramatically, negatively impact the collaboration.
Lack of Responsibility. Rather than acting as your partner, the supplier is adopting a staff-only role, leaving you responsible for all management work and responsibility.
Low-Budget Approach. The partner is solely focused on keeping costs low as the main value proposition, rather than a combination approach of high quality software development and affordable costs.
Insufficient Processes. When you discuss your potential arrangement, you notice a lack of communication and risk management plans, no change management process, and other missing components.
Lack of Flexibility. The supplier is slow to react, with long feedback cycles that don’t allow for changing business conditions. Creating the right software solution is an iterative process; nimble and reactive response cycles are a must for developing a solid product.
Just as cloud technologies have transformed the IT landscape, they have altered the outsourcing marketplace as well. A trusted outsourcing partner offers immense value, providing the experience and technical sophistication you need to successfully launch your cloud-based venture.
Is it easy to find that partner? Not always. But a thorough selection process will help you avoid costly mistakes and find the right supplier for you – and build a collaborative partnership that’s a win for everyone.
By Cliff Schertz
Cliff is the CEO of Tiempo Development a nearshore software development company that focuses on cloud enterprise software. Cliff is a recognized leader in Agile methodology for both engineering and corporate strategy. Cliff works with universities in the US and Mexico along with the Government of Mexico to create a regional strength in software engineering. His work has brought many professional jobs to the border region of the US and Mexico.