Is agile development effective when outsourcing software development?

August 25, 2021

iauro Team

Contributing immensely to the global software solutions ecosystem. DevOps | Microservices | Microfrontend | DesignThinking LinkedIn
As technology continues to advance by leaps and bounds, speed and flexibility have become vital when it comes to delivering customer results. Traditional project management strategies like the waterfall method, while extremely precise and disciplined, do not support adaptability and do not encourage feedback. But with an Agile development strategy, organizations across a variety of industries have succeeded in revolutionizing the way they manage their projects.
Software companies have particularly benefited from Agile. However, along with the growing popularity of agile software development, there is another trend that is catching up quickly and for good reason – software outsourcing.

What happens when agile development meets software outsourcing?

Companies have realized the benefits of outsourcing their processes to third-party service providers. When companies outsource software or product development, they get more benefits than one. Lower long-term costs, better accuracy and efficiency, and improved competitive advantage are just a few of them.

It may seem that these two practices are completely different from each other and do not have any overlapping concepts. But let’s take a step back and dive a little deeper into what is at the heart of agile development. Agile focuses on customer satisfaction and strives to achieve this goal through the timely and continuous delivery of software or solutions.

Typically, practices such as Scrum, DevOps, Crystal, and Extreme Programming are used to implement Agile techniques. And while there can be many ways, the main principle focuses on flexibility, rather than a strict, thoughtful plan. For this, it is important to have a dedicated cross-functional team that takes care of the project.
When companies are outsourced, it can be challenging to continue to follow agile. Several factors contribute to this problem. In the next section, we discussed the challenges that can arise when companies tend to outsource software development while striving to pursue an agile development strategy.
Despite these challenges, it is not impossible to provide agile development when outsourcing software development. As we’ll see here, there are several ways to get around these obstacles.

Agile implementation in tandem with outsourcing: problems and solutions

Until recently, many experts believed that outsourcing was only possible using waterfall-based project management techniques. However, the growing popularity of Agile has raised the question: Will agile development work if you outsource software development? Some say yes and some disagree.

What is preventing you from adopting an Agile method when you outsource product or software development, and how to deal with it? Let’s look at it in order.

Challenge 1: Lack of Previous Agile Experience

Most IT outsourcing companies that provide outsourcing services are built on a structure that follows a rigid set of principles that takes them from one stage to the next. This setup is essentially a waterfall system. One of the main challenges you will face when you want to be Agile, even if you outsource software development, is finding a partner who can support your processes.

Solution: Find a flexible service provider

Necessity is said to be the mother of ingenuity. Indeed, as demand for agile IT outsourcing grows, several service providers are adopting this technique. To continue being Agile, it would be logical to start by finding a third-party service provider who understands the mechanics of Agile. But don’t stop there. Before partnering with them, make sure they have relevant experience in the field

Challenge 2: ineffective communication

The agile process relies heavily on open and ongoing communication. Unfortunately, when you outsource your requirements to a contractor, your communication process becomes a little more complicated. In addition, since the Agile method encourages face-to-face communication, it can be difficult to keep personal communication channels open.

Solution: Actively encourage communication

There is no shortcut to solving this problem. The most effective way to overcome communication disruptions with your third-party service provider is to actively strive to keep communication channels open and functional. Email is one of the most effective ways to solve this problem. In addition, you can supplement it with other forms of communication, such as video conferencing. And most importantly, arrange a few team visits each year so the offshore development team can better interact with your email.

Challenge 3: Lack of a command structure

Agile methodology places great emphasis on teamwork. Cross-functional teams that work together to deliver results to the end customer are critical to the success of agile development. However, many companies tend to outsource their software development processes to individual professionals. This can interfere with the Agile method, because an individual, regardless of their qualifications, cannot work in the same collaboration as in a team.

Solution: Focus on teams, not individuals

Having one qualified specialist may not be the best reason for choosing a particular team. This is because if the team as a whole cannot meet the requirements of your project, the Agile method will fail. So, before you sign a deal with a third-party service provider, evaluate their teams and see how well they fit into the Agile framework. Focusing on teams rather than individuals can help you build a network that keeps you flexible.

Challenge 4: stiffness versus flexibility

No discussion of outsourcing while following an Agile methodology is complete without mentioning the flexibility required for Agile methods. On the other hand, most outsourcing service providers follow a rigid process that is pretty much set in stone. How, then, can you balance process outsourcing and staying agile? The answer is simple – shift the focus.

Solution: Restructure your contracts to be flexible

Your contract with your service provider forms the outsourcing basis. Naturally, it follows that if you want to redo the way things are done, you need to rethink the way you write the contract. Place more emphasis on flexibility in certain aspects. Be open to the idea that your processes may change as the project progresses, as will your ideas, expectations, and requirements. Freeing up space for these variables can help you stay agile, even if your project is run by a third-party service provider.

Ultimately, it all comes down to finding a partner who not only understands Agile methods but also has the DNA to do so. At iauro, Agile is culture and the natural way of doing things.

We strive to provide you with the results you want and maximize the value of your processes without deviating from the Agile method. With a strong emphasis on open communication, flexibility, and effective teamwork, our project management methods allow you to remain flexible even when outsourcing software development.

Be a lifelong learner

Developing a perfect solution isn’t the path towards sustainable innovation. Monitoring your actions continuously and learning from them is what matters.


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