Project management isn’t just about managing projects. It is a collaborative effort of stakeholders, ranging from in-house teams to outsourced partners. In all fairness, the latter is a more complicated space since an outsider in a possibly different time zone has to access your data, processes, and teams. While outsourcing digital product development projects, enterprises have a long road to trek. Issues from lack of credibility to unclear objectives are directly responsible for a failed engagement and ultimately a sub-standard quality of end output.
If your outsourcing partner isn’t performing as per expectations, the fault may be at your end. Here are the top mistakes that project managers knowingly or unknowingly commit while hiring product development partners.
Mistake #1: Not Organizing the Project Into Individual Parts
The core job function of managers is to strategically divide the project scope and then manage the lifecycle towards seamless product delivery. Yet most managers struggle with organizing a development process and delegate to different teams scattered across time zones with an unclear or overlapping scope of work. Amidst increasing demand for contemporary technologies such as IoT and AI, project management ought to sustain the conventional practice of setting long-term and short-term goals while embracing agile at every level.
Therefore, setting milestones, deadlines, and strategies for every team while monitoring the aerial view is what managers should start with.
One size fits all doesn’t work anymore.
Given the swathe of digital solutions available, on-demand customization is a basic expectation from all products. To achieve that, managers must include fragmentation, no matter how small the development process is.
By dividing the project development task into different numbers of micro-projects, delegation and tracking the progress becomes easier. It delivers a clearer view about the areas that need more focus while others that are less critical. Since every project is a totally different ecosystem, it is essential to plan and design a new breakdown strategy for every project. Most managers try to implement the same template for every project and thus end up creating more issues. In fact, a lot of time and effort goes into discussing the targeted features and not the problems. When left unattended, this creates inconsistencies and no clarity over whom to hold accountable.
Ideally, product managers must include the consent of all the stakeholders while creating a breakdown strategy. Therefore, the entire roadmap including the effort estimation (features vs time of development) should be generated based on feedback from all. Most importantly, the roadmap generation activity must involve a senior technical resource. There’s a valid reason why most project managers with technical experience gain precedence over others. This is because a technical perspective helps in identifying potential gaps in advance.
Mistake #2: Only Searching Locally for Product Development Firms
Besides simplifying processes, digitization is also meant to perfect the offshore engagement model. Unlike a decade ago when only selective jobs were outsourced to IoT product development companies in a different geography, it is easy to outsource end-to-end processes today. Although outsourcing has been around for more than a decade, it’s the proximity of the vendor that has changed. Previously, critical tasks like product design and engineering were outsourced to nearby vendors that were accessible for real-time face-to-face meetings.
Today, different elements of the product element teams can collaboratively work from anywhere on the map. In 2020, more than half of the world successfully drove critical implementations while working from home. There couldn’t have been a better testimony of outsourcing regardless of geographical borders.
A humongous pool of qualified resources is accessible remotely and yet most enterprises don’t utilize the opportunity. Despite such supportive infrastructure to execute product development, product owners are still sticking to nearby local vendors and that’s where they are lacking.
Consider a simple example of various community networks on social platforms like Facebook and LinkedIn. Product owners can access skilled resources from all over the world. Likewise, there are dedicated platforms that help commence technology development projects with ease. Consider Ioterra, a platform for business owners and vendors to engage in project development deals that need high-tech talents such as IoT, AI, or blockchain.
The platform created the world’s first and hugely successful community of IoT professionals and service providers to connect with like-minded business houses across disciplines. Carrying forward the experience, the platform has extended its services to more technologies. The idea is to create one comprehensive professional network for engineers, designers, prototype experts, and a range of business consultants.
Mistake #3: Not Evaluating for Credibility
There’s no shortage of vendors responding to your RFP. However, selecting the right product development services provider isn’t as simple as it reads. The fact that when everybody’s pitching their best and fighting for ‘that’ opportunity, managers must do more than just browsing proposals. While outsourcing, it is imperative to check for the applicant’s (vendor’s) credibility on tools like requests for proposals.
Start with the company’s literature. Read their whitepapers, case studies, and blogs to imbibe their organizational knowledge base. Even better would be to engage them in a low-level design proposal discussion. A low-level design is the component level understanding of the solution architecture and provides insights into the technology partner’s expertise. Next, don’t hesitate to interview the reps. Check for their effort-estimation skills, resource management, and the actual approach to hiring and deploying resources on your project.
Probe the applicant for their experience and approach in prototyping, business strategizing, multi-disciplinary engineering (such as in the case of IoT products).
Understand this – An IoT system landscape consists of multiple components. It requires expertise across many development tools & frameworks to achieve one robust solution. Therefore, it is better to defer the project implementation than outsourcing the project to a mediocre technology company.
A technology partner may be the most important pillar in your STACK. If utilized appropriately, they could ensure a seamless go-live and ultimately address the gaps in your original landscape. Going forward, enterprises must not underestimate the value of on-demand access to a global skill set. In the pursuit of a timely and qualitative output, product managers are an integral part and have a greater role to adorn than just managing the resourcing.