Outsourced Product Development has been quite the rage for a while with more cost and quality conscious ISVs, start-ups and enterprises all over the world turning towards an offshore team. Though businesses have been outsourcing work for decades, the term caught on only in the 90’s with the internet connecting people with each other and there onwards outsourcing came into the main-stream and now has become an integral part of the global technology. For the uninitiated, OPD is defined as a practice in which a third-party provider is hired by the organization for the development of products and services in a variety of fields and even for idea generation. When compared to hiring an in-house team, OPD is far more cost-effective, time-saving and provides access to skilled experts. In this fast-paced world people are trying to get their work done faster and easier and they also expect the completed work to be of top-notch quality. In the case of product development, this could be achieved through hiring an extended team of skilled digital experts. This team of digital experts could prove to be a game-changer in the whole process of product development.
A Dedicated Team of Digital Experts: The Piece De Resistance of OPD
More organizations are coming to terms with the fact that a dedicated team of digital experts plays a pivotal role in accelerating the product development process. The sole purpose of the team being to roll out a high-quality product, the end result is achieved faster and without much hassle. Hiring a team of skilled digital experts will provide one with the time to focus on other aspects of business and core strategies. Rather than having an in-house team, outsourcing a team of experts is a better option as it comes with the flexibility of not having to define the scope of work and also provides the option of extending the team as required. As stated before they are cost-effective yet provide high-quality outputs for a long-term.
Why should I Hire a Team of Dedicated Digital Experts?
The pros of hiring an extended team of digital experts are umpteen and are one of the reasons why companies prefer it over having an in-house team. Some of the key advantages are as follows:
- Access to Skilled Talent: The team that is being hired for the project are equipped to meet all the demands of the clients and are highly knowledgeable and skilled. The client has immediate access to the specific skill set that they require and can be assured that the team would be reliable. The digital experts are exclusively trained to offer creative solutions and mitigate risks with their experience.
- Cost-Effective: The only expense that is incurred is while hiring the team of digital experts. Otherwise, one could cut down on the costs that are involved in hiring an in-house team, onboarding and training them. There would also be a reduction in the annual operating and infrastructure cost and also the monthly billing cycle is a very transparent process.
- Faster Product Rollouts: With everyone trying to stay ahead of the game, it is vital to be agile in the business. Outsourcing a team results in quicker completion of projects that meet all the requirements of the client. The team relies on a focused approach that results in increased productivity at nearly zero downtime.
- Increased Focus on Business: Entrusting the process of development to an extended team provides the client with more time. This time could be utilized in focusing on the other important aspects of the business such as operations, promotions and the like. Undivided attention could be given in marketing the product which is as important as rolling out one into the market.
- Scalability and Flexibility: The extended team could be scaled up and down with regard to the client’s requirements. Also, the client could choose the candidates that they feel are apt for the project. Moreover, the client has control over the workflow and can make changes whenever necessary. Depending on each project, the client requirement changes and thus they can choose the candidates with the preferred skillset.
How to Set up a Dedicated Team of Digital Experts?
Once it has been decided to outsource a team, there are certain factors that the client has to consider. As the saying goes “People respond well to those that are sure of what they want.” The client should have a very clear idea of their requirements and the skills that they want to onboard. Also, it is important to do a complete analysis and decide if the team is equipped to meet the project requirements. Investing some time on choosing the right team is important as choosing a team in haste could result in a failed project. As they could be working with you on a long basis communicate properly about the project, the company, and the future goals. After onboarding a reliable team, keep yourself updated with the process and make changes on the go.
In the case of the team, they should also have a clear understanding of the client’s requirements from them. Domain experts should communicate with the client and understand the product roadmap and business case. We follow a proven TEA Engagement Model to enable the setting up of a successful and dedicated team of digital experts. The engagement model consists of three phases as follows:
Transition Phase: During this phase one tries to align expectations and establish a collaboration model. It is during this phase that the team tries to gather the scope of the project and indulges in ‘knowledge transfer’ for application development and enhancement. The communication structure and delivery process are set up. This phase involves the understanding of architecture, code reviews and transfer of the required documents to the offshore team and the setting up of the offshore team.
Execution Phase: This phase involves the establishment of a steady-state process set up. Also, the team is either retained or scaled up and down as required to bring it into the delivery mode. The operating model is evaluated and modified as required and the collaboration model is fine tuned. The team also gains in-depth knowledge and understanding of application for enhancements. This phase involves coding, deliverable, and ramping-up to absorb the increased volume of work.
Accelerate Phase: Continuous process improvements take place in this phase and checkpoints are reviewed in the delivery process. The roles and responsibilities of the retained personnel are reorganized and redefined. This phase also involves monitoring and performance reporting and focuses on continuous feedback and suggestions on technology improvements.
The TEA Engagement model compiled with our industry knowledge and experience in building similar solutions helps us to quickly provide support to our client.
Real-world Application of OPD
Our client was a leading identity document validation solutions provider in the UK who were following the traditional way of software development which was resulting in slow-paced development and go to market release. However, they were facing attrition in their development team and were facing challenges while trying to onboard new hires to their team. Though they had prior experience in working with local partners in the UK, they had never worked with an offshore team before. Initially, they were hesitant to completely outsource as they were apprehensive of how they could communicate with a team based out of a different location and how the new team would quickly adapt to their business operations. Thus, we decided to start by assigning one developer who helped them on their backend development and gradually took complete responsibility for the development. On the way, we expanded the team and introduced a DevOps model to accelerate their product development.
How did we do it?
Our business analyst travelled to the client location to understand the product roadmap and business use case. Around four weeks were spent and a workshop was conducted with the key stakeholders on each use case. During the workshop, he worked with our offshore TL to identify the technology skill sets for the identified use case. The BA translated business requirements into user stories for our TL and the latter estimated based on the logged user stories. The team was formed based on the estimation. We provided the client with a large pool of resources with various skillsets whom they could deploy based on their business objectives. We also implemented our proprietary TEA Engagement Model. The development team was following the scrum methodology and hence the completion of planned sprints within the committed timeline was crucial. There was continuous development happening and thus the testing team was not able to complete the testing of the respective sprint. We recommended starting automation testing which drastically reduced the manual testing effort and made sure there was no slippage on planned sprints. This helped to reduce the release time of the product and resulted in faster time to market. We also provided ‘Level 2’ support to help their in-house team to focus on the existing product. The transition phase was easily managed by sending our business analyst to the client location to understand and meet their requirements and easily manage code reviews and architectural designs. After setting up a dedicated team of skilled experts, the client was able to roll out high-quality products and it also freed up budget that they could use in other areas.
Going Beyond Product Development to Provide Business Value
An experienced dedicated team not only helps you in rolling out a product that meets all the desired requirements but also suggests you the best way forward and helps you prevent any possible pitfalls. In this particular case, we had taken complete responsibility for the product development and had started with a project on setting up facial recognition on their core product to check the identity of users. During our engagement, our team found that their web app is built on Angular JS and strongly recommended to migrate to Angular 7 because the product had third-party integrations and it was highly likely for the plugins to stop supporting Angular JS in the future. By migrating to Angular 7 we made sure that there would be no such hassle on third-party integration and it also resulted in improved performance and rich user experience.
Enabling Seamless Communication for a Global Team
As stated earlier, the client was quite hesitant to completely outsource on the basis of communication difficulties. Hence it was important to keep the communication transparent and clear. In order to do that we conducted daily stand-ups and scrum meetings and also shared the weekly/monthly status with the key stakeholders. Also, the ‘show and tell’ of sprints, otherwise known as sprint demo or sprint review enabled the team to get together, improve collaboration and provide constructive feedback. The periodic performance reports provided a 360-degree review of the progress that was taking place and there were conference calls to ensure that the client’s requirements were being met with. The consistent communication with the client and the transparency of the process assured them to completely trust a team that was based out of a different location.
Establishing an extended offshore team of skilled experts is evidently a very important part of ‘Outsourced Product Development’. The dedicated team of experts come with a flexibility and convenience that most companies are on the lookout for. Once a team has been established, the client can entrust them with the entire process of product development as OPD is not just staff augmentation, but the offshore team takes up the complete responsibility of all the product development initiatives.
Robin Jose, Inside Sales Associate, RapidValue
Amritha Nampalat, Marketing Executive, RapidValue