When taking on new software projects, most businesses with non-tech core operations prefer to outsource or offshore all of their development activities. After all, outsourcing models do offer numerous advantages – reduced costs and risks, access to a more diverse talent pool, efficient processes, quicker results, fresh perspectives, and much more. However, the slightest oversight can make things go south very quickly.
We bring you a comprehensible yet extremely important guide on five mistakes you must not make when you hire a development team. This write-up will not only help you ensure that you go about putting together a software team the right way but also shed some light on how a dedicated development team works in terms of its typical composition.
Dedicated Software Development Team Structure Overview
A typical dedicated team engagement model is based on a team with four essential roles:
- UI/UX Designers
- Project Managers
Usually, clients like to have at least one resource for each of these positions so that they can dedicatedly carry out their respective responsibilities. However, the number of dedicated resources can increase as your project grows in scope or size. You can have more than one person fill each role, depending on your project requirements.
Let us quickly go over the main responsibilities for these roles so that you can understand why they may be essential for your team and how they would work with each other.
The design stage is where the foundation of any piece of software is laid out. Therefore, the people who design your software app play an instrumental role in its success. UI and UX designers are responsible for mapping out the look and feel of the application while keeping the end-user in mind. With their valuable input, you can better decide what types of graphics, navigational components, colour schemes, textures, and overall user flows would be best to incorporate into your app’s design to successfully cater to your particular target audience.
In the usual software development team structure, developers are often considered the MVPs. They program the application from start to finish by writing the source code, which can sometimes stretch to hundreds of thousands of lines, depending on the scope of the software application.
Often, different types of developers are skilled in different types of programming methods, tools, and technologies. If you are working on a web app, it is customary to hire a separate resource each for the frontend and backend. The same applies to mobile apps – Android, iOS, or cross-platform – and desktop apps – Windows or macOS. You can choose developers for your team based on their skill and experience levels and areas of expertise.
Another integral part of the development team is the person responsible for quality control: the tester. If you want to guarantee success for your new app, you must hire a development team that is equipped with a reliable professional who can handle QA (quality assurance) duties.
QA engineers make sure that your app does not have any errors (bugs), whether technical or logical in nature. After the coding phase is complete, the testers take the software on a plethora of test runs and point out any flaws. This process is repeated until the product is completely free from errors; only then is it deemed ready for launch.
The project manager holds the entire dedicated team together and gives them direction and purpose. They not only make sure that all the team members stay on track with the completion of their individual tasks but are also responsible for the overall progress of the project. Project managers often handle the communication and collaboration throughout the software development cycle. Most project managers are well-versed in both business and technical domains. For this reason, a lot of clients choose to have the project manager act as a liaison between them and the rest of the team members. With their oversight and commitment, a project manager dictates how a dedicated development team works its way to successful delivery.
Looking to outsource your software development project?
Pick and choose the roles you need on your dedicated development team from our ever-growing talent pool of managers, leaders, designers, developers, and QA engineers.
A dedicated team can go far beyond the roles we have discussed here. We have talked about in a previously-published in-depth piece on dedicated team roles and responsibilities.
Five Mistakes You Must Avoid
For those of you who have not worked with a dedicated team before, we have some pointers which will help you achieve your development goals with minimal risks and losses.
Here are some common mistakes that a lot of clients make when they hire a development team, leading to a bitter experience. If you are successful in avoiding these mistakes, you will not only enter this kind of engagement fully prepared but also end your venture on a positive note with perfect outcomes.
1. Instinctively Choosing the Cheapest Option
It is an undeniable fact that the prices of the products and services we consume on a daily basis determine a lot of our day-to-day financial decisions. The world has been rapidly moving to a highly competitive economic environment, where vendors often employ cut-throat pricing strategies to attract the highest possible number of clients. To a certain extent, the software development industry also exhibits similar patterns, which is why a lot of software projects, right from the start, are doomed to fail.
As is the case with many other products and services, low-cost software development may not always be the best choice; you might end up having to make some major compromises. A lot of clients go for companies based in locations that are known for their unbelievably low development costs. However, they tend to forget that these very locations are also known to have highly dissatisfactory end results due to which they are not recommended by a large number of customers.
You must therefore conduct proper research and find the right balance between price and quality.
2. Choosing a Company Without Reviewing Its Track Record
A lot of clients, without giving it a second thought, go for the cheapest option or the first option they see on the list of Google search results. They refuse to put in any effort in the process of finding the perfect software partner to hire a development team from. By the time they realise their mistake, it is too late, and all they can do is think back to where they went wrong and how the damage could have been avoided.
One of the most important things to do when looking into potential software partners is to go through their past projects and portfolios and check for verified reviews from previous clients. Most vendors make use of their websites or social media channels to showcase their client lists. Many go to commendable lengths and publish in-depth case studies for their past projects, detailing the development process, team size, cost breakdown, technology stack, and other important aspects of each project. Other vendors rely on platforms such as Clutch and Manifest. These review and rating platforms contact past clients themselves and conduct interviews with them first-hand. These ‘verified reviews’ are then published on the vendors’ profiles.
Conducting this level of thorough research allows you to familiarise yourself with a company’s past record. On top of that, you can also find out whether a software development company has previously worked with organisations that fall under the industry or niche your business operates in. This would give both you and your chosen software partner an added advantage in terms of finding common grounds to work on.
One more piece of homework that a lot of clients skip on is interacting with potential team members. While it is perfectly okay to hire a software development team and give them full freedom to adapt as their manager sees fit, it is also important to make sure that individual team members who are going to be working on your project fully understand what they are getting into. A good way to get to know your team members is to conduct short interviews. This way, they can also familiarise themselves with you, your team, and your business, and ask any questions they may have about the project.
3. Geographically Restricting Yourself
One of the biggest problems that the concept of outsourcing aimed to address was the lack of options available within a client’s physical reach. A lot of customers today overlook this simple fact, failing to fully understand how a dedicated development team works when outsourcing software projects. They worry about different time zones, language barriers, and cultural conflicts, and the possible miscommunication that may sprout from these differences. They can only think of one solution for this problem: hire a development team that operates in the same geographical region as themselves.
This lazy shortcut greatly limits your options for a software partner. If you refuse to explore the world past the one that you exist in, there will be no opportunity for growth. One cannot even imagine the possibilities that lay beyond borders: a much larger talent pool with access to cutting-edge technologies, possessing exceptional knowledge and skills that you may lose out on if you stick to local service providers. Holding yourself back due to geographical distance might also result in you not being able to achieve cost-efficiency with services that are a bit more pocket-friendly than those provided by local vendors.
Now, let us address all the above-mentioned concerns regarding miscommunication. Some of the best software companies now offer flexible work hours where their team adjusts their availability according to timings that suit the client. They try to provide maximum overlap, allowing clients to interact with team members in real-time. These companies also hire top talent that is capable of fluently conversing in one of the most commonly-spoken business languages: English. On top of that, there now exist some excellent tools that have made communication not only possible but also highly efficient. If you are unable to meet with a certain team member, you can simply ring them up via a video-calling app, such as Zoom or Skype, and speak with them right away.
4. Being Unable to Communicate Your Requirements
A common misconception that a lot of clients have when they hire a development team is that their software provider is the one solely responsible for all the communication that takes place. They place the onus on their software partner, expecting them to understand all there is to know about the project, with minimal input or feedback. Some clients are also secretive about how much they reveal to their chosen software development company due to privacy and security concerns.
When you hire a software development team, you are responsible for clearly communicating your needs to your software partner. This initial exchange of knowledge and information is a two-way street – you need to open the floor to any questions that your provider may have and answer them in as detailed and accurate a way as possible. If you do not contribute to this activity, the team members will not be able to properly understand what you want from them, causing them to deliver an end result that does not satisfy your requirements.
The discovery phase plays a key role in determining the success of your software product. In order to set the stage for a positive outcome, you need to be open and honest with your software partner and make sure that any uncertainties are adequately addressed and resolved. Revealing sensitive information that may be crucial to your project also comes with a safeguard that a lot of development companies now offer – a non-disclosure agreement (NDA).
While we agree that the extent to which both parties communicate is highly context-dependent, we have generally observed that the client finds themselves in a better position when they actively participate in meetings and discussions right from the start.
5. Too Much or Too Little Supervision
While we are on the topic of communication, we must touch upon some other crucial aspects of working with a dedicated team: collaboration, supervision, and feedback. These days, the burgeoning outsourcing culture has led software development companies to offer multiple types of engagement models to their clients. Some of these models enable clients to closely supervise each team member, while others allow them to delegate the leadership role to a designated team member (usually the project manager). While the client is free to choose the software development team structure and a management model for it as they see fit, we have seen projects suffer when managed with too little or too much intervention from their owners.
Here are certain bad management practices that you must avoid if you want your project to be perfectly executed:
- Not establishing proper communication channels before development begins
- Not listening to the development team’s needs
- Not providing feedback when asked of you
- Waiting until the end of the development process to provide feedback regarding any major changes
- Enforcing rushed deadlines without consulting the team instead of deciding on practical milestones and realistic delivery dates
- Keeping too close an eye on the team’s activities (to the point of micromanaging!) despite not possessing technical knowledge yourself
- Not treating each member of your team as an individual and failing to understand their unique work styles and patterns
- Not being involved enough throughout the process, giving the team too much freedom and no supervision, and losing control of your project
When you hire a development team, you will come across all kinds of people. Some of them may need your feedback more than others. Some team members may not want to be nagged about insignificant issues. You need to experiment a little and figure out which engagement model would work best for both you and your chosen team.
Closing Note: Finding the Right Software Provider
The process of searching for a suitable software partner requires time and effort. However, it can be broken down into six simple phases. Let us go over the process step by step.
- Comprehensively define your requirements, project scope, and budget.
- Browse the internet for potential candidates. It will help to consult trusted review platforms and online business directories.
- Shortlist top companies you could consider by going over their ratings, reviews, experience, portfolio, and skillset.
- Get in touch with the shortlisted software development companies via suitable communication channels and set up meetings with the right people, such as the CEO, CTO, business development manager, account manager, and project manager.
- Compare and contrast your top choices. Discuss budgets, timelines, and goals.
- Choose a provider that meets all your requirements most closely.
Then starts the actual software development process, the first step to which is discussing the project requirements in detail and deciding on your software development team structure.
The mistakes we have shed light upon in this article can cost you greatly if not taken seriously. Picking the wrong team or not knowing how to manage it can incur irrecoverable losses to your business, especially if you are just starting out. Sometimes, these problems can make the situation so complicated for both the client and the software company that either party might be forced to call off the engagement, in which case you will have to start looking for a different provider. Keeping these pointers in mind will ensure that your project sets off with maximal chances of success. They will not only help you invest your financial resources into a team that is worthwhile but will also allow you to stay on schedule and avoid any uncalled-for delays.