Onshore versus Offshore Software Development: 4 Deciding Factors
If you’re shopping for custom software for your business, you may be wrestling with the onshore versus offshore software development debate. There are lots of articles out there to help you decide which option may be right for you. But even if you’ve read previous articles on the subject, you may not feel 100% satisfied that you’ve found the answer. Just when you think you know what to do, another article comes along to change your mind. So, now what? Pull up a chair with your list of pros and cons, and let’s talk. The ultimate deciding factor should hit home. It should be that moment when you realize the answer was there all the time and there really is no debate in the onshore versus offshore software development discussion. Here are some things to think about:
It’s all about you (and your business)
How long are you expecting to be in business? Do you see your company expanding? As with any important business decisions, think in terms of your business goals now, five years from now, and beyond. Think about the future of your industry and what you see changing over time. The idea here is to not let yourself get trapped into a desperate need type of situation that only solves a problem for today. See the bigger picture like an aerial view of the freeway. What are the obstacles? Where will this route take me? Is taking the quicker off-ramp the ideal path or will you run into traffic issues/accidents that you will regret later? So, as you go through your list of pros and cons of onshore versus offshore software development, evaluate each one according to your unique business. Match them up against your goals and what you expect to achieve now and in the future.
A world apart
Where are you located? How many locations do you have? Your geographic location obviously defines what is considered onshore versus offshore for your business. Proximity (how close or far locations are) could also make a big difference. Is travel to and from your facility easily accessible? How often, if ever, will the development team be able to visit your location(s)? This could be an issue if the project gets delayed or off track. Working together in a face-to-face environment can help eliminate miscommunication and misunderstandings. Of course, there may be language barriers to deal with as well with an offshore company, which would add to possible misinterpretations.
But it’s not just about geographic location or language, there may be a serious time zone issue. Unless you don’t mind working collaboratively at 3:00 a.m., this may be a big deal. The bigger the time difference, the more difficult it will be to collaborate on a regular basis.
And what about cultural differences that are not in sync with your business ethics and values? If problems start to pop up, you may have very different ideas about how to resolve them. In addition, you may not have the same protections in dealing with these problems as you would in your own country. You will have to rely on your signed agreement.
Your decision to go with an offshore development company could also pose problems with your company image. According to Small Business Chron, “in times of high unemployment in the United States, sending jobs out of the country can hurt a company’s public image.”
Reliability and quality guarantee
Choosing a reliable company should be at the top of everyone’s list and cannot be understated. Finding out later (rather than sooner) that the software developer on your project is not reliable will be too late. Do your homework before you sign any agreement. If you’re considering an offshore company, ask if they can provide you with testimonials from customers in your own country. This holds true for onshore companies as well.
Can you count on them to protect your data and your trade secrets? Although a contract or legal agreement may help to keep a company above board and accountable, ask about their guarantee. Your customers expect that you will guarantee your product or service. Why shouldn’t you get the same guarantee? Offshore companies may not provide the type of guarantee you expect. If you do get a guarantee, it could prove to be problematic as time goes on.
Is saving money worth it?
If you’re like many small to mid-sized businesses (SMBs), you’re sensitive to price, and that may be the sticking point in making your decision. But think about the long-term value of your software. If you find that you need to replace something over and over again, how much money did you really save? No matter how great the skills or price tag, if you cannot rely on their work or guarantee, you’re gambling your software investment away. Your onshore versus offshore software development decision should go far beyond price considerations. How much you can afford should not be tied solely to your wallet. Your software investment should be part of your business’ growth plan.
It really comes down to who you feel the most comfortable doing business with. Who you can count on to get the job done? Ultimately, it’s about the people. Who do you trust to handle your business solutions? What kind of relationship can be formed? What is your gut telling you? Will your chosen company work in concert with you to provide a vision for the future? As with anything else you buy, you get what you pay for. Just because something may be faster or cheaper to obtain, doesn’t mean it’s the best value.
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