Outsourcing programming development on a fixed rate basis has been the basic activity of our company for a number of years, with more than 60 software packages developed. Software development on a fixed-rate basis is highly suitable for clients whose research department have already drawn up detailed specifications and work alongside us on the test procedures. However, we are only able to work with a fixed-rate contract in technical fields in which we already have expertise, and in general within the framework of business sectors in which we have experience.
We also favor this type of contract for the development of mobile apps.
Cost and planning defined from the outset.
The client has to prepare full detailed specifications.Limited possibility of changes during the course of the project.Projects must involve more than 100 man-days, typically between 400 and 800.
IT development is often thought to be similar to the assembly of prefabricated modules or, at best, as the coding of simple, interlinking notions. This vision of a LEGO-like IT leads clients to see package development as a panacea that guarantees a fixed budget and the quality of the product received at the end of the subcontracting cycle.
However, the development of an IT project is not a totally standardized, predictable act of construction. It requires considerable creativity, a correct interpretation of the client's real needs ("real" as opposed to "expressed") and therefore a certain measure of psychology, and a concern for elegance in coding the concepts. With, of course, a strong demand for effectiveness.
This is why most package contracts are based on misunderstandings:The client who has drawn up the specifications thinks that his document is exhaustive, final and understood by the service provider.The client also thinks that by consulting a number of outsourcing development companies he will be given a realistic average cost.For his part, the service provider, in order to win the contract, will keep the costs to a minimum and reduce the time allocated for tests and for the maintenance documentation, in the hope that the analysis and programming time won't go through the roof.The client is counting on a production time that he deduces from the service provider's workload forecast.
In reality, none of these points will turn out to be accurate.
It's not a question of specification or service quality; it's simply inherent to the nature of IT development: The actual workload required to satisfy the client need depends on a multitude of factors, some of which, such as human relations, cannot be quantified.
But how is package software development different from putting up a building or manufacturing an industrial product?
Essentially because of the malleable nature of software: The specifications will always change during the project. In the case of software packages and Web developments, the client doesn't know what he wants with regard to many details until he has seen what he doesn't want. And there are other sources of evolution, such as proposals for spectacular functional improvements put forward by the service provider. So we then have requests for modifications and amendments to the contract. The truth is that most package contracts are proposed with the idea that changes in specifications will lead to favorable renegotiations. A client who believes that his package contract will give him a firm price is under an illusion.
Why do we advise against an outsourced programming package?
Very simply because outsourced prices reflect extremely contrasting realities in terms of human resources, the ability to understand client needs, the notion of quality and the value placed on being appointed.
Let's be clear about this: Avoid very low quotations and attach great importance to your service provider's experience, culture and attitude. As for references, examine whether they match your company profile. An outsourcing programming service provider used to working with large companies will find it difficult to develop a software package for a small or medium-sized company. This criterion is much more important than the experience of a technology.
In fact, the success of an outsourcing software development project is not linked to the all-inclusive nature of the contract but to the level of dialogue and trust that is established between the client and his service provider.
So how do we establish and consolidate this trust?
At Beler we offer you an approach that has proved its worth: start with a modest project based on an all-inclusive contract and invite our Romanian project leader over to your offices for a few days. You'll see how he understands your needs and how he adapts to your ways of working. Ask a few clients and you'll see that his positive attitude is a permanent feature of his enterprise culture.