Your growing software company has tremendous potential. While it can be a thrilling time for any startup or medium-sized business looking to get to the next level, it’s also a volatile one. The decisions you make today are pivotal in determining whether you end up with a successful increase in software productivity or with a handful of burned-out developers. Every business may be unique, but there are a number of proven methods that can improve productivity.
Focus on Agility
Smaller software companies have an advantage over larger ones in that they can often be more agile in their operations. By making agility (and the Agile Software Process) a priority, your business can capitalize on that strength and use it to its full advantage. Breaking down projects or development cycles into smaller sections with more detailed goals makes a big difference. It allows for checking in on deliverables more often, and this catches any mistakes or software issues early, meaning subsequent timelines and goals can be adjusted quickly. Through the Agile process, you’re not waiting until the end of the production cycle to test products, left to start over or troubleshoot endlessly when something is discovered.
Agile software development is especially effective because of the current state of the industry. The mobile revolution has been a disruptor for software companies, with many moving to a mobile-only development model in order to speed up production and remain competitive. Additionally, software has permeated most consumer products, disrupting the industry further. Today’s automobiles represent a new era of automobile OS. Internet of Things (IOT) technology has exploded in recent years, with electronic devices like refrigerators, thermostats, and even light bulbs requiring new and more robust software to connect to the internet. Considering the myriad of apps, operating systems, and mobile devices in use today, creating just one software program that works on everything is more complicated than ever.
Contract Labor Provides an Answer
It’s easy to see why added agility is necessary on paper, but how is that achieved in practice? The answer lies in tapping into contract labor. Of course, your company likely requires some tech pros in permanent roles that can be valuable assets for any project, but it’s increasingly harder to find such talent in today’s growing gig economy. Further, different software projects can require different niche skill sets that you may only need for a few months until that project is completed. Contracting entire teams of expert software developers represents a rapid solution to scaling production.
Hiring for software positions is regularly described as a “mad dash” for talent. Engaging with contractors provides on-demand talent for your dynamic environment. Best yet, it can be the most cost-effective way of increasing productivity. Hiring several permanent software developers at once can be prohibitive for a startup or a medium-sized organization. Contract labor represents a smaller financial commitment and allows for the changing of pace or personnel as the business requires. Those software companies that view their talent acquisition process holistically by considering all staffing options, including contractors, are the rising stars you see featured in Forbes, Wired, and Fast Company.
Engaging with Outsourced Talent: What to Look for
It can be daunting to look for outsourced talent, but there are several ways to ensure your software company engages with the cream of the crop and not a fly-by-night operation. Begin by looking for those firms that have proven development experience, and ask them a number of verifiable questions. Do they finish their contracts? Do they have backup resources at the ready just in case? How quickly can they deploy resources to make an impact in the development environment and in the production environment?
One major point is to discover if the off-shore talent can adapt to your unique business environment, software requirements, and process. Exceptional outsourced talent doesn’t use a cookie-cutter approach that just fulfills the status quo for a generic company. You want professionals who will use their previous experience to help adapt to your needs and ensure your long term success.
One of the more critical components of software development in today’s world is the need to always bake into the software development process high quality security tools and practices. The Software Assurance Forum for Excellence in Code (SAFECode) has provided a great reference in their updated best practices for secure software development. This includes significant revisions on techniques, features, processes, and planning that undoubtedly affect hiring. With that in mind, ask potential outsourcing partners about their security practices and if they are ISO certified in information security management specifically. With cyber attack frequency rising at an alarming rate, you want an outsourcing partner who can secure your software appropriately and leave no doors open.
Finally, that your outsourcing provider must bring resources to the table that can be trustworthy, especially when creating or working with your proprietary software. With the recent Oracle v. Google legal case redefining what constitutes intellectual property in software development, this is a topic that should certainly be in mind when selecting who to work with. While there’s a lot to consider, doing the right homework when seeking outsourced software development partners is essential for a growing organization.
Appropriately Increasing Productivity within a Software Development Organization
There’s no magic button that can instantaneously increase software productivity for your company. However, focusing on agility through outsourcing talent and development teams is an effective solution that has helped many reach new heights and scale their software operations quickly. When you’re at the helm of a software company that has reached a crossroads, the staffing decisions you make today will decide how much you can grow and, ultimately, the future direction of your operations.