Top 10 Pain Points when Developing Custom Software (and how to solve them)

CEOs, CIOs or Project Managers worldwide have to cope and solve various technology challenges to keep pace with the changing business ecosystem and customer expectations.

Out of them, there are significant pain points related to their custom software development, when trying to modernise their existing IT infrastructure.

Based on our experience and research, we are going to analyze the most common issues when developing new software products. Hopefully, after reading this material, you will be able to anticipate and alleviate the top pain points in your software development process.

It’s no surprise that globalization makes outsourcing software development the go to solution. The substantial cost benefits are so attractive that we often forget even our worst development experiences.

But we shouldn’t hurry to choose and “seal the deal” with an outsourcing company before we are sure we are able to overcome most of the pain points.

Any good IT project manager will tell you the same, as well as most companies who already developed products by outsourcing. Especially for them, the development of software products is met with scepticism as it faces multiple and increasingly difficult challenges.

When it comes to new product development, most companies resort to recommendations, but sometimes the software developing capabilities or technical skills of the recommended outsourcing company might not be in line with the project’s short/long term requirements.

Therefore, they end up contracting the outsourcing company that’s easier to find, that sometimes commits to deliver beyond it capabilities or with the smallest rates.

If you want to properly tackle the challenges of custom software development, read on.

Top 10 Pain Points in Custom Software Development and How to solve them

  1. Language Barrier – Good English is hard to find in some parts of the world 

Full professional proficiency in English is hard to find.

Even if most outsourcing contractors will assure you their software development team speak and write good English that can prove to be far from the truth if you go beyond the team leads or the seniors.

The best way to make sure that language is not going to be a barrier in your communication, ask to talk directly with more members of the software team by email, phone or Skype.

Pro Tip:   Some software developers and project managers who do have good English skills will sometimes try to take advantage of this language barrier issue. Most often, they pretend they don’t understand your requirements just to get things done their way.

Keep in mind that from this point of view, nearshoring might be a plus for European companies, since English speaking is almost natural amongst all europeans.

  1. Cultural Fit

Cultural fit is one of the biggest pain points when hiring an offshore outsourcing company.

Big cultural differences and mindsets can lead to miscommunication and will deplete your energy and resources.

Similar mindset is important, thus a more suitable outsourcing company would be a European one. It will enable you to focus more on their skill set and work process instead of trying to close the cultural gap.

If spending is your concern, rest assured that outsourcing on the European market will save a lot of money for your software development project.

  1. Time Zone differences

Time zone differences are a frequent matter and, most of the time, the outsourcing company is setting the tone.

It affects delivery deadlines as well as communication between parties involved in the development process.

The best way to tackle this is to ask ahead about the time zones of your software developers and to agree upon online meeting hours.

Good planning from day one or even before signing the contract will make a huge difference. In this case, nearshoring is the best option since there are more manageable time zone differences.

Pro Tip:  Sometimes, outsourcing companies use multiple teams on different time zones. This happens all the time with software solutions demanding different sets of skills and programming languages. And it is a real pain point, especially if your team is not made aware before the project development starts.

The solution is simple, yet underused: Ask about the time zones of all the development teams involved in your project. It will most certainly help with delivery deadlines and improve communication flows.

  1. Poor Communication

Communication is not a strong point of any developer and it’s a real struggle when it comes to a team or teams of developers.

This is why you should invest in a highly skilled Project Manager. It will most certainly reduce your overall cost, as good communication on technical specs will lower the development time and by extension the project’s cost.

Pro Tip: Whenever you can, make sure to use a Project Manager that has previously worked with that specific team or teams or within a similar type of project, even if that means outsourcing or if you have an in-house project manager. It will worth it on the long term.

No process set up from day one to ensure regular communication is another common issue.

Make sure a clear process and a very specific timeframes are in place to ensure weekly communication every step of the way. Having a solid communication plan aligned with deliverables will surely pay off.

Never assume your development tasks are clear for everybody. Always make sure to give plenty of details and visual examples.

  1. Not meeting Delivery Deadlines

Overstating the delivery capabilities is a really big pain point with every custom software development project.

People often blunder estimates. Knowing this, experience and the ability to anticipate issues along the development roadmap are the two most important things to search in a project manager handling your development team.

No matter what your development team or project manager says, always add a few extra days in terms of expectations from a deadline. The unpredictable always happens, especially with software development.

Delivery Deadlines should also be included in the project development plan agreed upon and signed with the outsourcing company.

Pro Tip: Delivery Deadlines should always be accompanied by delay penalties to ensure efficiency.

  1. Employee Motivation

Often ignored, motivation of the development team might sometimes interfere with the product development life cycle.

Even if the developers are not your employees, it’s not only human, but also wise to ask their team leader about their work environment and satisfaction.

How do you keep your employees motivated? What is your employee attrition rate? How does your HR process look like?  this are some  elegant questions that can help you understand if the outsourcing company is right for your current and future needs.

Pro Tip: Here are few useful tips to keep in mind when talking to your outsourcing company about employee motivation >

  1. Switching Resources – Developers multitasking between projects

The most frequent complaint among CEOs, CIOs and in-house project managers about outsourcing software development is the switching resources employed on their project.

Developers who multitask between projects can be inefficient.

And you can never be sure it won’t happen as the developers are free to change jobs anytime.

One soft approach to this matter is to ask for a dedicated team. Sure, it will seem more expensive in the beginning, but it can save you a lot of money.

The reason to ask for a dedicated development team is really simple: Focus.

People always find it hard to switch between projects and tasks. Sometimes, even interrupting a task like coding for customer service can waste you a lot of time.  This is why your dedicated team should not be interrupted all the time by customer care tasks. The best thing you can do for your project is to have one-to-one talks on a fixed schedule.

  1. Micromanagement

Micromanagement is something everybody dislikes. And if you have to do it, it will cost you a lot of time and money.

Both you and the software developers will have to be aware of the negative impact of micromanagement on the project’s quality.

To avoid micromanagement, make sure you select the right people, especially the right team leader.

Look beyond their ability and proven track record of high-quality projects and search for real leadership skills, as well as technical and communication skills.

  1. Technical Skills and Quality Assurance

Matching the needs of your project with the capabilities of the outsourcing company is by default.

But, in order to find the best match, get into the details. Create a clear, very specific and detail oriented project requirement’s list – Documentation – and you’ll save a lot of time with this skill set – capabilities matching. When speaking Agile, make sure they clearly explain how they do it and how they manage to be successful in agile development, emphasizing concrete results.

In addition, always ask for portfolio on a very similar project. See it, test it, and then decide on taking a particular development company. Otherwise, your project might be set off the tracks with low performing team.

Good technical skills are something you cannot always test, and testimonials won’t help too much, considering the custom development needs.

What you can do is ask for proven track record on similar projects and mind the deadlines. Additionally, you can test the team in the beginning with an independent HR company. This might be costly, but it is truly a saving cost option.

Quality Assurance Costs should be low and some even included in the project development phase.

Low QA hours and costs usually signal a good software development team.

Make sure you ask about the percentage of QA time for previous projects similar to the one you’re looking to develop. Also, never hire an outsourcing company which does not include QA costs in their development process.

  1. Project Management

Project Management in developing custom software is not an easy task, so make sure you invest in a highly skilled PM.

He must have good technical and communication skills and a previous work experience with developer teams and their team leaders.

Should you decide to hire and in-house PM, make sure he does have a proven track record and the capabilities to handle your type of project.

Good planning saves time, but only if it’s done before the project actually starts.

So make sure your Project Manager:

  • Ensures a clear, specific and detailed documentation of the custom software project,
  • Plans every step in the product development’s cycle,
  • Ensures role clarity for the development teams,
  • Runs a risk analysis,
  • Plans the regular communication process and the communication methods,
  • Handles the delivery deadlines for each step of the development’s roadmap with delay penalties,
  • Asks the right questions to the outsourcing software company and gets the answers to ensure that every aspect of the product’s development will run smoothly,
  • Makes sure that you have a dedicated development team that’s also a good fit for your company.

These are the 10 pain points we most frequently encounter and our solutions to avoiding them.  When considering outsourcing companies, make sure to check this list.

It will save you a lot of time and money!

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