We are starting a series of articles regarding client’s outsourcing experience based on almost 10,000 reviews from Clutch. In this piece we will share our insights on the most common traps awaiting you on the outsourcing journey. Pitfalls that should be carefully explored before outsourcing include: project management, language barriers, time zone differences, ethical issues with local employees, and quality control. Some of them are quite obvious, others not, but we will show you how to avoid them all.
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Offshore outsourcing pitfalls
The best thing in outsourcing is that you can hire a developer team from a region with hourly rates 10 times lower than those in the US. That means that you can develop more features for your product and still remain on budget. It looks like a promising deal but this can become fatal for your project.
Outsourcing is all about communication. And work culture varies significantly from country to country. Keep this in mind and don’t simply look for the cheapest rates. Look for “competitive” ones but from the region that is closer to yours culturally. This approach will allow you both to save money and to complete your project successfully—on time, on budget, and to your full satisfaction.
Difficulty. Project management depends on work culture, and work culture varies greatly across the globe. Your remote team can have an easy-going attitude or be extremely straightforward, can be conserved, noisy, obedient, etc. They may be used to hierarchical working relations or express their ideas and concerns freely and actively.
The more you differ, the more time it will take to coordinate your actions, set goals, develop a common vision of the project, build working relations, and establishing common rules of communication. You may feel ready for cultural diversity, but sometimes the reality falls far short of your expectations. And losing control means significant time and financial expenses.
Solution. The solution is quite obvious. Do some research on the chosen region, check reviews and ratings of the selected outsourcing companies, and make sure that they declare following common standards.
A quick advice: look for companies that use the Agile or Scrum methodologies in software development. This normally assumes transparent communication, clear expectations and results, and low-risk project management.
Time zone differences
Difficulty. Your low-cost outsourcing team may be 12 hours ahead or behind. This means that your working hours may never overlap. Keeping in mind how much communication outsourcing services usually require, it looks like a huge problem.
Solution. Make it absolutely clear to your outsourcing partner that there should be a time period every day when your working hours overlap. A 4-hour overlap is comfortable, but a 2-hour overlap is already a critical minimum. If the time difference is too large, you all may have to look for a compromise: you can start your working day a bit earlier, or the entire outsourcing team may shift their working hours closer to the evening. In any case, get ready to flexibility.
Besides the time zone difference, keep in mind clock change (not all countries follow this practice), seasonality (vacations or hurricanes), and national holidays of your outsourcing team’s country. You can ask them to follow your own calendar, but compromising is unavoidable.
Difficulty. Outsourcing some tasks increases the time you spend communicating about the project significantly. So having a common language for communication is critical. If you’re not a polyglot, most likely you’ll communicate with your outsourcing team in English. Many technical specialists around the globe can only speak basic English and preferably on technical topics.
Solution. Check. Interview your team, set minimum eligible level, make sure you can understand each other. Also keep in mind that there can be a strong accent (you’ll get used to it in a few weeks) and communication style (your outsourcing employees may have a very different cultural code and follow hierarchies you even cannot imagine) so not always silence means the lack of understanding, sometimes it just means that you need a mediator (a local project manager for example). If you don’t understand your team, make sure that they have a manager that will understand you both (in terms of language and in terms of culture).
Difficulty. In many regions with low salaries, outsourcing services for the US market is a gold mine for anyone familiar with software development. And to make the most out of their clients, some outsourcing companies may play unfairly. On the stage of project initiation, they show you a highly-qualified team, and later replace team members with less qualified ones downgrading the job’s quality.
Solution. Choose companies that offer dedicated teams. That means that the team is formed for a particular project and remains stable until its completion. All changes and replacements are made only after your approval and if there is such a necessity for the project.
Ethical issues with local employees
Difficulty. Outsourcing is different. Based on its location, it is divided into three groups:
- Onshore refers to an outsourcing company registered in your own country.
- Nearshore refers to an outsourcing company in any neighboring country.
- Offshore refers to companies located in remote regions.
If you are a corporation and want to hire a large remote team, this may lead to problems with organisations protecting rights of employees from your own country.
Solution. There are outsourcing companies headquartered in the US but having their development departments around the globe. You can find them on Clutch by specifying the US as their location and considering only the companies whose hourly rates are lower than the average in the US—lower than $150/h-$200/h.
The bottom line
Lower costs are the main advantage of outsourcing services. However, you shouldn’t choose developers only based on their hourly rates. Such an approach may lead to multiple delays in your project or even to its failure.
An outsourcing company registered in the US and having developer teams around the globe may be an optimal solution to overcome all major pitfalls of outsourcing programmers. Pick the right company and you’ll feel it as you’ve got a low-cost in-house team.