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Secure Outsourcing. Best Practices

September 16, 2019
ALEX SLOBOZHAN
Whenever you decide to outsource web development, fear stops you.

It's no wonder! You hear horror stories at every turn. It's not just about losing money, missing deadlines, or losing face. Information is the new king, and the number of security breaches increases year to year. You don't want an irresponsible web development company to steal your idea, lose track of your proprietary data to cause privacy breaches for your customers.

There is no way to secure a 100% guarantee your project will be safe. Even if you develop and test it without extra help, the risks remain. However, there are secure outsourcing best practices that will eliminate most security risks and let you reap the benefits of outsourcing web development. Follow them, and you will finally be able to beat your fear and outsource web development.

Background Check

This advice might seem obvious, but you would be surprised how many disasters could have been prevented if startup founders had paid more attention to their homework. Whenever you get an idea to skip the background check, remember that even IBM can drop the ball. The IT giant underestimated the budget by 1600 percent for Queensland health payroll system and nearly got banned from working on Australian governmental projects.

Where do you start?

  1. Check out the company website and make sure it is fast, high-performing, and user-friendly. You don't want to trust an IT vendor that doesn't care about its online image.
  2. Browse Upwork reviews and customer testimonials on Clutch.co. Do not cooperate with vendors that offer the lowest prices to compensate for horrible customer feedback or you will join the lineup of their unhappy clients.
  3. Check out company employees' professional social media profiles. LinkedIn endorsements and recommendations will help you check software engineers' qualification and expertise. Designers' Instagram or Dribbble profiles will help assess their skills.
  4. Read company portfolio and focus on case studies in your niche. Skip IT vendors that have never worked in your industry, especially if you have to deal with regulation and compliance issues. There is a high probability their inexperience will cause legal troubles.
If you still have questions such as

Should I outsource web development to a new company with no website and no portfolio?
Should I agree to a discount from a vendor that has messed up several projects?
Should I entrust my idea to a bright-eyed team that's new to your niche?

The answer is always NO!

Neither of these options is secure. You are likely to lose your money, sensitive information, and your business reputation. Steer clear!

Communication Framework

Setting up your communication expectations and requirements from the get-go is a must for successful web development outsourcing. You don't want to follow in Airbus' footsteps and lose billions of dollars because of a simple miscommunication. Without direct access to the development team, you need to rely on transparent two-way communication and project management best practices to see your project finished on time and on budget.

How to get outsourced work from the USA and set up a clear communication plan?

  1. Choose the best outsourcing destination considering language and cultural barriers. For European and American startup outsourcing, Ukraine is the prime destination. Ukrainian developers offer competitive rates and technical expertise without significant cultural clashes.
  2. Fly out and meet the team in person or arrange for a face-to-face meeting on neutral ground. One or two intense sessions should be enough to settle paperwork and establish rules for further communication.
  3. Set up regular calls or videoconferences with the project manager, team leader, or the whole team. Choose the media that suits your needs and set the maximum length of each call upfront. This will help you schedule other business processes and prevent unnecessarily drawn-out meetings.
  4. Get access to the project management framework and software. When you outsource web development, you need to be able to evaluate progress and identify bottlenecks at a glance. Jira, Redmine, Trello are among the common issue tracking solutions web development teams use.
If you still have questions such as

Should I trust progress reports without access to the issue tracker?
Should I let the project manager set the call schedule?
Should I let the team handle the project and come back for the finished product?

You can, but you shouldn't if you want to see your project succeed.
Structured communication is the key to successfully outsourcing web design overseas.
Set clear expectations and ensure the team can meet them. Otherwise, cut your losses and find a better vendor.

    Information Security

    Perfect reputation and transparent communication are both signs of a reliable web development company, but neither guarantee your information will stay safe. Instead of hoping for the best, take charge of protecting your million-dollar idea and business reputation. Research how to outsource projects securely and ask the web development company for suggestions.

    Three common ways you can protect your sensitive information include:

    1. A non-disclosure agreement (NDA). This should be the first paper you sign with an outsourcing web agency. The document must list the governing law, protected information, agreement duration, and breach-of-contract consequences. Aside from fines, contract termination, and jail time, the breach of NDA will cause severe reputational damage for the development team. You can also include a non-compete clause that will prevent the vendor from working on similar projects and helping your competitors.
    2. Data encryption. Encrypting sensitive customer data, such as credit card information or social security numbers, is the only efficient way to prevent leaks. You can provide the encrypted data for handling and transfer. However, this approach won't help if web developers need access to specific data points to make your product work.
    3. Data fingerprinting and watermarking. Current technologies provide ways to fingerprint databases without data corruption. While this technique won't prevent security breaches, it will make the team handle the data with care, because you will be able to identify the source of the leak and enforce NDA clauses.
    If you still have questions such as

    Should I provide the team with as much business and customer information as possible?
    Should I hire software engineers who don't want to sign an NDA?
    Should I trust the vendor to know better when it comes to information security?

    You should know better by now. The answer is NO!

    As a startup co-founder or business owner, you are responsible for your project's security.
    Do not take shortcuts and agree to the terms outsourcing companies dictate.
    Ask questions, get clear answers, sign contracts. If the vendor is not willing to provide information or sign the NDA, look for another one.

      Takeaway

      Secure web or app development outsourcing is possible. Follow my advice, and your project will be in safe hands. Remember to:

        1. Run a background check to ensure the company has positive reviews, experience in your niche, and technical expertise.
        2. Structure your communication with the offshore development team from the project's onset and follow the progress through issue tracking software to stay in the loop.
        3. Sign the NDA and protect your sensitive data with encryption, fingerprinting, or watermarking when possible to prevent breaches and identify the sources of data leaks.
        web development outsourcing
        If you want to put one of my recommendations to good use right now, browse FreshCode clients' testimonials. They chose to outsource web development with us and achieved success with no risks and losses.
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