Why bring your development back onshore?

For many business leaders, new software development initiatives are some of the most powerful solutions to re-shape their business, reduce costs, or provide needed innovation. 

However with this great opportunity comes risk and nothing is more important than having the right resources and personnel to execute your strategic vision.

For many years, outsourcing web development has been the easy answer.  Attracted by the cheap hourly-rate and seemingly endless talent pool, IT leaders outsourced everything from legacy maintenance to large-scale enterprise builds. COVID disruptions, rising cyber-security threats, and the ongoing war in Eastern Europe has caused many teams to reevaluate their exposure and risk.

If you have been following our blog series, we have recently discussed our top 5 tips on how to choose a web development partner. This is just one of the many factors you need to take into consideration when a company begins the process of finding a development partner.

Whether you have an older legacy app, a new workflow update, or mobile app build, it can be daunting to find that “perfect fit”. On top of that, trends are indicating more and more companies are choosing to outsource locally vs. internationally.

In the 8-years we have partnered with our clients, we have observed several key factors that will make or break your outsourced development project. With hundreds of software projects under our belts, here are the key factors that we recommend our clients consider when comparing offshore and onshore development options:

Advantages of Onshore Development

Time Zone Challenges

While the illusion of a 24-hour sprint cycle is alluring to many, team members quickly realize that daily hand-offs are difficult and communication gaps are frequent.  Understand that neither team is at their best either late in the evening or early in the morning.  This easily leads to interpersonal conflict, finger-pointing, and eventual burnout.

If the work is straightforward, repetitive, and can be handled easily with asynchronous communication then offshoring is a good option; if the work is innovative, complex, or requires close collaboration then onshoring would likely fit better.

Language/Communication Barriers

The most obvious advantage to onshore development partners is communication. Everyone has likely played the game of “telephone” before.  Now imagine playing a game of international telephone where the business requirements are related in one language but must be effectively translated over language and cultural barriers into another.

Developers are then required to take those translated requirements and make them into working code.  Alignment to a shared vision is often difficult to achieve when people sit side-by-side, adding physical distance and cultural norms make this exceedingly challenging across widely different cultural contexts. 

Discounted Price

A lower per-hour sticker price often falls apart when collaboration is poor and the team gets stuck in a perpetual cycle of constant re-work.  When budgets are missed, it can be very difficult to understand and triage the various tradeoffs between scope, velocity, and budget.  At FortyAU, we have inherited numerous abandoned or half-finished projects that began with a low sticker price and then ended up having to be refactored heavily.

Peter Drucker is credited with the business maximum, “Do what you do best; outsource the rest”.  However, savvy business leaders understand that not all outsourcing options are created equal and that price is still a good predictor of overall quality. 

When considering options, remember that successful software projects are rarely a one-and-done effort.  The best software solutions are the result of intimate collaboration over many years so it is worth both the time and money to invest in a partnership that matches your technical needs and offer a positive experience to your team members as well.    

Andrew Kerr is the CEO at FortyAU and Keynote Speaker/Author of the Humility Imperative. His extensive work speaking and training at companies such as HCA, Cisco, and Lipscomb University  have positioned him as a subject matter expert on change management, humility for leaders, and software development. Please, connect with Andrew if you are interested in having him come speak at your company to address any of these important topics. Connect with Andrew on LinkedIn.

Why bring your development back onshore?

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