A Client's Story Of Outsourcing Misfortune

July 29

Outsourcing Pitfalls


Sad but true: software outsourcing is often associated with constant problems. But if we take a closer look, the most frequent of these problems have little to do with outsourcing as such. Some problems emerge from the wish to find the cheapest pricing: like you go to a shop to buy the cheapest bag; it's no surprise that it gets worn in a month. Even worse if such a bag is offered to you as a thing of quality.

Here is a client's previous experience of turning to a wrong company.



''The experience of software outsourcing is never trouble-free. But if professionalism avoids, outweighs these troubles, then incompetence starts additional ones. It's an absolute truth that pursuing the cheapest offers, mixed with rich promises, is risky, and in most of the cases these risks end up in discontent, continuous problems, and overspending. Let me tell you about such an experience, a story of a collaboration (if I can say so) with a 'cheap' contractor.


Well, of course, it was not pursuing the cheapest offer possible. But it was cheap, and seemed good enough to try. When you have a limited budget, you always try to fit into it - sometimes you just can't have a second chance to get your project done. The first conversation with the representative of the company left a good impression. We gave a detailed and document-supported insight into the web-based application we needed - and we got... nothing good. Let's not delve into technical side of the work, but this ''collaboration'' lead us nowhere.


Many offshore companies love belting out cliche phrases about ''tailoring custom software'', ''providing quality in shortest time'', ''affordable costs'', ''wide range of services'', and other big talk. But sometimes, unfortunately, these ''affordable costs'' can grow as much as twice, because you'll have to find another, more expensive, but professional company to get things done. Then we thought we wouldn't have to, and our contractors were full of enthusiasm to start working.


After that, the work became hit-and-miss, and there were much more misses. We realized we had to keep an eye on the process all the time, and we started wondering whether we'll ever finish the project. Starting with design, it all went wrong. A lot of time was spent on creating mediocre design variants, none of them was acceptable. Not that we were picky - it just seemed that if some screens would've gone missing, they'd never notice it.


Another bad thing is when developers accept the project without knowing, whether they can implement it. Sadly, it was our case. Without any investigations, all the requirements and documentation were simply accepted. Later they had no choice but to drag the time, finding out how to implement the basic functionality - that wasn't the competence that they claimed to have. That was the bad waste of time we were paying for - the time that our inconsistent contractors spent on learning to code. Soon the cup of our patience ran over, we finally waved goodbye to this company. That was too much.


We were lucky to get another company to start the project from scratch. With a bitter aftertaste, we were waiting for problems to appear. There were some difficulties, when we decided to make minor design changes along the way, but there was nothing that we wouldn't settle down. This time everything was transparent, we received timely reports after each iteration, and had access to anything we required. We spent a lot of our time on detailing and approvals, so that we couldn't step into the same situation again.


There are some more things anyone should do to save time and money:

- Search through portfolio for the works that resemble your own project as close as possible. You may talk about these examples with a representative of the company, ask for case studies etc.

- The same with the listed clients - choose the closest projects and contact their owners to know their opinion on working with this company.

- If you want to send a test task, don't hesitate. The thing is, you're probable to be asked to pay for it. But it's not a loss of money - you'll get confidence.

- Already said - keep a watchful eye on the progress of the project, track time and study reports.

- Have experienced technical consultants nearby - then you'll much sooner know if anything is going wrong. That was one of our basic mistakes.


That's how, before we found a competent contractor, we had to get out of the pitfall. Luckily our project wasn't that big - otherwise this pitfall would have made it a complete failure.''



To conclude: this project had to be created nearly from scratch; the ready software product was eventually launched on the market.