How to Manage an Outsourced Development Team

Did you know that the global capitalization of the outsourcing market in 2019 amounted to as much as 92.5 billion US dollars? We are confident that these numbers will grow even more this year: after all, many companies struggle to even have the opportunity to hire employees due to the COVID-19 pandemic. At the same time, managing the remote software development team is still a huge issue for some managers. Let’s talk about these hardships.

Outsource Isn’t Only About Cost Savings

Some business owners see outsourcing as a way of avoiding responsibility. Others see it as a way to reduce costs, improve service, and gain a competitive advantage.

Thus, many fans of outsourcing have ceased to consider it the main goal of reducing costs (after all, you can always hire super-budget developers from India or Bangladesh, right?). However, it is not always possible to achieve reasonable cost savings without putting the quality of the product or service at the risk.

That’s why outsourcing should be considered, first of all, for those who don’t want to be puzzled by staff motivation and retention, as well as the maintenance of jobs for employees.

In reality, outsourcing is not a way to delegate responsibilities to someone while getting the most out of their performance. So managers who take responsibility for handling outsourcing contracts, in addition to their direct responsibilities for coordinating employees, must periodically check the transparency of all quality parameters of the final solution and regulate the costs of its creation and support.

Let’s figure out how to manage a software development team most properly.

5 Pro Tips on Managing an Outsourced Devs Team

Let’s find out how to optimize all the processes of interaction between the client and the outsourced development team.

Use efficient interaction tools

First things first – pick the best tools for remote interaction. You will need a project management system if you want to keep everything in check. The most popular are Zoho Projects and Trello. Keep in mind that Zoho is free of charge for only one project. If you manage a small business, however, Trello may be a better choice for you.

Both Zoho and Trello interfaces are built based on kanban boards. To conveniently distribute tasks and notes, a board with cards that can be categorized by type is used.

Each of the boards can be dedicated to specific work processes or departments. Note that Trello’s free version has reduced functionality: the number of integrations and downloaded files is limited. Nevertheless, the default opportunities will be enough for teams of up to 50 people.

Lastly, both Trello and Zoho work not only in the browser. You can download the app for your smartphone or tablet and use the systems on the go.

As for the communication tool, we recommend using Slack. Here, you can always differentiate access rights by departments (“channels”), as well as share documents for work. In general, you get everything you need to conveniently manage a business at a distance.

Don’t forget about SLA

SLA is a full-fledged contract that contains all the documents on the project being created or the services provided, describes the deadlines, budget, and everything that forms clear requirements for cooperation. Therefore, when you find an outsourced development team and at the same time hesitate in choosing between several service providers, it is better to choose someone ready to discuss the details of the SLA from the get-go.

Note that a well-drafted SLA also contains a description of services in cases outside the scope of the agreement (that is, what the contractor’s team should do in situations that are not considered standard). Also, this document should describe all the procedures for managing the contract: how the outsourcer reports on the project, in what form, how often, who sets tasks on the client-side, etc.

Motivate employees properly

Many inexperienced managers try to introduce the outsourcing team to the standard approaches of collective motivation and cohesion: they arrange remote corporate parties, find out when whose birthday, etc.

In practice, cash incentives and a decent amount of the contract work initially work much better. Your contractors initially chose for themselves a closed format of work, in which contacts with customers are minimal so they won’t appreciate all the “motivational chatter’ that much.

Assign a general manager

Obviously, a person should be appointed from the client’s side to be responsible for the management function. Typically, this role is taken by the project manager. It is he/she who is responsible for the success of the outsourcing project.

In addition to this character, the client must also pre-form a group of experts on his side who will monitor the actions of the outsourcer. The same team regularly reviews contractual

compliance and service levels and monitors change based on these reviews. One or several people can act as a working group, it depends on the scope of work. Usually, this position is called “service manager”.

Leave enough space for self-organization

Along with the fact that you obviously need to constantly monitor the level of work performed on the side of contractors, it is better to do this as unobtrusively as possible. Time trackers and reporting tools can help you with this. Here are some of the most popular solutions, for different “taste and color”:

Bottom Line

As you can see, managing a team of outsourced specialists is not so difficult – the main thing is to understand the fundamental differences between the workflows of remote workers and staff members.

By the way, if you are interested in software development services and would like to hire and manage a remote development team able to organize its own workflows and needs only minimal customer feedback, contact us at Gravum! You will be pleasantly surprised how effective the activities of a self-organizing outsourced team of developers can be, and what high-quality results custom development brings!