Airbnb is doing it. Zendesk is doing it. And so is Art.sy!
Gone are the days when Silicon Valley looked down up on outsourcing their product development. Today, the same and very many newer startups are willingly outsourcing the complete product development or some parts of it.
The reasons are aplenty--hiring developers is a time consuming and an expensive affair. The salaries are through the roof when the demand for great resources far exceeds supply.
Not only that, but companies have to account for recruiter fees, cost of training and development. By the time the resource starts delivering, that's 5-6 months gone.
Quick iteration goes down the drain and the trouble of recruiting takes over. That's where outsourced product development steps in.
There are many shades to this, but I'll stick to one of the most popular models--remote contract hiring. You don't have to worry about payroll, recruitment fees or training costs and timelines.
You hire a developer and you get started. But there are still many that fall prey to the myths that surround hiring of remote contract resources and eventually struggle to get faster product iterations.
Here are some of the most common myths busted.
Myth #1: You're losing control
Just because you have remote engineers working on your product doesn't mean you lose control. You can be as much in control as you'd like. Buffer app's team is completely remote with the founders working out of many countries through the year.
The trick is to setup systems that work efficiently and create a process of delivery and communication. Create a weekly sprint to review direction of the project. Have a daily standup on what is expected as tasks of the day and review the previous day. Document everything in emails.
Myth #2: Developers aren't good quality
This couldn't be far from the truth. There are good developers and bad developers everywhere. Everywhere--including the Silicon Valley.
The truth is that you get what you deserve. If you go for the cheap, outsourced talent, you will get a cheap product experience.
If you're unsure of the quality of the team you're talking to, ask to speak to their CTO about the company's engineering process. If they don't have a robust process, they are less likely to deliver a quality product. Make sure you interview the engineers personally--it's not just about the technical skills but you also have to be comfortable working with them.
We, at Arkenea, for instance hire some of the top and brightest talent available in India that build products for startups and companies in the US.
Myth #3: Your IPR could be compromised
A strong contract with your outsourced vendor could hedge you against any IPR issues. If someone has to compromise your IPR, they can and will find ways to do that.
Select a partner that has good credibility and branding in the market that is conscious of building and growing their business to scale. Those companies are the ones who'd ensure their customers' assets are protected.
Myth #4: Communication will be a challenge
Companies across the developing nations are creating infrastructure that supports better delivery and communication with the West. English language isn't a barrier anymore.
If you setup a communication process between your teams and your partners, you wouldn't find this a challenge anymore. There are many tools available now that you can leverage, some even without a cost to manage communication effectively--Slack, Skype, Asana or Basecamp, etc.
If your goal is to build a product and ship it, you've got to hustle to get it done. And the Developer as a Service model or outsourced product development could be your best bet for quicker iterations and cost benefit.