Is Your Custom Software Project Ready for an External Team?

Teaming up with an agile software development firm makes sense for many projects, but certainly not all. In general, here are a few types of custom software development projects you could successfully entrust to a partner:

  • Building a new product
  • Maintaining and supporting an existing system
  • Co-developing a product (using internal and external software engineering teams)
  • Strategic consulting

The type of work, however, is only part of the equation.

Is Your Project Suitable For An External Team?

In addition to the size and type of project you assign to an external team, your organization’s culture, processes and expectations play significant roles in the project’s success or failure.

Here are five important questions to consider when deciding whether or not to shift a software project to an external team:

1. Is Your Business Objective Well Defined?

A shared understanding of what you want to achieve is essential to agile software development. If your project lacks a well-defined business objective, your team won’t be able to make sound decisions during the agile process. Without the foundation an objective provides, project decisions tend to be vague and change on a daily basis.

If your company wants to create a mobile app, for example, you need to plan for how this app is going to help you reach an objective or solve a specific business problem. If your team starts building an app without this clear purpose, there’s a greater risk of scope creep: You’re likely to waste resources on building non-essential functionality that may not add any value.

When your high-level objective is clear at the outset, it helps your team deepen their understanding of the problem and what users really need. Keeping the objective in focus through an agile software development process helps you create innovative software solutions through continuous, frequent feedback.

2. Does The Project Help You Establish A Strong Working Partnership?

If your project is small and won’t take much time or effort, it probably isn’t a good candidate to assign to an outside team, because you won’t have sufficient ramp-up time to establish good communication and collaboration. By the time your internal and external teams figure out how to work together, a short project would be complete.
A smaller project that requires extensive internal knowledge of your organization faces similar challenges. Your in-house team is probably faster and more cost-effective for such a project, when you consider the amount of time that would be necessary to impart this knowledge to an outside team.

3. Are You Ready To Shift Ownership And Control Of The Project?

Shifting ownership of certain projects and deliverables to an external team helps you make better use of your internal team’s time and resources. For this approach to work, however, you must be ready for the other team to drive the process. When companies try to micromanage a partner’s work or insist on following their own processes, they often squander the benefits of working with an external team.

4. Do You Stand To Learn And Benefit From A Partner’s Expertise?

When you partner with a software development firm, you benefit the most by letting them take the lead. Instead of expecting the firm to simply fill your order for custom software, take advantage of the firm’s mature processes, best practices and overall product development expertise. Sometimes, companies shift project ownership to an external team, and later feel the need to regain control. This back and forth tends to create friction on both sides, and defeats the purpose of working with a partner in the first place.

5. Is The Project Or Initiative A High Priority For Your Business?

One might assume that low-priority projects are the best to hand off to a partner, but that’s not necessarily true. When a project isn’t a priority for your business, it’s difficult to engage other departments in the process and get them to back up your decisions. Choosing a high-priority project instead ensures you have the attention of all stakeholders and encourages them to participate throughout the process.

The key to getting the best results from an external development team is to choose suitable custom software projects. These five questions should help you determine whether a project is a good fit for this type of collaboration.

This was originally posted on