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A Guide to Outsourcing Help with Digital Product Design and Development

By Nick Epson on December 23, 2020

It’s fairly common for businesses to find themselves in a position where they need extra help after getting started on a software development project. You might find that a feature is harder to incorporate or build than first thought. Sometimes people quit or there’s a fallout with an agency. In these cases, you either need someone to take the reins or fill a gap where you’re coming up short.

Roadblocks can surface for any number of reasons – what’s important is how you deal with these obstacles. While outsourcing can feel like a shot in the dark, experienced agencies like Blue Label Labs know how to pick up the pieces wherever they may fall and get a project back on track.

Augmenting your design or development efforts with outsourcing is often the best solution when you’re stuck. We’ll start with an overview of the role outsourcing plays in software development then discuss specific scenarios when supplementing your efforts with an outside agency makes sense.

A birds-eye view of outsourcing in the software development world

We sometimes attach a negative connotation to the word “outsourcing” because we’ve either experienced or heard about some blunder where the relationship didn’t quite pan out. Sure, it happens but it’s important to understand that these flops can usually be avoided with good communication and better planning. If you look around, you’ll see many examples where outsourcing plays a pivotal role in the release and ongoing support of successful products – for example, the video game industry has run on outsourcing for nearly two decades with some 80% of development companies turning to outside agencies for help with everything from visuals, sound, programming, and more.

Ignoring the headline-making delays of the highly anticipated Cyberpunk 2077 game, established software development companies tend to understand the challenges and magnitude of the process, allowing them to plug holes before setting sail on their journey. However, most companies have nowhere near the same experience with software development which often results in talent deficits.

Issues often arise because businesses don’t always realize all the various skill sets that need to come together to complete a project. As a result, we find situations where an internal team or outside firm finds themselves needing additional help because they’re missing some pieces of the puzzle.?Usually, it’s not that these teams need to be replaced, they just need to be supplemented with the right talent.

Think of it like this: let’s say you want to restore and customize an old car. You may need up to three shops or individuals to handle the work, meaning one for the mechanical portion, one to do bodywork, as well as someone to tackle the interior (and cleanly integrate your Android Auto or CarPlay compatible stereo!) While there are talented people who can do a great job with all the above, it’s just not as common.

Examples of how outsourcing can fill gaps?

Outsourcing is often the smartest move for organizations when building a digital product like a mobile app for a couple of key reasons. Selecting an experienced, dedicated agency usually costs much less when compared to hiring all the talent required to completely build a digital product from the ground up. Further, companies with several products under their belt know there’s far more to building a solid product than just writing code.

You’re best off going with a full-service digital product agency that can help you do everything from refining business strategy, designing and developing the product, marketing, ongoing support, and beyond. Even if you didn’t come to us in the first place, we can still help fill in where needed.

When executed correctly, augmenting your project with outsourcing should feel natural – auxiliary entities should feel like an extension of your team rather than some fragment you’re trying to force into place. This helps smoothen the process, plus it eliminates the phenomenon of the “not invented here” feeling that can arise when you give control of an idea to an outside team.

Moving along, some of the ways you can use us to supplement your work include:

Mobile strategy and UX design. For those in the early phases of planning an app, we can run you through a week-long Design Sprint that will help answer the most pertinent questions needed to create or refine strategy. One of the key deliverables from a Design Sprint is a functional mockup of your app which is great when you already have the correct developers lined up as this gives them a starting point for the UI/UX.

If you already have a product near completion or already on the market, then you might need additional testing from a focused, independent test group. This will help provide honest feedback on the design and operation of the app, exposing opportunities for improvement.

App design and architecture. Design of the UI heavily influences how the underlying software will be coded as this determines how elements will behave during user interaction. There are times when a certain “look” doesn’t transpose well in terms of expected functionality. By helping you rethink parts of the design, we can make something that’s more development-friendly which leads to a better product.

Burst development capacity. When aggressive deadlines are approaching and you have the perfect team already in place, you might simply need extra eyes or hands on the project. We can assign the perfect talent from our staff to work side-by-side with your existing team to supplement your efforts so you won’t miss your deadline.

Feature implementation. Many times, software developers are tasked with integrating highly specific features that perform some specific functions in an app. For example, you could be building a COVID-friendly dating app that connects people virtually using a video chat but your team isn’t familiar with platforms like Twilio that can be used to build in-app video communication features. Maybe your company is the one building a first-of-its-kind app for luxury real estate that uses AR to help buyers plan out spaces like our CEO alluded to in a quote in this article on Agent Advice.

We have successfully used a wide assortment of different integrations from trusted resources as well as developed backend features using platforms like Microsoft Cognitive Services for AI and ML. This is useful if you plan on including a feature like a chatbot or a search feature that requires natural language processing (NLP) to function according to plan.

Product management. You might have all the talent and tools in place to build a project but still feel unsure about how to proceed. This is where outsourcing product managers (PMs) come into play – these individuals are responsible for organizing assets and delegating responsibilities to team members and all outside entities, both setting plans in motion and maintaining momentum once a project is underway. PMs are essentially responsible for setting milestones and ensuring that everyone has what they need to meet deadlines.

We can help unite teams by assigning an experienced PM who understands how and in what order to assemble all the pieces. One way to think of it is like when first learning how to solve a jigsaw puzzle: after you learn to separate the edge pieces, sort everything by color, and work inward, the process becomes much smoother than haphazardly trying to piece everything together at random.

We can supplement your design and development efforts at Blue Label Labs

We may not have been your first choice but that doesn’t mean that we can’t jump in and lend a hand to help your project cross the finish line. Truly, there are all kinds of issues that can surface when you get a project underway where augmenting your efforts with an extra hand is the best course of action. Get in touch with us today and we can work out a solution to get your project back on track.?

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