September 14, 2010—The software development outsourcing process actually starts before the Statement of Work (SOW) and Request for Proposal (RFP). Especially for those new to outsourcing, conducting an Outsourced Discovery Phase (ODP) can prevent miscommunication, missed requirements, scheduling and budget issues. Similar to a software development discovery phase, the ODP helps with the creation of an accurate SOW and RFP.
It may be tempting to skimp on this step and limit the details in the SOW, but its quality and depth correlates directly to the quality and satisfaction of the project. A well-written SOW also helps ensure more consistency in the proposal estimates for easier evaluation.
Using an outside consultant in the discovery phase can be helpful, particularly for large or complex projects. An external resource can provide a different perspective on the information required, since they are likely to have faced problem projects before. They can identify critical information that may be missed by internal stakeholders, but could negatively impact the ability of an outsourced provider to meet project requirements. This process may also give you a trial run with a new, prospective vendor.
For an effective SOW and RFP, there are a number of documents teams should be willing to share with outsourced vendors, including:
- Software scope
- Existing/ required documentation
- Software environment information
- Process maturity and documents
- Development tools
- Software Quality Assurance (SQA) details
- Technical and managerial personnel contact information
- Additional documentation and information for certification
All this information and documentation will allow a prospective vendor to provide a detailed response to the RFP. The more detail in a project estimate, the easier the job is for a procurement team to select the best outsourcing partner.