So, the contracts have been signed and your team has met the outsourcing team on a short visit to their office in Colombia. It might be tempting to think the project is completely in the hands of your outsourcing partner, but it's not quite time to relax yet. As you and your outsourcing partner ramp up your engagement it's vital for both teams to remain vigilant. To help guide a successful partnership in 2018, and start the year off right, here are some tips for building and maintaining a strong outsourcing partnership.
- Communication - Frequent and clear communication cannot be stressed enough. We cover this topic extensively in the ebook, Outsourcing vs Offshore, a comprehensive guide for businesses looking to outsource or those currently navigating an outsourcing partnership because we feel so strongly about getting communication right. "Don't underestimate the power of communication. Take the time to develop the structures and processes with your offshoring partner to ensure you both share the same communication expectations." Set up strong communication channels and schedules from the beginning, and don't be afraid to ask for clarification, especially when dealing with different cultures.
- Allow for the Contract to Evolve - In our experience as a software outsourcing company working with different clients, we've learned to look at budgets and contracts in a much different light than the normal outsourcing partner. For example, as an agile software development firm teams have to be flexible when developing Minimum Viable Products (MVPs) as the MVP is constantly evolving over time as the team adjusts the project. In this case, it's incredibly important to, "Be ready to prioritize user time and materials over strict budget constraints." Adhering to too strict a budget or time constraint will limit your team's scope and success. Set clear expectations from the beginning and ensure open lines of communication to be sure you and your partner are on the same page.
- Commit to transparency - Both sides need to be willing to raise issues and misunderstandings, communicate delays, and elevate potential problems quickly, among other things when working within an outsourcing partnership. The fact that teams don't work face-to-face each day makes it much more important to commit to transparency before the engagement. Give your partner the information they need in order to complete the job thoroughly. Security compliance, business objectives, new business goals, anticipated expansions or downsizes, and anything else that might affect their work should be communicated to your partner before they have to ask for it, or before it affects their work. Your outsourcing partner does not expect you to share your every secret, but prepare to give them access to more than you would a normal vendor.
- Have a Contingency Plan - As one part of an outsourcing partnership, understand that not everything will go as planned. Patience, empathy and transparency will go a long way in building a bridge and solving problems quickly between partners when people quit the team, delays occur, or compliance issues arise. One of the best things to do will be to discuss these things before they happen and be transparent about how you have handled similar issues in the past or with other partners. Above all, build trust so that when accidents happen you trust your partner to fix it efficiently and transparently.
- Stay Involved - A strong partnership can be built by implementing the components listed above and staying involved. It's not a partnership if you expect the client to deliver a product or service without more than your initial guidance or input. If that's the case, you've selected a vendor, not a partner. Outsourcing partnerships are valuable in that they allow you to develop better products and services, innovate faster, maintain support from a diverse team, focus on your core competencies and the strengths of your team, and remain competitive, but only if both sides are active and engaged.
Successful partnerships take time to get right, but with an eye for the things above, you'll find yourself reaching success much faster and probably with a cutting-edge MVP to boot.
About Perficient Latin America: A leading software development outsourcing firm in Latin America, Perficient Latin America has distinguished itself by successfully solving complex engineering challenges that incorporate big data, machine learning and DevOps, among other cutting-edge practices. Through open and transparent long-term partnerships, Perficient Latin America works as an integrated partner for the client's engineering teams by utilizing a nearshore, same time-zone service delivery model.