7 Reasons to Avoid Technical Offshoring

October 31, 2017

Blog | Strategy | 7 Reasons to Avoid Technical Offshoring
7 Reasons to Avoid Technical Offshoring

Let me start by asking you a question. Would you offshore your executive team? If you answered yes, you can stop reading, this article isn’t for you. If you answered no, then I have to ask a follow-up, why is tech any different?

There is real value to having a cultural match between your technology team and the rest of your business. One is not better than the other, but without real alignment, and level setting on expectations, conflict between tech and the rest of your organization will arise. It’s important that the values of your technical team align with whatever values and standards your organization has, recognizing that this will vary significantly based on where you are located across the globe.

For years there has been a trend to offshore technology needs commoditizing technology and development in the process. What was once seen as a low-cost solution has proved to be more time-consuming and expensive than many organizations anticipated. Many businesses are seeing the error of their ways and pulling back on their offshoring for various reasons; communication, accountability, efficiency, and even security.

Here’s 7 reasons we believe you should avoid offshoring your technical needs, pulled from our own client experiences.

1. Accountability & Ownership

Offshoring can go wrong and often customers have no direct contact with teams developing their application, and thus you are unable to best understand the developers’ skill-sets, acquire in-depth progress updates, and most importantly, gauge their comprehension of the initiative.

Questions to ask to vet potential partners:

  • How will you let me know if issues arise?
  • How does your team address problems that come up during the course of the project?
  • How quickly can we expect issues to be handled?
  • Who is our point of contact on your team and how often can we expect updates?
  • Have you ever had a client disagree with your recommendation?
    • How did you handle that?

2. Cost & Efficiency

“Overseas labor seems much less expensive initially. However, it is often much more expensive for the long hauls particularly with regard to design, detailing, specification, and customization.” – Tim Askew Inc.com

Questions to ask to vet potential partners:

  • What am I paying for exactly?
  • Do you offer varied rates or a fixed rate?
  • How can you ensure, as my partner, that my project is staying on budget?

3. Protection & Recourse

Security of proprietary information becomes problematic when using offshore parties and there is often little that an organization can legally do to protect themselves when things go wrong.

Questions to ask to vet potential partners:

  • What systems do you have in place to ensure my information is protected?
  • Have you had any issues in the past with security?
    • If so, what did you do to address these problems?

4. Modern Methodologies

Offshoring does not lend itself to modern project management and development methodologies – i.e. Agile, Stand-ups, etc.

Questions to ask to vet potential partners:

  • How do you work with us?
    • Do you have a preferred process approach or are you flexible?
  • Can you give me some examples of ways you’ve worked with clients in the past and what methodologies you’ve found to be most effective?

5. Flexibility

Much like agile vs waterfall a nearshore development team is flexible and will ask questions and help you drive to the solution you had envisioned. Offshore development teams require complete and thorough documentation and develop exactly as specified without question or a view of the bigger picture often siloing development areas that needs to be stitched together later.

Questions to ask to vet potential partners:

  • How do you work with us?
    • Do you have a preferred process approach or are you flexible?
  • Can you give me some examples of ways you’ve worked with clients in both a waterfall and agile methodology?

6. Accessibility

Whether your technology partner is onshore or offshore, you need to reach them with questions, for updates, or to address concerns. This can be especially challenging when you are dealing with people in different time zones. If you don’t have the channels of communication open from the get-go, things will go downhill fast and you’ll soon be adding time and stress to your project that doesn’t need to be there.

Questions to ask to vet potential partners:

  • How accessible are you to me and my team?
  • How do you handle working with clients in different time zones?
  • What is your standard method of communication, email or phone?
  • Who do I contact if I have questions?

7. Personality

Finding a technology partner that fits into your culture and comes from a company you can respect will make working together easier and more pleasurable. Ask yourself, would I want to work with this technology team when I’m under a tight deadline? There’s so much competition out there these days that choosing a partner for who they are, is as important as what they do, since it often affects how they do it.

Questions to ask to vet potential partners:

  • Can you tell me about a project that was particularly challenging and how you worked together with your client to overcome the challenge?
  • Can you tell me a bit about your organization and how it stands out from other companies out there?

Stephen Downs

Executive Vice President of Business Development
  • Technical Strategy
  • Technology Partners

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