Software Development Outsourcing for Startups
I ask a Startup founder about what they do; and the founder responds with – “we bring affordable choices in health insurance to the consumers”. That was really a humble narrative of what she does… in fact, what she really does is – builds the solution, builds a team, educates the consumers, stages a fight with the competitors, strategizes, markets, sells, pitches to investors, services the early-adopters, pivots, toils… and the list goes on! They do all that often with a very small team.
It’s quite common for Startups to looking to outsource their software development needs. But, often times the selection of the outsourcing vendor and dealing with them also becomes a challenge for the Startups. Here is a 10-point checklist we put together for the Startups in aiding them with their selection and sustenance of their outsourcing engagements.
Software Development Outsourcing for Startups10-point checklist
Tools – open source, cutting-edge, proven stack
Resources – trained, certified, experienced
Process – collaboration, management, business analysis
Agile – MVP, rapid, iterative
Spike – research, time-boxed investigations, alternatives
Pivot – strategy shift, direction change, solution evolution
Protocols – Quality Assurance, CI/CD, Cloud Engineering
Expertise – track record, product development
Experience – incubation, lean mind set, co-founded
Advisory – User Experience, business model, road maps
Look for experts and proponents of Open Source tools and frameworks. These tools not only save the Startups with licensing fees, they also help them stay cutting-edge of the innovation. Some of the most popular Open Source technologies are: Java, PHP, Python, Angular, React Native, Node.js, MySQL, PostgreSQL, Spring Boot, etc.
Startups should be looking for partners that invests time and resources to train their employees on the technical and professional skills. A partner that puts the teams together based on a good mix of experience and professional certifications is what you should be aspiring for.
Most Startups focus on the tools, the availability of resources and ignore the rest of the traits of an ideal development partner… only to recognize later what a mess they got themselves into! The following ingredients are often overlooked by Startups.
Business analysis, collaboration, team work, project management, and communication protocols are key to the success of a software development process. You should look for an outsourcing partner that offers tools to the clients to keep the process transparent and create a real-time collaborative environment.
Startups need software development partners that understand the concepts of lean startup principles such as MVP (Most Viable Product). Your development partner should have proven Agile development methodology that’s conducive to rapid and iteratively development of your software solutions.
Research to find the best path forward and performing spikes are often hallmarks with Startups that are trying to do something innovative. You need a development partner that excels in time-boxed investigations for performing spikes.
Strategy shift, and direction change are part of the pivot process for Startups. Your development partner should be nourishing its employees to embrace those shifts and advise them that there is no such thing as – change; and business models evolve. This thought process greatly helps the project teams to react to pivots and shifts in direction organically.
Quality Assurance, Continuous Integration (CI) / Continuous Delivery (CD), and Cloud Engineering etc. are cornerstones of the modern-day software project builds. Most Startups don’t realize the significance of these protocols early in the development and wrongfully assume that these are the luxuries that can be adopted later on. This also results in the selection of outsourcing vendors that have no expertise in these disciplines or portray them as premium services.
Startups should emphasize the expertise of the development partner with respect to product development. Product development calls for an understanding of the product life cycle, road maps and the execution of several projects during the life cycle of the product. This requires coherence and congruence from the development partner as the product evolves through its life cycle.
Startups should gravitate towards the software development organizations that have incubated other startups earlier. Better yet, co-founded their own startups! This demonstrates the lean startup mindset of the development organization not just in serving their clients but implement themselves.
Finally, your Startup deserves a software development partner that can do more than just carry out your detailed instructions. Your software outsourcing partner should be able to advise you on varying aspects from User Experience to features that can add value to your business model, from shortest path algorithms to road maps. Startups by nature try to create value in the market they serve, and it’s only fair that you should be working with vendors that can add value to your mission.
While some Startups try to fill the gaps in the market needs, some Startups aim to create brand new markets. The point is, they have a herculean goal ahead of them given the limitations and constraints they are subjected to. What we do at TechO2 is to make that journey for our Startup clients little easy, at least on the software development side.