Outsourcing FAQ

A list of Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) and their answers from our team.

What is outsourcing?

Outsourcing was historically used to describe the process when an entire department from a company was sub-contracted to another business in another country, often associated with call centres. However the term is now more generally used to cover sub-contracting of project based work or team extension. It covers all variants of sub-contracting which have more specialised terms: onshoring, offshoring, nearshore, staff augmentation and dedicated teams.

What is nearshoring?

Nearshoring describes sub-contracting work to another business that is in another country and that is not a significant distance and hence is in the same or very similar time-zone. This usually has the benefits of accessing a skilled workforce at a reduced cost, that is easy to communicate with as there is no issue due to time difference. It is also possible for a client to visit the supplier and return to their home country within a day.

What is offshoring?

Offshoring describes sub-contracting work to another business that is in another country and a significant distance and hence time-zone away. This usually has the benefits of accessing a skilled workforce at a much lower cost, but has issues with communication primarily due to differences in time-zone and culture.

What is freelancing?

Freelancing is an individual person (operating as self employed) performs a task for another party. Typically a business may employ freelancers to do a small piece of work, and often they are used remotely. The internet offers several websites to make the engagement of individual freelancers easy. Although this is a low cost and easy way to engage someone for a specific task, it is often a short term gig-style activity, and as they operate as an individual it requires management from the client and is harder to scale.

What is a contractor?

This term is often used to describe an onshore contractor eg software developer that is engaged on one or multiple projects for a reasonable period. Similar to freelancing in that the person is often self employed, they typically work on-site at the clients office.

Where can I find a list of suitable suppliers to outsource development and IT work?

You can search for a supplier using an internet search engine (google or bing) however this may take significant time and effort and is harder to search for specific criteria. A generic business directory will provide lists of businesses however a specialised business directory (susch as outsource.dev) will provide a directory of suitable suppliers. These are also categorised into typical groups that make searching easier and provide more information relevant to the potential tasks.

What is staff augmentation?

Staff augmentation is providing additional heads for the client from one person to entire teams, often specialised skills and for a specific period of time. Similar to a freelancer or onshore contractor, however the staff are provided by a reputable company who handle the recruitment and management.

What is a dedicated team?

This is when the outsourced supplier provides one or more teams on a medium to long term engagement. The staff provide extra head count for the client in a specific area and are under the direction of the client. Rather than a finite time to complete a project these engagements last longer and the work will change during the period. Examples could include having a support team for a year to assist with a new product launch.

Should I outsource my software development?

Common reasons for outsourcing include: - Not having enough in-house staff to do a project within the required timeline - Difficulty of recruiting skilled staff locally - The project requires specialist skills for a new technology of industry sector - Cost saving are required in the long term There are risks associated with outsourcing but planning ahead and researching the topic can mitigate these.

Can I outsource software support?

Yes you can outsource 1st line support which handles the phone calls and helpdesk email and tickets. Outsourcing of 2nd line technical support is also possible, and this can include a dedicated team or shared resource or an agreement for a number of tickets or price per ticket.

How can i assess the quality of a potential outsource supplier?

You can assess the potential quality of an outsourced supplier by: - checking what standards and certifications the business has e.g. ISO9001 quality - reading case studies and testimonals the supplier can provide - checking ratings and reviews on a directory website - contacting a client and asking for a chat to get a reference for the supplier

How can i ensure quality of deliverables from a supplier?

As with any project it is key to define what you expect in terms of quality from a supplier. Capture this in project documentation, including any contracts. Also ensure that a process and standard is defined up-front and both parties are clear on that. Ask the supplier to report on quality using your metrics on a regular basis. Such as: - bugs per release - bugs per line of code - meeting a code quality gate as verified by a 3rd party tool eg sonarcloud - checking a deliverable meets a provable level of security by passing a website scan using a specific tool

What type of work can be outsourced?

All sorts including - desktop software development, website development, mobile application development, server solutions, API gateways - specialised software for bitcoin, cryptocurrency, augmented reality, virtual reality, business intelligence, big-data, data insights, embedded code, IoT internet of things, artificial intelligence, machine learning