What to know when offshoring software development

Zoomed in view of computer code.

Development projects are an investment. There’s no way around this as you look at how to upgrade what your company offers. The rate developers charge per hour can appear to be steep and varies based on location. Often, people who aren’t ready for this investment should realize that the upfront cost is only the beginning of the process. That being said, it’s an investment that will pay for itself as your business gets a return on investment (ROI) to capitalize on what you built. Nevertheless, for those who think developing in the U.S. is too expensive for what you need for your company, consider some of the issues of developing an offshore product.

Communication

The most essential part of any project is communication. It’s important to discuss deadlines and set expectations for when a project’s deliverables should be complete. Likewise, it’s critical everyone is able to share updates and adjust the development schedule as issues arise. 

The fundamentals of working with your development team become significantly harder when you start working with a team offshore. You need to figure out how to align schedules so you can talk about the project due to different time zones. As a result, you’re always waiting for information that will appear at a delay and should an immediate issue arise, you’re unable to communicate that with the expectation of a swift response. 

For example, you receive the test build of your software thanks to a notification on your phone. You open up the app and you get to see how it’s working, but immediately notice it crashes before you finish logging in. Everything else theoretically could be working about the app, but at this point you don’t know that. How can you get this fixed? Well, you’ll be waiting until your development team can respond later that night which puts you a day behind the next bug that needs to be fixed. 

Cost

To no surprise, it becomes harder to complete tasks on the timeline you initially established thanks to delayed communication. These setbacks in your project delivery prevent your product from being launched on time and increase the cost of what you pay. The initial development price always looks great, but as time goes on all of the challenges you face working with a team overseas start to add up quickly.

By the time you receive your completed project, you could have hired a team in the U.S. to build it in a significantly shorter window. Not to mention, they build exactly what you ask for. That may sound great in theory, but building this way can lead to products which are nonsensical. You could find yourself paying for extra development because there was no push back or questions asked about what should be included in what they build. Unless you have a technical outline of what you need, you could be running back to them every time you find something missing. 

A good developer is going to ask you a lot of questions because they need to understand the entirety of what you’re building. By doing so, they can build a product which has the infrastructure you need to launch your product and the architecture to expand in the future.  

Value beyond development (non-existent)

When you hire a custom software development firm, you expect them to build your software, but that’s not all a firm should offer. It’s common for companies in the U.S. to offer consulting insight or even marketing assistance. These additional services will come with a cost, but help your software project have a better outcome and a higher ROI or provide you a plan on how to get your product into the hands of your target customers.

An open office with long wooden tables and office chairs. Above the tables, strings of lights hang from one side of the room to the other. A the front, a set of door length windows with 2 plants.

Firms in the U.S. pitch their services to companies because they have industry experience which suits the needs of that particular company. As you work through development, the value of this knowledge becomes apparent as they can suggest specific software integrations or features based on what they’ve built for other clients and improve how your software functions in that space, making it more competitive.

The same argument cannot be made with a firm you’re hiring for a reduced hourly rate. For them, development is a numbers game on their projects. There’s no reason for them to offer value-added services because people come to them to build for fast and cheap outcomes.

Moreover, it’s harder to quantify the value U.S. based firms’ advantages such as their relationships with design firms or consulting firms that extend beyond development. You don’t need to pay for these introductions, but they save you time trying to figure out whom to work with to accomplish specific aspects of your project. 

Pay now or pay later

A firm that’s based offshore is focused on completing your project and moving on, but you’ve just invested in software, should this be the approach you want for the foundation of your new product?

Let’s consider you’ve only paid for the one version of your software, did the team you work with build your software with scaling in mind?

Did they consider you might need to add analytics into your product so you can assess what information that runs through your app? 

The architecture of what you build will determine the future of your product. It’s impossible to change this without rebuilding the product or adding integrations to compensate for functionality (this eventually leads to developing your product over again since this software is designed to add to what you offer not to substitute for it). 

With your overseas team, at times you will be rehashing conversations multiple times about communications you’ve previously sent. These sorts of redundancies occur working on any project, but they’re compounded by the fact you need to intentionally adjust your schedule to meet with this team and you still have a workday ahead of you, so it becomes apparent when your time is being wasted, further pushing back your project.

Who should you hire?

The scope of what you build will undoubtedly change who you hire to build your custom development project. Whether that team is based in the U.S. or abroad, it’s important to consider the impact you want your project to have on your business. We recommend this before even considering what you need to build, but it can be challenging to figure out how to approach that decision. Let’s work together to figure out how we can help your business craft a winning technical strategy and a pathway to immediate ROI.                            

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