Outsourcing Enterprise Application Development: 5 Key Success Factors

Companies that outsource enterprise application development should be aware of several mission-critical steps they must take to ensure their projects’ success.

In this blog post, we’ll explore five of the most important factors that could make or break your enterprise project if not taken into consideration from the very start.

Just like in any other area of software engineering, the leading role in enterprise application development belongs to the software provider. At the same time, the role you, as a client, can play in making your enterprise project a success should not be underestimated, as your role is not merely limited to choosing the right outsourced software provider.

In any enterprise-level project, there are several areas the client’s proactive and collaborative attitude and ability to effectively transmit the project needs can have a very positive impact on the final outcomes. Let’s look at those areas and see how exactly you can best support your outsourced project.

1. The Importance of Knowledge Transfer

Many enterprise clients tend to be frugal with time and resources when it comes to the knowledge transfer procedure, underestimating the importance of this crucial step. Many believe, incorrectly, that their existing project knowledge can somehow be transferred to their new outsourced software provider “automatically” over the course of their in-house staff’s interactions with the new external project team.

The absence of a well-structured and fully executed knowledge transfer process can severely hamper the implementation of enterprise projects, producing the need for frequent clarification requests and other related delays. And an enterprise-grade project involving several development teams only adds to the problem.

This is why, in the context of any major enterprise app development endeavor, the knowledge transfer process must involve a well-planned, well-organized, and multi-faceted management procedure that includes onsite visits, discussions, conference calls, and a great deal of live communication between all parties involved.

In our opinion, a well-managed knowledge transfer must include the following five steps:

  1. Knowledge Gap Identification:
  • Determining the level of project knowledge the external team needs to have.
  • Determining the external team’s current level of project knowledge.
  • Determining the discrepancies between the above two levels, identifying the corresponding areas of focus and prioritizing them.
  1. Identification of the Knowledge Transfer Mechanism: The parties involved in the knowledge transfer spell out the actions that need to be performed within each of the areas of focus.
  2. Knowledge Transfer Plan Preparation: The parties develop a detailed knowledge transfer plan, indicating the areas of focus and those responsible for each. The plan should outline the transfer mechanisms, details, and requirements (location, time, space, required equipment, etc.), in addition to providing the corresponding time and resource estimates. The knowledge transfer plan should also be accompanied by several comprehensive checklists in addition to a roles and responsibilities matrix.
  3. Execution of the Knowledge Transfer Plan: During this step, the more experienced members of the two teams perform the actual knowledge transfer. The knowledge obtained by the senior members of the outsourced provider’s development team is then disseminated among the rest of their team.
  4. Measuring Results and Corrective Actions: This is an iterative step, performed by the parties after each knowledge transfer milestone. During the knowledge transfer, it’s pivotal that you, as a client, grant access to stakeholders who are familiar with your business domain and your company’s engineering practices. You must also describe in detail how and by whom any required decisions should be made and how they should be escalated within your organization.

The role of the knowledge transfer process becomes all the more mission-critical if your company has limited or no previous experience with software development outsourcing.

Furthermore, knowledge sharing (including bilateral onsite visits) should be firmly incorporated into your overall project culture to create a continuous, easy, and natural flows of information. With this in place, the members of your external team will feel that they own the product they are engaged in creating and will be more highly motivated to ensure its success.

2. Determining the Right Development Methodology

Agile works perfectly well for the vast majority of enterprise application development projects, even for those stringently regulated like, for example, many government and healthcare projects.

Conversely, Waterfall is considered ill-suited to these types of projects, as a large number of MVPs need to be created and released. This methodology hampers flexibility by depriving you of the ability to quickly absorb client feedback at a relatively low cost, which can extend your product’s time to market and increase your development expenses.

However, this doesn’t have to mean that pure Agile is the most optimal approach at all times. In some cases, a combination of Agile and other iterative methods can be a better option. This depends on the business tasks at hand, how fast the project requirements are emerging, the speed with which the market is changing, among other factors.

For this reason, it’s important for you to discuss the best development methodology or combination of methodologies with your outsourced software provider’s project managers as early as possible. This will help ensure that your project is implemented using the most optimal and productive combination of approaches.

3. The Involvement of a Software Architect

The involvement of a software architect is essential for almost any major enterprise application development project. In addition to giving your solution a robust and scalable architecture, this allows your development team to constantly explore some alternative technical approaches to make your application less expensive, more flexible, and easier to maintain.

For example, a software architect can help you use microservices to make your application more flexible and serviceable. This becomes especially relevant if your project is associated with overhauling an existing enterprise application, as 90% of all enterprise software solutions represent bulky and legacy functionality-ridden monoliths that need more flexibility and scalability.

4. Using Real-World Data for Testing Purposes

Due to the size of enterprise software systems, they commonly need to be integrated with third-party applications. Consequently, you should start testing these software solutions during the early stages of a software development effort. For this reason, it’s essential to use CI/CD practices and proper test environments with real-world data for all the product modules from square one. You should also be prepared to anonymize your data to allow your software provider to use it for testing purposes.

If you have limited or no previous experience with this approach, ask your outsourced software provider for assistance from the start.

5. Alignment with Other Business Stakeholders

Outsourcing a major software development project doesn’t mean getting rid of all the chores and additional problems related to its implementation across your organization. One of the most critical steps to ensure seamless implementation involves getting in alignment with stakeholders from other departments and/or business units. These stakeholders must be made fully aware of the scope and implications of the enterprise application and be willing to provide support for its implementation to ensure optimal results.

This process will primarily involve your system administrators and DevOps engineers, who should be made aware of the detailed plan for your external project, including the timeframe and any other related developments in order to avoid any possible delays related to their involvement.

The Bottom Line

If you are looking to outsource a major enterprise application, there are multiple ways you can help your enterprise software provider deliver the project more smoothly, with the highest quality, on time, and on budget.
Are you looking for an experienced outsourcing provider to handle your enterprise application development project? TEAM can help. Contact us today and tell us about your project.

TEAM International

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