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Software development outsourcing: what to consider and how much does it cost?

02 JUNE 2020 • 6 MIN READ

Paweł Małkowiak



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Software development outsourcing is the term used when a technology company is hired to create and build a business’ IT systems. A hugely beneficial practise, outsourcing in this way can help small to mid-sized companies in particular not only gain a competitive edge, but significantly reduce costs and implementation time.

While the premise of software development outsourcing is quite simple and its benefits clear, finding a reputable company to deliver such services can be a challenge. Google ‘software development companies’ and the result is seemingly endless pages of vendors offering their services at competitive rates. So how do you know which of those developers will properly fulfill your needs and offer true value for money?

Knowing what to expect from a vendor, from both a service level and cost perspective is vital before choosing the best technology partner for your business. There are a number of considerations that will help you identify a reputable software development company, all of which are detailed here, plus how much you should expect to pay for such services.

Software development outsourcing: What to consider

Outsourcing software development involves a significant level of trust from both parties to work successfully. More often than not, a business will have to share confidential and valuable data in order to get the IT systems it requires. Any reputable software development company will understand this and offer a service that not only meets a brief from technological perspective, but a human one too. To find a tech partner who will do just that, look out for vendors with the following attributes:

  • Understanding – A reputable software development company will be sympathetic to their line of work being highly specialised, and will therefore help clients form requirements, ask difficult question and make sure all parties are completely clear on the business’ objectives
  • Expertise – Making sure a software development company has the right skillset to fulfill technical requirements is vital, as any gaps in knowledge could lead to costly delays. A close look at a vendor's portfolio will give a good indication of whether the team possesses the correct skills, across the most relevant technology.
  • Experience – The more senior a team, the more business-orientated it is. A good way to gauge experience levels is to look at ‘Meet the team’ pages and see what percentage senior developers account for.
  • Ownership – While a project might need multiple developers input, it’s a good idea to choose a vendor who will assign developers to one project at a time. Not only will the sense of ownership help increase a developer’s output, but means each project has one firm point-of-contact.
  • Scalability – Any software development company worth it’s weight will help a client see past the ‘now’ with any technical requirements, and offer the expertise to scale a project up or down as needs and situations change.
  • Speed – Developers are in high demand globally, but that shouldn’t mean waiting long periods for projects to get off the ground. At Solidstudio, development can start in a matter of weeks, with the initial planning phase up and running in a matter of days.
  • Excellent communication – A quality software development company will stay in regular contact with clients for a project’s entirety. At Solidstudio, weekly and biweekly calls are standard practise. Clients are also invited to join internal communication channels and are welcome to dial into daily standups if they so wish.
  • Transparency – The last but one of the most important considerations of all. A quality software development company will be completely transparent at every stage of a project’s progression. From planning and implementation, to costs and potential issues, any work completed should be visible to the client, at any point. Be wary of talk of or signs of further outsourcing from within the vendor – this is also a major red flag.
Software development outsourcing: Our process

Our process

Software development outsourcing: How much should it cost?

So now you know what to look for in an outsourcing software development company, the next big question is how much should it cost? Giving an exact figure here is almost impossible for two main reasons; firstly, because every project will have different requirements. And secondly, creating a digital product is a process of constant change, and therefore an estimate provided at initial contact stages could easily change (sometimes significantly) as the project evolves.

In order to get a realistic estimate, the best first step is to spend a good amount of time considering what your product requirements are and drawing it up into a project specification document. This should broadly outline how the required software should function, in both the short and long term, which will help vendors understand what level of work and seniority is required. It will also help avoid any misunderstandings in the development cycle and costly delays.

After sharing this document and an initial consultation with your chosen vendor before any work is carried out, you should expect an estimate based on an initial assessment of how much work is involved and the level of seniority it will require. Solidstudio has a track record of smaller end-to-end software development projects over a three-month period, as well as bigger, on-going projects and so can quickly offer very accurate initial estimates. These would include costs for:

  • Planning
  • UI/UX design
  • Implementation
  • Maintenance
  • Support

It is worth reiterating costs can (and almost certainly will) change as a project evolves. Be wary of low estimates, cheaper estimates don’t necessarily offer the best value, and can often include hidden costs that soon add up. Reputable software development outsourcing companies will be completely transparent when it comes to costs, keeping clients abreast of any changes, and ensuring to check before undertaking new work that might add to the bill.

Taking into account all of the above, a Time and Material model is often best suited to IT outsourcing. This pricing method means fees are configured based on the amount of time spent on a project, combined with the cost of the effort (materials) used in the process. Solidstudio works to an hourly rate structure of $40-75, depending on the level of seniority required, with management overlay kept to a minimum.

For more information on software development outsourcing, or for an estimate, contact the Solidstudio team. Check our another article in this topic: How to hire a software development company in Poland?