Changing a Software Development Vendor: Project Owner’s Step by Step Guide

24 May

Often businesses seeking software development services get to a point where they have to get another vendor. The transition from the exiting vendor to the new software developers team can be tall order if it’s not done properly. An enterprise may want to change hands in vendors if the present one has been underperforming or there is slow pace in executing the project. There is need to evaluate the risks involved in changing the software vendor, the additional value the incoming vendor is able to provide, and the cost attached to exiting the contract signed with the current vendor. Sometimes, different tasks of developing a software product may require the hands of various experiences compelling the business to outsource experts in the different areas like building a Minimum Viable Product (MVP) or Proof of Concept (PoC), code maintenance, or upscaling and upgrading. For a smooth software development project, any change of vendors and the transition should be done with due diligence. Here is the best approach to the transition:

Identify the reasons you want to change the software development team

You don’t just wake up one morning, head to the office, and ask the current software development team to down their tools because you want to hire a new one. Despite the number of transitional events in a project, the “Why Factor” will always arise. Many software product owners lack the technical knowledge on what things may necessitate a team to change hands with another. Because of these setbacks, there may be delays in advancing the project, something that can lead to frustrations and put pressure on the professionals handling the project. It could even lead to loss of interest or abandoning the project, all together. When you know the main reason for transition and how to go about it, you can make an informed decision like hiring a custom software developer in India. It also helps the new team determine the expectations you have as the software project owner, the size of the new team, and the pitfalls to avoid.

Plan appropriately

Once you have identified the reason you need to change the team, you have to plan for it. In planning, look at the objective of the transition. Put up a list of the expectations – whether whole or partially, and how things will be done. It could be upscaling, debugging, maintenance, or integration of various elements of the software development project. Have a roadmap showing the production stages and scope of work to be done. The roadmap will look at things like ongoing support, backlog, versions of features, and prioritization of features being developed. Another thing when planning for the change is organization. You need to organize everything bit of the change process. A typical software development project requires a business analyst, project manager, QA engineer, architect, and senior developer. A software development (Dev) along with information technology operations (Ops), also referred as DevOps for project staging and development is also needed.

Know the technologies involved in the software development project

Being a software product owner, you need to know the fundamental technologies that are utilized to build the software. Even if you aren’t a tech-savvy, you need to have some basic understanding and know-how of your app. You need to know about the project management program facilitating the app development - for example, you could be using Kanban, Scrum, or Agile. Whichever the case, ensure you know how it relates to your project.

It is a big deal to understand the tech stack of your project. With the various typical frameworks for admin area and frond-end, make a point to know the techs being used for the project. When you familiarize yourself with the weakness and strengths of the technological stack, it puts you in a better position to know how the software works and how it is going to function in future. With that kind of knowledge, it eases the hiring process of a dedicated software developer and facilitates communication and collaboration with the development team.

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These days, it is not uncommon to find that in a particular software, there are third-party features or tools that have been integrated into the app, so you should know which ones are they and how they work with the app. In addition, you need to have information about the platforms or CMSs your app runs on and whether it is a web app, mobile app, desktop solution, or a responsive site. Ask yourself, “Does the app run on multiple or single platforms?”

Other elements to check are the hosting platform and the testing or prototyping and approval as well as deployment of new tools or features of the software you are developing.

Have a detailed documentation of the project

It’s common to see software developers use existing coding to start their project, at times this is done without reviewing the codes. A detailed documentation of a project is needed to ensure smooth sailing during transition. It helps avoid lapses, offers insights, and lubricates the process. The documentation should comprise of things like setting up a software development environment where the app under development is set up for the new team. The source code, database, installed dependencies, sample data, API keys set up, and other important elements should be laid down to help the incoming team understand the progression of the project or where it has reached and what coding elements have been used.

An automated test suit should be run to help show the app has been set up in the right way and any additional alterations won’t interfere with the old features. In the deployment of a software, the staging server takes the final step before the production server. Developers can prototype their code to see if the app will compatibly function with other codes. If there are any issues that were debugged by the team exiting the project, they need to be pinpointed and well documented so that it saves the incoming squad their time in case they reoccur. The documentation should be done by a developer well versed with the app development from its start to the point it has reached. The programmer should have significantly contributed to the coding.

Access management and control

It is likely that some third party tools may have been in use when developing the software. The services could be through accounts set by the exiting team members who now have the log details. The responsibility and ownership of these accounts should be transitioned properly. The new team needs to be empowered by ensuring that the one that is leaving gets all the necessary details and contract information pulled together. The previous team has to show which third party tools or services they have been using and the accessibility to them. A collaborative account or limited access to the tools can be granted to the new team.

Letting the new team come onboard

It’s time to let the new time take charge by handing over the project and its details. Some members of the old team may still remain to work with the incoming team, if that’s the case, they can be of great help in the transition and moving the project further. The project owner needs to avoid any form of frictions between the team members and coordinate the tasks smoothly while avoiding lags when resolving tasks or other issues of the project. The source codes should be placed in a repository along with details about the present coding state and what’s already been deployed. This helps reduce chances of duplicating work or bugs. Set targets for the team, they need to know the expectations so that you move on the same page.


The step-by-step guide for a transitional change when working on software development helps make things easier and ensure that the project isn’t halted and there are no delays in moving it further. Any work done by a programmer is work for hire and you are the owner of the project meaning the intellectual property (IP) created by the contractor is yours. So you have to establish the IP ownership of the software and ensure you keep it safe. Even as you hire software developer in India to take charge, the outgoing vendor should provide you with the list of all accounts as well as the access credentials to the services and tools where the assets of the project are stored or deployed. You may want to change passwords to bar the old team accessing your software from another end; otherwise, your intellectual property rights could be at risk.