#1: Under the Microscope: Clarifying Outsourcing Project Requirements

This is article #1 in our Outsourcing Success series.

Before your software project can be taken to an offshore team for development, you need to tell them how to develop it. A vague notion – e.g. a cool app to keep track of your daily expenses – is not enough. Please read on to save yourself a lot of time and money. Not to mention stress!

Going from idea to actionable plan

First, ask yourself what problem does this software product solve, and for whom? In the case of the daily expenses app, it’s easy to say, “People like me, who want to keep an eye on their budget”. Well, yes, but can you be more specific?

Have you thought about mothers controlling household spends or students keeping an eye on their beer tokens? Are these people “like you”? Develop a solid avatar (profile) of your ideal product users and you’ll be able to work out if they’ll buy in sufficient quantities that they’ll give you a good return on investment. Then you can start working out how they’ll use it (and you will use this avatar to develop marketing materials later!).

Platform and access

Will they be using a Mac, PC, phone to access your software product? Will it be purely online or will they have to download a desktop client? Or install an app? How will they purchase it – by paying a one-time fee, on a subscription basis, or perhaps a free download with in-app purchases?

How will the user interface with your product? What screens will they see and in what order? Are they touchscreens? Is security required for making purchases? Do they enter personal info that needs protection? Will the product subject to regulation, or be required to meet specific compliance levels, such as PCI DSS or HIPAA?

Even after all these questions, you’ll still need to know what programming languages and software are needed to make this vision a reality. If you don’t know, ask someone! You might decide to use Open Source Software to save money, only to find out it doesn’t have all the features a developer would need. Get an expert to take a look.

Budgeting

Here’s a quick list to start you thinking about what you might need to budget for, not including your outsourcing team:

  • Accountants, lawyers, administrators
  • In-house developers and managers
  • Marketing and sales people, websites and promotional media, advertising costs
  • In-house computer equipment, printers, broadband connections, software
  • Coffee, business clothing, travel for meetings
  • Workspace rent and utilities
  • Any in-house employees pension contributions, taxes and payroll work
  • Bank charges, loan interest, your own tax liabilities
  • Don’t forget to pay yourself!

This is not an exhaustive list, but it should help you to verify if the expected ROI (Return On Investment) makes the project a viable one.

Remember, it can ultimately be cheaper to hire specialists than try to do everything yourself – unless you think your time is worth nothing!

People on your side of the pond

Unless it’s a very small project and you are working completely solo, you will need someone to help you manage your outsourced team. They should be familiar with the process and technical enough to understand the issues that might crop up. And they should represent you, your business, and your vision.

With my years of experience running and managing offshore teams, I can help you both with project requirements and management. Click here to get in touch!



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