Communicate the “why”, not just the “what”.

On the surface this seems incredibly obvious but from my experience it is not.

When I hear of outsourcing failures, a big reason for this is the failure to adhere to this principle.

Why does outsourcing fail?

We would say the big reasons are:

  • The end result does not match your expectations
  • The developers lack an understanding of your vision
  • You are unable to determine the competency of the developers before it’s too late

This leads to budget blowouts, frustration, do overs and companies swearing they’ll never outsource again.

We think that a lot of this can be avoided by asking the right questions up front and having the right people managing the process.

There is a lot of value in outsourcing as long as you can do it properly.

What follows is some our advice for getting the best results.

Most People Focus on “what” to Build

They focus on the features the software will have and how it will work.

They never stop and think to explain “why” the project is important.

How does it help the customer? What problem are we trying to solve here?

These questions build context around the project and help developers come up with solutions.

This is important when working with developers outside your organization. They need to understand your business and vision as you do and not just as a list of tasks.

When you are planning a project it’s unlikely that you will think of every important detail up front.

You’ll think of the big features of course but there is always a lot of small details that need to be figured out before you have a complete product.

These small details can add up and cause big problems and delays later.

So you need to be creating a back and forth dialogue and building up context with the developers at the very beginning before any code has been written.

This allows the developers to fill in the blanks and get a complete picture of the desired end result.

Determining Developer Competency

We can build on the advice above and make a judgement on the competency of the outsourced development team before we make a commitment.

You need to be able to determine up front if they truly understand your goals and vision.

You need to test their communication skills and get an idea on what it will be like working with them.

You need to understand their motivation. We believe you’ll get the best results by working with outsourced teams that behave like your partner or an extension of your company.

So how do you determine this and make sure you’re not working with people who who just view your projects as short term increases to their bank account?

We believe the best way to qualify who are you working with is to evaluate the dialogue and see how many clarification questions they ask you.

If you work with any outsourced developers and they don’t ask you any questions, they don’t suggest ideas or they simply agree with everything you say…that’s a sign that the project is not going to work out.

The quality of this engagement shows that they understand and are invested in your project.

So when outsourcing hold off on developing a detailed specification yourself. Instead approach from the view of goals and providing context and see what they come back with. Develop the specification in collaboration with the outsourcing team instead.


Approach from the “why”, not just the “what”. It helps you avoid “yes men” and ensure you are working with people who truly understand your desired outcome.

Focus on the vision and the outcome but get feedback early through why questions.

In order to outsource successfully you need someone in your organization who can explain the “why”.

Not everyone can take a high level overview of a product and package it in such a way that you can give it to someone else and have them understand the product as well as you do.

Make sure you have this person in place before you outsource anything.

If you want a jumpstart, Hantor is your trusted advisor for all things remote working and outsourcing.

We have deep experience hiring and getting results from developers from all over the world in different timezones.

Learn more by watching our webinar or contacting us.

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