Hiring an Offshore Software Development Team? Here are 12 Challenges to Consider

by | Oct 19, 2018


You’ve heard it before: “Save 60% on your development costs by hiring someone in India to do it!” Seems pretty tempting, huh?

Although more affordable than many development options, offshore software development presents unique challenges. For those with limited technical background, hiring an offshore team can be especially risky— both in time and in dollars. Although some are able to make it work, many are caught off-guard when issues pop up.

But never fear! We’re here to walk you through some of the problems that you might face when selecting offshore development, so you can prepare and mitigate risks for your business. Here are some of the most common challenges you might experience:

1. Timezone issues

If your developer is in a different time zone you may find yourself working odd hours in order to more efficiently communicate with your development team, or you may have to wait a full day to answer any questions (thereby slowing the development process).

2. Cultural issues

You may be surprised to find cultural barriers that stand in the way of an efficient working environment. Without uncovering them quickly, it may be challenging to address and overcome them. In some cultures, for example, it’s considered rude to say “I don’t know,” so your developers might trudge on forward without asking for clarification on a critical specification.

3. Language issues

If you choose to outsource to developers for whom English is not their first language, they may sometimes have trouble understanding scope or requirements, or misunderstand your directions. Poor English skills can also appear in hidden places (such as error messages) that make your product feel less professional.

4. Geopolitical risks

If you’re not thoughtful about the location of your offshore team, you might experience prolonged development shutdowns (or worse) due to local political issues, social upheaval, catastrophic weather events, or other unforeseen circumstances.


5. Missed deadlines

Okay, so this is a challenge associated with any development option (other than when using an automated tool, like Hatch) but it’s still really frustrating for a lot of first-time app creators. Your developers might underestimate the time it will take to build a feature, or even delay your project so they can work on higher-priority client.

6. Hit-or-miss code quality

Depending on the region and the firm, we’ve seen a tendency to just “hack it together” with less concern for code quality over time. Oftentimes, it’s hard to judge code quality without also hiring your own local engineer to review every line of code. For that reason, if you build an MVP overseas you might find yourself with so much technical debt that your next version will need to be built from scratch (and paid for all over again).

7. Quality assurance and bugs

All code has bugs— it’s just a matter of having strong QA (or “quality assurance”) processes in place to uncover and address them. Sometimes offshore developers don’t have the comprehensive QA processes needed to identify those bugs early, and these hidden bugs may rear their ugly heads later (when they’re more expensive to fix).

8. Technology choice

If you let offshore development teams select their preferred technologies, they might select languages or frameworks that are less scaleable or less accepted by domestic developers, thereby leading to greater costs down the line when you need to rebuild or locate hard-to-find specialized developers.

9. Hidden costs

Although you may be quoted a significantly lower price, the real cost of offshoring development can be 65% higherthan originally expected. With inaccurate costing, inaccurate time estimates, and hard-to-determine maintenance costs, you may find yourself paying well beyond your original quote. Read more about the differences between onshore and offshore pricing here.

10. Security

With offshore developers, protecting your intellectual property may be much more complicated. If you unintentionally select a less scrupulous firm, they may resell your code to competitive firms— or worse, they might steal and sell your confidential data.

11. Difficulty conducting due diligence

One way of avoiding many of these challenges is to do thorough due diligence on a developer before working with them, but when working offshore it may be challenging to find credible references, or to identify people in common who you trust. Without an abundance of trusted references, you are more likely to encounter some unfortunate surprises.

12. No recourse

If your offshore developer disappears with your money, steals your data, or falls off the map without delivering adequate documentation, it can pretty challenging to find them. In order to demand recourse, you may need to navigate an unfamiliar legal landscape— often to no avail.

Many people leverage offshore development with great success, but to do so you first have to overcome many unique (and often frustrating) challenges. You may want to consider more options, and a no-code solution could be a great choice for you. Take a look at some pros and cons of no-code app development solutions to help evaluate if this could work for your business.

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