Software development in the United States introduces significant challenges. There’s currently a shortage of software developersmeaning there’s no guarantee you’ll be able to find a team with the skills necessary to complete your project.
You’re probably also struggling with the high (and rising) costs of onshore software development.
Or there is the promise of low-code and no-code development.
So what about offshoring?
Offshoring, the practice of hiring people in other countries to outsource your software development work, is a viable strategy to save money and start faster (among other benefits). But before you commit to this approach, you need to understand the core problems associated with offshoring – and find ways to solve them.
Potential Offshoring Problems
These are some of the most common problems related to offshoring that you’ll need to find a way to address.
- The language barrier. One obvious problem that people think of is the potential language barrier you might encounter. If none of your software developers speak English, and your only point of contact is one person who speaks English poorly, you’re not going to be able to effectively or reliably create new software for your organization. The solution for most businesses is to choose a country that’s known for speaking English competently, but this has the side effect of increasing the amount of money you’ll likely need to spend on software developers. For example, the Netherlands is the best English-speaking country in the world (where English is a secondary language), but you probably will not save much money by offshoring there. Find an appropriate balance for your business by selecting a country with solid English speakers, yet prices within your budget.
- Time zone discrepancies and scheduling. Time zones and scheduling can also be issues. If your software developers are working halfway around the world, they’ll literally be 12 hours away from you, making it hard, or even impossible to have ongoing dialogue with them throughout the day. The good news is, many offshoring destinations have workers who are used to working American work hours. If you can not find a team to accommodate this, you can come up with a compromise, allocating specific hours of the day when all members of both domestic and foreign teams are available.
- Salary and wages. By offshoring your software development, you’ll likely save money on salary and wages for your developers. But you’ll also introduce some new problems. Are you familiar with the system of exchange between your currency and theirs? Do you have a reliable way to pay them in their money? Are there specific legal or financial hurdles you’ll have to overcome to pay them? There are ample technological solutions to help you overcome this barrier, including banks that specialize in offshoring assistance.
- Code quality. Next, you’ll need to think about code quality. Some people associate offshoring with lower quality code development, do to less education, different work cultures, or other issues that get in the way of efficiency. The easiest way to avoid this potential problem is to research every firm and every developer you encounter when looking for an offshoring partner. Look for specific examples of coding they’ve done in the past and evaluate it for its quality.
- Cultural barriers. How do you manage a team that’s naturally more relaxed and easygoing when you’re used to people who are ambitious, active, and driven? How do you recover from a social faux pas that you committed without even realizing it? Cultural dissonance between your culture and theirs can be the cause of a multitude of problems. But with a bit of research, mutual understanding, and a willingness to compromise, you can move through it.
- Laws and regulations. Different countries have radically different employment laws and regulations. Some are extremely strict, while others are more forgiving – but nearly all sets of employment laws have hidden complications that can make your life difficult if you’re not prepared for them.
- Competition. Some of the best countries for offshoring have become so popular they’ve introduced a new problem: competition. Hot destinations get more expensive and less available as more people flock to them, so you need to try and stay ahead of the curve.
The High Points
I’ve discussed some various ways that you can mitigate or eliminate the potential problems that arise with offshoring. but these problems and others can mostly be addressed by adhering to a handful of high-level points:
- Remain open. Try to remain as open as possible, both during the early stages of your search and the deeper stages of building a relationship with a new partner. That means keeping an open mind, doing research on a variety of different options, shopping around, and having an open and accepting attitude about different organizational cultures and approaches to work. The more open and adaptable you are, the more possibilities you’ll have to outsource your software development successfully.
- Do your research. Never trust your instincts or your first anecdotal experience. Always back your ideas and your decision making with objective research. Quantify as much as you can, look at multiple sources for your information, and challenge your initial assumptions by trying to prove yourself wrong. You’ll be grateful you did.
- Trust the experts. Finally, trust the experts. If you have people on your team who are more familiar with the tenants of successful software development, or if you have mentors who can provide you with guidance, listen to any feedback or advice that they have for you. You do not have to make this decision alone, nor should you.
Offshoring software development is not the right move for every business, but it could be exactly what you need to get the quality software you need for a much lower price than if you hired domestically. Keep these key challenges in mind and make sure you have a plan to address them before moving forward.