Software Outsourcing has become a common trend in the IT landscape. The trend is attributable to the pros associated with outsourcing compared to hiring local software developers. That is why even the biggest brands and companies like Alibaba, GitHub and WhatsApp, to mention a few, are continually leveraging on outsourcing for their software development needs. However, even small firms and startups are increasingly relying on outsourcing, particularly for the quality and relatively low associated costs.

While outsourcing can be instrumental in propelling your firm towards its software development goals, you ought to do it correctly. Otherwise, the outsourcing-associated risks will end up impacting your business negatively. It is empirical to have a proper outsourcing strategy and keep a keen eye to avoid common pitfalls that may doom your endeavor. Here are some of the common pitfalls to look out for and how you can avoid them.

  1. Failure to do comprehensive research
  2. One of the common mistakes most companies make is diving into their software development project without conducting thorough market research, especially regarding selecting offshore partners. Most companies only prioritize minimizing costs at the expense of other key attributes that play a critical role in determining the success of your engagement. While the cost aspect is an important consideration, critical elements such as the vendor’s portfolio, their knowledge and expertise and feedback and reviews from previous clients should never be overlooked.

    While outsourcing, consider all factors holistically. Other than the proof of expertise, experience and trustworthiness of the software outsourcing vendor, you should also consider factors such as distance, language, cultural barrier and time zone. It would be best if you had a clear strategy on how to navigate all these elements.

    Most importantly, you should have a goal. Your software developer should be able to deliver in line with your objectives and goals. This means that they need to have a portfolio that is in line with what your needs are.

    Cost consideration is essential. But for overall effectiveness and efficiency, more in-depth research is prudent and critical in determining the success of your software development project. 

  3. Being ambiguous with your needs and objectives
  4. It is inevitable for businesses to move the tech way. Every business needs the best IT solutions to improve the effectiveness of their service delivery. However, many small business owners outsource to fill their software needs without a proper understanding of what they need and how the software products are going to propel them towards achieving their software objectives. This means the product will not align correctly with the business vision.

    Before you outsource, have a clear and definitive description of the objectives you aim to achieve with your software product. From the key objectives, draw out all the key elements you would need in your product. Now, this can be a daunting process, especially if you are a non-tech company. That is why it always helps to have an IT person in your team. Alternatively, working with a Software Requirement Specification (SRS) document can help with the process and give you more clarity.

    The bottom line is, you ought to have a clear objective and ensure every detail is in sync with other details and work harmoniously towards your overall business objective. Break down every aspect of the project to the detail, including the design of the product, the costs, taxes and applicable duties, etc.

  5. Little Knowledge of Contracting and binding Laws
  6. Outsourcing presents a great challenge, given you will be working with a remote team overseas and expect them to deliver just as effectively while maintaining the integrity of your ideas.

    When outsourcing, consider getting a lawyer. The first objective should be to sign a non-disclosure agreement before you provide details of your product. Next is ensuring all privacy measures are taken. This often means considering the laws and legal system surrounding the IT landscape of your vendor’s country. Have an understanding of the extents you can go and whether your project will lead to violation of laws in the country.

    Beyond adhering to the legal requirements and protecting the integrity of your ideas, proper contractual knowledge helps ensure you get value for your money. Your contract should have specific clauses defining how the project will be conducted, the quality to be delivered, the timelines to be followed, jurisdiction for resolving issues, and the basis for termination. A lawyer comes in handy in such processes to help navigate every key aspect required in the contract for efficient and effective contractual engagement.

  7. Short-term contracts
  8. Short-term contracts are alluring, but they come with several limitations. Short contracts mean the project will be handled within a tight timeframe, which affects the overall effectiveness of the software development project. A short contract often means the development will be done hastily, exposing you to the danger of missing out on important details and limiting the time required for adequate testing before your product is launched.

    Therefore, it is advisable to look for a long-term contract that creates enough room for product development, testing and post-development support. Further, this helps you build a lasting relationship with your vendor, which may be beneficial in the future.

  9. Communication Barriers

The success of your software project lies in how effectively you can communicate with your vendor and the team handling your project. Streamlining communication is even more critical when working with remote contractors.

The first consideration should be defining a language you are mutually conversant with, mostly English. Further, specify other modalities for communication like the frequency of engagement and the collaboration tools needed. The idea is to agree on a suitable and most convenient means of communication that will facilitate smooth analysis of the conduct of the project, the progress and ironing out any necessary changes that may emerge.


Outsourcing for software development may be the ingredient your business needs to get to the next stage. However, you ought to approach it strategically and consider all key factors. The goal is to contract a vendor who will sustain a healthy engagement and deliver the right product that aligns your business needs with your goals. Take time, do your research and be deliberate when choosing a software development vendor.

About the Author

Steve Smith has published articles on a wide range of topics including cars, travel, lifestyle, business, golf, weddings and careers. His articles, features and news stories have appeared in newspapers, consumer magazines and on various websites. Smith holds a Bachelor of Arts in English and journalism from University of New Hampshire Durham.