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8 Offshore Software Development Challenges

Learn about the most common challenges associated with offshore development and the ways you can overcome them.

Сustom Software development is a complex and multilayered process, and it does not always go a hundred percent smoothly, especially if your development team is located on the opposite side of the globe. It is in your best interest to know about the potential risks, advantages, and disadvantages of offshore development and the ways you can mitigate those risks to achieve maximum efficiency and spectacular success on your project. Today, we are going to discuss exactly that, analyze the most common challenges associated with offshore development, and see what you can do to avoid some of the most common pitfalls on the way.

Why Choose Offshoring?

According to the 2020 study published by Deloitte, cost-efficiency is the main reason why 70% of the companies choose to outsource rather than develop their software in-house. Offshoring, thus, is the most cost-efficiency mode of IT outsourcing as offshore developers usually charge less than local developers. This makes sense due to economic disparity between the countries, and that is the main reason why offshoring has become so popular but is it all good? Well, that’s where we get to the challenges of offshore software development. 

Poor Communication

One of the main drawbacks of offshoring is the inconsistent quality of communication between you and your vendor. Leе’s say you are located in the US and your potential vendor is located in India – the time difference between your countries will be a huge problem here just because you’ll be sleeping while your team works and vice versa. Additionally, the language barrier may become a problem as you’ll most likely be dealing with non-native English speakers. Of course, most companies make a huge emphasis on the English proficiency of their developers but that does not always guarantee full compliance.

Code Quality

You must understand that the cheapest options on the market are not exactly the best in terms of quality. The quality of the code depends on the expertise level of your dedicated team, and if you hope to find a team of senior full-stack developers who charge $20 per hour, you are in for a long and exhausting search. Being stingy here might result in losing even more money because of the poor code quality. Do not make an investment if you are not sure if it is going to pay off, and you should never invest in a dubious quality product. That’s why you have to understand how much software development outsourcing costs to get a high-quality product in time.

Insufficient Cost-Saving

At this point, you might think that hiring less-expensive developers might be a good idea, but that’s not exactly how it works. A less-competent developer would spend dozens of hours working on a task a much more experienced developer would do in just a few. Some would say that hiring more developers would speed the development process up, but in fact, it might only slow the process down, make it more complicated than it has to be, and make the team management a total misery. That is Brook’s Law – if you are running late, adding more people to the project will only prolong the development stage.

Cultural Matching

Though the world has become considerably smaller in our globalized age, cultural matching remains one of the critical offshore software development challenges. People from different cultures have different attitudes towards authority, responsibility, and obligations, which is why you might end up being rather flabbergasted by how your remote team treats you and your project. This cultural mismatch might end up being an exciting experience of intercultural communication or it can end up hindering your ability to roll out a compelling product to the market. Whether to take that risk or not is your decision to make.

Complex Logistics

Aside from having problems coordinating the communication between you and your team due to time zone differences, it might be rather challenging to manage the performance of the team. You won’t be able to react to the challenges with enough speed and precision, all the critical news will get to you with a considerable delay, and you just won’t be able to be there for your team when they need your guidance. This can lead to some serious frustrations both for you and the developers you work with as well as in timeline, scope, and budget excesses.

Us and Them

One of the most unfortunate things that can happen to your project when working with an outside team is developing the Us and Them mentality. This is especially likely if you augment your in-house team with external employees. You and your in-house developers are a team, you work in the same building, you drink coffee at the office kitchen together, some of them might even be your friends; and on the other hand, you have a team of people you’ve never even met. In their turn, the guys on the other side have the same connections and feelings towards each other, and to them, you are a foreigner and a stranger. This might cause both sides to develop that mentality of blaming the other side in case anything goes wrong. This can lead to developing trust issues and a call-out culture rather than problem-solving culture.

Unrealistic Expectations and Unclear Goals

That’s where you might be the one to blame for the inconsistent quality of the product and miscommunication. Before you even contact your potential vendor, you must have a clear understanding of what you are trying to achieve here. Even if you don’t have a clear roadmap for your project, you should at least have a specific vision for the software you want to develop, and a good vendor will help you figure things out and create a precise action plan to make that vision into a product. 

You must also be realistic with your expectations, set a realistic budget and timeline, and have a clear understanding of what you can afford and what you cannot. These recommendations are common for both offshore and onshore development companies, so be reasonable.

Increased Competition

Surprisingly, one of the major offshore software development challenges for a client is to actually make a choice among numerous vendors. There are thousands upon thousands of software development companies around the world each claiming to be the best and offering the best prices. Of course, fierce competition makes the vendors care more about the quality so that they can stay afloat together with the rest, but it also puts a client in a precarious situation where you have to make a tough choice between different developers.

What Should You Do?

If you’ve already decided to outsource your software development, you should consider all the pros and cons of offshore development. Though we mainly focused on the challenges or cons associated with this mode of cooperation here, the main benefit of working with the overseas developers is the cost reduction. You can actually save money working with developers situated abroad, and that is the main reason why you should not dismiss that prospect altogether.

How to Make the Right Choice?

Not all offshore development projects need to end in a complete disaster; there are worthy vendors who can deliver top-quality code despite all the possible implications. To choose the right software development company, what you need to do is check out their portfolio, see what kinds of projects they already worked on, who were their previous clients, and how they achieved positive results on their previous projects. Then, you might want to check their ranking on rating platforms like Clutch, see what their previous clients say about their performance. You can also talk directly to their previous clients and see what they have to say about that vendor. All of that research will pay off because you’ll be able to select the best vendor who can really deliver on all the promises.

Final Thoughts

Sure, there’s nothing perfect in this world, and offshoring is not a perfect cooperation model either. There are tons of challenges both clients and vendors have to overcome to end up with a perfect software product. Errors are possible even when you work with the best vendors, and you should keep that in mind, especially considering all the specifics of working with people located somewhere on the opposite side of the globe.

There are certain issues on the client’s side too, so you should try to eliminate them to ensure frictionless collaboration. Try to establish a strong and trusty partnership with your client, do not separate your team from the offshore team, and make sure all of your developers work together as a single entity rather than separate units constantly arguing who’s to be blamed for all the mistakes. Pick the right software development agency, establish transparent and consistent communication, and be realistic about your goals – these are the key factors that would help you eliminate the potential challenges associated with offshoring.

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