In another of today's Gamasutra features, and using Forza Motorsport
as an example, this session showed how companies looking to bolster their production capability through outsourcing could, given the right approach, meet AAA quality while using external outsourcing to meet tight deadlines.
This part of the talk discusses how Microsoft actually ended up choosing ther external partners:
"Microsoft went through a long, two-phase evaluation process to choose their vendors. First, there was an evaluation of 5 companies to determine who could hit their desired quality mark. During this time, there was no time limit. This reduced the field to three, which Microsoft evaluated through a second test phase: make four complete cars in four weeks. Here, Microsoft looked at how the vendors were able to deliver on time and on spec. Wendl emphasized the importance of the spec. "Even if there is a better way to do it… innovative is less important than hitting the spec."
From this process, Microsoft chose two vendors for outsourcing. Using two helped to diversify the risk to Microsoft's end while bolstering the team significantly. Dimitrov also added that on the business side of the decision, it's important to mitigate risk by choosing to outsource to vendors with diversified revenue streams.
The preparation for the beginning of outsourced production was significant. Microsoft established dedicated staff and QA for the outsourced production. They also prepared a full prototype build that led to a finalized spec to provide to the vendors. These specs need to contain lots of detail. There also should be some of the work detailed in the spec done in house; this way, it's easy for the home base to recognize that the spec does or does not work. Also, it's important to allow lead time to the vendors to allocate resources to the project."
You can now read the full Gamasutra coverage on the matter
, including detailed information on this interesting lecture (no registration required, please feel free to link to this feature from external websites).