16 May 2018 | Andrew Sanders
Advantages and Pitfalls of Outsourcing Your Software Development
"If there is something we can't do more efficiently, cheaper and better than our competition, there is no sense in doing it and we should employ someone to do the better work for us." - Henry Ford, founder of the Ford Motor Company.
Virtually all hoteliers are investing in software development these days, as technology becomes increasingly intertwined with the success of hotel brands. Software vendors are similarly investing deeply in development, and while some of the undertakings are related, this sector is typically more closely focused on speed-to-market for new solutions and the challenges that exist in replacing legacy products while keeping employees involved in the excitement of fresh technologies. However, one key question remains: Is it better to outsource software development or to complete the task in-house? Although there isn't a single answer that applies to all situations, several important factors should be considered when weighing the pros and cons of these two options.
In the early planning stages, one of the essential points to acknowledge is the expansive complexity involved in software development. At the same time, it’s important to embark on projects with a flexible approach within a core framework to allow the nuances to change based on market fluctuations, competitive influences, and other freshly-acquired information. Following this general concept is sensible for stand-alone systems and critical for those that integrate with existing solutions that may also change over time. Companies who don't fully comprehend these core principles may be forced to abandon a project before its completion, resulting in wasted time and money, and ending without a useful solution in place. To avoid this potential pitfall, seek the expertise of a development consultant before a project begins to ensure the overall viability of a plan, whether it's expected to be outsourced or created in-house.
One of the advantages of outsourcing software development lies in the skills and experience that are available when utilizing the services of a company that specializes in the field. Many small and medium-sized businesses lack the necessary resources and expertise required to succeed in a custom development project. If this is the case, it's typically best to outsource the work to avoid obstacles with the in-house resources along the way. Additionally, employees may already be tasked with a large backlog of work to support a development roadmap, and trying to add a large development project may interfere with the ongoing maintenance required to make a hotel brand or software company run smoothly. Hiring a team of experienced engineers allows your staff to stay focused on existing jobs while the development is done. Outsourcing is often more efficient, as companies who specialize in software creation are typically able to complete development projects much quicker than less experienced employees.
However, there are also some potential cons to outsourcing development. For one, there are instances of alleged "experts" cutting corners during software creation because they won't be the ones dealing with managing the product once it's released. It is therefore imperative to hire a reputable team with a proven track record with relevant experience in the form of finished and successful projects. As this can sometimes be difficult to gauge accurately, choosing the most appropriate development team is another component of software projects that can be greatly assisted by consulting with an expert in the sector.
Another potential problem that can occur when outsourcing software development is running into communication issues during the project. If you develop a solution in-house, you already know the capabilities of your employees. Conversely, hiring an outside team involves creating an effective line of communication with new people, which sometimes causes stress and poor outcomes. At the same time, many software development firms excel in not only the creation of custom solutions but also in keeping the lines of communication open and clear to ensure satisfaction at every point of the project.
Remember, developing custom software is a highly complex undertaking. Mistakes can result in massive problems and even the total abandonment of a project, thereby wasting valuable resources and ending without a viable solution. It's therefore highly advisable to consult with a seasoned expert before deciding the path of your development project to ensure success at every step of the way, from the planning stage to releasing the software and maintaining the solution in the long term.