Getting Past the Hurdles of Offshore Development

If you’ve ever considered outsourcing software development to another country, you probably wondered how practical a move this would be.

After all, it is not too difficult to conceive of a plethora of cases in which something could go badly wrong.

From obvious barriers in communication to the much less foreseeable disheartening of local teams, the possibilities for nightmare scenarios appear to be unending.

Thankfully, however, while some obstacles do inherently exist, moving beyond them is a simple matter of flexibility and common sense.

Loss of Home Turf Advantage

Entrusting development to another organisation comes with the serious risk that your new providers will be unable to fully grasp your business goals and objectives.

To avoid this problem, ensure that your chosen software vendors spend more time emphasising their work as partners than their knack for quick delivery.

A satisfactory partnership should seek to address real problems with ingenious and viable solutions, so make sure you are also doing your part by cooperating with developers in any way deemed necessary.

This will generally involve being frank about your company’s struggles and overall game plan, so bear in mind — communication is key.

Cultural Clashing

But of course, how can adequate communication take place when dealing with vastly different cultural settings?

Even though this is one of the most discernible challenges in offshore development, it is nearly impossible to predict how cultural mishaps will eventually manifest themselves.

For this reason, it helps to be on the lookout for external vendors with many years of experience in their field. These will undoubtedly have learned to do business across the cultural spectrum, and are thus far less likely to pose any significant difficulties.

Ignoring the issue, however, should never be an option, as when left unaddressed, cultural clashing may lead to unnecessary friction and a toxic work environment.

To be safe, prioritise vendors who are able to provide teams with good to excellent communication skills. In this way, even when misunderstandings do occur, you will have the means to deal with them in a timely and orderly manner.

Divergent Time Zones

In general, the closer you are to your external vendors, the better.

This, however, may not always be the best choice for your company.

In any case, be mindful of the fact that you will have to adjust your workflow in accordance with the time difference that you wind up having in the end.

To keep things running as smoothly as possible, try to achieve an arrangement with at least a couple of overlapping work hours.

A Drop in Quality

This is neither a given nor a problem that is limited to offshore development, but a noticeable drop in quality remains a valid concern in the introduction of any new team.

In order to minimise risks, opt for vendors who are able to demonstrate their skills in Agile practices such as Test-Driven Development and Continuous Delivery. These aim for consistency and demonstrability of code, so you will be kept in the loop with a lot more frequency.

If you do, however, experience any issues regarding quality, speak with your project manager as quickly as possible so they can try to determine where the root cause lies.

In-House Dismay

Sometimes, the introduction of an external team can also affect in-house professionals in detrimental ways.

To prevent this from happening, make sure your local teams are aware of how this decision will affect them personally, and that they have been briefed on your wider commercial strategy as well.

When IT teams understand that they will probably be given new roles and know what to expect of them, they are much more likely to get onboard with the idea.

Either way, it is worth maintaining a close watch on internal satisfaction at all times.

Crossing the Finishing Line

While newcomers will understandably take some time to adjust, developing offshore can be a surprisingly gratifying experience.

Above all, conquering its obstacles without a hitch amounts to little more than shared values and expectations, and a deep spirit of collaboration between both parties involved.

David Blackwood

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