Railsfactory Blog

Key Questions Every CTO Should Ask While Looking to Outsource Technology

Dinesh Kumar, CEO of  Sedin Technologies and the co-founder of RailsFactory writes a column for the Open Source Magazine. The below article was published in the February 2018 edition.

Hiring a good technology vendor is like finding a needle in a haystack.  Finding a good tech partner is mission critical for business. The opportunity cost of money, effort and more importantly time can be high if the decision is a wrong one.  Having worked with over 300 clients over our 11 year period, here are best practices that we would like to offer to help you choose the right tech partner.

questions-cto-ask-to-outsource-technologyHave they worked on similar projects? 

This is a very useful question to ask. Let’s say that you are the CTO of an E-commerce firm. The fact that the vendor has worked on other E-commerce projects shows that the tech team is familiar with the challenges in the domain. Also, the learning curve is that much shorter.

What are the technologies that the vendor has worked with? 

This question helps throw light on the vendor’s technology repertoire. A good tech company constantly looks at keeping pace with newer trends in technology. Expertise in areas like BigData, IOT, AI/ML seen as a big advantage.

Have they hosted open source events, meetups, conferences, training, workshops? 

This demonstrates the vendor’s community participation and leadership. Vendors who take leadership in organizing meetups and conferences tend to have higher contact with developers and consequently attract the best talent.

Does the vendor use pair-programming techniques? 

Pair Programming is an excellent inclusive technique used to solve complex problems which also results in better code. Pair programming is also used during recruitment to gauge the programmer’s capabilities. There are a times applicants are allowed to choose their language and editor for the pair programming session to see the best of the developer.

How much contribution has the vendor provided to the open source community? 

This is a brilliant indicator of the team’s thought leadership and their desire to contribute back to the open source community. This also gives the opportunity to check their quality of code.

Is the vendor more startup focused?  

If you are the CTO of a startup, then this is a very helpful question. Working with large enterprises and startups are very different. If the vendor has extensive experience working with startups, then the team has higher empathy and knows how to deal with volatility and flexible to accommodate constant changes.

Have they got affiliations or partnerships with Startups or Products that have grown very big

Most big startups like Caratlane do an exhaustive reference and compatibility check before they are made as partners or affiliates.  This saves you the effort of doing this all over again. This also shows their capability to handle large-scale applications.

Is the team able to scale up quickly with additional resources?

An important essence of a good vendor is to quickly ramp up the team in order to meet the work demand. Do they have a good HR team? Do they have a healthy databank of professionals? This will give you the confidence that they will be able to deliver no matter what situation.

How many years of operation has the company been in? 

The longer the team has been in operation, the more stable their team and processes are.  It shows their sustenance power.

Does the vendor offer Proof of Concept (PoC) and no-strings-attached free trials?

 Most vendors only begin work upon signing a contract. Agreeing to work on a Proof of Concept shows the willingness of the vendor to prove their credibility and trustworthiness.

Has the vendors worked on co-development?

If your company already has a strong technology team and are looking to outsource non-core areas, it is helpful to know that the technology team at the vendor’s side has experience in co-development. This means that the system is developed by both the client’s as well as the vendor’s development team.

What are the development processes that they follow?  

Does the vendor follow the latest Agile Development process? Do they have a  Continuous Deployment system? Do they share their working versions? A good technology vendor has a robust development process. A good process in place is a solid indicator of on-time delivery.

Will the developers be available to work onsite?

Sometimes, its needed for developers to visit the client location to get a better grasp of the requirements or to work closely with the technology team within the client company.

Do they have case studies and references? 

This is a good way to better understand the impact that the vendor has been able to do on their client’s business. Also, very useful to have personal chat with fellow CTOs of the vendor’s clients so that you get an honest feedback. This will greatly help you make the right choice.

Have they worked with international clients?

Experiences handling international clients indicate that the vendor is good at remote operations, has higher standards of operation because the quality benchmarks tend to be higher, understands the importance of communication and reporting has the ability to take advantage of time difference etc.

Have they failed in projects? If so, what lessons did they learn from them?

Most vendors only highlight their successful projects. Ask them specifically for the projects that failed. This will reveal their level of openness. Also, an excellent way to gauge their problem-solving skills and level of team’s perseverance in pursuit of solutions.

Is there any litigation or court case filed against the company? 

This is legality but it’s good to know that the credibility of the vendor is high.

By: Dinesh Kumar


The author is the CEO of Sedin Technologies and the co-founder of RailsFactory. He is a passionate proponent of open source and keenly observes the trends in this space. On this blog, he shares his knowledge and experience of serving over 200 major clients across USA, UK, Australia, Canada and India.

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