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Exploring strategies for managing code quality in outsourced software development

Maintain a high standard of code quality for outsourced development teams.

Table of Contents

An introduction to outsourced software development

Outsourcing has emerged as a critical business strategy in software development, influencing how companies bring their technical aspirations to reality. Organizations frequently use outsourcing for cost reductions through lower operating costs versus keeping an in-house development team. Furthermore, outsourcing allows access to specialized expertise and unique viewpoints that may only be available through external resources. This ability to form teams specialized to project requirements enables organizations to respond quickly to changing market conditions, making outsourcing a critical strategy in the dynamic world of software development and modernization.

Why is managing code quality important in outsourcing?

Maintaining excellent code quality is critical to the success of outsourced development projects, as it serves as the foundation for overall project health and reduced risk in delivered software. Poor code quality can have a cascade effect, most notably increasing maintenance costs as teams tackle bugs, address coding style variations, and navigate the complexities of inefficient code. Poor code quality can also lengthen development cycles, causing deadlines to slip and preventing products from being delivered on time. The consequences of poor code quality go beyond the development process, potentially leading to project failures or decreased product performance.


In an outsourced setting, where collaboration might involve multiple teams across different locations, maintaining a high standard of code quality becomes even more critical to ensure a seamless integration of efforts. 

Challenges in managing code quality in an outsourced setup

Navigating code quality while working with an outsourced team presents a distinct set of issues and considerations, including:

 

  • Discrepancies in standards and practices between in-house and outsourced teams
  • Time zone disparities that impact real-time communication and collaboration 
  • Language nuances and cultural differences that hinder the clarity of instructions and feedback
  • Lack of clear insight into the development activity 
  • Limited quality checks on committed code
  • Risk of security exposure because teams are working with sensitive data 
  • Trade-offs in code quality, as the outsourced team might prioritize speed and cost 


To overcome these challenges, effective communication and collaboration combined with standardized processes and tools are essential to a sound quality assurance process. This process can ultimately safeguard the success and longevity of outsourced software development endeavors.

Communication is key

Bridging the communication gap between your in-house team and outsourced developers is required for quality assurance. When developing an effective communication channel, establishing clear code quality and security standards and conducting regular meetings help manage expectations, track progress, address issues, and build strong working relationships with outsourced teams. Beyond regular interaction, reinforcing your code quality standards can be done directly in the development workflow with a consistent set of quality gates that ensure that no code passes to production without meeting quality standards. With standards in place, teams can reduce misunderstandings and conflicts when it comes to issue remediation and project delivery.


Furthermore, fostering a knowledge-sharing culture through training sessions, workshops, and collaborative coding sessions ensures that outsourced developers are well-versed in internal coding practices and overall software architecture. Through consistent and effective communication, you can navigate the challenges of outsourcing more smoothly and achieve the desired outcomes. 

The power of code reviews

Consistent code reviews are a critical checkpoint for quality assurance for in-house and outsourced development teams. With outsourced teams, there is less direct control over the day-to-day development activities, so defining a clear process for reviewing code to confirm its quality sets the foundation for successful delivery. Tools such as automatic static code analysis can be invaluable for identifying potential issues, ensuring consistency, and adhering to coding standards.


Automated code analysis expedites code reviews, bringing efficiency and precision to the process. Automated analyzers check for various code-level issues, from adherence to coding standards to hidden bugs and security vulnerabilities that may have slipped through the gaps. Their ability to identify code quality issues saves developers time while helping them deliver an issue-free final version of their code. In the fast-paced world of software development, where time is of the essence, automated code analyzers emerge as indispensable allies, helping teams deliver quickly and with a stamp of quality that stands the test of digital scrutiny.

Establish clear requirements

Clear and thorough requirements are the backbone of setting expectations for your outsourced teams. It’s essential to provide detailed specifications, architecture diagrams, security processes, and code quality standards to the outsourced team. This not only aids in a universal understanding of code quality and delivery but also serves as a reference point for software maintainability. Ambiguity in requirements can lead to misunderstandings and deviations from expectations. Investing time and effort into developing comprehensive requirements sets the stage for a smoother outsourcing process and better outcomes.


A comprehensive contract can also help outline the project scope, requirements, timelines, quality standards, milestones, payment terms, and dispute resolution mechanisms. A well-defined contract helps set expectations and provides a legal framework for quality assurance.

Conduct continuous code quality monitoring

Continuously monitoring the project's progress and quality metrics throughout the development lifecycle helps proactively address issues and discrepancies with the outsourced team. Continuous code quality monitoring provides visibility, accountability, and the ability to respond swiftly to changing circumstances. It safeguards project success, quality, and security while supporting effective collaboration between your organization and the outsourcing team. This monitoring effort is supported by reports that provide a snapshot of your codebase's health and compliance with industry standards.


Beyond continuous monitoring, conducting regular quality assessments to evaluate the codebase for adherence to coding standards, performance, and scalability benefits all project stakeholders. This approach helps identify potential issues early on and allows for timely corrections. Continuous monitoring and regular quality assessments prevent technical debt accumulation and minimize the impact on project timelines.

Create an escalation plan

When issues arise, a solid escalation plan with the steps and hierarchy provides clarity. It prevents confusion so that all teams know how to escalate matters when necessary. An escalation plan is a proactive approach to handling issues and challenges that may arise during outsourcing. It promotes efficiency, accountability, and effective collaboration by providing a clear and organized path for problem resolution.

In conclusion

Managing code quality in outsourced software development demands effective communication, collaboration, and technical tools. By implementing these practices, organizations can navigate the complexities of outsourced development while ensuring that code quality remains a top priority. Excellence in code quality is not just a goal; it's a journey that requires commitment, collaboration, and continuous improvement.


Learn more about mitigating software development outsourcing risks here.