Now that you’ve narrowed down your list of potential remote development partners, it is time to make a final decision. Of course, you can purely base your decision on the results of the screening exercise, but we strongly discourage doing so.
Instead, use this as an opportunity to evaluate your potential remote development partner along a list of qualitative factors which may very well have an outsized impact on your project in the long run anyway. After all, building great software is not just about the cost
- Go visit the team and work with them Visiting a development partner located on the other side of the world may look like a costly affair on paper, but is nothing compared to how much you stand to lose by picking the wrong development partner. Visiting a team of developers in person, spending time with them, and seeing how they work will quickly help you figure out whether you’ve picked the right partner. During your visit, aim to get some project-related work done in collaboration with the development team. This will provide you with a sound indication of how good the developers actually are, regardless of what a fast talking and charismatic salesperson may have told you.
- Start with a proof-of-concept (POC) project Before handing over a large project to a new remote development team, see if you can work with the partner to complete a smaller POC that will test the skills of the development team to a satisfactory level. If the team passes with flying colours and delivers on time, you know you’ve found a winning team. If you’re thinking of building an enterprise-level software, you can ask the development partner to devise the architecture as a POC. If you don’t have all the requirements fleshed out, you can suggest or request a design and discovery exercise as a POC or starting point for the project. The general rule with a POC is to focus on building a small, standalone component of the project (i.e. a single module).
- Ask for a flexible termination arrangement should things go wrong Don’t let a development partner push you into agreeing to a complicated contract with a long time frame. Instead, try to look for a partner that will be happy to offer you a contract that works for you, with a flexible termination arrangement should you ever need it. Sometimes, business conditions change, and you may see no need to require the services of the remote development team. When that happens, you should be able to walk away without having to pay unfair penalties.
- Have an eye on the future While your immediate need may be for a development team, don’t forget to think about your long term development plans. For instance, if you hope to set up your own engineering center someday or grow big enough to absorb your new development team into your own company, it may be worthwhile exploring a BOT (Build, Operate, Transfer) arrangement. In a BOT project, initial development efforts will be led by the development partner, but once teams reach a certain level of maturity and competence, the client will take over the reins. During the build and operate phases of the BOT project, the development partner will bill you for development services as usual. Once you’re ready to take over the operation, you can do so at a pre-negotiated buyout price. You can also choose to keep the development partner involved post-transfer as well. The BOT model saves you time and money, and the presence of an experienced development partner to lead the initial stages helps reduce the risk of setting up a development team in an unfamiliar location. A good local partner will provide the right management structure and processes to make things go smoothly from Day One. In order to benefit from a smooth transition during the transfer phase, focus on ironing out operational hiccups under the development partner’s watch as much as possible.
And that's it! Now you know how to screen and select an excellent remote product engineering partner. In the next chapter of this guide, we will tell you how to manage your remote engineering team successfully. We're still working on it, and will definitely let you know once it's up on this website!