Questions to Ask When Outsourcing Software Development - Main Image

So, you’re ready to outsource your new software development project, and interviews are set, but what questions should you ask to ensure you make the best possible decision and increase the chances of your project's success? Don’t worry we handled hundreds of interviews from small to big international companies, and we structured some of the best questions you should ask.

Questions to ask yourself

We know you probably expected to get directly to the “juicy” part, but interviewing is most efficient when you have your homework done. More than that, these questions will provide extra clarity and guide you in the software development process.

1. What are my objectives with the project? What problems should the software solve?

The first thing you should ask yourself is the project's main objective and what problems you are trying to solve with the new software solution.

This is critical because, based on your primary objectives, you and the new software partner can develop a list of priorities - this way, you can ensure the foundation is set just right.

Regarding the problems it should solve, these are great resources to share in the interview; they might have been through something similar and already know how to solve them.

2. What is my budget and timeframe for the project?

We know this sounds basic, but the truth is that the answer provided will determine most of the project coordinates, used technologies, number of staff involved, and more.

Determining how flexible you are on the budget and timeframe is also crucial. You might get different suggestions and solutions where the differences in budget and timeframe are minor, but the positive impact could be much more significant.

3. What are the main functionalities of the software? Are there any special/custom ones?

This one is nice to have. It’s not essential, but it can bring a sense of structure and stability to the project. If both parties know from the beginning what the core functionalities are and the more custom/special ones are, then you won’t have surprises on the road and minimize the chances of having extra costs.

4. If it’s an app or website, what do I like best and why?

We all have different tastes, and our audiences do as well. This question can be a lighthouse for the UI/UX team; if you have references of what you and your audiences love, you will be sure the final product will incorporate those elements.

The reason we believe this is one of the most important questions to ask yourself is that we all have different interpretations of words such as “sleek,” “minimalistic,” or “fancy,” but providing visual reference ensures you and your new software development partner are on the same page.

Interviewing Potential Outsourcing Partners

Questions to ask the outsourcing partner

We’re finally at the section you most probably expected from the beginning. Based on our experience, we formulated 12 questions, starting with the obvious, like past references to things you might not have thought of initially. Let’s dive in.

1. Who are some of your previous clients?

Probably the most obvious question, but still worth noting. This will give you an idea of the scale of projects they worked on and the industries they know best. It’s not really about the reputation of the companies but more about the industry know-how.

2. Can you share some clients' testimonials?

The next natural step is to ask about some of those clients' testimonials. These certainly will provide you with some peace of mind and will also provide you with some insights into what they like most about working on their outsourced software development project.

3. Do you have previous experience with a similar project and the technologies involved?

There’s a significant change you will already know the answer to this question based on the other two questions, but it’s still relevant, and we encourage you to ask about projects that seem similar - not only based on the industry and technology involved but also scale.

4. Who will work on my project? Can I meet some of them?

Believe us when we say this is a critical question with multiple facets. Firstly, you want to ensure they're also not outsourcing your project. Secondly, it can show you a bit of the actual scale of the company, and most importantly, it can show you how proficient they are in English.

5. Will the people working on my project work on others as well?

If your project is highly complex and requires hands-on, full-time software development work, then you should ensure people will work only on your project and will not need to switch between multiple other clients. Still, if your project doesn’t require that, it’s completely normal - but it’s essential to make things clear from the beginning.

6. What does your software development process look like?

The actual technicality of the software development process isn’t what will interest you the most with this question, but mostly to see if they have a transparent process and structure, guidelines, and checks in place that ensure high-quality deliverables.

7. How do you ensure flawless communication within the project development, and how do you provide project transparency?

We need to stress how important this part is. You could have the most talented and technically skilled people in the world if you have no idea about the status of your project; communication is difficult at best, and even worse, they are manipulating the truth about the actual progress being made.

Software development companies with transparency at their core have a well-thought process for project management and communication, so your objective here is to determine how easy it will be for you to work with them and have actual, real-time information about your project status.

8. Do you also handle the UI/UX of the project?

Contrary to expectations, not many software development companies have in-house UI and UX experts. This is critical to your software solution's usability, look and feel.

If they're externalizing this part, it is essential to ask for references and previous work. If they are in-house, collaboration will be smoother, and your project will have a bigger chance to impress.

9. How do you handle security and data protection?

Don’t overlook the importance of this question; this can make or break it for your software product or service. Professional software development outsourcing companies have strict security protocols and build solutions from the ground up with security in mind.

10. What processes do you have in place for quality assurance?

With this question, you want to discover if they have a quality check process and how thorough it is. You will also indirectly discover how much they usually involve their clients in the feedback and production process.

11. Do you provide support and maintenance after the project is finished?

Imagine you’re at a car dealership, have a weak spot for a particular car, test-drive it, and love it. You’re ready to make the deal, only to find out while reading the contract in tiny letters that they don’t offer maintenance.

Will that be a deal breaker for you or not? Sure, it’s not plausible if it’s a brand-new car, but that’s how it should be with a brand-new software solution. Ask about support and maintenance, the actual process, rates, and procedures in place.

12. Why should I choose you?

For the last question, we wanted to write the one that rules them all. Honestly, for all the other questions above, if you researched well, they will have decent or great replies, but this last one is hard to prepare for. What we encourage you with this question is to get a sense of the honesty of your potential new partner.

When starting such an important story, you need to know you can trust that partner, and besides technical capabilities, they have transparency and honesty as actual values.

To wrap it up, What questions should you ask when looking to outsource software development?

We recommend focusing first on the questions you must ask yourself and your team before jumping on a call with your potential outsourcing software development partner.

After that, your questions should clarify multiple facets and objectives, from technical know-how, past references, industry knowledge, way of working, cultural and linguistic fit, transparency, work ethic, quality assurance, support and maintenance, and more.

On our website you will also find a complete guide that will help you discover everything about how to successfully outsource software development.

We encourage you to make your list of questions based on the ones we provided, as we’re sure some areas might be a more significant focus for you than others. 

Furthermore, if you’re looking for a team of experts to take the ropes of your software development project with transparency at their core, feel free to contact us. We can’t wait to hear about your idea.

Article written by Andreea Florescu, Recruitment Specialist

Andreea is an experienced recruitment specialist located in New York (US) who help organizations find the right person for a particular role. For the past years she was part of scaling teams for top companies in the tech world.