Articles - 3 min read

Off-shoring software development: Why it can go wrong and how to fix it

AUTHOR Lou Crane

DATE Apr 2023


Offshoring software development is understandably very attractive to companies looking to reduce costs and speed up the process of creating new applications. However, while searching for the most costeffective way to deliver a product, there are several risks that companies must assess before moving forward with an outsourced project. Let’s have a look at some of the most cited reasons why offshoring software development can go very wrong.

  1. Lack of expertise or experience when selecting an offshore provider. Of course it’s essential to ensure that they have the skills and experience necessary to develop the software but what if your own team don’t know what they should be asking? If an offshore provider does not have the expertise or experience needed, the project may suffer from poor quality, decreased speed and/or inadequate project deliverables.
    Fix: Ask to review current and past project portfolios of offshore companies before making the selection and make your due diligence extra precautionary.
  2. Language and Cultural Barriers. Software development involves comprehensive communication between team members to ensure success. If the offshore team does not understand the nuances of the native language and culture, it can lead to misunderstandings and ultimately, project failure.
    Fix: Companies should review the level of language and cultural proficiency of the offshore development team before partnering with them and consider using a native speaker to be an intermediary to support the project requirements stage.
  3. Poor Time Zone Alignment. Long-distance communications can take a toll on the speed and accuracy of a project. Different time zones can create difficult communication between the teams and cause project delays.
    Fix: Consider hiring offshore teams in the same or nearby time zones to ensure faster results and less communication breakdown between teams. Conversely, time differences can work in your favour, particularly for ongoing support but only once trust and relationships are secure.
  4. Inadequate Management. In order to ensure the success of any software development project, effective management is a must. If the offshore provider does not have adequate management skills, tasks and deadlines can be missed and issues can arise that may never be resolved.
    Fix: never hire just developers. Adding a project management layer to both your off and onshore team will give you reassurance that it is someone’s role to bring the project in on time, budget and expectation.
  5. Security and Privacy Risks. Software development projects involve sensitive and confidential material that must be kept secure. If the offshore provider does not have the necessary security measures and protocols in place, the data and work can be compromised.
    Fix: review your work process with the offshore team and insist that they use your repositories, password management and have a minimum acceptable means of communication.

The thought of reducing costs on what can be a significant investment, is very tempting. And with experience, this can be an alternative solution. However, diving into it for the first time brings many risks. Our advice? Add a comprehensive and experienced middle layer: A buffer between you and your developer(s). It’s the architect between the home owner and the builder.