The Top 3 Mistakes That You Might Make Outsourcing Custom Software
Businesses may need customized software for a number of different reasons, and it often makes a lot of senses to outsource the programming. This is particularly true for companies that are non-technical in nature and just need one program that can help their business run more smoothly. While it is definitely possible to have a great experience outsourcing custom software, there are a number of common mistakes that people make that need to be avoided in order to get a positive outcome.
The oDesk and a Prayer Approach
Many people believe that they can hire basically any programmer from one of the multitudes of freelance jobs sites online, set a schedule for completion and receive a quality piece of software when it is supposed to be done. Unfortunately, this is often not what happens in practice. When choosing a company or individual programmer to write custom software, people need to perform some due diligence to make sure that they can do what they say they are able to.
In addition, individuals should ask for both a portfolio of previous work and references from former clients. It is very important to actually check references as their experience will be able to give people a great idea of exactly what they can expect. Portfolios are also very useful, and this is particularly true if the person evaluating them has even a bit of technical knowledge.
Receiving Bad Code
Just because a piece of software seems to work fine when it is received does not mean that it is not full of bugs. This could be a huge issue in the future if the software needs to be updated or when it is used in specific ways. The best way to combat this is to get an external code review from an independent professional. These individuals will be able to look at the code and tell if it is written properly. They can also pinpoint things that are not done correctly and give advice on how to fix them. In fact, it is generally a good idea to have it written into the contract that the software will not be accepted until it has passed an independent code review.
Not Getting the Project Finished
One very big issue with outsourcing software is not getting the project finished. In fact, this happens quite frequently when companies hire people from freelance job sites. Inexperienced programmers will say that they are able to complete a job and then disappear when things get too complicated for them and they end up in over their heads. It is an even bigger problem when programmers are being paid by the hour as companies are essentially stuck with a partially completed project that they have already paid for that may not have even been done well.
One way to get around this is to pay programmers using milestones with a large payout upon project completion, and this can help in several different ways. First, it will scare off anyone who is not sure whether or not they will be able to successfully complete the project. In addition, it can help in keeping the project going if the initial programmer fails to complete it as companies will have coherent sections of the code that another programmer can use to finish everything.
With this, the milestone approach is in many ways similar to building a house by paying the contractor based on what they have accomplished. If the contractor stops working or proves themselves to be inadequate for the job after finishing the basement, it is always possible to pay them for what they have done and hire another contractor to pick up where they left off and finish the job properly.