IT outsourcing is a common practice. This fact, however, does not mean that entering into cooperation with external vendors and maintaining it is an easy thing to do. In both managerial and psychological terms, such mutual adaptation might face hurdles. One should not overestimate them. Normally, they are not that serious. At the same time, some common problems do exist. As a seasoned team, we would like to share a couple of hints on resolving them from the very outset, quickly and expediently.
Measure 1. Schematize your workflow in its current and future forms
This stage might come as a surprise, but believe us, it is a reasonable measure. After numerous accomplished projects, we know one thing for sure: many organizations have no clear picture of how they function in practice.
As a result, as long as you do not know every detail of your in-house activities, you cannot expect your integration with an external vendor to be seamless. The best thing to do in this respect is to visualize your current workflow in a precise and lucid chart. After that, one should draw a similar chart covering the future workflow you expect from your vendor. Finally, these two charts are to be thoroughly discussed with your outsourcing partner of choice.
Measure 2. Assign clear roles and the outsourcing model you apply
Every member of your team needs to know who is responsible for cooperation on your side. They also need to know which IT outsourcing model you are going to apply.
- If you need staff augmentation (i.e. when you intend to ‘borrow’ a couple of employees to support your core group), make sure such ‘temporary adopted’ colleagues get acquainted with every in-house employee they are going to contact. This option presupposes that you are responsible for the outcome of the project, decision-making, and goal setting. Do not expect managerial insights and strategic innovations from augmented staff. Normally, under these circumstances, they are just developers.
- If your choice is a dedicated team, clearly communicate your expectations and the fact that you and your vendor, from now on, share a common responsibility for the eventual outcomes.
- Finally, if you are going to employ a project-based model (by the way, this is how we normally operate), with a fixed budget and time frame, do your best to integrate your external project manager properly.
Measure 3. Define your communication channel
Make your ultimate choice and make sure everyone uses the very channels you define. You may opt for whatever you want: be it Trello, Jira, Confluence, Skype, Slack, Telegram, WhatsApp, emails, etc.
What matters in this respect is that every person involved should stick to this choice.
There is nothing worse than unsynchronized communication via different channels. If you allow such flawed and chaotic communication to take place across different channels, you will regret this for sure.
One needs to make sure that every message is:
- Properly archived and stored
- Easily and instantly accessible
- Structured by workflow
It might also be a good idea not to encourage private chats and groups. You’d better rely on ‘official’ channels without separated ‘pockets’ of informal communication.
Measure 4. Pay attention to this checklist of collaboration routine
While negotiating your project and deadlines, do not ignore these minor issues that can generate a lot of problems in the future.
Agree on the preferable working hours and hours of attendance
Schedule sprint-based regular meetings in advance
Clearly define the language of your communication (in case you may offer a language other than English by default)
Outline all the possible KPIs and reporting requirements as strictly as possible
Measure 5. Talk to your in-house team and explain why you outsource and the benefits are
Positive mindset, openness, and collaborative attitudes are the main prerequisites for a successful IT outsourcing project. There should be no room for mutual suspicion, professional jealousy, and internal resistance. That is why it should be your priority to explain to your in-house team why you outsource the development process.
Among other things, the perfect points to cover are as follows:
- Hiring an external vendor carries no threat to you. They are here to help you, not to replace you
- With the new vendor, we will be capable of winning more. Everyone will benefit from this partnership, including you. Here is what we are going to do together
- Simultaneously, inform your vendor that you expect respect for your in-house colleagues, their lack of expertise in some areas notwithstanding.