The truth about outsourcing software development

Hiring a software development agency is a smart move for companies looking to bring their product to market quickly and cost-effectively. You access a wider pool of talent with specialized skills that can speed up your product development process. Without having to hire and maintain an in-house team.

The reality, unfortunately, does not align with expectations. Many founders find that outsourcing software development leads to unsatisfactory results.

You’ll hear stories like

Initially, the costs appeared to be low, but the prolonged delivery time resulted in an increase in expenses.

Unfortunately, the quality of their work did not meet the standards I had hoped for. When I requested that they correct their own mistakes, they charged me an additional fee.

We had thought that everything was progressing smoothly, but upon receiving the final project, it became apparent that it did not align with our goals. We were forced to abandon the work and begin anew with a different company.

The good news is that it is possible to have a positive and successful experience when outsourcing software development.

If you considering outsourcing software development but is hesitant due to past negative experiences, then this post is for you. You’ll find out how to protect your investment and reap the benefits of working with a software development agency.

Selection criteria

It all starts with selecting the right company.

There are a few things that can increase your chances of success and avoid the common pitfall of working with a company that doesn't have the skills or experience to deliver the results you need.

First, it's essential to understand the specific skills and expertise required to build your project. Whether you need help with frontend development, backend development, data science, or a combination of these and other disciplines, it's important to be clear about what you're looking for. This will help you identify agencies that have the right capabilities and experience to support your project.

You need to assess the agency's experience building similar projects. Look for case studies or testimonials from past clients that demonstrate their expertise in your specific area of need. This will give you a sense of the agency's track record and help you understand its capabilities and limitations.

An often overlooked step is to evaluate the source code of past projects created by the company. Don’t expect to see other clients’ source code, but tools and open source code created within the agency. It can give you an idea of the quality of work and the level of expertise of the team.

To gain more confidence, it's a good idea to hire an agency to work on a small and self-contained trial project. This will give you a chance to work with the agency in a low-risk environment and see how they perform before committing to a larger project.

Team structure

The team assigned by the agency will play a vital role in delivering your project. It's essential to carefully select team members whose skills align with the specific needs of your project

Consider only hiring senior developers. While it may be tempting to hire junior developers to save money, this approach is likely to backfire in the long run. Junior developers are still learning and may require significant guidance and support. This can be time-consuming and costly. Instead, it's better to invest in a team of experienced developers who can work independently and deliver high-quality results.

Next, don't feel compelled to take on non-operational roles from the agency, such as project managers or QA testers. These roles can be handled in-house, and you'll have more control over the process. You should focus on hiring a development team that can deliver your project.

You should have direct access to the team members. This simplifies communication in both ways and ensures that everyone is on the same page.

Avoid team changes as much as possible. New joiners will take weeks until they become productive. Continuity is key to the success of any project, and frequent turnover can lead to delays and added costs.

Project management

Managing software development projects can be a challenge, whether they are in-house or outsourced. Team members may not be as familiar with the company's vision and goals as an in-house team would be. Therefore, it's even more crucial to have a strong focus on project management to ensure that the project stays on track.

One of the top reasons that projects are delayed or canceled is a lack of clear requirements. You must define clear requirements for each feature you need, and a good way to do this is by writing the "User Stories" format. This will help to avoid unnecessary back-and-forth communication and rework of parts of the project.

Even if you write detailed requirements, people will still have questions. It's important to be available to clarify the scope and address any questions before the work begins. This will ensure everyone has a clear understanding of what to do.

Another key principle is to determine what is most important to deliver first. Make sure these priorities align with your business goals. This helps to focus on the most critical elements first, and that the team is working on the tasks that will have the greatest impact.


To mitigate risks and continuously assess the quality of the finished tasks, it's important to have full ownership of the code created by the agency. A good way to achieve this is by using a Source Code Management tool like GitHub, Gitlab, or Bitbucket. It gives you full visibility about who creates the code, as also who can join the project.

As a project can take months to be completed, it's important to ensure that the team is regularly pushing code changes to the Source Code Management tool you decide to use. This will help you to keep track of progress and ensure that the project stays on track.

To assess the quality of the source code, it's ideal to have support from someone technical. This helps identify any issues or areas for improvement and ensures that the code quality is good.

A weekly product demo is a great opportunity to evaluate the progress of the project and provide feedback. The team can present the work they have done during the week. This will help you see the changes visually and point out any areas to improve.

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