Forward-thinking organizations are partnering with external development teams to help them innovate. This process allows them build products faster, focus on special projects and have an outside perspective on technical challenges. The benefits can be incredible if you choose an experienced partner and work to build trust between both teams. Here are five tips for increasing your success when augmenting development.
1. Follow a single process with a partner you trust.
Often times, when companies decide to bring in external partners to champion a project outside of their wheelhouse, they find it difficult to let go of their preconceived notions of how the project should run. This is a classic mistake that could cost you time, money and success. Wise leaders find partners they trust to do a great job while taking them through all stages of a project's life cycle.
If you aren't bought into how the vendor works, take a step back and realize that you hired them for a reason: to make this thing happen and happen well. While it’s important to communicate any existing company policies that impact development, trying to force aspects of your own process on a specialized project with an external team is more often than not a recipe for disaster. Trust a proven process, like Agile, to prevent confusion and more possible points of failure.
2. Establish clear and constant communication.
Communication is one of the single most important factors in building a successful app or software product. You need to be in the know at all times on what's going on with your project. If you find yourself with a partner who is keeping you in the dark, ask them to have weekly or bi-weekly check-ins where you can find out what has been done, what they will be committing to in the next week or two and what impediments they currently have that you can help squash.
Make sure to use a searchable mode of communication that can keep everyone in the know. Educate everyone within your organization on using that one platform for project related discussions. We prefer to use Basecamp for this, and your partner will likely use something similar. Text Messages, Emails and private Slack threads can cause information to be lost and things can slip through the cracks.
3. Designate a single Product Owner.
Our most successful app projects at TEEPS are possible when our clients have a clear, dedicated Product Owner. This is a single person from your organization that communicates the vision for the project, keeps all stakeholders informed and has the complete decision making authority. If you have multiple people in the room from your company all trying to communicate vision to your development partner, it is very unlikely you will end up with the product you want.
Choose one person within your organization that can be the single voice for the product and its direction. This one can be tricky depending on your organization, however it is imperative to the success of your project. Development teams don't work well with multiple voices fighting to be the loudest in the room.
4. Play to your strengths.
If you do not already have an internal development team, trying to build a product in-house for the first time can be incredibly difficult. Some companies find this out the hard way by building a development team only to find it more expensive and time consuming than they bargained for. Even if you hire your own talented developers and designers, you'll likely need someone technical with lots of experience to manage them, provide support and ensure they can reach their potential. An hour from an experienced development team goes much further than one from a newly spun up development team with less experience.
There are things you are good at, and things you aren't. Always pay attention to what you think someone else could do better and let their genius shine. Part of good leadership is identifying the right people for the right things while avoiding making decisions outside of your areas of expertise.
Don't get me wrong. Definitely trust your instinct, however exercise self control and reflect when you think you might be stepping out of your areas of strength both with your internal teams and external partners.
5. Start now.
The sooner, the better. Sure, best to market is a thing and arguably just as important as first to market, yet we've seen countless amazing products never launch due to development being disorganized and taking longer than it should. This is exactly what working with the right external partner to execute on your vision can prevent.
Stick to what you do best and have other people do what they do best to benefit you. It doesn't matter how awesome your product is if you never release it.
Need help bringing your mobile project to life? Our in-house team of designers and developers has built apps for over 70 clients. Get in touch with us.