Offshore Software Development
Offshore Software Development: Thinking Outside the Boundaries for Quality Project Teams
There are many reasons why companies expand their operations overseas, especially with software development where offshore and local talent can contribute strengths that help the company grow. Whether it’s a startup’s dream product or an entrepreneurial venture of a large company’s growing division, as Entrepreneur magazine notes, “Most entrepreneurs are excited to achieve substantial business growth, but managing the pace of that growth can be tricky.” Sonatafy, a US-based company providing distance-limited “nearshoring,” offers regionally located teams with specialties from DevOps to mobile web interfaces written by highly educated software developers.
Software Development as a Global Enterprise
Quality software engineering education is available in nearly every country on Earth at this point, from Bangladesh and India to Singapore, South Korea, Mexico, and Nicaragua. This provides a rich variety of engineers for local companies, and many who are available to fill the needs of companies around the world who face a limited supply in their own area. By focusing on completing their software projects on time and at the right price instead of dealing with hiring delays and team instability, companies benefit from offshore software development and the international engineers benefit as well.
Managing Offshore Software Development
One of the biggest challenges in developing software with overseas teams is providing sufficient local management to ensure that the project is successful.
Selecting an Offshore Software Development Provider is Challenging
As is usually the case, careful selection of the offshore resource provider is essential, along with evaluating the capabilities of the team as reflected in their past performance including the complexity of work they have undertaken and completed successfully.
Offshore Communication Challenges
As the current project progresses, keeping clear communication and expectations flowing is essential. If the team is located far away, or has a significantly different culture, this can be time consuming. For example, working with countries 6 or more hours different in time zones and where few speak English on a regular basis except for international jobs, management can be frustrating.
Integrating Offshore Software Development with Company Operations
Offshore organizations providing software development resources can become a regular part of a company’s operations, meeting both internal software application needs and product development challenges.
Offshoring Internal IT Applications
Most companies have a range of internal applications that are used for company-specific purposes, keeping IT personnel busy with development and upkeep. Much of this can be readily specified and transferred to offshore resources for development, with IT personnel providing light guidance and management. Depending on the company, IT may also be helping to produce side projects such as marketing apps or maintaining software development environments that could just as easily be produced by skilled resources on an offshore team.
Using Offshore Talent to Expedite Product Development or Expand Its Scope
Having a relationship with an offshore software development services provider can provide flexibility when projects need extra resources to meet critical timelines or additional features are required on the same timeline. If the work can be partitioned for independent development, it’s a great match where in-house teams can focus knowing less critical work is covered as well.
In some cases, projects or modules are developed and coded by a group that rarely has contact with the in-house team except through management or brief introductions. When teams don’t work the same schedule, that’s a practical matter. Closer offshoring, called nearshoring, closes the gap and allows teams to work in tandem more, communicating by more ways than just overnight emails.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) About Offshore Software Development
What is offshore software development company?
An offshore software development company provides staff who complete stages of the software development process for another company, without constraints regarding geography, language, culture, or time zone.
Why is there an offshore development?
Cost reductions for software development can be considerable, and for projects where the main deliverable is a completed, tested software product, setting goals and evaluating results can be straightforward.
Who are the best offshore outsource development firms?
Many of the best names are not well known in the USA because they serve the entire world. The competitive market in the US for software development offshore and nearshore services has led to specialization by geography or technology, and other sector divisions that make identifying a leader difficult.
How do offshore developers work?
Typically workers operate as a localized team, self-organizing and communicating through team leaders or other mid-level staff except for occasional group meetings. Since communication overhead can be higher than with onshore teams, interaction tends to be at stages in the development process. Even with Agile development teams, deliverables and course corrections tend to be infrequent, again because of communication overhead.
How do I choose an offshore development company?
Many offshore development companies are eager to make a mark for themselves in the industry, so it may not be difficult to find one that seems compatible. It’s important to dig deeper and talk with other clients, review their process experience, and check any available data on results. A typical company will face the same challenges onshore development teams, so “too good” performance may be suspect. Most of all, the company’s understanding of communication and project management is essential, as well as their ability to provide well-trained and experience workers who are adept at the essential architecture and design phases where software quality tends to originate.
What is offshore employee?
Typically, an employee of the offshore software development firm whose services are provided through that overseas company.
What does offshore mean?
Outside the boundaries of a company’s current country. For example, an offshore software development firm providing services to USA companies could be in far away in Asia or Africa, or nearby in Latin America.
How do you hire offshore software developers?
The best way to connect with offshore developers is to have HR people in your company who are experienced with contracting this kind of resource. Knowing the ins and outs and pitfalls can save a lot of headaches and even project failures from lack of communication or business practice problems. A similar solution is to work with a company that connects local firms with offshore resources, helping them to keep projects on track and ensure legal and business requirements are in order.
What is offshore outsourcing?
Outsourcing is when a company relocates part of its functions to another entity such as a contracting firm. Software development is a typical application of outsourcing. Offshore outsourcing indicates that the entity is not within the same country, such as a US company outsourcing to a Singaporean or a Mexican one.
What is development software engineering?
As opposed to sustaining or maintenance software engineering which are common uses for offshore software engineering teams, development software engineering builds from architecture and design specifications, writing software modules from scratch. Depending on the role, workers need to understand modern architecture principles or have skill in writing effective, efficient code modules, limiting the “bugs” and increasing the maintainability down the road.
Which degree is best for software developer?
Degreed software developers in the current market benefit from specialized degrees that combine a software engineering or computer science background with specialties in data science, cybersecurity, artificial intelligence, machine learning, and other areas. Degrees in software development and information technology are also helpful. Graduates with degrees in mathematics and business administration with additional coursework in computer science or software engineering will have an advantage in fields that rely on their major interests such as science-based programming for mathematicians and financial software for business administration majors.
What is the difference between a software engineer and a software developer?
A software engineer tends to understand the “big picture” of software and its operations, while the developer understands how to effectively implement pieces of that picture. The roles do have significant crossover, especially as individual careers progress with additional education and experience.
Why is offshore software development beneficial?
Offshore software development typically involves well-defined pieces of a software project, and so can be considered deliverables in their own right, designed, created, and tested, then transferred to the client company. This can help expand the scope of a project, for example having in-house developers create a web backend that interfaces to the company’s systems, while offshore developers create a web user interface that connects the backend to the customers.
What does offshoring mean in business?
Offshoring is an extension of outsourcing, and there is often confusion between the two. Outsourcing employs resources outside the company to accomplish some of the company’s tasks or goals. Offshoring uses international resources specifically to perform outsourced work.
Why do companies go offshore?
Offshoring has received publicity because it can reallocate manufacturing or service work to areas where labor is less expensive, at the cost of local jobs. With the increase in work flexibility, especially in software engineering and IT, due to the presence of reliable networks such as the internet, offshoring can also be a way to access pools of well-educated and experienced technical talent, often at a lower price than locally, especially if the company doing the offshoring is located in a tech-heavy urban environment.
Is offshoring a good strategy?
If the company has taken care to understand the risks and benefits of offshoring and is willing to make the commitment to adapt their business to use offshore talent, it can be an excellent strategy.
What are examples of offshoring?
Examples of offshoring for software engineering are plentiful both in small and medium-sized companies and even in larger firms that eventually establish overseas divisions. One typical case would be a company that manufacturers specialized laboratory equipment, but has a very limited software engineering group that mostly writes firmware for the devices. If the company wants to create software for users such as web interfaces or apps, they could work with in-house marketing and design personnel, then contract for an offshore software development team to produce and test the software. Another example is the allocation of web user interface software to an offshore team, while more sensitive in-house backend software integrated with ERP information systems is built locally.
What are the major advantages and disadvantages of developing systems offshore?
- Cost savings for equivalent skills, although at a distance
- Access to highly educated software engineers that may be not be readily available in the local area
- The ability to repurpose local teams for higher priority projects or ones that ensure retention
- Maintenance and bug fixes by skilled software engineers that might not otherwise be in the budget
- The ability to choose more readily between cost savings from of the shelf software, and reduced costs for creating custom software
- An article published by American Express notes that by engaging in offshore outsourcing, companies connect with the global economy which can have many additional benefits: “Setting up an offshore presence may enable a company to broaden its customer base to other countries.”
Disadvantages and risks include:
- Data Privacy and Data Security issues
- Hidden Costs and contracts that aren’t designed for the local legal system
- Communication issues both due to time differences and communication methods, and culture
What security issues exist when using offshore developments?
To the extent that offshore developers have access to a company’s internal data and intellectual property as part of the development process, they need to be trusted as well as bound by non-disclosure agreements. Information crossing international borders is sometimes subject to specific legal requirements which should be understood, such as Europe’s GDPA. Companies that are handling US government information or other restricted information may also need to ensure that it can be transmitted overseas as part of the development effort. Other specific security issues exist, but are generally similar to those experienced domestically.