The practice of outsourcing development work overseas is an all too tempting option for many business owners, primarily because of the significant cost savings it provides. But is outsourcing really as simple as finding someone or a team with the skills you are looking for? Let's discuss some of the things you want to keep in mind when outsourcing web and app developers.
Not Getting the Right Results
If you're starting from scratch, what you need out of your developer is to turn an idea into a tangible product. When you deal with outsourced developers, your ideas may not translate the same way as you intended. This may be caused by communication issues and differing cultural standards — in terms of how the technology is implemented and how your developers can appreciate what you are trying to achieve with the product.
When it comes to skill, an outsourced developer from any part of the world can be as good or even better than someone you can hire locally. The hard part is actually finding talent that is also reliable —who will work for peanuts. Even companies who are looking for in-house developers often spend months looking for qualified candidates.
There are plenty of developers in the global outsourcing and freelancing market who are willing to work for less, but it's usually a hit or miss if you'll actually get the results that you originally had in mind. For some business owners, this is not much of an issue since having your developers redo their work several times over still comes out cheaper than hiring someone who has the skills and experience to produce what you envision. If you are working with a short timeline, you should account for unplanned delays ahead of time, especially if it's your first time to outsource software development.
Maintaining Outsourced Code
Web and mobile apps are always going to be works in progress. If you want a product to survive and continue to grow its audience post-release, it has to be regularly updated and maintained. If your product is made from poorly written code, the next person tasked with making changes and improvements will have to go back to square one to correct bugs and to update features, which means productivity will have to take a step back in order to make things right. Eventually, you will reach a point where maintaining outsourced code becomes too troublesome and unsustainable, where a complete redesign is the only remaining option.
You can always go back to the original developers for any code maintenance and feature updates —especially if you've been satisfied with the results so far. But if you need a critical fix done immediately, you may run into logistical issues when working with a team that's half a world away in a different time zone. There will usually be large chunks of time throughout the work week where your schedules won't overlap. You will also have to consider the foreign holidays where you can't expect much productivity out of your outsourced team members, while it's still business as usual for your target market.
Why Hire Close to Home
When you hire a local developer, you know that whoever is building your product is on the same page from very early on. A good developer will also work hard to maintain his/her reputation within their own market and professional network, so you can easily check whether a developer has the skills and experience you need based on your own knowledge of the local market.
If you don't have the funding to have your web or app development done in-house or locally, and you have no choice but to outsource a lot of the work, you or someone on your team needs to be intimately familiar with the technical aspect of the project so you can better oversee its build.
For a large project that requires a team of developers, you can hire someone local to lead its direction and micromanage many smaller tasks to outsourced developers. This ensures that the project does not lose its way since the scope of each task is smaller, which also minimises the risk of things getting out of hand.
By the time the project is done and updates need to be made, a local developer can respond in a timelier manner and give you a quicker assessment of possible solutions because of their initial involvement in the build. This type of responsiveness is simply not possible if you rely solely on outsourced developers to do all the work for you. Even if you have technical documentation to help guide future developers around the project, there will still be lots of gaps to fill and setbacks that will take up a lot of time to solve for a new developer who is new to the project.
If you need something done quickly and cheaply, such as a Minimum Viable Product that you need to get in front of the right people right away, outsourced developers can be a good option. But once you get past the initial phases and need a more sophisticated product, it will most likely become exponentially more cost effective in the long run to go local.