As the difficult US economy continues to take its toll on business owners, more and more software companies are considering outsourcing their development activities (or at least some amount of them) to offshore companies who can offer significantly reduced costs for highly-skilled, competent development resources.
While I have seen this path yield rewards for some US-based companies, I have seen an equal number of failed attempts at making this solution work. Several considerations must come into play when determining if your software development can benefit from a relationship with an offshore development group including but not limited to: your budget, your ability to adapt to working with a fractured team – those of you in the US and those in your offshore team, your ability to streamline and breakdown processes for assignment and task management, your requirements for face-to-face communication and your aptitude for managing through cross-cultural and (potentially) cross-language barriers.
The companies that I have seen succeed in utilizing offshore development have typically been extremely organized, Have committed to a rigid, streamlined software development lifecycle and have been able to dedicate a strong, knowledgeable, in-house resource to manage the offshore relationship. They have also all excelled at communication and documentation and have been very operationally strong companies overall. If your organization does not have these attributes or cannot adopt them, you are not a good candidate for engaging an offshore development shop.
However, if you believe that the reduction in cost warrants your making this leap, and that your organization is prepared to handle the challenges, there can be great results.
While seeking an outsourced partner for software development or as an artificial intelligence consultant, you will find that companies all over the globe can claim impressive track records and offer strong management teams and employees with the combination of technical skills that you are looking for. The key in choosing an offshore outsourcing partner is deciding where you want your operations to flow (from a global perspective), who has the team that you feel could best merge with your current infrastructure and workflow and what is best for your budget.
Geographically, some of the strongest countries currently providing offshore development include India, who is currently the largest provider of such services, and the Philippines. During your search, keep in mind that the most attractive sources for offshore development are countries with a decent economy, a well-developed IT support infrastructure, low labor costs (obviously), those with solid technical education facilities to properly train the resources who will service your account, a presence of leading software manufacturers and a government who supports offshore development activities.
The obvious strengths of partnering with a US-based outsourcing firm rather than offshore, are that you will be more readily able to meet with your outsourced team as needed and that, as a US business, you will be lending to the domestic economy and the employment rate. Other benefits of doing business with a partner domestically are easier communication, and that there is no need to learn or adapt to new business etiquette. Unfortunately, domestic outsourcing even with its mentioned advantages, still features a hefty price tag that can be a strain on the average outsourcing budget.
Laura Green is a freelance author and software development expert providing insight on such topics as the software development lifecycle, strategies for building operational efficiencies and utilizing an artificial intelligence consultant.