7 Must Have Activities to Achieve Outsourcing Success and Win the Delivery Race

When choosing a service provider, think about your future project as a long distance run, a strategic partnership. Here is a checklist of the 7 must have activities for organizations that consider taking part in the outsourcing marathon.

Efficient Delivery with Business Value

As technology becomes the core competence for more and more businesses, and common processes and workflows are getting makeovers, the information technology (IT) market is booming. According to CompTIA, a non-profit association for the IT channel, the IT industry will experience a growth of 3.4 percent in 2014. On the employment front, 41 percent of IT companies plan to increase investments in staffing for technical positions this year, compared to 15 percent that plan staffing decreases.

No wonder there's competition for skilled employees. Outsourcing is the first thing that comes to mind when we talk about an engineering talent search. But outsourcing is no longer about low cost and quality compromises, it`s about the opposite: efficient delivery that provides business value.

This is why today it`s even more important than ever to plan for outsourcing success and avoid outsourcing challenges and failures.

Outsourcing Collaboration in a Controlled Fashion: Prevention vs. Treatment

Having worked in the outsourcing industry for more than 10 years, I strongly believe that collaboration with a service provider at the start in a controlled fashion provides a solid foundation for future success.

I’m also a runner, and I can tell you that there are more parallels between long distance running and outsourcing than you might think.

Any runner would agree that long distance running differs from a traditional morning jog in the neighborhood. You can’t stand up and run 20k or 42k out of the blue. You think, plan, try to avoid and prevent injuries rather than selecting the best treatment plan after they happened.

When choosing a service provider, think about your future collaboration as a long distance run, a strategic partnership, not as a sprint race aimed to cross the finish line (if your project survives the race) and drops dead.

Here is a checklist of the 7 must have activities for organizations that consider taking part in the outsourcing marathon:

1. Check Your Fitness Level

If it`s your first attempt to run an outsourcing “marathon”, I recommend that you conduct a quick audit on whether your organization is ready to work with a 3rd party provider, as well as to validate the potential provider. Conduct an inventory of what your organization has in place and what may be missing so there are no surprises later. At SoftServe, we developed an outsourcing preparedness questionnaire that helps:

  1. Evaluate your preparedness for outsourcing
  2. Check your organizational structure, processes, and IT environment for potential gaps
  3. Create a list of areas that require extra attention as the relationship progresses

We believe that the more prepared you are, the better the project outcome. Send me an email if you`d like me to send you our questionnaire for your organization.

2. Adopt a Running Style that Suits your Organization

There is no single correct development process in a distributed environment. A service provider should not blindly follow the client’s way of project execution or force the client to comply with their standard process. Instead, both organizations should analyze their current procedures and select what best practices are to be embraced and any gaps that need to be addressed to guarantee a successful delivery – for each unique project. These exercises result in a transparent and uniquely designed collaboration model that is efficient, while also providing flexibility and innovation.

3. Use the Appropriate Running Gear

When running, a GPS watch or a heart rate monitor are more than just fancy accessories, it`s the best way to check and predict your performance using objective measurements. Expectations and success criteria of an outsourcing engagement should be as objective as possible and focused on team productivity, predictability and quality. A set of applicable metrics might differ from project to project and usually depends on the business goal, industry and project priorities.

Team velocity, a burn-down chart, time-to-market or defects density are the metrics most commonly used. My advice is to set a benchmark at the beginning of a project and regularly check the project progress against it.

4. Participate in a Short-Course Race

Time-boxed planning or a prototyping phase is the best way to check the quality and performance of a service provider. This allows all stakeholders to understand the business needs behind the requirements, analyze and address technological constraints, and – last but not least – establish full transparency with the partner organization through effective collaboration and communication.

5. Consider Hiring a Coach

If the project is technology-savvy or high-risk, an unbiased party could be involved to ensure that the project objectives are clearly communicated, expectations set and managed, and potential issues are discovered and discussed early in the relationship. At SoftServe, we have a dedicated team specialized in coordinating and guiding project initiation activities in outsourced environment for that purpose.  

6. Do Regular Check-Ups

None of the business assumptions identified at the beginning of a project are stable, that’s why uncertainties and risks should be shared between the client and service provider and managed on a continuous basis.

7. Train, Train, and Train

This piece of advice translates into the obvious “Communicate, Communicate, and Communicate.” Nothing is more important for collaboration success than its transparence and shared values.

Good luck on the road! I will cheer for you!