“There should be one - and preferably only one - obvious way to do it” - this is one of the most important principles of the Python programming language. Its simplicity translates to having more functions using fewer lines of code.
Moreover, being innovative, flexible, and versatile, Python is perfect for developing complex projects, especially web-based. No wonder so many top-tier companies - like Netflix, Dropbox or Spotify - rely largely on Python. It’s also a first-choice programming language for machine learning and data science. Furthermore, it’s often used to develop games, like Battlefield 2 or Civilization 4, just to name a couple of the most famous ones.
But what’s really tempting for business owners, is that Python-based projects are usually pretty fast to develop. The language is great for writing prototypes, so you can quickly see whether the idea works or not. And the faster the prototype is ready, the earlier you can start pitching to investors...
So, assuming that you’re already convinced to go with Python, do you know how to find the right specialists? Or - even better - find an external agency capable of successfully developing your project? And what should the collaboration process really look like?
If you’re not sure about the answers to the questions above, don’t panic. Just follow this three-step guide to outsourcing Python development.
Step #1: Looking for a Python team (or a dev team in general)
This part can be really tricky, I know... So be careful and pay attention to at least these few basic points in order not to fail at the very beginning.
Investigate the number and quality of projects that the team has successfully developed.
Ask how the team can adapt to your needs and special requirements. Remember, you can work efficiently even between two different time zones. It’s just important to know what the collaboration process will look like, and how open or responsive the agency is.
Communication should be based on honesty and trust. Be sensitive to any signs of dishonest and misleading behavior. Make sure that you will be able to contact your team smoothly and without any hindrance.
- Additional benefits
Check to see if the agency can provide comprehensive care of your project. It’s quite important to have, for instance, maintenance services and support after the project has been deployed.
- Possible risks
Identify things that could go wrong. Think about whether depending on a certain agency would be too hazardous. For example, if you’re worried that your collaboration wouldn’t be transparent or reliable enough, it may be better to end it. Basically, you need to find a real tech partner, not just a random group of self-appointed ‘experts’ who can quickly jeopardize even the most promising ideas.
And when it comes to skilled teams of Python web developers, they should be fluent in:
- rudimentary Python concepts,
- Python syntax and semantics,
- popular frameworks, like Django, Flask or Pyramid,
- Object-Relational Mappers, like SQLAlchemy or Django ORM,
- server-side templating languages,
- unit testing and debugging,
- as well as integrating various databases and data sources in a single system.
Everything clear so far? Good!
Then, let’s say you’ve picked an agency. Now take a deep breath, because this is where the real work begins.
Step #2: Preparing for your collaboration
There are always some universal to-do items that are a necessary part of creating a collaboration-friendly environment. But, of course, everything requires commitment on both ends - from you and from the team that you choose to work with.
- Prepare a list of ideas, requirements, user stories, goals and… potential obstacles that may occur. Put even your vaguest thoughts on paper, try to make them as specific as possible, and clearly present them to the team.
- Make all necessary data available and close at hand. Your team should have unfettered access to all repos, graphic designs and files that are indispensable to your project.
- Identify dependencies between your own in-house team and the external agency that you hire. Make sure everyone knows how their work affects the work of others, and what they need to do to ensure smooth collaboration.
- Appoint a Product Owner who will play the key role in managing the sprint backlog. Someone who is responsible for maximizing the value of the product throughout the entire development process.
- Define your MVP (minimum viable product), which is the product reduced to just its basic functions in order to satisfy early adopters. Release quickly, get feedback, and proceed with further development.
- Set up your communication channels. Most teams use email and Slack.
- Set up access to tools that will allow you to keep an eye on the progress of your project anytime you want - like Jira or Sprintly.
- Ask questions whenever something is unclear so you can avoid future misunderstandings.
And after everything’s set up - start the collaboration process whenever you’re ready to take off.
Step #3 The collaboration
Working with a great team of devs is highly effective and, as a result, brings a lot of satisfaction. However, do you have any idea what flawless collaboration really looks like?
- Great collaboration is agile and based on mutual trust. An iterative approach to the development process increases predictability and reduces potential risks. Daily scrums and weekly sprints let you maintain full control over your project.
- Documentation should be kept up-to-date in order to facilitate not only the present workflow, but future development as well.
- The production process is transparent - you can talk to every team member, and have access to repos at any time.
- Communication runs smoothly, with no room for confusion. People are open-minded and take a problem-solving approach.
- After the launch, a good external agency is able to offer you maintenance services and support.
This way, even the most comprehensive projects have a great chance of success.
Wrap-up: Pros and cons of working with an external agency
Of course, if you decide to outsource your app development, there will be some risks involved - regardless of the technology you pick. For example, you may experience some cultural differences. The team’s dedication may not be as high as you expect, because they work on multiple projects simultaneously. If your project requires lifetime maintenance, you may end up being dependent on the agency until you get your own devs. Besides, higher rates per hour don’t sound very encouraging either. A lot of things can go badly if you choose the wrong team.
But when you hire the right team of professionals, and not just any team, you immediately receive good value for your money. You won’t even feel the difference between working with in-house developers and collaborating with an external agency. You’ll get a number of different talents in a single blow, and a fresh set of eyes on your problems and ideas. Not to mention the flexibility and quality assurance that you so desperately need. And when the team needs to be expanded, it’s an agency, so the scaling process will be much more effective. You can easily maintain full control over your project while resting assured that your development process is in good hands.
Just follow the tips above, and choose wisely.