10 Tips for Your Next Software Development Collaboration

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Working with a software development company is like a marriage: Both parties need to work at it because divorce is expensive and leaves both parties worse off.

In that case, a marriage in which both parties are located five thousand miles apart will surely be difficult. The same applies to any long-distance business relationship. If you acknowledge the likely issues between your business and offshore software development company then your relationship is more likely to be successful.

1. Understand Your Needs
You are the one setting the agenda in this relationship, so you need to be clear on what you are expecting from the software you are paying for.

Looking at the e-book, Your Essential Guide to Working With IT Companies, published by Euro IT powerhouse SoftwareHut you will need to be specific about how you will judge the success of the collaboration. This will require clear indicators of where it fits into your business development plans and the scale of the project.

2. Finding Your Ideal Partner
Clutch.co is like Tinder for business partnerships. It’s a good place to research partnership prospects along with LinkedIn and Glassdoor.
Decide on your search criteria before you log on. Forget cheap because cheap equates to low quality work that will come back to haunt you. Forget any company with less than excellent reviews. Forget any business that does not respond quickly to your contact request.

3. Understand Your Partner’s Needs
Your partner’s business needs to match up with what you are looking for. Your business also needs to match up with your prospective partner’s specialty.
Your new partner may be apprehensive at first, so think of your initial contact as chatting before a first date; you are getting to know one another.

4. Communication Channels
Email and messaging via web apps are great for initial contact, but misunderstandings are too common. Video chat using Skype or similar apps is the next best thing to talking to someone across a table. Video lets you see facial expressions and body language that help you know that you understand what the other person is really saying.

Phone conversations are better than email, but video can be even better, so insist on a video chat: The hardware and software are both cheap if you are looking to have one-to-one conversations.
Insist on all contacts going through one person in each business. You both need to know that one individual has overall responsibility for the project.

If you are in a different time-zone then both parties will need to be flexible in agreeing to a call schedule and emergency contact details.

5. Know What You Are Getting Into
Communication is as important to a successful business relationship, just as it is to a good marriage.
Make sure that the person you are dealing with understands your language, your company culture, and your business objectives.

Language is particularly tricky if you are working with an offshore software developer: Code may be an international language, but you use English to explain what the code needs to achieve. Your contact must understand all the nuances in your English. Your contact also must also be able to explain him or herself perfectly in English.

6. Understand Your Partner
Ask questions about your prospective partner’s business. Ask about its structure and organization, where your contact sits on the organization chart and about the team will be working on your project.
Ask about issues the business is facing, how it started and its plans.

7. Help Your Partner Understand You
Expect your new partner to ask you similar questions about your business structure, history, and future expansion plans.

8. Have Reasonable Expectations
No partner is going to be a perfect match, either in a romantic or a business relationship. However, if you know and accept the imperfections, you can work around them.
Keep your expectations reasonable. Your business relationship is not exclusive and your software partner will be working on many projects with many different partners. Sometimes there will be time pressures lead to your project making slower progress than you were expecting. Talk about any issues with your contact and work through any problems as they arise because you have to make this work.

9. Have a Fair Contract
Agree on a time scale for your project with staged payments to correspond with milestones reached. Allow a reasonable timescale for full completion including testing and debugging.
Your contract will spell out the scale of the project and you will not be able to add new components to it, so consult with all parties in your own organization before any contracts are signed. Make clear any deadlines and expenditure limits, along with bonuses and penalties for early or late completion.

10. Be Flexible
Contracts aside, you will need some element of flexibility in your dealings with any offshore contractor. National holidays and working practices will be different. Cultural differences that neither party was aware of may cause problems, but flexibility can help resolve any issues that do arise.

Long Story Short
Working with a software developer is a complex process beset with possible communication difficulties. However, outsourcing software development gives you access to top-quality programmers without the costs of having them constantly on your payroll.

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