How to Save Money Outsourcing your Online Development

When it comes to online development, outsourcing is a great way for companies to invest in their digital technology without bearing the cost and associated risk of building their development capability in-house. Outsourcing has been a standard business practice for some time. IT and finance led the way; with HR, marketing and customer service following closely behind.

If you’re new to outsourcing there are lots of articles that explain why outsourcing is a good idea. Others have great tips about the sort of tasks you should outsource immediately. However, the cost-savings and benefits of outsourcing are so widely-recognised that often the question isn’t “does outsourcing work?” but “how can we do outsourcing better?”

Here are some ideas to help you save money when outsourcing your next online development.

Outsource on a project-by-project basis

One of the primary benefits of outsourcing is accessing specialised skills and systems on a short term basis. For businesses embarking on the development or enhancement of an online business solution, opting to work with a consultant or agency instead of resourcing internally can save you considerable long term expense (e.g. annual salaries and technology outlays). But like anything, costs can soon add up if the consultant or agency does not manage their time correctly or there is significant scope creep. You’ve got to have a plan.

A good option is to work on a project-by-project basis – at least in the early days. Even if you have an overall strategy for your online development, or several digital projects you need help with, consider sorting them into separate projects. This will help you negotiate work on a project-by-project basis without having to pay for down-time.

Set clear boundaries

An essential part of the outsourcing process is to set clear boundaries. (This goes for any project – but particularly for online development.) Without clear boundaries, you’re more likely to experience the scope creep and its unpleasant side effects: rising costs and uncompleted projects.

Allow enough time at the start of your project to establish fixed requirements. This will help limit misunderstandings about what the project can reasonably achieve within the timeframe and budget. It may highlight the need for more in-depth business analysis to determine project goals, business impacts, stakeholders, success measures and costs. Commissioning an audit of your website may be useful to establish these boundaries, or simply set more time aside for the briefing process. Either way, it’s important not to skip this vital step.

Work with specialists

Online design and development is constantly evolving. Keeping up with fast paced technology updates, design trends, and regulatory changes means the field is highly specialised. It pays to do your research to find an outsourcing partner who is leading the field in the area you're interested in.

Working with specialist implementers (e.g. for apps, web, etc) will not only deliver you a better product; they’ll be able to do it faster because their production environment will be geared towards it. For example, at OSE, our key performance indicators are quality of product and time-to-market. We are much faster at developing custom web applications or setting up large-scale content management systems than our clients (many of whom have awesome internal web development teams) because we specialise in it. We’re paid to know our stuff. When working with an IT specialist you’ll soon find out that this enables everyone to focus on what they do best; and reap the benefits.

Negotiate ongoing terms

When you’ve found a suitable outsourcing partner to collaborate with, and ideally tested the relationship on a few projects first, the next step may be to explore more flexible options for working together. This may include negotiating hourly rates for larger or multiple packages of work. Building up familiarity and momentum on multiple projects can certainly foster a productive and cost-effective solution for both parties.

Another cost-saving option is to negotiate pre-paid support packages or development services. Everything we do in business takes time and has an associated cost. Limiting the constant need for bookkeeping that comes with working with external partners (e.g. need to raise purchase orders, handle invoices, and reconcile accounts) can be very helpful. In this scenario, we generally find both parties are happy to be spending less time (and money) on administrative tasks and more time focusing on delivering project goals.

Leverage insights and opportunities

There’s a level of risk and apprehension that goes with any outsourcing relationship, especially at the beginning of an engagement. It’s normal to have concerns about whether the partner you choose will deliver what they say they will or if the quality of work will meet your expectations. But there’s always a flip side.

Specialist providers can offer unique insights to help optimise business process or find ways of building more cost effective online solutions that require much less maintenance over time. Specialists also have access to the latest product updates and vendor accreditations. They bring knowledge and experience that will complement even the most highly-trained and well-resourced in-house teams.

Our experience shows that outsourcing works well for businesses of all sizes and stages of development. OSE works with many top-tier organisations assisting them to deliver online development solutions and to make sure their systems are running as smoothly as possible. We’re also there to deliver key business insights to the right people at the right time. It’s our job to always be on the lookout for better ways to deliver services, which are more cost-effective, through online technologies.

If you want to explore more ways to save money outsourcing your online development, get in touch with OSE to find out more.