ONE OF THE MAJOR CHALLENGES WHEN STARTING A CUSTOM SOFTWARE DEVELOPMENT PROJECT, IS DETERMINING THE TYPE OF OUTSOURCED PARTNER YOU WANT TO WORK WITH. THIS IS ALSO A DECISION NOT TO BE TAKEN LIGHTLY, BECAUSE IF YOU PARTNER WITH THE WRONG VENDOR, IT CAN HAVE GRAVE CONSEQUENCES FOR YOUR PROJECT, AND YOUR ORGANISATION.
Thanks to advances in technology, it is now easier than ever to engage with an offshore vendor to build your application. But is this the right thing to do? While offshore development may seem like an attractive option, there are common pitfalls that people often overlook. In this article, we look at the benefits of investing in a custom software development project with an experienced onshore partner.
Collaborate in Person: One major advantage of partnering with an onshore company to develop your custom software project, is that you can work face-to-face. This will result in fewer iterations to achieve your outcome, as it is much easier to workshop and define items in person with a whiteboard, than via email or over numerous phone calls.
Clear Communication: Working with a company in the same country means you will not have language and communication barriers. The technical jargon you use will be the same, and you will understand the various processes, methodologies, and techniques you each refer to.
Familiar Work Culture: Keeping your custom software development project onshore in a familiar environment, means you understand the work culture and won’t be in for any surprises. You know when not to expect a response due to public holidays, or that meetings might not be possible on a Friday afternoon due to staff All Hands. Engaging with a vendor with a similar work culture helps manage expectations and keeps your project on track.
More Transparent Hiring Process: Being onshore with your custom software vendor gives you more involvement in the hiring process. You can meet individual team members in real life and ensure you hire the right team to make your project a success.
Common Misconceptions about Onshore Development:
Increased Cost: It is likely that keeping your custom software development project onshore, will result in higher costs than taking it offshore, but this is linked to the quality of the engineers and ultimately the quality of the end product. In addition, you are more likely to get the project right, the first time. In the long-term, this will end up saving you money.
Backdoor Offshoring: When you hire an onshore team, you assume all the development happens onshore. However, it turns out that some onshore teams actually offshore their own software development! Make sure you engage with a company who is 100% transparent with where their development is taking place.
Lower Cost: One of the main reasons companies decide to take their custom software projects offshore, is to save money. Although the cost of overseas resources has indeed increased over the years, it is still more affordable in comparison to onshore resources available in, for example, Australia. However, you must keep in mind the quality of development you are paying for. If the quality of code is poor, or requirements are not understood properly, you will end up rebuilding the system multiple times and spending more in the long run. Remember, it is only cheaper if it works. You must also consider the possibility of hidden costs that might crop up throughout your project, such as travel expenses. Instead of focusing on a daily rate, rather focus on the desired outcome and how your chosen partner will help you to achieve this goal.
Team Management: Offshore software development can be a feasible option for experienced teams who are working with the provider directly and have the skillset to manage the quality themselves. This is in terms of project management and governance. If you are able to, have strict oversight of timelines and the associated budget, ensuring that you don’t run into any hidden costs.
Communication and Location Difficulties: Moving your custom software development project offshore, might mean moving it to a country where the native language is different to your own. This could cause issues with communication and raises the risk of errors due to misunderstanding. Using an offshore team might also mean you need to navigate different time zones. This could slow down the response time between communications, or result in you and your teammates having to jump online at odd hours of the day to join meetings, disrupting life outside your typical working hours. In addition, there can be lengthy timeline delays, resulting in additional costs. What initially may have seemed like an attractive, lower cost option, may not end up being that way. More importantly, the outcome that you have been looking for may not have been delivered on in the first place.
Cultural Differences: When engaging with an offshore vendor, cultural differences might come into play that effect the progress of your custom software project. Does the organisation you are engaging with have a different work ethic? Do you need to consider different holidays throughout the year? You will need to be flexible and understanding to compensate for these cultural differences, but sometimes it might be a stretch too far.
Inconsistent Quality: As mentioned earlier, when you use an onshore custom software development company, you can be involved with the hiring process and have direct communication with the engineers working on your system. This is difficult and sometimes impossible when using an offshore company. You are relying on the company itself to hire experienced engineers, who are dedicated to the success of your project. If the company is hiring cheap resources, this could impact the quality of the work provided.
High Turnover of Developers: Although offshore development companies might indeed have access to a wider pool of software engineers, they quite often keep resources on standby which results in a high turnover. Engineers don’t want to wait on standby until they are needed, so they will take another job as soon as it comes along. This means your project might change hands multiple times. If the handover is not done well, your project might lose momentum, and there will be a lack of consistency across your project. Communication might also be damaged, as you might not know who your point of contact is if team members keep changing.
Potential Risk of Losing your IP: Using an offshore vendor to develop your application, increases the risk of losing your IP. You must ensure that everything is protected, secured, and monitored. Any unauthorised access or security violations can seriously damage your organisation, so processes must be put in place before outsourcing your project to an offshore vendor.
It is for the reasons listed above, that we recommend sourcing your custom software development partner locally, with a reputable company that has the resources and qualities to meet your requirements. While offshore development may seem like an attractive option, the quality of outcome can be poor and misaligned with your business objectives. By investing in your custom software project with an onshore development partner, you will reap the rewards. If you are working on a unique, innovative offering or building a greenfield project, this is where we would recommend choosing an onshore partner; where the benefit of local expertise and setting up the project correctly from the very beginning can pave the way for success.
The key word here is ‘partner.’ Take the time to find a company that is as invested in your business as you are. By investing in a company that is proudly Australian, you are investing in the local economy and the development of local talent. Getting your desired project outcome and contributing to the development of the Australian tech industry, seems like a winning combination.