Anyone who operates in the tech space is continually inundated with offers for overseas development services. We’ve heard the horror stories, but what are the real considerations when deciding whether stay local or take a chance with a foreign team?
The Obvious Consideration
Cheap labour is the most obvious consideration and is seen as the most significant pro for outsourcing your development overseas. All things being equal, a lower hourly cost does yield more bang for the buck, but are you comparing apples with oranges?
What Are You Actually Getting?
When dealing with an established local developer, you’re able to see their past projects and know they have the skills to survive in your local marketplace. Indeed, many local developers were able to relocate from overseas because they had the skills to do so.
Yes, that overseas firm only charges you $20/hr, but what is your actual value? Are the coders competent? Are you getting senior people or recent grads with little-to-no skills? An experienced $100/hr developer can usually build a PUSH notification framework in a fraction of the time that it takes five $20/hr juniors from overseas.
You need to educate your developers about what you need in any software development project. Equally important, your needs constantly change as you pivot with market changes or hit road blocks. Regardless of location, a new developer does not know your product, process, vision or needs because you haven’t worked together. The communication necessary to build this learning curve works better in the same time zone without a language filter. It’s hard enough to explain to an experienced person in the same room what you want them to build; imagine doing the same with someone thousands of miles away, relying on email, DMs and Skype calls in broken English. Learning-curve investment eats into projected savings in any scenario, consider doing it with senior, local talent who can do it in a fraction of the time.
Larger Teams vs Too Many Cooks
More people does not equal more value. With the complexities of communication – especially overseas – a larger team moves more slowly and you will lose productivity.
Managing to Probable Failure
The demands on your time or costs to manage overseas teams are going to be higher than local teams. Also, consider that your risk of project failure is higher overseas – i.e. between 30% and 50% of outsourced overseas projects fail outright or fall radically short in terms of the functionality they deliver.
Think long and hard before exercising the overseas option. If you must do it, limit yourself to smaller, simpler projects with established teams.