I recently found a list of the 10 biggest lies concerning the start-up process of outsourcing software development projects. It was quite interesting reading and I could recognize several of the lies – or challenges, which I prefer to call them. The lies are connected to the challenges in the negotiations between a company and the outsourcing partner – but you will find the same challenges between your business and any of your partners.
I would like to tell you about the 5 most interesting lies and comment on the challenges.
1. ”We know exactly what we want”
When a business talks to its sourcing partner about a software development project, they often say “We know exactly what we want”. You might have the framework for the task and you know what the outcome should be – but in reality – the first specification for a project is rarely valid when the software has been fully developed, as the world and hereby also your business change, during the development phase. This “lie” – or modified truth – should be compared to lie #2 told by the sourcing partner.
2. “We understand exactly what you want”
Your sourcing partner is not a mind reader and does not know exactly what you want. Lie #1 and #2 are the main reasons for many outsourced development projects failing, or becoming more expensive than expected. If you are not clear in your communication and specification and the sourcing partner fails to ask the right questions – the software development project is doomed to fail, unless you manage to correct misunderstandings during the process. A close cooperation between the outsourcing company and the outsourced developers is of outmost importance. When a close dialogue exists, you can match expectations and ensure that the software development is going in the right direction, and you will end out with the product you want.
3. ”We have our best developers on your project”
When you sign the contract, it is not unusual that you get a list with an A-team, but in reality, it is a B-team developing the project. When you outsource a project, it can be difficult to identify which developers are working on it, unless you have direct contact with the developers in the process. In order to avoid this challenge, you can choose a dedicated model, where you help choose the developers you want working on your project. If you at the same time have an on-going dialogue with your team, you will never be in doubt of who is working on your project.
4. ”Of course we know where the data is”
If we all claim to know where all our company data is, we might lie a little. According to the law, you have to know the location of all your data, but it is probably very few people, who can actually demonstrate that. The situation is the same with data from outsourced software development projects. It is obvious that a company have to secure and manage all its data – also when you outsource. I have written a blog about important precautions in regard to secure your data when you outsource. You can read the blog here.
5. ”Our organisation is ready for outsourcing”
Just because you have decided to outsource, it does not mean that the rest of the organisation agrees with your decision. If some of your employees feel that the decision to outsource was foisted on them, you risk internal fear. This fear can turn into reluctance and your sourced team will have to work with uncooperative colleagues, and your project will most likely fail. In order to confront this fear, it is extremely important to inform your organisation of why you want to outsource and what it will mean to their daily work life. You will then have increased your chances of gaining cooperative employees, instead of them spoiling your outsourcing plans.
You can read about the 10 lies here. They are written for the outsourcing industry, but you can meet the lies every time you negotiate about development projects.