How do you find an offshore provider that is reliable and provides good quality?

Apr 30, 2013 | CIO Knowledge

Nowadays, offshore software development is common practice. The formal and organizational barrier to partner with offshore software development suppliers gets lower and lower. But while it has become easier to form work relationships with offshore service providers, the quality standards and business ethics of the providers entering the market varies strongly. So the question is: How do you find an offshore provider that is reliable and provides good quality?

Software offshore providers shouldn’t be a black box

Experience has shown that the greatest risk in offshore software development projects is to treat the supplier as a black box. This way you won’t know the conditions under which the software is created. As with any production company, the quality of the produced goods depends on the people and the processes in place. So if you want to make sure that the cooperation with an offshore partner is successfull you’ll need to gain insight into his processes and into the skills of his employees.

This leads to the question how to get this insight. On the one hand it is questionable to what extent the service provider allows you to take a look at his processes. On the other hand the effort of verifying the quality of the software has to be limited to an appropriate amount of time.

For this reason it is important to develop tools and metrics with which the operation and quality of the results can be assessed, to ensure compliance with the agreed quality. Or if there is a lack of quality, it can be proved and a fact based dialogue for continuous quality improvement can be started.

seereneTM offers transparency in offshore development

Such an instrument can be found in seereneTM. SeereneTM starts by connecting itself with the code versioning system and analyzes which source code has been checked in by the individual developers. It then analyzes the source code itself along the versions that have been checked in, as described in our blog post “How far would you come driving blindfolded?”

While in Germany it is not possible to evaluate personal data of employees due to data protection laws, in countries where offshore companies are located it often is. Even if the identity of a developer is not the decisive factor, seereneTM still allows to examine if external developers have produced source code which is vulnerable and requires intensive maintenance. Based on the analysis results a collaboration with the offshore service provider can be initiated to figure out whether the qualification or motivation of the employees or the processes need to be improved, respectively.

In that respect seereneTM can be used like a speedometer in cars, where you can immediately see if you drive too fast and must slow down or shift gears. Because it not only takes a snapshot of the source code, but shows the complete evolution of the source code over time. In this way, the client can always keep track of how the quality that is provided by offshore service providers is progressing.

Further advantages of working with seereneTM

Another aspect that hasn’t been addressed in this blog post yet, is a financial one. Among the quality assurance aspect we described already, seereneTM can reproduce how many developers have worked on the source code and how long it took to make a certain progress. In other words, it not only allows to receive an insight of the software quality, but it additionally helps you to verify whether the invoices from your supplier are justified or not.

Now, we would like to answer the original question: “How do we find an offshore provider that is reliable and provides good quality?” The answer is quite simple: Offshore software development providers who agree to use seereneTM as a solution to measure the services provided, obviously have nothing to hide and are able to supply good quality.

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