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The Rocketmakers Guide To Software Development Outsourcing

By Simone Bradley
8th Jul 2024
16 min read

In today's lightning-fast business landscape, the ability to adapt is critical, and software development is your secret weapon. 

Cutting-edge technology can supercharge your digital products, giving you the edge over the competition with better features, smoother performance, and happier users.

But for CTOs and non-technical founders, it's a constant balancing act: how do you embrace innovation without stretching your resources too thin?

Enter software development outsourcing—a strategic solution that offers access to top talent, faster development cycles, and potential cost savings. But it's not a magic bullet; it comes with its own challenges.

This guide is your roadmap to navigating the world of software outsourcing. We'll delve into the pros and cons, revealing the secrets to mitigating risks and forging partnerships that deliver results.

Whether you're experienced or new to outsourcing, this guide will equip you with the knowledge to make informed decisions and achieve your software development goals.

What Is Software Development Outsourcing? 

Outsourcing software development is the strategic practice of partnering with a third-party provider to handle specific software projects or ongoing development needs. 

With the global custom software development industry valued at USD 29.29 billion in 2022, it's clear that businesses are increasingly recognising the advantages of this approach. 

These projects can range from creating custom applications for internal use to building customer-facing software or managing complex business operations. 

While in-house development is an option, it often requires significant investments in skilled personnel, infrastructure, and ongoing maintenance. 

Outsourcing presents a compelling alternative, offering numerous benefits, including cost efficiency, access to specialised expertise, and faster time-to-market (more on this below!) 

Below, we’ve outlined the main differences between in-house software development and outsourced software development outsourcing:

Why Do Companies Outsource Software Development?

Let's face it: building software isn't always a walk in the park. 

Whether you're a startup struggling to get off the ground or an established company facing a mountain of projects, sometimes you need a helping hand.

That's where software outsourcing services come in. Below, we’ll discuss when it makes sense to call in the reinforcements. 

Lack of Expertise In-House

Imagine this: Your healthcare company has a groundbreaking idea for an AI-powered diagnostic tool. 

Your in-house team excels at creating user-friendly interfaces, but developing complex AI algorithms is outside their expertise.

This is a perfect scenario for outsourcing. By partnering with machine learning and medical image analysis specialists, you can bring your innovative vision to life without building an entirely new team from scratch. 

Outsourcing allows you to leverage a software outsourcing company precisely where you need it, freeing your internal team to focus on their core strengths.

Resource Constraints

Sometimes, even with the most talented in-house team, you simply need more resources to tackle everything on your plate. 

Due to this, software development outsourcing can be your lifeline.

Here’s how: 

➡️ Your budget is tight: Building a software development team in-house, with salaries, benefits, and training costs, might be out of reach. Outsourcing can offer a more affordable solution, allowing you to tap into talent without the overhead.

➡️ Time is of the essence: Your project needs to hit the market fast. Outsourcing can accelerate development with dedicated teams working around the clock, getting you to launch faster than possible internally.

➡️ Your team is stretched thin: If your in-house developers are already juggling multiple projects, adding another could lead to burnout and delays. Outsourcing can provide the extra bandwidth you need, allowing your team to focus on their core strengths.

Modernising Legacy Software

When a company needs to revitalise outdated software or systems (often called "legacy applications"), partnering with an external software development firm becomes a strategic advantage.

These specialised firms can step in at any stage of the modernisation process, offering support in several key areas:

  • Application modernisation: Refactoring code, updating architecture, or migrating to newer platforms.
  • Emerging technologies: Custom software development can integrate artificial intelligence, machine learning, IoT and other cutting-edge solutions.
  • Digital transformation: A holistic approach to reimagining business processes and customer experiences through technology.
  • DevOps and Cloud migrations: Optimising development and deployment processes for greater agility and scalability.
  • Front-end enhancements: Creating modern, user-friendly interfaces (e.g., Single-Page Applications, mobile-responsive designs).

This strategic partnership allows the in-house team to focus on core software development while the external team tackles specific modules, new features, or even the entire modernisation project.

The Advantages of Outsourcing Software Development

We’ve discussed the scenarios where you might need to bring in a software development company—next, we’ll discuss the advantages of outsourcing.

Cost Savings

Let's face it: cost is a significant consideration for any software development project.  Outsourcing can be a game-changer, offering significant financial advantages.

Here's how outsourcing can help you save:

1️⃣ Reduce recruitment and staffing costs

Forget the hassle and expense of hiring and onboarding developers. Outsourcing eliminates the need for salaries, benefits, and additional office space.

2️⃣ Choose a pricing model that fits your needs

Outsourcing companies will tailor pricing to match your budget and project scope. You can choose from options like:

  • Individual developers: Get the specific skills you need when you need them.
  • Complete teams: Bring in experts to handle the entire project.
  • End-to-end project management: Let the experts manage the project from start to finish so you can focus on your core business. For example, each of our ongoing projects has a dedicated project manager to ensure everything stays on track. 

3️⃣ Avoid investments in specialised resources

By partnering with an outsourcing provider, you can leverage their existing tools, software, and infrastructure, saving you from costly investments in specialised resources.

Access to Specialised Talent

Outsourcing opens access to a vast pool of skilled developers with specialised expertise in various technologies and platforms.

You can quickly find and hire teams with experience in niche technologies or industry-specific knowledge that may be scarce locally.

Mitigating Risks

Imagine you're the CTO or founder of a scale-up. Your latest product idea can potentially disrupt the market, but your in-house development team is already stretched thin, maintaining existing systems.  

The pressure is to deliver a high-quality solution on time and within budget. But the risk of delays, cost overruns, and technical setbacks looms.

This is where software development outsourcing steps in as a strategic risk management tool. Here’s how: 


Outsourcing partners often specialise in specific technologies or domains. 

Their technical expertise and experience can help identify and address potential risks before they become major problems. They know industry best practices and can implement proven risk management strategies.


A software development project with changing requirements or unforeseen challenges can be unpredictable. 

Outsourcing provides the flexibility to scale resources up or down quickly to address risks as they arise without the burden of hiring and firing in-house staff.

Shared Responsibility

Outsourcing agreements typically define clear roles and responsibilities for both parties. This shared responsibility can help distribute the risk burden and ensure the company and the outsourcing partner are accountable for risk mitigation efforts.

Established Processes 

Reputable outsourcing providers have established processes and workflows for software development, including risk assessment, quality assurance, and project management. These processes can minimise risks associated with project delays, cost overruns, and technical issues.

Access to Latest Technologies

Software development outsourcing companies often have access to the latest tools, technologies, and industry trends. This can help mitigate the risk of falling behind the competition or using outdated technologies that may pose security or performance risks.

Increased Focus on Core Business

Outsourcing software development isn't just about offloading tasks; it's a strategic move to:

✔️Prioritise strategic initiatives: Free up valuable internal resources to focus on strategic planning, marketing, sales, and customer service—the activities that truly differentiate your business.

✔️Accelerate innovation: Tap into specialised external expertise to rapidly develop and deploy cutting-edge solutions, staying ahead of the competition in a fast-paced technological landscape.

✔️Optimise efficiency: Streamline operations and enhance productivity by delegating specialised tasks to experts, allowing your team to focus on core competencies and optimise internal processes.

The Challenges of Outsourcing Software Development 

Loss of control 

CTOs and non-technical founders often feel a sense of unease when relinquishing control over the development process to an outsourced software development company. Not directly overseeing daily tasks, decision-making, and overall project direction can be stressful.

This is especially true for organisations who are used to a hands-on approach and value close collaboration with their development teams. The physical distance and potential communication barriers can make it harder to monitor progress and intervene if necessary.

Loss of control can lead to delays, misunderstandings, and misalignment with the company's vision and goals. Luckily, there are ways to manage this. 

The Solution

  • Establish clear expectations and communication channels: Set expectations upfront regarding project milestones, reporting frequency, and preferred communication methods.
  • Utilise project management tools: Implement project management tools like Jira or Asana to track progress, assign tasks, and facilitate collaboration.
  • Regular check-ins and progress reports: Schedule meetings with the vendor to discuss progress, address concerns, and ensure project goals are aligned.


Effective communication is crucial for any project's success, but it can be challenging when working with a remote team. Language barriers, different communication styles, and varying expectations can hinder collaboration.

Even with the best intentions, miscommunications happen due to cultural nuances or differences in how feedback is given and received. This can lead to misunderstandings about requirements, missed deadlines, and frustration.

Poor communication can result in rework, delays, and a strained relationship with the vendor, ultimately jeopardising the project's success.

The Solution

  • Define project goals: Clearly articulate your software project goals, objectives, and desired outcomes from the outset. Ensure everyone involved understands the project scope and requirements.
  • Bridge the gap with technology: Use video conferencing, instant messaging, and screen-sharing tools to facilitate real-time communication and build rapport.
  • Provide context: When giving feedback or instructions, provide context and explain the reasoning behind your requests.
  • Document everything: Maintain thorough documentation of project requirements, design specifications, change requests, and meeting minutes. This ensures everyone is on the same page and minimises misunderstandings.

At Rocketmakers, we believe in the power of proximity. Our entire team works together under one roof. This means:

✔️Real-time collaboration: We can easily brainstorm, problem-solve, and iterate on ideas in person.

✔️Clear accountability: Everyone knows who's responsible for what, making it easier to get things done.

✔️Stronger relationships: We build trust and camaraderie through shared experiences and a unified sense of purpose.

We're not just a vendor – we're your extended team. And because we're all in this together, you can expect smoother communication, faster decision-making, and a higher-quality product.

Adam WalkerChief Innovation Officer

Quality Assurance Concerns

Maintaining high-quality software is crucial for any project. It's natural to be concerned about whether the outsourcing company will be able to achieve the company's coding standards and best practices. 

This concern often stems from a need for more visibility into the vendor's development processes and quality assurance measures. You might worry that the vendor's standards are lower than the company's or that there might be gaps in their testing procedures.

If quality issues are not addressed during development, they can manifest in the final product, leading to increased maintenance costs, customer dissatisfaction, and damage to the company's reputation.

The Solution

  • Define and enforce standards: Clearly articulate your company's coding standards, testing protocols, and quality metrics in the contract and project documentation.
  • Regular code reviews: Conduct regular code reviews to ensure the code adheres to your standards and best practices. Encourage collaboration between your in-house team and the vendor's developers to facilitate knowledge sharing and maintain quality.
  • Continuous testing: Implement a continuous testing strategy that includes unit, integration, and end-to-end testing throughout the development cycle.
  • User testing: Involve end-users in the testing process to gather feedback and identify any usability or functionality issues.

Security Concerns

Software outsourcing can raise valid concerns about potential security vulnerabilities like data breaches and cyberattacks. 

These concerns often stem from a need for more trust in the vendor's security practices, including their ability to protect sensitive data, maintain secure coding standards, and respond effectively to security incidents.

The consequences of a security breach can be severe, resulting in financial losses, reputational damage, loss of customer trust, and potential legal and regulatory penalties.

The Solution

  • Thorough vendor assessment: Conduct a comprehensive security assessment of the software development company, including its security policies, infrastructure, and incident response procedures.
  • Security requirements in contracts: Clearly define security requirements, including data encryption, access controls, vulnerability scanning, and incident reporting procedures.
  • Regular security audits: Conduct regular security audits to assess the vendor's compliance with security requirements and identify potential vulnerabilities.
  • Penetration testing: Before working with a software development company, perform penetration testing to simulate real-world attacks and identify weaknesses in the software and infrastructure.
  • Incident response plan: Develop a joint incident response plan with the vendor to ensure a swift and coordinated response in case of a security breach.

Hidden Costs

While outsourcing often promises cost savings, unexpected expenses can arise and quickly add up. These hidden costs can stem from various sources, catching an organisation off guard.

Initial cost estimates might seem attractive, but they might not account for:

  • Unforeseen technical challenges that emerge during development require additional time and resources to resolve.
  • The need for specific software licences, cloud resources, or specialised tools that weren't initially factored in.
  • The cost of managing a remote team, including communication tools, travel, and project coordination.
  • The expense of fixing defects or performance issues that arise during testing or after deployment.

These hidden costs can quickly erode the expected cost savings of outsourcing. In the worst-case scenario, they can exceed the original budget, strain the project and impact other business areas.

The Solution

  • Thorough due diligence: Conduct a comprehensive cost analysis before finalising the contract. Ask the vendor for a detailed breakdown of all potential costs, including any assumptions or contingencies.
  • Contingency planning: Allocate a contingency budget to cover unforeseen expenses. This can help you avoid surprises and keep the project on track financially.
  • Regular cost monitoring: Track project expenses closely and compare them against the budget regularly. This allows you to identify potential cost overruns early and take corrective actions.

Scope Creep

Scope creep refers to the gradual expansion of project requirements beyond the original agreement. It's a common issue in software development, and it can be even more challenging to manage when working with an external vendor.

Scope creep can occur for various reasons, such as:

  • Evolving business needs: Changes in market conditions or internal priorities might necessitate adjustments to the scope of software development projects.
  • Miscommunication: Misunderstandings between the client and vendor about project requirements can lead to scope creep.
  • Lack of clear goals: If the project scope is not clearly defined and documented upfront, requirements can easily expand over time.

Scope creep can lead to significant delays, cost overruns, and project failure. It can also strain the relationship with your chosen outsourcing software development company as both parties try to navigate the changing requirements and associated costs.

The Solution

In addition to a detailed project scope and clear lines of communication, a formal change management process must be established to evaluate, approve, and price any changes to the project scope. 

This ensures that any changes are made deliberately and with a clear understanding of their impact on the project timeline and budget.

Intellectual Property Risks

When outsourcing software development, There could be concerns about protecting your company's intellectual property (IP). This includes source code, algorithms, designs, trade secrets, and any unique knowledge developed during the project.

This fear isn't unfounded. There's a risk that the outsourcing company could misuse or misappropriate the IP, intentionally or unintentionally. 

They might incorporate your ideas into their products, share them with competitors, or fail to safeguard them from unauthorised access adequately.

The loss of IP can be devastating for a company. Your unique innovations and ideas could be exploited by others, diminishing your market position. A knock-on effect would be losing potential revenue from products or services built on your stolen IP.

The Solution

  • Robust contracts: Ensure your agreement with the software development outsourcing company includes intellectual solid property clauses. These should clearly define ownership of all IP developed during the project, restrictions on the vendor's use of the IP, and provisions for returning all IP to you at the end of the engagement.
  • Non-disclosure agreements (NDAs): Require all of your software outsourcing partner employees and subcontractors to sign NDAs that prohibit them from disclosing confidential information or trade secrets learned during the project.
  • Source code escrow: Consider using a source code escrow service. This involves depositing a copy of the source code with a trusted third party, who can release it to you under certain conditions, such as the vendor's bankruptcy or breach of contract.

Making the Decision: A Checklist

The decision to outsource software development is more than just a one-size-fits-all proposition. Each project and organisation has unique needs and constraints. 

To navigate this decision, you should weigh the potential benefits against the inherent risks meticulously.  Here's a list of questions to ask yourself and a potential vendor to guide your assessment:

💡Expert insight: 

When it comes to choosing a software development partner, there are three things we would recommend you consider in your decision-making process:

➡️ Don't rush the decision: Take your time, do thorough research and compare multiple outsourcing software development companies before making a final decision.

➡️ Consider a pilot project: Before committing, start with a small project to assess the vendor's capabilities and working style.
➡️ Focus on partnership: Look for software development services willing to work collaboratively and build a long-term partnership with your company.

Adam WalkerChief Innovation Officer

Final Thoughts: Software Development Outsourcing 

Outsourcing software development can be a powerful tool for organisations, providing access to specialised expertise, flexibility, and cost savings. However, it's crucial to approach outsourcing with careful planning and due diligence.

By thoroughly researching potential partners, establishing clear communication channels, and aligning expectations, you can mitigate risks and build a strategic partnership that drives innovation and growth. Outsourcing is a collaborative effort, not just a transactional relationship.

Ready To Outsource Software Development? 

Ready to unlock the power of outsourcing for your software development needs? With over 16 years of experience and over 100 disruptive applications built, Rocketmakers is your trusted partner.

Our proven process and unwavering commitment to bringing your vision to life guarantee high-quality solutions that drive your business forward. Let's transform your software development journey together.

Contact us today to learn how we can partner with you to transform your software development journey.