Our tips for effective cooperation on outsourcing software development

Written by: Jacob Dunn with Tomasz Liberski, Service Delivery Director at Espeo Software

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Outsourcing Software development helps companies decrease costs and get to market faster, so it’s no wonder companies of all sizes take advantage of this model. According to a 2019 report by Computer Economics, software outsourcing services are on the rise. Large organizations have increased the percentage of their IT budgets spent on outsourcing from 6.3% to 8.7% in 2018. Medium-sized companies raised their budgets from 4.7% to 6.5%.*

Our clients identify benefits such as cost-effectiveness and flexibility as the most significant factors that led them to transition to a remote software development model. It has removed the challenges and delays traditionally associated with in-house development.

In our work, we focus on four main goals for effective cooperation with clients:

  • Increase the level of quality
  • Lower the cost of delivery
  • Improve user experience
  • Grow revenue

Tomasz Liberski, Espeo’s Service Delivery Director, explains our strong focus on four core values mentioned above which generate mutual understanding and customer satisfaction.

“We want to be for our clients’ digital partner. We structure our work in the way that we become part of our client’s internal team — not only in terms of communication but what’s more important in terms of understanding the strategic goals. Our work fits in more general company’s business development plan. Focus on four key values helps us be in line with our client’s business growth strategy. This way we build partnerships for years not months.”

Remote cooperation with clients in software development outsourcing?

Remote work in the software development outsourcing model requires good planning and communication setup. In our experience, the project start stage is crucial to understand basic client needs, meet key business goals, and prioritize our tasks. Here is some more detailed information on how we organize the project start phase to meet all client’s expectations and build a solid ground for future cooperation.

So how should you organize work with a client who can’t meet face-to-face? First of all, we have to be flexible. Our approach is to bridge the gap of remoteness in software development outsourcing. Liberski explains:

“We adjust the time of our status meetings to the time convenient for our client. Clients are well-informed on the progress of our work and can follow each important aspect of the process. We involve clients in each significant decision to get their full understanding before next steps. Flexibility also means that during the most vital points in the project like  the kickoff, the workshops, and then the milestones.”

Video calls

In normal non-COVID years, we take the whole team to meet with the client and take part in workshops. However, 2020 has forced everyone to adapt to more remote work. Modern technology allows us to use another efficient way of communicating, but it can also lead to breakdowns in communication. We can talk with them online through one of several available mediums, which allows us long and effective discussions using video. At Espeo, we emphasize professionalism and good relationships with clients, so we always make sure to have good quality video and audio calls. Stable connections and well-lit meeting spaces go a long way to improving communication with clients. Why do we prefer video to audio calls?

“I think video is important,” said Liberski. “We try to make sure that all the clients are able to communicate with us this way. It’s more engaging when you can see the person’s reactions or when you can see the facial expression when the person delivers the communication. I think that it’s easier to maintain focus during those calls with video. This is something that we stress as very important to us.”

video conference

Online Communicators

Because we engage with the client as a team working in iterations we need good-quality communication with the client.  To guarantee effective collaboration, we choose market-proven tools. We use tools such as Slack which enables instant messaging and makes our everyday communication easier. These apps usually have a lot of useful features, such as creating channels based on particular projects, which also help us communicate better and more effectively. Slack is our first choice of communication tools as it naturally connects our team with our client’s team. It creates a  shared channel between our and our client workspaces — the way that neither we nor the client needs to switch owned workspaces in order to communicate with each other. A shared channel is visible and available from both workspaces.

“We can engage in a conversation, attach files or even link the code from the repository or the comments and have an instant conversation in the team on these specific fora,” said Liberski. Using these tools is a better and faster solution than sending email hoping that the client actually interprets it in the right way and quickly gives the response. We’re betting on collaboration in terms of working closely with a client in one team with an aligned goal,” he added.

Working with people abroad

We work for clients all over the world so with 10+ years of experience we’ve learned how to run communication in different time zones. Time differences are not an issue for us. We simply agree on a time that’s convenient for both of us. This means we work for our US clients during the evening hours we agree on. Tomasz finds it crucial in long-term cooperation that we all agree on a fixed hour for our daily meetings. “We always try to fit into our client’s schedule and pick the most convenient communication method, he said.”

Remote but agile

At Espeo we’re focused on providing software development outsourcing with remote development teams, and we wouldn’t choose any other method than agile development to run our projects.

“In short, transparency, increased efficiency and the financial gain for both us and the customer are reasons enough to maintain and develop our agility,” said Liberski.

Naturally, agile does not answer all the questions, nor is the remedy to all problems – but we encourage our customers to adopt agile methods. In our view, these are the most beneficial ones in terms of business value, transparency, and productivity.

In our agile project model, a product owner’s role is usually placed on the client’s side. Daily scrums are optional for the client. That goes back to scrum methodology were the daily team meetings (scrums) are really for the team. The product owner can participate but shouldn’t really interfere. That’s tied with the goal of the two-week segments, called sprints. Ideally, goals should not change until the next sprint.

Espeo client’s feedback

Our clients appreciate our way of communicating, our flexibility, and our professionalism. “We focus on communication that’s related to the product, but at the same time, we maintain a very good relationship with the client by keeping in touch all contact people such as the project managers and developers with product owners on client’s site.  This way we keep a bit of a personal touch but still maintain  the structure of communication strongly focused on certain aspects at the right time.”

“We learn from our projects, we learn from the past and constantly adapt so all future projects benefit from our constant improvement,” said Liberski.

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