Offshore Software Development Best Practices: Top 10 Tips You Need to Know
Offshore software development is famous for providing software companies of all sizes with a wide range of benefits, from cost savings to a broader pool of talent to faster development timelines and much more.
And several external factors – such as increased globalization, Covid-19 normalizing remote work, and technological advancements in online collaboration tools – have accelerated the trend of using offshore software development.
Not surprisingly, the global offshore software development industry was roughly $100 billion in 2020, and growing 12% per year. This industry’s size and rapid growth is proof that many software companies find offshore software development an easier and more cost-effective solution than trying to find expert software developers closer to home.
But to truly optimize the advantages of offshore software development projects, companies need to know the top best practices in offshoring. This article walks you through the most important tips and tricks to adopt whenever you decide to offshore your software development efforts. Read on!
What is Offshore Software Development ?
Offshore software development is the practice of hiring software developers outside the country where a company is physically located. For companies in America and Western Europe, hiring skilled software developers from another country also usually comes with significant cost savings due to lower salary and benefits demands.
Typically, offshore software development is used by companies who lack the in-house staffing bandwidth to meet their product roadmap goals and objectives.
What Are the Key Benefits of Offshore Software Development Practices?
Offshore software development provides a number of critical advantages, including:
The cost of hiring in-house software developers – especially in America and Western Europe – is often much higher than hiring these specialists in other countries or regions (such as Eastern Europe or Latin America).. Offshoring software development is a good way to reduce costs without compromising quality or productivity.
Greater Pool of Talent
With demand for software developers continuing to increase at seemingly unrelenting rates, it is no surprise that there is a shortage of great developers, particularly if you limit your search area to just your home state or country. Offshoring allows you to tap into a much broader pool of development talent and build your team much more quickly.
Easier to Find Niche Specialists
Hiring a great developer is hard enough as it is, but finding one with expertise in a specific technology or category – such as AI or security – that your team needs is even harder. So if you have to find the proverbial needle in a haystack, offshoring gives you a much bigger haystack with many more needles in it.
Faster Speed to Market
Since offshoring allows you to hire and onboard top tech talent more quickly, product development can be accelerated. Moreover, the difference in time zones with offshoring can also be an advantage since more hours of the day can be spent developing.
More Flexible and Scalable
A company’s needs and priorities – let alone business realities – are constantly changing. As a result, product development teams often need to expand or contract based on how things unfold. Offshore software development provides this flexibility since teams can be added or subtracted more easily than with in-house staff.
Sometimes internal product development teams can start to get myopic over time given that team members are usually of a similar cultural background. Offshoring creates greater diversity in thought and approach, allowing you to solve problems in more creative ways or innovate using techniques you may not have been exposed to before.
Missed deadlines or failure to bring new features to customers in a timely fashion are particularly potent challenges for any company. Utilizing offshore software developers enables you to hire faster and ramp up production more quickly, thus reducing your overall risk of product delay or failure.
Top 10 Offshore Software Development Best Practices
With all the significant advantages offered by offshore software development, it would be a shame not to maximize the value of your offshore efforts.
So we’ve compiled a list of the Top 10 offshore software development best practices for maintaining and enhancing your offshore software development efficiency. Enjoy!
#1 Spend the time to pick the right offshore partner
Choosing the best offshore partner for your software development needs is crucial, as this is the first step towards determining whether your project will be successful. Some of the main boxes you need to check are alignment around your goals and objectives, as well as cultural fit (do they share your same values and approach?).
Once you’ve established that this is a partner you think you can work with, now do your research. Read customer testimonials and reviews on prospective partners to gauge their reputation, and conduct references.
Or you can literally skip the whole R&D process and just call TurnKey since we’ve got exactly what you’re looking for. 🙂
#2 Be clear on expectations
To avoid miscommunication that will hinder your software development’s success, constantly provide detailed project-related information to your offshore crew as often as you can. Keep your teams updated with your business objectives and blueprints towards accomplishing them. Think of your offshore team as exactly the same as your onshore counterparts and treat them no differently.
Lack of clarity on your goals can cause delays in offshore production or even communication barriers between you and your international team members. Keeping lines of communication open and holding teams accountable to explicit expectations helps keep everyone on the same page.
#3 Make sure that all IP is assigned to you before you start work
Who owns the intellectual property (IP) your collective team is creating should never be a question: YOU DO. But some offshore vendors make it difficult to assign IP directly to you or drag their feet in doing so.
Thus, before you start building anything, make sure you have in your inbox all the IP and copyright assignments from each of the developers on your team. This allows you to a). sleep at night and b). ensure you have no long term liabilities as it relates to your product development.
#4 Get a signed non-disclosure agreement from each developer
Similar to intellectual property assignments, non-disclosure agreements (NDA) are legally binding contracts that create a confidential relationship between you and your developers. The signatory(s) agree that any sensitive information they may collect will not be disclosed to any third parties, such as your competitors.
Since offshore developers working on your team have access to huge amounts of information, getting a signed NDA helps reduce your risk that sensitive information winds up in the hands of your competitors or creates a security gap.
#5 Build the right communication plan to manage your developers effectively
Successful offshore software development often rests on communication. It’s not only about accurately conveying or receiving a message–it’s also about gathering input and properly applying it. As the old cliche goes, even a 10% drop in communication can result in a 50% drop in productivity.
For this reason, building the right communication methodology is essential, and doubly so when part of your team works in different countries and time zones. It’s critical that both the local and remote development teams are on the same page.
Besides being in regular contact, deploy and use collaboration programs like Slack, Asana, Zoom, and other comparable communication platforms to establish ongoing connection. You can also use other tools to facilitate collaboration, like conference or video calls.
#6 Use time zones to your advantage to have a continuous software development process
There may be a disparity in time zones between your local team and that of your offshore developers. If it’s not properly managed, it can create issues. But when it’s used to your advantage—productivity nirvana.
If you have some overlap in working hours, use that time to communicate with your offshore team for updates, inquiries, and decision-making.
And when you tuck in at night, sleep well knowing that while you rest, you have a software development team working for you. Progress AND sleep? Sounds pretty good to us.
#7 Don’t treat your offshore team like second class citizens
Yes your offshore team is from another place and naturally, will have different ways of working and living. Celebrate these cultural differences and encourage connection by highlighting shared values between your offshore and in-house teams.
But most importantly, don’t treat your offshore team any differently than your onshore one. Each team should have the same rules, the same path to promotion, the same collective goals, and more. Your aim is to achieve one fully integrated team regardless of where each individual team member is located.
View yourself as a global company, not as an American or Western European company with an offshore team.
#8 Define the right software development methodology
Different software development methodologies are used by different product development teams. And each has its own benefits and downsides that need to be managed properly.
Here are the top software development methodologies (although Agile is by far the most popular):
- Agile methodology An Agile methodology is an iterative approach that maximizes efficiency while minimizing effort. This is due to the concurrent, sequential nature of Agile procedures and the constant inclusion of real-time feedback into your product development efforts. Most software development teams use this method because it ensures high quality, quick outcomes, and easier adjustments mid-stream.
- Waterfall methodology Before Agile emerged, the waterfall method was the most popular way to design software. But it’s lost its luster its rigid approach–especially when compared to Agile – couldn't keep up with the evolving requirements of software design.
With a waterfall approach, the project manager(s) acquire all necessary data upfront and use it to create a well-informed plan of attack. This method is typically a sequential, linear process in which the result of one stage provides the input for the next. The problem is that it’s difficult to course correct during the development process. Thus, if circumstances change in your market or customer needs evolve, you’re stuck with what you set out to build months or years earlier and not what the market is asking for now.
- Scrum software development methodology Another well-known name in software development is Scrum, and it's a subcategory of Agile. While Agile is a development philosophy, Scrum is a specific way you actually implement the Agile methodology.
More specifically, Scrums take place in sprints that are usually 2-4 weeks in duration. Delivering a more advanced product version to stakeholders is each sprint's goal. Following that, you receive feedback that may be immediately included in the following sprint (and so forth). So in sum, Scrum is what makes Agile a reality.
#9 Assign an executive champion to own the team integration
One of the biggest mistakes we see is a product organization that hires a high performing offshore development team but fails to integrate them fully into the company. This is usually because no one internally “owns” the success of this offshore team and its integration.
As a result, assign one member of your product leadership team to be accountable for the success of the offshore development team and champion it internally.
Part of this championing may include continually highlighting the contributions of the offshore team. This will also help with retaining these developers too since employees who do not feel recognized are twice as likely to quit their job within the year. This underscores the importance of recognizing the efforts of employees who have put up a high performance in the workplace.
#10 Adopt a company-wide transparent process for decision-making
Regardless of where your team is location, make sure everyone follows the same process for determining key aspects of the software development process and adhere to the same standards onshore and offhore, including:
- Product opportunity definitions
- Design and UI/UX
- Demo day structure and feedback
- Automated releases
This helps teams stay aligned on key goals and helps foster greater collaboration. Moreover, you should take pains to identify and define those metrics by which the team will collectively be judged. Developers will manage their productivity by what you decide to measure.
Technology changes all the time—it’s hard (and expensive) to keep up with the latest and greatest. When you hire a specialized offshore team, you add an extension to your in-house expertise which ramps up your tech mojo without breaking the budget. There is a very warm, very big global pool full of kickass developers that can meet your key development needs– you just have to look beyond your own borders to find them!
Offshore software development can save you time, money, and headaches. Offshore talent pools are deep, the tech talent works hard and brings niche expertise, and extending your in-house team globally allows everyone to thrive. Moreover, using offshore software development resources also quickens your product’s speed to market since you can recruit and onboard developers faster. In short, offshore software development is a more flexible –and economical – option when trying to scale your engineering team.
Working effectively with an offshore software development team doesn’t have to be challenging just because team members are not in the same location as you. Some best practices for managing remote development teams include choosing an offshore partner that mirrors your company culture, assigning an executive champion to own the success of the remote development team, and adopting a company-wide transparent process for decision-making.
Though offshore software development is popular for a reason (cost efficiencies, huge talent pools, faster development timelines and more), the practice is not without its challenges. These include ensuring full intellectual property protection, securing data privacy, seamlessly integrating the onshore and offshore teams into a single culture, and managing collaboration across different time zones. The good news however is that all these potential issues are highly solvable with an intentional action plan.