You’ve decided to outsource Ruby on Rails development. But this is pretty much all you know: which framework to use and that you’re not hiring an in-house RoR team.
However, the outsourcing process is a complex one. You need to consider a lot of things across different areas. These include organizing information, finding the right partner, interviewing programmers and structuring the web development process. And what better way to learn about it than from a Ruby on Rails outsourcing company?
Rubyroid Labs has been a development service provider since 2013. Our clients range from startups backed by incubators like YCombinator and Seedcamp to industry giants like Toyota and Masercard. Through this practice, we have worked out the most efficient approach to outsourcing Ruby on Rails development. You can use our experience right away — or keep reading to learn more.
This guide will help you order your thoughts about partnering with a developer. We start with step one and end at a point where you’ll be able to take over.
Prepare for Partnering With a Developer
Reaching out starts with looking inward: self-reflection. And this means you need to make sure you’ll be able to present your app idea to the developer. Consider taking this course of action:
Identify the Problem or Problems Your Product Is Intended to Solve
This will help your developer understand the practical value of the prospective product. AirBNB, for one, built their MVP to solve the shortage of affordable accommodations for a brief stay.
Drawing upon the ultimate goal, your developer may even suggest technical solutions you would have never come up with.
Narrow Down the Target User
This step is as essential as identifying the problem(s) your product is meant to solve. The target persona will dictate the design, user experience and larger technology stack.
For instance, if you’re building a postage stamp catalog app, your target persona is a typical stamp collector. A typical collector is a man, and more than 50% of those collectors are between 25–50 years of age, and 35% are 18–25 years old.
Create a List of Competitor Products
Your developer will appreciate seeing what inspired your product idea and how similar problems are currently being solved. So, if you have any alternatives in mind, go to your favorite search engine and enter “[competitor product name] alternatives.”
Look through the results, find more products that offer a solution and put them on your list. Then use this list to help the developer better understand your vision. For example, you may explain your idea this way: it’s an aggregator like Uber, but instead of drivers, it matches an elderly person with a volunteer who can do the shopping for them.
Outline Technical Specifications
Project specifications make programmers’ work easier, which ensures rapid development and high quality. If you can’t specify technical requirements yourself, work with a business analyst.
You can either hire a BA yourself or look for a development partner who offers business analysis as a service. That’s what we do at Rubyroid Labs, so, if you want to save time and effort, drop us a line.
Typically, technical specifications include the following:
In this section, you describe what the infrastructure of the prospective software should include and how it should operate.
List the key features of the product and describe how they should be carried out.
Lay out the qualities of the software that are not directly related to specific features. This includes safety, security, usability (i.e. how the system should react to user actions), testability, maintainability, extensibility and scalability.
Describe the desired user experience.
Document all the data that is required to develop the software and for it to function.
Make Sure the Current Infrastructure Is Accessible and Transparent
If your project is a product upgrade, put server and repository accesses and artifacts accumulated throughout the product life cycle together in one place. You will later need to share this data with your developer.
Data like that should never be used in an unauthorized way. Therefore, you’ll need to get your developer to sign a non-disclosure agreement (NDA).
Make Designs Available
Decide whether you need a new design; if not, prepare the original design materials. As obvious as it may seem, this step is often skipped or postponed until later, causing delays in development.
If you’re improving an existing product, compile all the available documentation in one place. Start with manuals, protocols and descriptions of the business logic, features and goals, written during the earlier stages of development.
But even if you’re working on a new application, you must have some “raw materials” like meeting recordings, notes, mind maps, investor feedback and other items or components. All of them should be organized and accessible.
Reduce Technical Debt
You may be transitioning the project originally built in-house to an outsourced workforce. If your team has been working on it long enough, the code may have turned into a mess — often referred to as technical debt.
Material like that will petrify anyone who attempts to take it over. This will slow the development down and create the risk of mucking things up further. To avoid that, reduce technical debt before passing the ball to a third party.
Assign Responsibilities for Your Side of the Project
Collaboration between businesses boils down to specific people talking to each other. Both you and your developer need to know who these people in your organization are, when to contact them and how to do so.
Determine Who Will Take Care of the Product Post Development
Product life cycle doesn’t end with the release. You will need to support and regularly update the software — either yourself, with your developer or using someone else. No matter what you choose, make the decision in advance to factor its specifics in the development process.
Specify Your Project Budget
Decide how much money you can or want to spend on the project. Even if the estimates provided by your developer exceed this figure, you will be able to negotiate a more cost-efficient approach intelligently.
Deadlines will be among the first things Ruby on Rails application development experts will ask you about. They’ll need it in order to come up with a realistic project timeline and cost estimates.
Decide who will test the software pre-release
As an outsourcing Ruby on Rails development company, we have quality assurance specialists using reliable testing tools and techniques. In fact, many others do. But you may have your own QA team or be willing to have your software checked by a third party.
Whatever you see fit, make it clear at this early stage.
Find the Right Ruby on Rails Outsourcing Company
Once you’ve laid the groundwork for your project, you’re ready to search for a Ruby on Rails outsourcing company. And you might be wondering what makes for a great software development partner and where to look for them. Let’s find that out.
Where to Look
There are many platforms where software developers publish their profiles and businesses post jobs. We recommend taking a close look at two such platforms, Clutch and Upwork, and using general search.
Comprehensive developer profiles, verified testimonials, hourly rates and acceptable project budgets — all that is the type of content you’ll find on Clutch. An independent business catalog, it features hundreds of vendors, including Ruby on Rails outsourcing companies.
Start by applying correct filters (e.g. Ruby on Rails technology). Then go over search results, paying special attention to what those companies’ clients are saying about working with them.
Always double-check the profile information by visiting the companies’ websites. For instance, when searching for a Ruby on Rails outsourcing company in the USA, you’ll come across several who are, in fact, headquartered somewhere else.
Upwork mostly features individual programmer profiles. But you can also find representatives of Ruby on Rails companies there. In fact, this is the best thing to do if you lack expertise to evaluate candidates yourself. A representative will pick the developers that match your project specifics and ensure commitment.
This option is for you if you choose to trust your gut rather than relying on independent platforms. Just do your due diligence into every Ruby on Rails development company that catches your eye.
Who to Look For
You will come across a range of vendors. But how do you choose a software development company that is right for your project? Here are a few things to consider.
Time in the market
A company that’s been in the business long enough will have a reputation to maintain and a tried-and-true development workflow. They’re unlikely to disappear without notice or create an unmanageable mess.
Look for detailed reviews and decent ratings across different independent platforms. A reputable company will have many references. We, for one, are proud to have been on the global top Ruby on Rails companies by review rating on Clutch for the past few years.
Your best candidate will have several projects in their portfolio, including products that are similar to yours.
First of all, consider their industry focus. If your industry is highly regulated (e.g. healthcare or finance), you will want to work with a developer who knows how to stick to those regulations.
Second, look at the size and type of their previous clients. If you’re a startup, you’ll prefer to work with a development team that can easily adapt to changing requirements. On the other hand, if you’re a corporation, you’ll need a partner who can strictly follow established business processes and requirements.
The region where most of your candidate’s clients come from matters. It will suggest whether you may have to struggle with cultural differences or will ride the same wave from day one.
The success of Ruby on Rails project outsourcing largely hinges on how well the developer can report on the process and handle your feedback. So, at the very least, make sure that your prospective team speaks your native language or a lingua franca.
For instance, we make a point of hiring designers, developers and testers who speak English, and help them improve their command of the language. As a result, you can speak to every member of your team when you work with Rubyroid Labs.
As you get to know your candidate, you’ll see how much they’re ready to adjust to your processes. The developer who wants your business will ask you how you’d like to go about vetting them for the job.
You may want them to do a test assignment, interview their programmers or use any other approach. Your best candidate will allow you to choose any option — at least that’s what we do at Rubyroid Labs.
Your candidate may be located in another hemisphere, where the sun rises when it’s setting for you. But this doesn’t have to be a problem for a company that specializes in delivering Ruby on Rails application development services globally. Just ask them how they would treat the time difference, and if they say they’ll set up overlap hours, that’s a good sign.
Professional community contribution
We’ve already mentioned that a developer’s reputation can save you from troubles. And one sure sign that the developer cares about their reputation is their contribution to the professional community.
Take Rubyroid Labs, for example: we’ve arranged more than 23 professional events, which welcomed over 1300 guests, and trained more than 1500 Ruby on Rails development students.
How to assess them
Once you’ve chosen a roster of developers to consider, you’ll need to take things to a more personal level. And this means a call.
If your candidate is a company, you’ll be connected with a sales rep. Evaluate this person: do they care to represent the developer in a way that makes you want to work with them? Do they sound confident?
Here’s a list of questions to help you create a first impression through the call:
- How long have you been in business?
- Where are the development offices located?
- How many people work for your company?
- What technologies are you good at using?
- In which industries do your clients operate?
- Do you have technological, industrial specialization?
- What does your development process look like?
- What will the project team composition look like?
- What additional services do you offer?
- What is a rough price range for the project?
- Do you have people available for the job?
- If we go with you, what would be the next step?
And remember: a developer who’s really interested in your business will follow up on the call.
Build Your Project Team
At Rubyroid Labs, we present our clients with a selection of highly skilled candidates from which they can choose members for their prospective team. Your outsourcing partner may offer the same choice to you, and to pick the right people you’ll need to assess personal skills. There are two types of such skills: hard and soft.
Hard skills are all about technical competencies. You’ll need to make sure that your team features experts in these areas:
- Business analysis;
- User experience (UX) design;
- Quality assurance (QA);
- DevOps (establishing and upholding the software infrastructure);
- Back-end development (building the web application and configuring how it should work).
Speaking of back-end development skills, we mean how well-versed the candidate is in using the Ruby on Rails framework. And to assess this, you’ll need to interview that person.
There are lots of theoretical questions you may want to ask them to check the general competence. Here are four you can use:
How are procedures different from blocks?
Blocks are included in a method’s syntax and can pop in an argument list. They don’t belong to objects. Conversely, procedures are objects, and you can store them in variables.
What is the difference between instance and class methods?
A method provides functionality to an object. A class method provides functionality to a class itself, while an instance method provides functionality to one instance of a class.
How do ActiveRecord JOIN table methods (.joins, .includes, .preload) work? What is the difference between them? And what will the SQL code look like?
.join connects associations via the Inner Join. But that requires at least two associated records to have matching values (which may result in returning duplicate values). The values returned are joined via associations.
.preload sends a request for the data from a particular association to get association records.
.includes works identically to .preload. But you can use the Where method to filter the query results and change the behavior of the method to eager_load. As a result, associations will be joined within the same query.
How are symbols different from strings?
A string is mutable. It’s a series of elements (bytes or characters). Each string has an allocated storage in the memory.
Symbols are immutable. Each symbol is unique and is stored as a single original in the memory.
If you’re not new to software development, you may consider some of the following things we look for when assessing programmers’ competences:
- How well the candidate can read and analyze code
- How familiar they are with Ruby
- Whether they can explain the difference between data structures Hash and Array
- Whether they can explain the difference between instance methods and class methods
- Whether they can explain the difference between the block and lambda in Ruby
- How well they can read complex algorithms and find potential issues in them
- How well they have mastered ActiveRecord
- How familiar they are with SQL
Technical expertise is a tool. But this tool needs to be operated by the right hands. If you’re building a new product, look for people who don’t get frustrated when requirements change. And if you’re upgrading your software, make sure that the candidate won’t try to rebuild it all from scratch.
You can better understand the personality of an RoR developer by inquiring about their previous experience. Ask them if they have worked on projects similar to yours before and try to learn as much about that work as possible.
Assessing individuals’ hard and soft skills can be a grueling task. And if you don’t feel like rising up to a challenge like that, delegate it to Rubyroid Labs. We’ve been growing our programmer pool since 2013, and have worked out effective ways of matching Ruby on Rails developers to projects.
Distribute Roles and Responsibilities
You need to organize your team adequately to the tasks at hand and available resources. This means assigning a chief technology officer (CTO) and opting for a relevant team composition.
Appoint a CTO
You need a CTO to oversee the outsourced Ruby on Rails development process and manage the remote team. Their expertise and interpersonal skills will largely determine the project’s success.
The best candidate is your business partner with a vested interest in the enterprise, one who also possesses the dubbed skills. You will want them to always be there for the team, ready to solve any technical hindrances.
You may not have such a partner, and that’s OK. Companies often hire people for this position from the outside. Attend events like meetups, IT conferences and hackathons, looking for the mix of an entrepreneurial spirit and technical mind in one person.
Choose Your Team Composition
Once you’ve decided to outsource Ruby on Rails development, there are two ways to go about your team composition: external and hybrid.
The external model implies that you’re delegating the whole thing to your outsourcing partner. Choose this model if you don’t have Ruby on Rails developers, designers or testers on your team and can’t afford hiring them. But if you do have people like those, you can also go hybrid. This model suggests that your in-house squad works together with the external team.
Appoint a Transition Officer
If you’re handing a Ruby on Rails development project from your in-house team to an external partner, you should appoint a transition officer. This person will orchestrate communication between the original product team and the new developer, ensuring the latter can quickly get all the essential information.
Outsourcing Ruby on Rails development starts with preparation of materials, clarifying project objectives, setting a budget and outlining expectations.
Once you’ve done that, you go to Clutch and Upwork to look for a candidate developer. Your best shot will be a company that has a proven track record of working on Ruby on Rails projects similar to yours. They also need to speak your language and be willing to adjust to your pace, time zone and business culture.
The partner of your choice may suggest that you select individuals from their pool for the job. You’ll need to assess each candidate’s hard and soft skills — their technical expertise and personality.
Finally, your team will require a technical leader, or a CTO. You can either delegate this position to your business partner or source a candidate externally. Another choice you’ll need to make at this point will be whether to fully outsource the development or leave part of the job to your in-house team.
We hope this guide will help you streamline the outsourcing of your project. To make things even easier, you can use our expertise and resources. Rubyroid Labs has built more than 150 applications, ranging from sophisticated CRMs to engaging entertainment software. And we can build one for you — write to us to learn more.
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