February 20, 2019
6 Things To Consider Before Hiring Offshore Software Developers
Before working with offshore software developers, be aware of the pitfalls. Most are fairly obvious, but some may surprise you. Talent, local leadership, schedules, poor communication, unusable product and loss of control over a project all play crucial parts in offshore software developers failing.
An obvious risk is the talent level of the offshore software developers. It is very difficult to assess the talent of a developer on the other side of the world. They may have the “chops” you need to get the work done, but they also may be fresh off the internet boot camp series. Not that there is anything wrong with learning online, but they may lack the experience for the work required. Also, the required abilities may not simply be technical. Additional expertise in business or the specific industry often are needed to achieve a quality product.
Some development shops believe that a list of “To Do’s” is enough to code a functional part of the application. Often the use case will leave out assumed flow or data information. If the developer doesn’t have the proper context of how these items work, then properly developing them may be very difficult. This leads to rework and confusion.
Leadership is paramount to an application’s success. Offshore software developers are no different. There needs to be solid leadership for the project to succeed. Most importantly, it requires quality leaders onshore. Asking the offshore developers to take on full responsibility for the development often leads to disaster. It is extremely important for requirements to be clear and well-documented. Even more important is having the proper communications between offshore and onshore developers.
When leadership is poor, it often leads to chaos. The offshore software developers go rogue. The project loses its way quickly. Offshore leadership will often not be able to keep up with the day-to-day focus that a project needs.
Offshore software developers are usually most successful when a good ratio of local to offshore developers exists. An ideal ratio would be 1 local to 1 offshore and potentially even going up to 1 local to 3 offshore developers. Regardless of the ratio, a successful project still needs to have local leadership and developers to make certain that the project stays on track. Ultimately, leaders have to find time to communicate well during offshore projects.
Differing work schedules is one of the most difficult issues when using offshore software developers. There must be an overlap of work hours between onshore and offshore. The optimal range is usually anywhere from two to four hours. Offshore software developers that don’t spend time in discussion with onshore leadership are doomed to fail. Each part of the team needs the opportunity to ask questions, get direction and get to know each other.
Some schedules allow for developers offshore to be at home for meetings as opposed to being in the office. When there are eight to twelve hour time differences, being flexible is paramount to success. Giving team members options of when to meet is a good way to keep up team spirit as well. When schedules are not aligned, teams lose focus and stray into poor communication.
Successful projects clearly define what constitutes a Minimum Viable Product for the output of the development. To maintain focus on the MVP, it is extremely important to communicate well. A company’s MVP may be the key contributing factor to the success or failure of the company as a whole.
Language barriers can be another tough one. Not being able to effectively communicate on the phone or online because of language barriers can easily doom a project. Before hiring any offshore developers, it’s essential to have several in-depth conversations with them through different methods including over the phone, email and direct messaging.
There are often times when the product created by offshore software developers isn’t usable at all. The code is so poorly written and the functionality is so poor that the project has to be scrapped and started over. This creates a loss for the company and more money must be spent to rewrite the software correctly.
Often the right answer is to pursue outsourcing onshore over offshore software developers. Onshore developers are easier to communicate with, have more experience, and can offer more insight into the project’s goals. Companies want to have as much control in the development of their project as possible.
Companies seeking offshore software developers often look just at the hourly cost. Overhead, rework, delays and oversights can happen during any project but are even more likely while working with offshore developers. Simply believing that a lower hourly rate will help keep costs down is naive.
Control of Offshore Software Developers
Difficulty arises when dealing with offshore developers. It’s very difficult to get an offshore team and the customer together for alignment. Expectations, demands and deadlines get incorrectly communicated. Removing problem developers is hard to do. Project owners may have an issue with a developer, but the offshore team doesn’t agree. Thus, a developer may be allowed to stay against the wishes of the owner.
Ultimately, the biggest issue comes down to legal action. Laws and guidelines in offshore countries may be very different then the laws and regulations of the country where the company resides. Getting legal resolution may be very difficult. Government entities may simply ignore a company when issues arise. It is risky to deal with contracts and laws when both parties do not reside in the same jurisdiction.
Working with offshore software developers is risky and many things must be considered. Often projects do not end successfully. Although successful offshore stories do exist, they must be well managed and well thought out to achieve a company’s end goals. If after reading this, you have second thoughts about pursuing offshore development, set up a chat with our 100% US based developers today!
Consulting Software Engineer
Consulting Software Engineer