How to Avoid 6 Offshore Software Development Risks

When you realize that it’s time for your company to upgrade its website, you may be excited at first: Your website could gain a fresh face with improved functionality, features, and more. However, that excitement can quickly wane once you receive your first estimate for your project.

The desire to reduce costs is often what leads business owners to outsource software development. But once you start digging a bit deeper into the prospect of outsourcing, you may also find that there are several potential risks that come along with outsourcing such projects.

The good news is that there are ways to overcome those risks and still receive those much-needed cost savings. In the following, we’ll address 6 common offshore software development risks and how to avoid each one.

1. Miscommunication due to language barriers.

As most offshore software developers are located overseas, many of them speak English as a Second Language (ESL), which is a risk factor for poor communication. In any case, communicating with an ESL speaker increases the risk of things getting ‘lost in translation,’ but the potential for lost information becomes critical when your time and money are on the line.

A Forbes survey revealed that 67% of managers and executives who work with diverse workforces felt that language barriers result in inefficiencies. In this way, while you may save money with an offshore team, language barriers could hinder the completion and ultimate success of your project.

Solution: Choose a team that has a middle-man, such as a project manager, to handle these communications for you. Ideally, your project manager will be experienced in international relations, and he will know how to ensure that your team takes your ideas and turns them into realities.

2. Difficulties working across timezones.

Hands of a Male Offshore Software Developer Writing Code on His Laptop

If you’ve ever had a friend move to a different timezone, you’re probably familiar with the woes of finding a good time to call each other. With offshore teams, the same issue often magnified: For example, an offshore team in India is 13 hours ahead of a company in California.

Think of it this way: If a company in California needs to schedule a review with its offshore team in India, someone will have to make a sacrifice: One team will have to make a phone call late at night or early in the AM, and as such, someone will likely be making drastic changes to their schedule to make that phone call work.  

Solution: Find a team that blends onshore and offshore team members. That way, you can communicate with those on your timezone, making it easier to receive updates and communicate any necessary changes.

3. Lack of a proper process.

In order to achieve a goal, you need to start with a plan. In terms of software development, organized development plans often follow a set process. This process typically guides the order in which the plan is executed, from providing estimates to making your site go live.

Unfortunately, not every development team (offshore and onshore) has a process in place. According to the Project Management Institute, a lack of proper goal-setting is the reason that 37% of business projects fail, a fate you certainly don’t want your project to see.

Solution: Discuss your potential team’s process before hiring them. If it doesn’t sound like they have a process in place, there’s a strong chance your project won’t be completed correctly or on time.

4. Disorganization due to poor project management.

Even if your offshore team claims to have a great process on paper, that doesn’t necessarily mean they’re putting that process into action. In most cases, it’s up to the team’s management to ensure that their developers are trained in and following consistent development practices.

That being said, when project management is present, it’s not necessarily good management. For example, cultural and societal structures often define ‘good’ project management differently, which can lead to further miscommunication about project expectations and more.

Solution: 64% and 67% of high maturity organizations with high maturity project management processes complete projects on time and within budget, says the Project Management Institute. As such, choose a team with U.S.-based project management that emphasizes the importance of process.

5. Missed valuable deadlines.

Female Software Developer Writing Code

Most likely, you have a timeline in mind for when you’d like to see your up-to-date website go live. Perhaps you need your new website online by the end of the quarter, so you can pursue related goals the following quarter. Whatever the case may be, reaching deadlines is often critical.

Many offshore teams receive a bad reputation for their inability to meet designated deadlines. This can be due to any of the aforementioned issues, but most often, it’s due to poor project management or training.

Solution: Seek out a team with great project management. This will ensure that your team prioritizes your deadlines, as well as ensure that the team receives training in areas where they need to improve their ability to complete given tasks.

6. Risk of receiving low-quality results.

You’ve probably heard the saying, “You get what you pay for.” Unfortunately, that can sometimes be the case with hiring a less expensive offshore team. Most offshore developers call for a lower rate than U.S. developers due to lack of access to training and educational opportunities.

Most U.S. developers have universities or technical training programs within an arm’s reach, along with resources for funding those opportunities. Offshore developers, however, often live in third-world countries, reducing their potential to improve and offer you a quality final product.

Solution: Hire a team that values providing its software developers with on-going training. By providing on-going training, the developers will continue to grow their skill set and ability to build quality products.

The Best of Both Worlds: A Blended Onshore-Offshore Team

There’s a clear pattern when looking at the risks of offshore outsourcing and how to resolve them: To ensure that you get the most out of your offshore team, your team needs to follow a process, receive on-going training, and have great project management in place.

When interviewing your potential offshore software development team, take these three things into consideration. Without these assets, your software development project may fail—according to the Standish Group, 19% of software projects outright fail and another 45% face significant challenges.

Rather than struggle to see your project to completion, work with a team like ours. At ClikGlobal, we bring together U.S. project management with offshore software developers in order to provide cost-effective software and web development, and we’d be happy to offer the same to you.

To start your journey to successful offshore software development, contact us today.