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Effective Software Outsourcing Screening Agenda for SMEs and Startups


Choosing a good software outsourcing partner is a many-step process. Analyzing the pros and cons, estimating the cost, conducting the screening, and more. When it comes to the screening process, it matters what to ask and what to listen for. So, we’d like to help out by providing a detailed interview agenda on this blog.

Software Outsourcing Screening Agenda

Define Parameters

First of all, SME and startup owners should prepare two documents: a software requirement document and a product roadmap.

Vetting Candidates

Interview questions that can hit the nail on the head are what SME and startup owners should focus on. In detail, the process can consist of the following:


Tell me about your company, as well as the specific team I’ll be working with?

This question is a good way to get an overview of the company’s style, vision, and business philosophy. Look for years of experience, certifications, and industrial ranking. And then, ask the candidate about their team members’ skill set and characteristics.


Business Domain Expertise

Which industries do you specialize in?

So often, SME and startup founders may worry about the accuracy of the offshore team’s business domain knowledge. How to test that out? The listener must grasp keywords that highlight the candidate’s insights about the industry and its operation.

Tell me about your experience completing projects like mine?

A proven track record of similar projects is assuring for clients seeking a new software outsourcing partner. Beyond the industry knowledge, the interview must look for the similarities between his/her project and past clients. So, ask about the business’s size and focus, the management style, and as importantly, the product features and tech stacks.

Can you provide references?

It is nice and all having information showing that the candidate is promising. Yet, SME and startup owners should double-check the successful track record. So, make sure to ask the candidate to provide permission to interview the referrals.


Technical Screening

What are your software design and development process and why? What is the software development method you plan to apply to my project and why?

A good development partner is one who uses a reliable process that not only supports quality control but also adds value to the project. SMEs and startups can first start with the following and ask for the candidate’s consultancy:

  • Agile approach
  • MVPs
  • Research (UX/UI)
  • QA testing
  • Logging
  • Evident-based milestones
What technology stack do you propose to use for my project?

Whether it’s off-the-shelf or customized, the offshore team’s expertise shines when they can propose a suitable stack for the project. The interviewer should ask the respondent to include all the following with rationales in their answer:

  • Programming languages
  • Front-end frameworks
  • Back-end technologies
  • CI/CD, DevOps
  • Database
  • Cloud provider


tech stack


How will you handle the hosting, security, and maintenance?

What else is there to know besides localhost dying and cloud storage enthroned? Well, SMEs and startups should also discuss hosting providers, cybersecurity, and maintenance processes.

How do you ensure the code quality as the source code is an important asset?

Good code does a lot: doing what it should, following a consistent style, easy to understand, testable, endurable, and well-documented. Bad code? Everything but the above. To ensure that the source code provided by the offshore team is high quality, SMEs and startups need to discuss with the candidate a set of metrics and later use them as standards:

  • Defect metrics
  • Complexity metrics
  • Coding standards
How is the QA process handled at your company? What is your process to test and find bugs in an application?

Quality Assurance (QA) makes sure that the right processes are in place during development. And as a result, the software meets the market standards and fulfills its set goals. To inspect how the candidates will undertake this essential part, the interviewer should ask for:

  • Type and level of testing they will apply: manual testing, automated testing, unit testing, integration testing, system testing, and user acceptance testing
  • Methods and tools they will use to find defects and why
How many revisions can you provide?

Changing on the fly is only possible if the two parties agree on how big the room is for modification. During interviews, the interviewer should ask the offshore team the following:

  • How flexible they are to changes
  • How to apply change management to avoid conflicts later
What happens after my product has been delivered and in case of bugs or issues?

A successful launch is only the first part of a software’s life cycle. And SMEs and startups need to think about the post-launch process, too. Besides discussing maintenance, the interviewer should request an answer about ongoing support and improvement.

What has your experience been like as part of an agile software development process, if any?

“Embracing Agile” can be the motto of every software development company nowadays. But, actions speak louder than words so SMEs and startups should ask the candidate to share their genuine experiences. It can be successful applications, failures, and lessons learned.

How will you ensure that you understand my project’s requirements?

The gap between expectations and reality can be serious without mutual understanding. To avoid that, the offshore team must verify their comprehension of the business issues, timeline, budget, and market goals with the interviewer. Thus, these below measurements have to be clear between two parties during interviews:

  • Proof of concepts
  • Wireframes
  • Prototypes
  • MVPs
  • Testing

Any screening process cannot be complete without this step. A practical task or an MVP is an all-around way to test out the candidate’s capability. Upon receiving the result, the interviewer should score their satisfaction based on functionality, design, speed of delivery, and communication.


Communication and Culture Fit

Describe your experience working with remote clients?

Remote working is part of every software outsourcing partnership. So, it doesn’t hurt to see whether the potential is a veteran in the field by examining how the candidate overcomes communication barriers. Besides, pay attention to their preference about remote working and seek similarities.

How do you manage conflicts when working remotely? Please describe a situation where you’ve successfully resolved a conflict.

Conflicts happen even in the virtual office so what matters is the offshore team’s ability to help resolve them. While discussing the example, the questioner should expect to hear the offshore team’s method(s) to identify the causes and solutions.

What involvement will be expected from me throughout the process?

It is the SME and startup owners’ duty to take ownership of the software development. During interviews, the interviewer should discuss with the offshore candidate the following:

  • Milestones
  • Participation
  • Contribution
How are we going to communicate throughout the project? How and when will you communicate with me?

To achieve transparency in communication, SMEs and startups need to talk with the candidate about:

  • Primary and secondary point-of-contact
  • Communication triggers (what kind of issues)
  • Tools (Slack, Jira, Skype, etc.)
  • Format (instant messages, notes, comments, video calls, or else)
  • Timing (upon the happening, at a certain hour or else)

Pay attention to the candidate’s answer and make sure all the above are in the response.

What tools for collaboration and remote work do you propose for our project?

Among dozens of tools for communication these days, which one is right for what kind of project? While asking the candidate about similar projects, the interviewer should look for the candidate’s best practices of the tool.


Rate, Contract, and Billing Practices

Can you give some advice on the engagement models (Fixed Price, Time & Material, Dedicated Team)?

This is a question that can hit two birds with one stone. Not only can the questioner check the respondents’ consulting ability but also see if he/she indeed knows what they want (for the project). In the interview, he/she should listen for the pros and cons of each option and the respondents’ reasoning for their choice.

What happens after my product has been delivered?

Technical aspects aside, SME and start-up owners should give a lot of care for the legal outlook. They’d better ensure that the legal partnership ends or continues on good terms, and on both parties' favor. So, here’s what the interviewee should mention:

  • Contract Termination
  • Contract Amendment
  • Contract Renewal
  • Appendix

Besides, to avoid providers holding hostage, SMEs and startups should have terms and conditions allowing them full access and ownership of all following project artifacts:

  • Source codes
  • Documents about requirements and design
  • Further assets hosted in third party tools like Jira or Trello
What options do I have regarding the billing process?

The payment method should tick off: convenient, profitable, and reflective of the project’s milestones. Thus, the client must pay close attention to the options and analyze their benefits and drawbacks with the candidate.


billing options

Final Thoughts

Outsourcing is a great way for SMEs and startups to optimize their software development. But, what’s more, important than finding a company that can get the job done is seeking the one that fits their unique needs and keeps their best interest in mind.





About the author

Nhu Nguyen

The intersection of marketing and technology has created the sweet spot to discover my Ikigai, either in my professional or personal life. Spending much of my career in tech, my passion is building elegant brands and data-driven marketing techniques tailored for the tech community.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
What are the essential steps in defining parameters for technical interview outsourcing in software development?

Defining parameters for technical interview outsourcing involves preparing critical documents like a software requirement document and a product roadmap. These documents help clarify the project’s scope, objectives, and technical specifics, ensuring that the technical interview process is aligned with the company’s actual needs and goals.

How should SMEs and startups vet candidates during the technical interview for software outsourcing?

SMEs and startups should focus on tailored interview questions that reveal the candidate’s company style, vision, business philosophy, team expertise, and industry specialization. Inquiring about the candidate’s experience with similar projects, their business domain knowledge, and their ability to provide references is crucial for a comprehensive assessment of their suitability as an outsourcing partner.

What technical screening methods are effective in outsourcing interviews for software development?

An effective technical screening should cover the candidate’s software design and development process, the proposed technology stack, and their approach to hosting, security, and maintenance. Additionally, understanding their code quality assurance practices, QA process, and flexibility in handling revisions are vital components to discuss during the interview.

How can SMEs and startups evaluate communication and cultural fit in technical interview outsourcing?

Assessing communication and cultural fit involves understanding the candidate’s experience with remote clients, their conflict resolution strategies, and their approach to client involvement throughout the project. Discussing communication methods, tools for collaboration, and the candidate’s responsiveness to changes and feedback are also key factors to consider.

What are the best practices in discussing rate, contract, and billing practices in technical interview outsourcing?

Discussing rate, contract, and billing practices should involve understanding different engagement models (Fixed Price, Time & Material, Dedicated Team), analyzing their pros and cons, and ensuring legal terms that protect both parties’ interests. It’s also important to discuss post-delivery support, contract termination, renewal options, and billing processes that align with the project milestones and objectives.

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