7 things to consider when hiring offshore


There are few, if any, businesses that can get by without robust digital infrastructure these days. Whether it’s a cashier and inventory system, automated payroll, a CRM or sales infrastructure, or the expensive, custom ones — an internal app or a consumer-facing mobile app — almost every business needs holistic digital infrastructure to succeed.

For many of these solutions, great off-the-rack solutions exist. You probably don’t need to build a custom CRM most of the time — you can configure Salesforce to do what you need cheaper and more easily. The same is probably true for your Point of Sale system — there are great white-label solutions ready to go right now already in the market. But, when it comes to custom solutions tailor made to your business, your workflows, and your clients… off the rack might not cut it.

So how do you decide how to approach custom software development? The biggest question we usually get is when does it make sense to offshore? And what do we need to consider before/when we do? So, here’s our top 7 things to consider when choosing to offshore your software development needs.

1) It takes a lot of time to find quality on-shore developers

If you’re hiring a developer(s) on shore and full time, it takes a while to recruit for culture/aptitude fit. You’re not just trying to find the right person to build the product you have in mind — you’re hiring a staffer. You need to make sure that staffer is the right fit for your culture and company if you’re shelling out benefits, etc. And, as you’re probably aware, the demand for skilled developers far exceeds the number of talented developers available, it takes significant time and often more money than you realize to recruit the right one.

2) The ability to hire for a short-term commitment is a boon for you, and a point for offshore deployments

This is one of the most underrated benefits of outsourcing or hiring offshore. When you hire on a project basis, you can bring in an expert (or experts) with the specific aptitude you need for right now. Then, as your needs shift in the future (or for different projects), you can bring in the appropriate expert without having to recruit and hire someone full time.

3) Follow-the-sun development schedule

Most outsourcing for software development today hails from India. Given the time zone differential between India and the U.S., it allows American enterprises to check work, generate feedback, and/or assign new programming tasks during our daytime. Then, we receive completed work the next morning when we sign on because our Indian counterparts did that work during their day/our night.

4) Documentation, documentation, documentation

A pitfall to watch out for, though, goes hand-in-hand with follow-the-sun development calendars — the absolute necessity for clear and exhaustive documentation. Whereas with a domestic or staff resource, you may be able to make a comment in a meeting and have that idea executed into code the next day, that’s usually not possible with an outsourced resource. For one, you’re not usually in meetings together given the time differential. And for another, there can be both language and cultural barriers for what you intend and what your outsourced developer hears / executes on. As such, it’s imperative to document early, document often, document clearly and document comprehensively. The only way to ensure there are no costly miscommunications is with excellent documentation, which can be a drag on the speed and ease of outsourcing if you’re not properly forewarned about this necessity.

5) Do you find a partner or do you hire a resource?

When it comes time to make your outsourcing decision, the bigger — and perhaps most important — choice you make is whether you enlist a partner or just hire what you deem to be the necessary set of resources. By that I mean, if you need a developer or two to build your mobile app, but you have the technical acumen and vision and project management capability to spearhead it yourself, you might only hire those specific programming resources for your project. But, if you need to build a complex, comprehensive mobile app and don’t already possess the know how (or already have it on your team), it will almost certainly behoove you to hire a development partner who already has quality programmers under contract/on staff so you’re not out there recruiting resources yourself (and are left to QA their work, especially if you don’t have the coding expertise to know how good that work actually is). The right partner will have project managers, technical leads, data architects, etc. all on staff, meaning you’re only paying for the percentage of those resources’ time you actually use/need on your project.

6) Offshore quality

The biggest unknown when it comes to outsourcing technical resources is the quality of what and whom you’re hiring. The whole idea behind outsourcing is getting what you need at a similar quality for less money; off-shore resources cost less per hour than on-shore ones do. Pretty simple, right?

While it really is that simple in concept, the difference between cut-rate resources and worthwhile ones can be huge, both in quality as well as in cost. There is no doubt you can save money by outsourcing well, but if you aren’t vigilant or well versed in what you’re looking for, you can suffer huge lapses in quality for those cheaper rates. Or, what many decision makers don’t think through, is that while the programming resources may be cheaper, you may end up spending way more of your and your team’s time overseeing those resources than you may realize. So by that metric, it may not be saving you that much money in the long run because it’s eating into your valuable time instead.

Another point for the parter route is that you can usually split these differences. The partner handles the time consuming parts of the process while paying offshore prices for development resources. That way, you can keep quality high while still keeping cost down.

7) Cost

I saved the best for last. No one is considering hiring offshore except and until cost comes into play. If you can get the same quality of development work at significantly reduced rates, why wouldn’t you as a business leader? But, as I laid out in point 6, it’s not always such an apples-to-apples comparison. You can’t forget or fail to factor in the management costs you’ll expend communicating with and monitoring the performance of your vendor (unless you hire a partner, that is). According to a report cited in ZDNet, Aberdeen Groups research shows that more than “76% of customers report project administration and vendor management costs to be far higher than expected, which won’t come as a surprise to anyone who has done any outsourcing.”

You absolutely can save money going with an outsourced resource, but you have to make sure you’re taking all the cost variables into account when you’re making that decision.

One last note before you go

Outsourcing can be one of the best decisions you and your company makes when it comes time to build a custom software solution. But as you can see, there are a lot of factors to consider and weigh before choosing the correct path forward. As such, it almost always helps to speak with an expert who can help guide you along in that process. That’s where we come in — even if you don’t go with us as your partner, we can help you make sure you’re thinking through everything both holistically and granularly; that way, you know your money is actually going the farthest and you’re getting real quality for that dollar.

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