What is Offshore Software Development?

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Offshore software development is huge. Countries like India, China and Vietnam are making a killing out of outsourced software development jobs. According to Statistic Brain, 43% of companies in the United States are outsourcing programming jobs.

If you’ve never tried it out, you may still be confused as to what exactly it is and how it can benefit you. Let’s check it out in detail.

Offshore Software Development: What Is It?

Offshore software development is where you outsource the work to an overseas team that is far from your country and in a different time zone. For example, US companies heavily outsource to China, India, Vietnam, Ukraine, and Poland.

Before you make your final decision as to whether to go offshore, you should carefully look at the advantages and disadvantages. Let’s break these down below:

Advantages of offshore software development

  1. The Rates are Way Cheaper

This is the main reason companies outsource. Simply said, why get your mobile apps developed by a team in the US for $200 an hour while you can get premium services in India for $25 an hour.

Lower rates give you a plethora of advantages. These include:

  • Access talent that would have been very expensive locally. You can get top-of-the-range services at a fraction of the cost
  • You can budget for extra services, apart from just software development
  • If your development team delivers a specific milestone, you can afford to motivate them to work harder by giving them bonuses

…and the list goes on.

All this is totally dependent on a project going smoothly, as we’ll soon discuss with the disadvantages.

  1. You Can Get Qualified Offshore Development Companies

The reason some of these countries are favorite outsourcing destinations is because they have powerful developers. Some are very experienced and highly educated.

Check this out:

  • Ukraine has the highest number of C++ programmers in the world
  • Indian developers outscored Americans in math and logic in this Gild research
  • China produces over 4.7 million tech graduates annually
  • China has the best developers globally, according to HackerRank

This shows that you can get quality services from these countries, especially if you choose the right team to work with.

  1. You Free Up Your Workforce

You don’t have to hire an in-house development team. All the work is done remotely by your overseas team, freeing up your workforce to take care of their core business.

Outsourcing locally may also subtly keep you and your team more involved. Sometimes you may need to do physical meetings to catch up on things. These meetings have their own time, cost and HR implications.

Things are definitely different when you know that the team is far, far away.

  1. Speed of Delivery

If you need insanely specialized work done fast, you can reach out to a team in a country that is exceptionally good in that area. As shown above, there are countries that are known to excel in specific areas of software development. Some even rank higher than the US.

  1. Outsourcing Experience

Some countries have been getting outsourced work for years. Apart from expertise in the actual software development, they also have great skills in dealing with overseas clients. Working with an experienced team can ensure different milestones are covered smoothly without the usual teething problems.

Disadvantages of offshore software development

  1. Communication Challenges Can Cost You

Custom software development is a very sensitive field. You therefore want everything to be delivered as expected. Even minor communication errors can mess up an entire project.

Remember that for truly agile projects, quick decisions and alterations are needed. Your team needs to be in frequent communication with the development team to ensure different iterations are created and tested.

Due to different time zones, communication may be slowed down. Language barriers may lead to misinterpretation of information, leading to crucial errors. The time and cost implications of such errors can be astronomical.

  1. You May Not Be 100% Protected Legally

Think about it. Are you sure your contract is legally protected? When dealing with a US development company, you’re confident that in case of fraud or data security issues, the matter can be fairly dealt with by law enforcement agencies.

However, some outsourcing destinations are not the same. Some have flawed legal processes. You may end up running into legal issues with no path of recourse.

  1. Cultural Differences May Lead to Unexpected Clashes

So, weekend on the US is Saturday and Sunday. Maybe in the other country it’s Friday and Saturday. Some countries observe specific cultural or religious holidays that do not exist in the US. Not knowing what’s offensive in different areas may lead to awkward moments.

Some cultures believe the boss is always right. On the other hand, Americans are known for speaking up. This means that even if your Indian developer has a better idea, they may not speak up as fast as an American would.

You may not see it coming, but some of these cultural differences may cause unnecessary frustrations and delays.

  1. Quality is Not Always Guaranteed

Many people cite cost as the main reason they outsource offshore. As stated above, it can be cheap if all goes well.

On the other hand, focusing mainly on cost may make you overlook some aspects of quality. What worked for other people may not always work great for you. You may therefore end up with a team that cannot deliver exactly what you want.

This can then get you in a tough situation where you may have to get the work redone by other experts.

  1. They May Not Have Expertise for Long-Term Development

The US is a technology powerhouse. For that reason, there are things that may be available here that are yet to be released to offshore countries.

The offshore company may do a great job in the first iteration. However, some new tech may come up that’s not available in their country. By the time it gets there, they may not have the expertise to handle it.

If they can’t deliver, the project may have to end unexpectedly, messing up the development process completely.

There’s a Viable Alternative

Going offshore may sound great at first. After all, why not go for a high quality, experienced team that does a great job quickly and effectively? On the other hand, you need to ask yourself if you’re okay with the risks involved.

Communication challenges, lack of legal protection, cultural differences, quality issues, and inability to access latest tech or expertise can be too much of a risk to bear. That’s why many are realizing that offshore software development is actually more expensive in the long-term.

To avoid all these challenges, simply get a local custom software developer. You will no longer have to worry about cultures and time zones. You’ll have more control over the development progress. US laws will fully protect your intellectual property. In the long-term, a local solution may end up being cheaper and giving you the best results.

Published by Kidal Delonix (1004 Posts)

Kidal Delonix is a contributor to Mr. Hoffman's blog. The views and opinions are entirely his/her own and may not reflect Mr Hoffman's views.

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