Making an Outsourcing Implementation Plan

You’ve done your due diligence, found your “perfect partner,” and finalized the contract. While you’re nearing the end of the vendor selection journey, you’ll need to lock down an official outsourcing implementation plan to ensure a smooth hand-off and set the stage for lasting success.

Developing a detailed plan allows you to outline what you hope to achieve with this arrangement and how you plan to support that goal. And while it may sound like a lot of extra work, this step is crucial when it comes to setting the stage for a long, happy, and mutually beneficial relationship with your new provider.

In this article, we’ll lay out an implementation framework for successfully outsourcing software development.

Determine How You’ll Handle Vendor Relationships

Just because you’ve outsourced a project or process doesn’t mean that you’re off the hook post-handoff—in fact, it’s just the opposite.

According to Tiempo Sales Engineer, Denisse Vega, maintaining a close relationship with your outsourcing partner is key to ensuring that your partner delivers the desired outcome. Long-term, your approach to vendor (or partner, rather) management will help ensure that this engagement continues to add meaningful business value.

While you’re probably already aware of the importance of maintaining positive relationships with vendors, you might not realize that it takes some strategic planning to get it right.

Before the project kicks off, get the following elements in order:

  • Set expectations, goals, and priorities for each of the steps involved in outsourcing
  • Come up with a comprehensive plan for supporting the new team and integrating them into your company culture and processes.
  • If you’re working with multiple vendors or a project is large in size and scope, you might designate an internal project manager, or even a dedicated team, to work with outsourced developers full-time.

Ultimately, your best chances at success come from treating this relationship like a partnership, not a transaction.

Start Working Out the Logistics for Knowledge Transfer

According to The Agile Research Network, one of the most common ways that teams share knowledge among colleagues is through informal discussions.

In an in-person setting, that dynamic works well with Agile’s fast-paced, collaborative process, though the problem is, there’s no official record that documents the best practices that develop organically between colleagues.

What happens is, those best practices may not get passed on to new hires–at least not in a consistent way. And over time, knowledge may eventually get lost as workers move on to other projects or opportunities.

Internally, have your team should:

  • Document solutions, changes, and “hacks” in a centralized location
  • Incorporate stakeholders outside of the development team into the knowledge-sharing process to eliminate data silos and stay aligned around the same set of goals
  • Back up relevant information. Consider tools that automatically record changes in the process so that teams can keep using the informal processes that work for them, without keeping new members in the dark

When outsourcing to a third-party provider, informal knowledge sharing can be an even bigger problem. It can contribute to a lack of clarity around project requirements and best practices.

At least when it happens internally, on-site staff can work together to bring new team members up to speed.

Tiempo’s Director of Software Delivery, Angel Almada, recommends that organizations create a systemic vision of the product they’re developing and include:

  • Developing a deep understanding of market trends and the industry they serve
  • Implementing Agile at scale
  • Prioritizing the features with the highest impact and fastest time-to-market
  • Making sure they have the proper tech stack to develop the product
  • Establishing best practices, such as coding standards, naming conventions, branching strategy, a go-live process, support, and so on

He also emphasizes the importance of generating robust domain knowledge on all team members actively working on the product. It not only creates a sense of awareness and ownership among the development team but also allows everyone involved to oversee and iterate over outcomes.

Once you’ve determined that those key components are in place, start putting together the following:

  • Project specifications—Lay out project specs, technologies used, code documentation, etc. Be detailed. Paint a clear picture of what you hope to achieve. Think in terms of outcomes/value creation vs. specific tools—your new team might have a better/faster/more cost-effective approach for hitting key goals than what you initially had in mind.
  • Guidelines—How do you plan on handling testing, deployments, communication cadences? How will you gather and implement feedback?
  • Assets—Make sure any assets connected to the project are organized, easy to find, and meet your new outsourcing provider’s requirements (if they have any). If you’re using a digital asset management platform, you may (depending on the solution) be able to set up a dedicated portal or collection for all relevant resources. Remember that solutions with customizable rules allow you to alert teams whenever there’s been an update to the framework or new information available.
  • Credentials—Your new development team will need access to the communication and collaboration tools, content repository, project management apps, and anything else that can help them effectively perform their work. Here, identify all of the tools and services your internal teams use and, from there, define roles and access permissions for your outsourced team based on those needs.

    Avoid granting workers—in-house and outsourced alike—full access to the entire system as it opens the door to security risks and makes it harder to find and secure breaches when they happen.

Start Planning the Transition — Together

Whereas the previous steps were all about preparing your own organization for the transition, at this stage, the process becomes a joint effort between the vendor and your internal stakeholders.

Here, your goal is to figure out how to outsource each component of the project.
Then from there, implement a transition plan that benefits both client and outsourcing provider. You might start the process by bringing the provider up to speed on what you’ve come up with thus far.

That way, providers can look at your knowledge transfer plan, proposed tech stack, and the relationship dynamic per the initial plan and provide feedback about where things can be improved.

This is an important step. It allows your outsourcing partner to identify gaps in the plan from a developer’s perspective and provide detailed recommendations for what your new team will need in order to be successful—before they report for their first day of work.

Ending the Vendor Relationship

Finally, sometimes things just don’t work out, regardless of how thorough your initial due diligence efforts were.

An organization might choose to end a contract for any number of reasons. Reasons range from quality issues, an inability to scale as the business grows, a global pandemic, and beyond.

For example, many organizations were forced to cut costs during and post COVID, and one way to do that is reducing vendor contracts.

From a business perspective, preparing for the “end stages” of a vendor relationship is just as valuable as any other aspect of the outsourcing implementation plan. Come up with an exit strategy for a wide range of scenarios.

While you can’t predict natural disasters or global health crises, you can come up with a plan for dealing with sudden changes in budget, responding to new market demands, or terminating a contract due to a problem with the product/service.

An exit plan determines what steps you will take when a service provider fails to meet expectations, or worse, has an adverse impact on business performance or reputation. An exit strategy also provides a series of next steps to help you figure out how to outsource projects to another vendor and seamlessly navigate the transition without disrupting your business.

Successfully Outsource Software Development with the Right Partner

While developing an outsourcing implementation plan may seem like a lot of work, investing the time and resources into planning a smooth transition is well worth the effort. By providing a detailed outline of the software outsourcing process, both parties have a flexible framework for building a lasting relationship and alignment around the same core objectives.

Tiempo Development designs, builds, and deploys software solutions designed to move the needle toward achieving high-level business goals for our partners. Contact an expert today to learn what we can do to ensure a smooth software outsourcing process that sets the stage for a valuable, long-term collaboration.