Product Development in the Age of Software
After hundreds of client calls, I've come to the consensus that there is a gap between the desires of a product team and the ability to effectively deliver products in agile fashion. In the Age of Software, SaaS companies rely heavily on the bandwidth of their internal team, as well as their HR team's ability to hire experienced engineering talent. Because this challenge exists, organizational leaders must find new means to deliver for their customers, and due to the inherent challenges in building great software, there lies an ubiquitous solution to all their problems: an experienced software development firm.
An opportunity lies ahead for SaaS companies that want to release products on time without hiring an entire team of developers to hit all the deliverables on their road map. There is a long established distrust in outsourced software development, and for good reason. We most often look to outsourcing as a means to reduce cost by paying less for engineering talent. As a result of companies outsourcing to overseas teams to develop flagship software products, and unsuccessfully delivering on said products, there is an underlying mark on outsourcing that, in reality, is misguided.
Working with an on-shore software development team can offer more flexibility, higher quality code, and a second set of expert eyes to ensure the project is moving forward steadily and road blocks are identified and handled properly. Once an organization is at the point of scaling, and has a core team of engineers that understand the direction and philosophy of the company, working with an onshore team offers big advantages over hiring internally. As this video indicates, most of the innovation in the world and one’s industry is happening outside of one’s company, and Partnering lets you access it. Not to say that hiring internal engineers is not crucial, but a gap can be bridged with a professional software development team, and I'm going to explain three of the big features right now.
1. You Get a Team of Experts and a Pay For Performance Model
A successful software consulting firm has a track record of delivering great software products for clients. Most of these firms understand the necessity of delivering great code and as a result, will make sure senior leadership is involved in project management. Having the eyes of a second team, who have been involved in sometimes hundreds or thousands of different enterprise software product teams, offers an extension of your team and is hard to get through any other avenue. They can help identify roadblocks, offer feedback on features, and help pivot effectively if needed. The kicker is, if the outsourced team does not deliver on what is outlined in a statement of work, the chances of repeat business is slim. This means that a software development firm must view themselves as a core extension of their clients team, holding themselves on the line for successful project delivery if future business is to be earned.
2. On Shore Software Development Lends Its Self to Truly Agile
Think about this: the name of the game for software consulting firms is delivering high quality software. If the communication is lacking, deliverables are not hit, and the team is generally on a different page than that of the clients team, what are the chances that firm will get more business in the future? Slim to none. This is the Age of Software, and unless the founding team of a start-up has successfully built and delivered hundreds of software products in the past, there will be hidden problems that occur that even veterans will struggle to make right. A successful software consulting firm has access to an everlasting spring of talent, especially if the firm has a large base of senior software developers, that have lead project teams across a variety of clients and vertical markets. This means that if changes need to be made on the fly, your consulting firm knows how to do it effectively. Working with a remote team requires active, daily communication, feedback and responsiveness, all of which are tenants of agile software delivery. Any software consulting firm worth it's salt know this, and will make communication and delivery mission critical.
3. Cost is Relative to Code Quality, Communication and Knowledge Transfer
Some elements of developing software products are better suited for less than senior level software engineering talent, i.e. QA related tasks and on going maintenance. However, when it comes to the architecture and design of customer facing products, seniority matters and leveraging senior level engineering consultants is often a relief to engineering leadership that is used to taking the reigns on every element of their software product. We've seen it time and time again; the anxiety and frustration of a CTO with too many projects on their desk and too little resources internally to execute. They are then left with only a few options. They can ramp up their internal team which takes a tremendous amount of time and energy, leverage the big names like Sapient and Accenture, (and pay market premium for all skill sets,) try to manage an offshore team, which we all know can quickly turn into a management nightmare, or rely on a trusted partner they've worked with in the past. When a company partners with a software development firm to develop products, and successfully delivers on their first project, there is a waive of relief across the entire organization. It means that sales people have the flexibility to sell customers on products on their road map, with the knowledge that they have a partner that can deliver when customers are ready to pay. It means that organizational leadership can ensure stakeholders that products will be successfully delivered on time. It means that engineering leadership has a trusted partner who will communicate issues and help build solutions. In a fast growing SaaS company, Code Quality, Communication and Knowledge Transfer are imperative if a product is to be delivered successfully. Partnering with a software consulting firm is the best option available for fast growing organizations that believe in software first.
With IT consulting budgets increasingly significantly YoY, there is a growing need for outsourced software development. In some ways, outsourcing is still uncharted territory for product teams, especially if the product team's leadership come from the start-up world. Cross functional communication and project management are skillets that sharpen only after years of experience delivering software across a variety of business teams and functions. A software consulting firm with a strong track record and history of repeat enterprise clients is a resource that can set apart a SaaS company from their competition. Software development firms offer the talent and experience to bring SaaS companies to the cutting edge of software delivery. This begs the question, why isn't your product team working with a software consulting firm today? In the wise word's of Thomas A. Stewart, "No matter what your business is, most of the smartest people don’t work for you."