The Do's & Don'ts of Managing an Outsourced Java Development
Java remains one of the most popular programming languages in the world that can be used for building various software products, from web applications to complex IoT solutions. Considering the popularity of Java as well as its reliability and quality, there are many people out there who pretend to be Java experts but don’t have the skills, experience, and expertise to design and build the high-quality products that company owners are looking for.
Faced with this challenge, many turn to outsourcing as a great way to expand the talent pool and find the perfect specialist for their project. However, in order to make such approaches a success, the management of an outsourced team of Java developers needs to follow certain rules in order to gain the maximum value from the relationship. Luckily, there are a few simple do’s and don’ts to follow. Once you’ve got a better idea of how to work with an outsourced development team, if you still need help selecting the right company, tell us what you need. We can do the work for you and connect you with up to 5 companies within 72h that match your need- all for free.
If you wish to know more about outsourcing you may be interested in our article about Java developer hiring trends, or our article about how to work with remote Java developers.
The Do’s of Managing an Outsourced Java Team
If you’re going to work with an outsourced Java development team, you need to rearrange some of your processes so that the work is smooth and hassle-free. Here are the key things to pay attention to:
Specify Your Requirements for Java Developers
Java is a general-purpose language that can be used for a wide variety of purposes. As a result, every Java-related project demands a very specific set of requirements for the developers.
Before reaching out to these developers, it’s important to create a competency framework and list down all the requirements needed for the specialist. This will save significant amounts of time for all involved as it will help both yourself and any potential developers understand the fit required for the project.
A good job description usually includes the preferred number of years of experience, preferred technical and soft skills, level of experience (whether you need a junior or a senior developer), and a project domain. Including the description of a project and its domain is particularly important as outsourced Java developers may already have experience in this domain and thus can be a valuable asset to your company.
You’ll also want to consider which engagement model will best suit your business needs. Are you looking for a developer to work on a full product development piece, or do you only need someone to work through bugs and offer support? Make sure to mention this in the job description.
Test the Team’s Knowledge and Ask for a Portfolio
The biggest risk associated with hiring outsourced Java developers is getting a team of mediocre professionals with poor coding skills.
To avoid this always ask the team to show you their portfolio and ensure they complete a test task. With this approach, you will be able to see whether the developers really have the needed skills and if their code is in line with your quality standards.
In Java software development, code review is a common practice so if your developers cannot understand the code of the outsourced team, you might be in trouble - and vice versa!
However, if both teams understand each other’s code and your QA team does not see any major bugs in the code of the outsourced developers, then you can be more confident on future output quality.
Generate Code Documentation
Code quality is the cornerstone of project performance so it’s obligatory to have well-established processes designed to check the quality of the code produced.
One of the most common ways to monitor the code writing process is through managed code documentation and comments. This allows for a quick and simple review of the code, seeing what was done there and how.
Fortunately, Java already comes with advanced functionality for checking code quality. Javadocs is the default documentation support with built-in tools that generate the HTML output of the code comments and tools that supplement sequel diagrams. As for third-party tools, Java developers also typically use Maven, Gradle, and ANT for document generation.
It’s crucial that the development team uses the tools at their disposal for generating code documentation on a regular basis. Otherwise, there’s a risk that serious issues that could be difficult - or impossible - to fix will make it through to the final project.
Establish Clear Reporting
Rule number one when you work with an outsourced team: establish clear communication and reporting processes from the beginning.
Poor communication leads to an array of problems including missed deadlines, misunderstanding of requirements, loss of control and client dissatisfaction. These issues often damage a project and all parties suffer as a result. To eliminate such problems, you need to think about how you will maintain communication transparency, how much control you want to delegate to the team, and how the reporting process will work.
When you talk to the team before starting work, negotiate on the best communication methods, assign a Project Manager to be an intermediate between you and the team, and decide on the reporting method and frequency.
A consideration your team should resolve during this setup stage is if you will want to establish an architecture of microservices to make things more manageable. If you wish to know more about this new trend, we have an article about the Microservice trend in Java development.
Even if the team works by Agile (meaning, in sprints), you may still want additional reports to maximise transparency. Remember, all of these elements need to be agreed upon in advance, or you risk starting your project in chaos.
Conduct Regular Testing
When developing a Java project, it’s crucial to regularly conduct unit and integration tests to validate the product’s security and ensure high performance.
Unit testing allows developers to test separate units (i.e. modules) and see how they work. Integration testing is usually conducted by testers and it’s needed to see how the whole system works in integration. Both testing methods are essential for Java project quality and are equally important.
Java developers typically use the JUnit framework for unit testing and SpringBoot for integration testing so its important any external developers are familiar with these tools.
Aim for a Long-Term Relationship
One of the most common mistakes that many company owners make is treating the outsourced team as a temporary “patch” for a current issue. However, we recommend that you approach it as a long-term partnership instead.
The success of an outsourced project greatly depends on the team members’ loyalty and motivation. If you treat outsourced developers as a temporary working force, it’s likely they will not be interested in optimising your product or making any suggestions. On the other hand, if you show that you want to establish a long-term relationship and treat an outsourced team as an equal part of the project, it will greatly motivate the developers and may lead to their increased enthusiasm while encouraging the proposal of creative ideas and suggestions.
Finding the right development team that can gel with your company in a long-term sustainable way is a critical step for realizing your project. If you need help selecting the right company, tell us what you need. We can do the work for you and connect you with up to 5 companies within 72h that match your need- all for free.
The Don'ts of Managing an Outsourced Java Team
There are certain rules to follow when working with an outsourced team - and there are certain things to avoid if you want to achieve a beneficial and reliable collaboration.
Don't Limit the Use of Certain Tools and Technologies
Java is awesome because it has so many available tools for developers to research and study. This is especially true for Java libraries: while many haveLog4j or Joda-Time at their disposal, developers often do not use them and miss out on the readymade solutions available. In addition, developers also waste too much time trying to invent something that already exists when there are tools available that could supplement the requirement in the first place.
Therefore when starting a project with an outsourced team, it’s important to specify the requirements for the developers' skills, without limiting the tools and technologies they can use by using the very best tools at their disposal, the team will be able to complete the project faster and deliver higher quality results.
Micromanagement is a flaw of many managers but you need to be especially careful with it if you work with an outsourced Java team.
Micromanagement creates an atmosphere of distrust, prevents innovation, and, most significantly, annoys the employees. Some may say: but how do I make sure everything goes in accordance with the plan if I do not interfere with the process?
There’s no doubt outsourcing is a tricky business and gives company owners less control over the project than in-house development. However, if you choose to work with an outsourced team, that means you trust these specialists with your project and are ready to delegate a certain amount of responsibility to them. So in the case of outsourcing, micromanagement would be a major obstacle, rather than a way to faster achieve the goal.
Don’t Opt for the Cheapest Option
In most circumstances, outsourced development services are typically known to be cheaper than in-house development. However, this does not mean you should choose the cheapest services when looking at the possible options and comparing prices. It’s worth keeping in mind that there are often pitfalls hidden in low-price teams.
Experienced specialists with a proven record of experience will always charge in correspondence with their level of skills and knowledge. The price will also reflect the rates teams in different countries will charge, and the quality is unlikely to vary.
So to determine your best value option, without compromising quality, you can do research and see what the most suitable rate vs quality options are. In this search, you also need to consider the pricing method that you are going to work by: will it be fixed price or based on time and material? You need to estimate the approximate project cost in accordance with the developers’ rates and see which option will suit you the best.
One more thing: if you go with the cheapest option and the developers are not experienced enough, the chances are high you will need to fix their mistakes and that means double the budget spent on the project. So in the long run, it would save costs to go with a more expensive yet more reliable option.
Don’t Ignore Cultural Differences and Time Zone Shifts
Another challenge of working with outsourced teams is the time zone and cultural differences. Different cultures often require a different approach towards work and this has to be considered when choosing an outsourced team.
The first thing you should pay attention to is the level of English language among the developers. Because you will be regularly communicating with them and reading their reports, it is crucial that the team can efficiently communicate with you in English. Unfortunately, many outsourced teams have poor knowledge of English (while having excellent development skills) and this has the potential to undermine the relationship’s success.
Another thing for you to keep in mind is the general attitude towards work. Some cultures are known to be extremely punctual perfectionists while others tolerate 20-minute delays and completing the tasks in the nick of time. So you need to look for a team that shares the same working attitude as your in-house developers and that will be comfortable for you to communicate with.
Are you ready to outsource your Java development?
Outsourcing a Java development team is the perfect opportunity for any company to get reliable and experienced developers on board and enhance their Java projects with skilled professionals. If you follow the rules mentioned above and organise all internal processes, working with an outsourced team will be no different from working with your in-house developers and will deliver equally great results.
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