Outsourced software development is on the rise. Over the past decade, there’s been an increase in the use of outsourcing for software development and is projected to continue rising steadily in the coming years. Startups, mid-sized companies, large enterprises, and government organizations are outsourcing to lower costs, access specialized skills and accelerate development. It’s no wonder, as two trends are fueling this. More and more companies are shifting to remote work, normalizing working with teams located in different parts of the world. Additionally, shortages of skilled software developers have fueled outsourcing demand.
While outsourcing is becoming more and more prevalent, it does present challenges. Here are a few to consider:
Effective communication is crucial for all software development projects and can be even more challenging when outsourcing. If teams speak different languages, are in different time zones, or simply don’t know each other well, there’s room for miscommunication. Miscommunication can lead to errors, delays, and misunderstandings, ultimately impacting the final product’s speed and quality.
It can be hard to feel confident in the quality of the work when using outsourced software development teams. It can be challenging to verify the skills and expertise of the team you’re working with. You also need to ensure that they follow your coding standards and that the code is reviewed and tested correctly.
For some companies and projects, the people responsible for the success of the project might not be technical. This may present an additional translation gap between the client and the development team. Specifically, if requirements aren’t clearly defined, and the developers don’t coach their client on how to give them clear direction, getting to the end goal may be more difficult than expected.
Costs of outsourced software development
Decisions around whether to use outsourced developers that are in the US or offshore can impact the cost. Developers in developed countries can be expensive. They can also be more costly if you require highly skilled developers to work on complex projects. As one Founder and Head of Product noted, “it’s a cost-saving maneuver to go outsource, but I’m still paying a lot of money, right?”
“Chucking stuff over the fence”
Oftentimes, people using outsourced developers can get tripped up by not treating them as part of the team. One Head of Product noted that managers miss by assuming they don’t need to provide the same level of support and clarity to outsourced devs. For example, a project could go something like this: “I need you to go build me a mobile app. Here’s the two sheeter on how to do that. Just copy what we have in our app. Get it done in six weeks.” As she said, “You’d never do this to your team.” This can be easily avoided, but sometimes the mindset and approach toward outsourced teams can backfire.
Overall, outsourcing development teams can be more challenging than working with in-house teams, but with the right approach and tactics, can be a highly effective, and cost-saving strategy.