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Kicking Off a Custom Development Partnership: How to Prepare Your Team


A partnership with a custom development team is the beginning of an exciting new journey for any business. Innovation, software updates and legacy transformations await.

Yet just like any journey, preparation is essential for success. You wouldn’t take a road trip without filling your tank or checking tire pressure. Nor should you embark on a partnership with a custom development team without preparing your business by completing the following three tasks.


Create a Clear Strategy and Goals

It’s essential you are clear on your goals, requirements and the deliverables you expect before bringing in an outside team for development work, writes Rahul Varshneya, the cofounder and president of Arkenea.

“Failure to communicate these details may result in scope creep and misalignment on the product vision,” he says. “Without resolving these issues, the software engineers will continue working in silos and there will be a widening gap between your expectations and the actual deliverables.”

While a custom development team will spend the initial period of the partnership working with you to establish clear documentation concerning the aims and scope of the project, the groundwork must be started by the business. “A software requirements specification(SRS) document can be an excellent starting point that gives the development team clear insights into the requirements,” Varshneya says.

This is particularly relevant for businesses looking for assistance with digital transformations. Identifying a clear strategy before investing in new technologies is a practice that distinguishes successful organizations, Behnam Tabrizi, Ed Lam, Kirk Girard and Vernon Irvin write at Harvard Business Review.

“Leaders who aim to enhance organizational performance through the use of digital technologies often have a specific tool in mind,” they write. “‘Our organization needs a machine learning strategy,’” perhaps. But digital transformation should be guided by the broader business strategy.”



Define Processes and Workflows

Well-thought-out, tried and tested internal processes must be in place before organizations bring in an outside partner. Fine-tuning software development workflows will be essential, but so will communication and sign-off processes with stakeholders.

If your internal processes have hiccups, those will be cast in sharp relief when the outside partner comes in, says technology writer Will Kelly. It’s essential to review and optimize these processes before choosing a partner.

“Review the current state of delivery planning inside your organization,” he advises. “Look at recent victories and complete post-mortems of the failures. Take stock of the relationships between the development, operations and business teams. Any outsourcing of the planning phase requires considerable oversight from internal managers and other stakeholders to maintain project ownership.”

In addition, businesses should consider adopting a process to manage third-party risk. “Increasingly, third parties have greater access to organizational data assets and are working with an increasing number of third parties themselves,” says Gartner’s Chris Audet.

“The nature of third-party relationships has changed, and so too has the way businesses are using third parties. It only makes sense that a new approach is needed to identify and manage third-party risks successfully.”


Have the Right Personnel in Place

External development partners can bring expertise and skill sets that a company might not have in-house. Hiring internally doesn’t usually deliver the same results, writes technical architect Jeff Nelson. “If you choose to outsource, you won’t have to worry about training or making sure the engineer has the proper education and knowledge for the job.”

Organizations therefore must understand their own team members’ skill sets so they can choose a development partner with complementary abilities.

“Knowing what your company’s strengths are enables you to focus on outsourcing the elements that will best complement your existing infrastructure,” says Nacho De Marco, CEO at BairesDev. “It also ensures that you don’t double-up on skills or pay for extra services that you don’t need.”

Organizations must also ensure they have people in-house who can manage the partnership with their custom development team. There is a significant time commitment required by custom development teams in order for projects to be successful, and those teams will require access to key members of your own team throughout the partnership.

By having those people in place, along with a clear idea of your goals and well-defined processes, you stand the best chance of succeeding in your partnership.


Images by: ThisisEngineering RAEng, Medienstürmer

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