Feature: How To Handle Outsourcing Efficiently

The rush to use outsourcing has caused some companies to leap without looking, and in Gamasutra's latest feature, former 2K Games development director Jon Payn
The rush to use outsourcing has caused some companies to jump into the practice without fully considering the complexities of the situation, and in Gamasutra's latest feature, former 2K Games development director Jon Payne spells out potetnial pitfalls and their solutions. Writes Payne: Before getting started, it is extremely important to get off on the right foot and make the sure the development team has total buy-in with regard to the need for the outsource team's involvement. Some teams welcome outsourcing, some outright will say no, and some will say yes and then proceed to passive-aggressively foot-drag and sabotage all work being done by the outsourcing team. The first topic is one of the most important: due diligence. Payne presents a list of factors to consider, including whether or not the outsourcing studio's past work matches your game title, their financial state, and whether or not the team members who worked on their prior, successful projects will actually be contributing to your game, among many others. He also shares anecdotes of how outsourcing went wrong in previous projects he worked on, including this example: One developer had a fairly good system of tracking each asset in its various stages of completion, which was shared with the outsource team. However, the outsourcers regarded the early stages of work as being more a guidance than a requirement, so when they submitted assets which the outsource team considered to be fairly far along, the assets were rejected because the outsourcers had strayed off-target on the deliverable, as they made some key assumptions that were not in line with what the developer expected. The original intent of the tracking document was to allow the developer to course correct the outsourcers' work product course in more discrete chunks along the way, and theoretically prevent deliverable expectations to snowball wildly off target. A mid-sprint post-mortem revealed that the developer did not really emphasize the importance of the tracking document, and that the outsourcer failed to see its relevance or importance, and just regarded it as one more piece of paper. The full feature, Outsourcing: A Little Checklist to Save You a Lot of Hassles, which goes into great detail on how to identify and successfully integrate a reliable outsourcer into your production process, is live now on Gamasutra.

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