Software Development Roles and Responsibilities in Outsourcing
When starting a software development project, we want our team to consist of experienced and skilled individuals, professionals who know all the ins and outs of their craft. But hiring good specialists doesn’t necessarily mean they will form a good team or establish a truly effective software development process.
A good outsourced software development team isn’t something that happens on its own. And expertise isn’t the only important factor determining their efficiency. Understanding and carefully defining roles and responsibilities on an outsourced software development project is another success criteria that deserves your attention as a manager or a business.
On the face of it, the software development process may seem pretty simple: you come to a software development company with a product in mind, tell them what you want, then software developers do the development, QA engineers do quality assurance, the product gets deployed, and you enjoy the results. But who’s responsible for deciding how things get done? Who formulates project goals and objectives? Who sets the environments? Who serves as the main point of contact between the stakeholders and your outsourced software development team? All of a sudden, there’s more roles to fill and responsibilities to take on. So where do you start? How do you know who you need?
Clearly defining software development team roles and responsibilities is especially important when outsourcing, where your project team is a mix of your own in-house troops and the outsource software development team provided by your trusted vendor. In addition to improving the overall efficiency of your software development project, clearly defined roles and responsibilities will also give you a better understanding of what you’re actually paying for and why. This will help you avoid any extra or hidden costs. Therefore, it’s important to define all the responsibilities from the get-go.
Together, the client and their vendor assess the scope of the project (what needs to be done), assign roles, and delegate responsibilities to managers of different teams within the project. The managers, in turn, define objectives and break them down into individual tasks that are assigned to the talented employees under their leadership. This process ensures better planning efficiency and drastically increases your chances of keeping the project on track and within budget.
Everyone knows what they are doing. People know exactly what’s expected of them in the accomplishing of the common project goals and objectives. When everyone knows their responsibilities, they cooperate more efficiently with less misunderstandings, blockers, and conflicts along the way. Communication becomes easier and more straightforward when there are simply fewer issues to discuss.
So without further ado, let’s go straight into the team member roles in software development projects and their responsibilities.
Roles and responsibilities in software development: who are all these people we’re hiring?
Before your developers write the first line of code for your future product or service, there is still a fair amount of work and thought to be put into your project. From initial meetings with your vendor to planning and understanding what it is that you’re all trying to produce here, this section will introduce you to the key people you meet during the discovery phase of your software development project, before the contracts get signed and the development truly takes off.
Account managers play a crucial role in any B2B relationship. And software development outsourcing is no exception. The account manager is the first person you meet when you approach a software development company with a project you need help implementing. Account manager responsibilities include building and maintaining a healthy, long-term relationship between the client and the outsourcing vendor they represent. They will also serve as your client success manager after the vendor’s part in your project is over: check in on the health of your business, the software product or service their company helped you build, and handle all of your further requests.
The account manager is your main point of contact with the vendor. They are there to understand what it is that you’re looking for and where you’re trying to go with your business needs. They will analyze your request and guide you through the presale process, making sure you get all the information and resources your project requires.
As an output from this initial phase, the account manager will provide you with two key documents:
- An estimation document that is broken down into approximate costs, timelines for the project, and terms and conditions, clarifying details such as payment options and collaboration models.
- A proposal document that walks you through the tech and business approach your vendor has chosen for the implementation of your project, including the outline of inputs and outputs expected from both the client and the vendor.
These documents will help you get a rough idea of the processes your vendor is trying to organize for your project, the outsourced software development team they’re putting together, the potential risks and assumptions involved, and finally where exactly all those costs are coming from. Soon after you’ve received the aforementioned documents, your account manager might follow up with a call to talk you through them with answers to all of the questions on the estimates and why some of the rationales were made.
When you’re happy with the estimation phase, you might want to move straight to development. But such transition would require you to be certain that you can successfully achieve your business goals with what you have on your mind. And this would be the case if you had all of your business analysis, technical requirements, and other documented project data ready from the start. In our experience, however, most of the clients don’t really know what exactly they want to build straight away. So we move into the discovery phase instead, to help them figure it all out before the full development team is assembled.
A good discovery phase is a critical part of your software development process. Here, you’re laying the groundwork for the success of your software solution. This may take anywhere between a few hours or a few weeks, depending on whether it’s a big, complex solution or a small project.
One of the first people you meet in the process is a business analyst. Quite often overlooked, unfortunately, this is one of the most valuable software development team roles. But what does a business analyst do?
Their main job is to polish and verify your business idea so that you can be sure you’re not wasting your time and money building something your stakeholders neither need, nor want. A business analyst takes you through the outsourcing vendor’s understanding of your business needs and highlights where those could be refined or even expanded. With a data-oriented mindset, business analyst’s assumptions and suggestions are always supported with comprehensive data.
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In the course of the discovery phase, together with a software architect, delivery manager, and possibly even a UX/UI designer (roles we will get to shortly), a business analyst defines and further refines the features your software solution should have from a business perspective. They translate your business needs to requirements, help you craft a product vision, and make sure the technical side of things is going in the right business direction—towards achieving the project’s product/market fit.
The key deliverables a business analyst provides are:
- Business Requirements Specification which includes data such as a problem statement, business drivers, business model, business use cases, and other business requirements.
- Functional Specification that is the collection of all the functional requirements and features for the product such as system use cases and user needs.
- Non-Functional Specification that provides requirements for the future product’s performance, security, maintainability, compliance, and other non-functional requirements.
The key responsibilities of a business analyst include:
- collaborating and leading effective communication with all stakeholders to identify opportunities and potential benefits for the project and meet the user needs
- creating documentation, formulating goals, and building business architecture to meet quality requirements
- making sure project outcomes are aligned with the product vision, business model, and strategy.
Some clients come to us when they have absolutely no idea of the technology they want to use in their software development project. And that’s okay!
So, we need to put someone in front of them who knows what tech would complement their business requirements best. This person is called a software architect—the technical brains of the operation.
Proper software architecture is crucial when it comes to high-quality projects. The key responsibility of a software architect is to define the best architectural structure, the software’s model and function for your project. They will reduce technical complexity and provide technical leadership for your project, focusing on clarity. They are in charge of all the high-level design choices on the project, including the coding standards, environments, tools, platforms, etc.
Where a Senior developer would be enough to handle the tech matters on a small project, you definitely need to involve an experienced software architect on a big project with complex non-functional requirements to solve. Even when you already have a tech stack on your mind, they may still suggest different, better-suited technologies and solutions based on non-functional requirements to potentially save you money and time.
Last but not least, a software architect will provide you with a comprehensive system design document as part of the discovery phase. An architectural document that shows you exactly how the vendor plans to put together your solution—design and programming guidelines, iteration contents, and a collective understanding of what the client needs from the tech solution and environment as a whole.
Shortly into the discovery phase, you will be introduced to another key figure called a delivery manager. This fundamental role in the Agile software development environment is accountable for the management of your expectations, overseeing the delivery process from discovery to deployment, and ensuring that your needs are met in a timely fashion. This is the person in charge of coordinating the presale and discovery phases and serves as your main point of support and escalation throughout your software development project.
A delivery manager effectively understands what the client needs not just from a technical perspective but based on how the client is going to drive their business with it as well. They are there to help you understand exactly what it is that you’re after.
“Delivery Manager is a person who possesses good business and technical background. They guide the client through the delivery process and can effectively engage with them, talk to them on all different levels. They ensure that everything is taking place in the right way. Ensure the outputs of what the client needs they get. As a management role it adds significant value to a project.”
For example, a client might want to implement a transformation project to reorganize their business in order to either save money or effectively grow in a particular direction. A delivery manager can add value because they understand both the business and the technical element of the problem the client is trying to solve. They will identify the best processes or delivery methods to use, provide the client with the data they need to make informed decisions, and help them measure and evaluate outcomes. In case the project faces a challenging obstacle, the delivery manager will integrate various team efforts to remove the blocker, maintain delivery momentum, and get the best value within these constraints.
Among the aforementioned duties a delivery manager performs, the broad range of their responsibilities includes:
- maintaining proactive and reactive communication with the business owner and stakeholders to interpret their technical and business needs, facilitate difficult discussions, and provide delivery confidence
- setting up the environment your development team needs to ensure efficient collaboration, communication, and focus on achieving project goals
- bringing people together to form a motivated team, protecting team members, and facilitating the delivery flow with an iterative plan to work towards
- coaching the team to help them become more autonomous, better at organising their own work
- proactively addressing all the internal and external risks, issues and dependencies with budgets and people
- driving experimentation and continuous improvement with the most suitable agile practices and tools for the project.
During the discovery phase, your business analyst may suggest involving a domain expert or, as they are sometimes called, a subject-matter expert. These people are true professionals with deep knowledge, broad skills, and extensive experience in a particular industry or business area. Like, for example, an accountant is an expert in the domain of accountancy. The input from such experts can save you a lot of back and forth on refining requirements.
Domain experts serve as consultants to your software development project. Their superior knowledge of the domain helps your software development team create a higher-quality software product vision statement during discovery and verify if the business and technical requirements were met in full during user acceptance testing.
Although domain experts usually lack any kind of technical expertise, this should be considered a strong point. The lack of technical knowledge helps them focus purely on business outcomes, which provides your team with deeper insight into the problem you’re trying to solve. They can also prove a great contribution to the creation of your early-stage wireframes and prototypes.
A lengthy but less complicated process than discovery and planning, the development phase is where the actual coding starts and you get tangible results of what you’re actually paying your vendor for. The process is pretty straightforward: from iteration to iteration, the coding and related tasks are divided between software development team members according to their area and level of expertise.
Moving from the discovery to delivery phase, your software development company sources, interviews, and onboards the required talent to your project. The hiring process is usually coordinated by a dedicated software project manager who makes sure all the candidates are handpicked to best suit your project goals.
But before we dig into the role of a PM and their responsibilities on the project, you should learn about the two important documents a project manager provides you with prior to the development stage:
- A project initiation document a.k.a. a project management plan is a document that defines how the client and the vendor will manage communication, the roles and responsibilities on the project, as well as the risks, issues, quality control, change control, etc. The document acts as an engagement between the two companies and provides insight into the escalation process between the two.
- A work breakdown structure organizes and defines the total scope of the project. It tells the client what needs to be built, why, and gives them full transparency into the development processes. The document includes information about work on each of the features, associated technology stacks, and costs broken down by each and different elements.
Back to responsibilities now. Simply put, a project manager is a person responsible for keeping your product delivery on track and within budget. In comparison to the role of a delivery manager, your PM is more focused on micromanaging the team. They manage every development process directly, coordinating the team in accordance with the agreed software development practices and approaches. They continuously assess the performance of the project and each individual team member to introduce process improvements that would enable faster and higher-quality iterations. The goal is to keep the team members high-performing and provide everything they need to get the work done.
Among the key duties the project manager performs are also maintaining frequent and consistent communication with the client and ensuring a good working relationship. The PM manages meetings and documentation, identifies and monitors risks. When something unexpected happens in the course of development, their job is to solve the problem and ensure it doesn’t reappear in the future. Having an experienced project manager to rely on, you no longer need to keep track of every little activity on the project and can focus entirely on your business instead.
Although we’re introducing you to the role of a UX/UI designer here in the development section of the article, it is quite likely you have already met this person during the presale and discovery phases. The UX/UI designer is responsible for turning your product vision into a compelling, friendly, and intuitive user interface that provides great user experience and brings high conversion rates. Their focus is set on product usability, functionality, and visual design.
More often that not, the UX/UI designer joins the project prior to the delivery phase, providing you with the following:
- A general design approach, a design philosophy that serves as a kind of a guide that explains the goals and the overall design direction for your product in line with the work of your business analyst. This also usually means well-defined screens and user stories ready for the first sprint.
- A flowchart, a diagram or visualization of user steps and screens that make it easier for the client to understand the future structure of the product.
- Wireframes, the basic structure of your future product with more detailed depiction of user journeys and layout of content and functionality. They help provide better estimates for the project and define the main tasks.
- A clickable prototype that serves as a full visual representation of the user interface of the future product. And unlike static wireframes, a clickable prototype may include all the animations, transitions, sliders, as well as other effects and functionality. A good prototype can sometimes even be visually indistinguishable from a finished product.
When it comes to product development, designers play a very important role in the process. Especially in the early stages, helping the client better understand how exactly their product will be working and making it easier for them to convey ideas to their stakeholders and raise money.
“For example, a client comes to us with a request to develop an MVP in order to secure investment. Our account managers could’ve immediately started calculating the costs of a project manager, the development team, et cetera. But instead, we analyze the situation and provide more cost-efficient options such as a clickable prototype. This way, we save our client nearly two thirds of the budget and, at the same time, provide an effective solution that serves the same goals.”
Even though this means less profit for the vendor in the short term, this provides significantly more value to the client and serves as a great foundation for a long-term, trustful relationship. When the client does secure that investment, they are more likely to bring further product development to the company that has already shown their reliability with deep expertise and budget-friendly solutions.
The key duties of a UX/UI designer include:
- working closely with the business analyst and software architect to transform business ideas into mockups and prototypes
- establishing design patterns and iterating them using a variety of design approaches and prototyping methods
- designing intuitive end-to-end journeys and interactions that help users complete their goals with ease and enjoy the process
- creating layouts and individual design elements that underpin interactions and ensure visual attractiveness of the product
- communicating ideas to the development team and other team members throughout the build process to ensure everyone stays on the same page
Your UX/UI designer is one of the key players responsible for the success of your product. So never assume that they do all their work up front and then move onto another project. No matter how little design work your product or service requires, the UX/UI designer will be actively involved throughout the entire delivery process from translating your business goals and ideas into clickable prototypes to supervising feature implementation, assessing feature design performance, and introducing the necessary UI fixes over time.
Software developers, also referred to as coders, are your main and indispensable troops on a software development project of any complexity and scale. Their role on the project is pretty straightforward: writing and implementing clean, efficient code based on the provided technical requirements. It wouldn’t hurt to mention that the more effectively the management communicates the technical requirements to your dev team, the lower the risk of accumulating technical debt.
In the course of writing code and building your software product from the ground up, your software developers will also be required to:
- provide estimates on the amount of time needed to deliver a given task
- communicate the status of their work or when they reach a milestone to their team lead or project manager
- support specific project management activities to improve the development processes
- collaborate with other team members to design features, review specifications, test and document the written functionality when necessary
There are three primary types of software developers who are responsible for different layers of your software solution:
- Front-end developers are responsible for creating the part of software your users can actually see and interact with. This part of your software product is called the presentation layer and includes everything from layouts, texts, and buttons to colors and animations. They work closely with the UX/UI designers to ensure the smoothest and most enjoyable experience for your users.
- Back-end developers build and optimize the data access layer—server-side stuff, or, one could say, the guts of your software. This includes complex application logic, sophisticated algorithms, servers, databases, and powerful engines that make the magic happen from under the hood of your software product or service. They are in charge of the security and stability of your software and seamless integration of external modules.
- Full-stack developers are experienced professionals, mostly Middle or Senior engineers, specializing in building and optimizing both the client and server side of your software solution. Full-stack developer skills include all layers of software—the full stack of technologies, languages, and frameworks that make up your software product or service. They also tend to be very well-versed in data structuring, business logic, and user experience.
The difference between the responsibilities of Junior, Middle, and Senior developers
It isn’t all about years of experience a software developer has, but their mindset, the skills they developed, and the knowledge accumulated along the way. Obviously, senior developers possess far better coding skills and more knowledge than junior and mid-level developers, but even the most inexperienced junior can sometimes provide your software development project with something a senior won’t be able to.
One of the biggest skill and knowledge gaps between junior and senior developers comes from how they approach writing their code. A senior developer writes simple, straightforward code with maintainability and scalability in mind. They think about the long-term impact of their code on the further development of your software and the people who will have to work with it. Junior developers, on the other hand, just want to make the code work. Their code is usually overly complex due to the lack of understanding of the whole picture behind the project.
Another significant difference between junior, mid-level, and senior developers is the mistakes they make. Senior and mid-level developers have been through the entire software development cycle many times and probably made a lot of mistakes that they learned from and won’t ever repeat again. At the same time, juniors are only starting their journey of trial and error. Thus, they are very likely to let a mistake slip here and there.
Junior developers, in general, are assigned the most simple, low-impact tasks. Middle developers perform tasks of different complexity and with much less supervision. Finally, senior specialists, in addition to completing the most complex tasks, can also be involved in the architectural design for the project or participate in high-level decision making. They feel comfortable in any project management practices, not afraid of working in various environments, and know how to ask the right questions and how to follow up on the information they get. That is why at QArea, we assign a senior developer to each junior and middle specialist to mentor them and help succeed with challenging tasks.
There’s one important trait, however, a junior specialist might offer over an experienced senior developer confident in their skill—the curiosity about learning new things. Fresh developers have a strong focus on learning, experimenting, and honing their skills. They have the motivation and positive attitude that fuel their creativity and can provide your project with many new, interesting, unconventional ideas and solutions.
It is safe to say that the best option for your software development project would be to hire both experienced (senior and mid-level) developers and fresh, junior specialists. Such a diverse team will effectively complement each other’s mindsets, skills, and knowledge.
Rarely a part of a small development team, this role is very common in mid-sized and large projects where software developers are broken down in teams for higher team efficiency. In such cases, team lead is usually a senior engineer responsible for a small number of developers. They have an overall understanding of the product goals, technical aspects, and business logic and serve as a mentor, guiding their team. They ensure better coordination between individual team members and that the tasks are performed accordingly.
Team leads take instructions and report to the delivery manager or project manager. Team lead responsibilities may include:
- reviewing code and giving honest feedback
- coaching team members on delivering results and encouraging their professional development
- facilitating the daily sprint initiatives and eliminating blockers affecting project progress
- protecting team members from distractions and any external interferences.
Deployment & Maintenance
This mainly depends on the complexity of your project and how tight your budget is, but involving a QA expert early on as a part of the process will definitely help maintain the quality of your software solution at a high level in the long run. Even though they really shouldn’t, a lot of projects today rely on coders to do the testing in the course of development. This is mostly due to budget limitations. Some, however, truly believe that QA will only slow down the delivery process and leave it for last. They are wrong.
What they don’t understand is that quality assurance and testing require a whole different set of skills than development. Not only do developers risk failing deadlines and losing their focus on the project development itself when testing, but they also won’t be able to build a proper test plan or maintain test cases necessary to assure the quality of the product in development. This is what makes the role of a QA lead and their loyal testing troops so pivotal.
The QA lead is in charge of supervising the team of quality assurance engineers and controlling the software testing processes on the project. They are responsible for the test strategy, resource planning, internal team communication, testing process estimation, and quality control on the project. Along with the delivery manager and project manager, they maintain direct communication with the client.
The list of QA lead responsibilities includes:
- setting QA goals and objectives, establishing and supervising QA processes using industry best practices
- defining quality standards, metrics, and milestones for the project, ensuring they are reviewed and agreed upon
- acting as the key point of contact for all internal and external QA aspects of the project
- sending status reports on all the escalations related to QA and testing to the higher management
- controlling risks and creating backup plans
- collaborating with the development team to ensure software testability
- measuring the performance of each individual team member
The main deliverables you get from your quality assurance team are:
- Test strategy that serves as the outline of the testing approach, the guiding principles for test design, and a systematic approach to processes.
- Test plan and estimation that documents the scope, timelines, and methods for the software testing objectives on the project.
- Test scenarios and cases that include test steps, test data, and sets of actions needed to verify the quality of separate features and your software solution as a whole.
- Defect reports that contain details about bugs, errors, unexpected outputs, and other things found in your software that don’t work properly.
Manual QA Engineer
As a part of the QA team, manual testers make sure that your software solution is free from bugs and errors and meets all the technical and business requirements. They use various bug tracking and test management tools like Jira, ReQtest, and LoadRunner to explore your code, check through your interfaces, and report on any issues that affect the performance, usability, compatibility, configuration, security, and many other quality aspects of your software.
QA engineers write test documentation, create test cases, assess the quality of your codebase, and identify development bottlenecks to help establish best development practices on your project. In the long run, hiring QA engineers saves you from a lot of trouble such as tech debt and unnecessary rework.
QA Automation Engineer
While manual testers are mainly focused on assessing the quality of freshly built features and verifying elements that require human judgement, a QA automation engineer’s job is to make sure these new code and functionality don’t break anything in the previously implemented features. A QA automation engineer applies their strong programming skills and tools such as Selenium, Appium, or TestComplete to write various scripts that run in the background, continuously checking your code for bugs and errors. They create entire automation environments for repeated tests.
Whether due to tedious repetitiveness or excessive complexity, some types of tests are simply not worth your manual testing resources. It would be a lot faster, more reliable, and cost-efficient to automate these QA processes and save your manual testers for tasks that require human attention. The best candidates for automation are unit, regression, performance, smoke, and integration tests.
Quite literally as the name suggests, your DevOps engineers serve as a cross-functional team responsible for the support of your software solution’s development and operation through various tools, environments, and Agile practices.
A DevOps engineer is responsible for managing tools, development and testing environments, solving infrastructural issues, and underpinning good development processes—implementation of CI/CD practices and standards, system automation, version control, etc. They can spot architectural, infrastructure, and development process deficiencies on your project and suggest solutions to eliminate or optimize them.
You may think of DevOps as an unnecessary budget line, but the reality is that this long-term solution saves you from overspending in the future. DevOps enables you to improve the stability of your operating environments, update your solution and deliver new features faster, and easily scale your infrastructure up and down depending on your needs.
Additional software development roles that can be outsourced
Chief Technology Officer
While the aforementioned roles in software development and their corresponding responsibilities essentially help you build the specific software product or service you requested, a CTO serves as the technical visionary for your entire business. They need to be both well-versed in technology and have strong business acumen to build efficient strategies and provide sound technical leadership in all aspects of your business.
The CTO participates in business development meetings. They work closely with stakeholders, business analysts, and software architects to discover and implement new technologies, brainstorm innovative product or service solutions, and inform necessary technological improvements/adjustments that would align perfectly with the company’s business goals. They assess the technological performance of your business, monitor the KPIs, control IT budgets, and supervise tech teams to ensure business efficiency through the use of technology.
Having an experienced, well-versed CTO is especially important for young startups, technology and SaaS companies that want to yield competitive advantage. Well…who doesn’t? Right? Whether such a crucial role should be outsourced, however, is a very debatable question.
The main argument in favor of CTO outsourcing is pretty obvious—the experience and a proven track record. Of course, if you’re an early-stage startup with a small team, you could give this role to a more or less experienced and ambitious software developer on your project. But would their technical background and business knowledge be enough to give your young business a clear tech direction? The less obvious CTO role outsourcing advantages are the flexibility and cost. For companies that just need a temporary boost or can’t afford to hire an in-house CTO yet, outsourcing might be the right way to go.
Some argue, however, that there’s just too much responsibility and risk associated with the CTO role to fill it with an external hire. And while commitment and loyalty are truly important factors to consider when hiring a CTO, whether they deliver the expected results has nothing to do with the way you engage with them. It all depends on the vendor you choose for the job and the attention you pay to the experience and past achievements of the offered candidate.
A CTO can be hired at any stage of your project development. But it’s always better to involve one early on so you could analyze the technologies on the market and find new opportunities before you’re deep into the delivery phase.
Chief Information Officer
Simply put, the biggest distinction between a CTO and a CIO is that the latter uses technology with a focus on improving business processes and building a healthy IT environment within the organization rather than driving technological innovation and business growth. You won’t see a CIO building new products and services to provide the organization with competitive advantages. But you can be certain they will excel at tackling the company’s unique needs, goals, and objectives through tech integration and data migration projects.
CIOs are typically hired by companies rather detached from software development. These businesses don’t deal in software products or services, neither do they need a person in charge of building that stuff. What they are looking for is someone who would help them simplify workflows, optimize supply chain management, and improve the overall efficiency of their internal and external operations.
Whereas CTO outsourcing is a rather complicated topic, you can never go wrong with outsourced CIO services. It is a very cost-effective and flexible option for organizations that aren’t looking to build and maintain their own, in-house IT team.
In the form of a consultant or full-on strategic partner to the company, your trusted vendor can provide you with an experienced professional who:
- reviews your IT environment and business processes
- plans the implementation of the technology and systems to improve your operations and business objectives
- sees the project through to completion, monitors changes, and suggests action when necessary
A product manager, also known as product owner in Scrum, is a person responsible for the why, when, and what product or service your software development team is supposed to build. Directly responsible for the quality and success of the product, they are the key decision-maker using their knowledge of user needs and business goals to frame problems, set priorities, and guide the product development process from conceptualization and all the way through to launch. So what does a product manager do exactly?
A product manager’s main role on the project is to provide cross-functional leadership, inform continuous improvement based on stakeholders’ feedback, and make central product decisions such as:
- laying out strong product vision and strategy
- coordinating the process of developing and conveying ideas
- translating project goals into concise and clear requirements
- setting the roadmap and defining features
It’s truly hard to imagine a company without a product manager. Even in the smallest startups, this crucial strategic role is covered by either a business analyst or a CTO. And even though your vendor will most definitely be able to provide you with a product manager or at least a proxy in the form of a business analyst, the ideal scenario is that the product manager is always provided by the client. This is primarily because the role requires extensive, one could even say intimate, knowledge of your company, business processes and future plans, objectives and goals, partners and customers. Who knows all this stuff better if not the business owner themselves?
Key project roles that can’t be outsourced
An individual or a group of partners who have ultimate control over the company. In short, the client. The business owner is in charge of all the monetary and operational decision-making. They are also free to decide whether to delegate certain key executive functions on qualified professionals or supervise the company’s day-to-day processes themselves. This is who the CTO and product manager on the project report to directly.
As we already mentioned before, many companies rush through or entirely skip the discovery phase. In the hope of a faster time to market, they might overlook a particularly important role whose help and support they need the most. At the end of the day, no matter how many visual or functional features your software boasts, if your stakeholders don’t like it, consider your project a failure.
There are many types of stakeholders that exist both within and outside of your organization. From business owners, investors, and your project team to end users and beneficiaries, a stakeholder is any person, group, or organization having a personal interest in your software development project. Their interest may come for a variety of reasons such as ownership, investment, or employment. But the most important stakeholders are those directly affected by the software—the end users.
It’s important that your team continuously communicates and cooperates with those affected by the final product or service. The end user is the vital source of requirements for your product. Their input will serve as a powerful source of problems that need solving and ideas for features. During the delivery phase, they can be actively involved to review features and provide recurring feedback.
Even with satisfied budgets and deadlines met, all the efforts spent might go to waste unless you’ve taken the time to gather input from stakeholders. The success of your project very much depends on how well your product will serve in making their life easier, more enjoyable, or otherwise solving their significant problem. So defining and involving your stakeholders from the very early stages such as the discovery phase will prove most impactful to the outcome of your software development project.
One of the main reasons why outsourced software development projects go overboard with budgets or even fail is the lack of clarity on project roles and responsibilities among the client’s in-house team and the software development troops provided by the vendor. You have to recognize that the success of your project depends on the shared responsibility and ownership. Together with the vendor you’ve chosen for the job, you have to make sure that everyone is on the same page regarding their respective roles, responsibilities, and the expectations they hold of one another in accomplishing your software development project goals and objectives.
When the software development team roles and responsibilities are clearly defined, you eliminate a great deal of possible confusion and misunderstandings on the project (especially the risks related with misaligned leadership responsibilities) and ensure:
- improved internal and external collaboration between team members within your organization and the software development team provided by the vendor
- increased team productivity and efficiency, including reduced communication with less duplication of effort, frustration, errors, blockers, delays, and backlogs brought about
- better planning and project estimation accuracy with no extra or hidden costs and a clear understanding of what you’re actually paying your vendor for and why
Key points of contact on an outsourced software development project:
Product Manager — the key decision maker and point of contact with stakeholders, directly responsible for the quality and success of the product.
Account Manager — your main point of contact with the vendor, guiding you through the process from meets and greets all the way through to client success management.
Delivery Manager — your point of support and escalation throughout the software development process, accountable for the management of client expectations and high-level decision making.
Project Manager — a person responsible for the micromanagement of the software development process and your main point of contact for onboarding, project status reports, and performance assessment.
QA Lead — your main point of contact on code quality assessment and supervision of the quality assurance and quality control processes on the project.