Table of Contents

10 Common Problems When Outsourcing and How to Solve Them

Table of Contents
Common Problem When Outsourcing

The practice of software outsourcing is growing fast. More and more businesses are recognizing the benefits of having an external team for software development. This trend is driven by the rapid pace of technological change. Instead of training their own people and spending money on hiring and retaining staff, companies are now opting to work with other companies for their software needs.

However, like anything else, outsourcing has its own set of challenges. Having an external team from another company work on your software projects can introduce risks such as security issues, cultural misfits, and time management complexities. Let’s explore the top 10 common outsourcing problems and discover solutions to tackle these challenges in your software outsourcing journey.

1. Goal and Expectation Mismatch

Imagine discussing your project in detail with your vendor, assuming mutual understanding. However, you later realize there’s been a misunderstanding. You explain, “I wanted this product to work with a certain platform, not just be for it”. They apologize and mention that fixing it will take a few days. Clearly, this situation is far from ideal.

When the contract doesn’t accurately reflect your needs, it can lead to increased costs and time delays, potentially affecting your project’s timeline. This is particularly problematic if being first to market is crucial for you. What’s the solution? Ensure you communicate your requirements and expectations to your vendor clearly. While this may seem straightforward, it often proves challenging. Sometimes, what seems obvious to you may not be apparent to the vendor. It’s similar to telling a story that’s clear to you but confusing to others.

Therefore, it’s vital to explicitly state all your needs, review them with your team repeatedly, and regularly discuss your plans with your vendor. This approach helps ensure your project stays on the right track.

2. Time Zone Differences

When you outsource software work to another country, you’ll have to deal with different time zones. This can complicate communication with your partner. Imagine discovering a major issue in your software three hours after your partner’s office has closed, but you need to launch it the next day. Who do you turn to for help?

To avoid these challenges, don’t leave things to the last minute. Ensure you have emergency contact methods for your partner, even outside their regular working hours. While they may not be available 24/7, they can often address urgent matters quickly.

Ideally, working with someone in your time zone is best, but that’s not always possible. You might find the right partner in a different time zone. In that case, it’s important to use the overlapping hours effectively. To manage time zone differences, here are some strategies:

  • Align your schedules: Figure out when your working hours overlap with your partner’s, especially when working with multiple teams. Keep this information handy for planning your discussions.
  • Plan regular visits to your outsourcing partner to better understand their active hours and work culture.
  • Schedule daily check-ins at a mutually convenient time. Keep these meetings brief and to the point, and be flexible with each other’s schedules.

3. Lack of Control Over Vendor’s Staff

When you outsource, the company you choose typically selects the individuals who will work on your project. This limits your influence over their hiring choices and the skill levels of the staff. Consequently, you may find yourself working with unfamiliar people on critical tasks. Concerns may arise about their competence or their commitment, particularly if key personnel depart.

While outsourcing can alleviate some of your burdens, it’s crucial to remain vigilant. Entrusting challenging tasks to others requires confidence in your outsourcing partner, who may not share your level of investment in the project. So, how can you ensure they are genuinely committed to recruiting top talent?

One approach is to involve yourself in the hiring process when necessary. Additionally, choose a company with a reputation for excellence, particularly one that has collaborated with renowned clients. This indicates their capability to manage substantial and complex projects.

It’s also important to assess the company’s specific areas of expertise. Not every firm excels in all technological domains. For instance, a company might be proficient in IoT (Internet of Things), but if your project focuses on mobile app development, they may not be the ideal choice for you.

4. The Dilemma of Outsourcing Weaknesses

Businesses often outsource tasks they are not proficient in, which, though it may seem counterintuitive, is a common practice. The challenge lies in ensuring the quality of the work, particularly when it involves expertise outside your domain.

Consider the example of needing a mobile app. These apps involve extensive coding. If you lack expertise in coding, or if no one on your team does, how can you ensure that the app will be developed properly and be free of issues later on? For instance, if you outsource the development of an Angular app but lack the capability to review it, you risk ending up with an app that initially seems fine but later reveals numerous problems. Requesting fixes from the outsourcing team can be time-consuming and may diminish your trust in them.

The optimal strategy is to have someone on your team who is knowledgeable about the area you are outsourcing. If you have a longstanding relationship with an outsourcing team known for their quality work, you might be able to trust them more. However, with a new team, it’s advisable to have an expert review their work.

5. Safeguarding Intellectual Property and Data Security

Understanding the importance of ‘trade secrets’ highlights the critical need to safeguard your intellectual property (IP) and data. In the competitive world of business, often characterized by an ‘every man for himself’ attitude, these secrets can be pivotal to your success. However, outsourcing necessitates sharing this sensitive information with another company. So, how do you ensure the security of your data and IP?

First and foremost, when initiating a partnership with an outsourcing company, it’s essential to sign a Non-Disclosure Agreement (NDA). This agreement should be comprehensive, detailing the consequences of any unauthorized disclosure of your secrets. This step is crucial in protecting your data.

It’s important to remember that the risk isn’t limited to the outsourcing company alone. External threats, such as cyberattacks or DDoS attacks on their systems, can also jeopardize your information. Therefore, your contract should address these risks as well. Additionally, verify that the outsourcing company has robust security measures in place to counter such attacks before you commence collaboration.

6. Overcoming Language and Communication Barriers

Effective communication is much easier when everyone is fluent in the same language. However, in global business, it’s common to collaborate with individuals for whom English is not their first language. Even among native English speakers, regional dialects and idiomatic expressions can lead to misunderstandings, not to mention the nuances in word usage. So, how can you effectively manage these challenges?

Firstly, assess the English proficiency of your outsourcing company. In today’s interconnected world, it’s increasingly common to find proficient English speakers globally. Beyond verbal communication, it’s crucial to confirm understandings through written correspondence, such as emails or messages. This practice helps prevent misinterpretations that might arise from poor audio quality or internet connectivity issues.

It’s also advisable to verify information with multiple individuals. This approach can prevent disputes over what was or wasn’t communicated. Additionally, consider visiting your outsourcing team in person to directly gauge their comprehension and ability to follow instructions in English.

Read more: How to Make Outsourcing Successful

7. Navigating Organizational and Regional Cultural Differences

When you begin outsourcing, it’s crucial to keep two key factors in mind: 1. You are collaborating with a company external to your own, and 2. You are likely engaging with individuals in a different country. This scenario introduces you to diverse work cultures and methodologies. For instance, while your team may operate from 9 to 5, the outsourced team might have a 12 to 8 schedule. Similarly, your team might prefer individual discussions, whereas the outsourced team could favor group collaborations.

Therefore, it’s highly beneficial to organize introductory sessions and training programs at the outset. These initial meetings are vital for understanding each other’s working styles and figuring out how to collaborate effectively. Recognizing that there are multiple approaches to achieving objectives and being open to new working methods influenced by these varied cultures is essential.

8. Bridging the Gap Between Expectation and Reality

Sometimes, outsourcing companies may present themselves impressively during negotiations, similar to those overly perfect ads on Facebook. However, what happens if they fail to deliver as promised? What if things don’t go according to plan?

To mitigate these risks, thorough research is essential. Examine their past projects and track record. If they have worked with prominent companies, investigate the feedback from these clients. Scrutinize their portfolio carefully. If possible, seek opinions from someone who has previously worked with them. Be wary of claims that seem too good to be true and maintain realistic expectations. Ensure that your contract provides protection in case the outcomes don’t align with the initial promises.

Another critical aspect is to assess the financial stability of the outsourcing company. Are they equipped to handle unexpected cost overruns or delays? Research the legal framework regarding outsourcing in their country. Prepare for all eventualities, including the worst-case scenarios.

9. Balancing Control and Decision-Making in Outsourcing

When working with an outsourcing company, determining the appropriate level of control can be challenging. While you shouldn’t relinquish your authority over major decisions – since it’s your project – micromanaging every detail may not be necessary. Striking a balance is crucial.

You might have confidence in your partner’s capabilities, but staying informed and involved in significant milestones is still essential. However, overseeing every minor aspect can be time-consuming and may hinder the expertise of the professionals you’ve engaged.

Disagreements with your partner are possible. They will offer advice, but ultimately, the decision is yours. Consider their suggestions, but also trust your own judgment.

The key is to maintain control over the major decisions. Constantly monitoring every small detail isn’t required, but receiving regular updates from your outsourcing partner is advisable. This approach keeps you informed, fosters trust, and contributes to a smoother project execution.

10. Navigating Delivery Delays or Failures in Outsourcing

A significant challenge in outsourcing is dealing with delays or uncompleted tasks. This becomes particularly problematic if you have already announced a public release date. Such setbacks can disrupt your plans and damage your reputation. While compensation for these issues is sometimes possible, it’s often insufficient or not provided at all. So, how can you mitigate these risks?

Firstly, select partners with a reliable track record. Examine their history of meeting deadlines. A history of not consistently achieving 100% on-time delivery should be a warning sign, even if you have prior experience working with them. Ensure your contract specifies the consequences of late or undelivered work, including any potential compensation.

Additionally, it’s wise to prepare for the worst-case scenario. Consider strategies to protect your reputation or adjust your plans in case of unforeseen issues.

Aim to complete your project well before the publicized release date. This buffer period allows for essential processes like testing and trial runs. Avoid planning to finish right up against your launch date. Extra time provides a cushion to address any last-minute complications.

Conclusion

Before initiating an outsourcing project, it is crucial to discuss these common challenges. By doing so, you can preemptively address potential issues, whether they arise during the project or after its completion. While there may be other unforeseen problems, being prepared to tackle these top 10 issues significantly increases the likelihood of a successful project.

Being aware of these issues enables you to address them effectively before they escalate. We hope this information proves valuable for your next outsourcing venture!

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