In today’s competitive business landscape, companies must find ways to tighten budgets and maximize efficiency. Offshore software development centers provide a powerful solution to reducing costs while still having access to high-quality technical talent.
By leveraging overseas teams, organizations can stretch their budgets further and accelerate development. When executed successfully, offshore development centers become invaluable extensions of a company’s core technology group.
In this guide, we will explore:
- The Cost Advantages of Offshore Development
- Strategies for Quality Oversight
- Keys for Smooth Collaboration
- Integrating Remote Teams Effectively
- Structuring Successful Partnerships
- Handling Security and Compliance Factors
- Getting Started with Pilot Projects
- Scaling Ongoing Development Abroad
The Cost Advantages of Offshore Development
The most immediate benefit companies seeking offshore development gain is significant cost reduction, primarily through lower salaries. By staffing engineering teams in regions with lower costs of living, businesses spend less per engineer compared to domestic staffing.
Average national salaries for software developers in popular offshore destinations like India and Eastern Europe tend to range from $25,000 to $45,000 – well below averages in Western countries. Adjusting for seniority and skillset, savings of 50-70% on fully loaded labor costs are common.
When multiplied across an engineering team of even 10-20 developers, the savings quickly become substantial. Enabling high-quality engineering at lower price points alleviates budget pressures, freeing up funds to drive innovation and new initiatives.
Strategies for Quality Oversight
While the cost savings of setting up an ODC are clear, businesses must implement effective quality oversight models to ensure solid results. Here are key strategies:
- Maintain involvement from internal engineering leads who interface directly with offshore teams to provide guidance and code reviews.
- Establish clear processes around security, documentation, testing, architectural reviews, and other compliance areas.
- Implement modern DevOps workflows enabling transparency through version control, continuous integration, automated testing, and deployment automation.
- Review and provide feedback on designs, architecture, and implementation plans proposed by offshore teams. Set milestones for evaluating progress.
- Conduct regular video calls for status updates, collaboration, and building relationships between onshore and offshore groups.
- Make documentation and communication core priorities for globally dispersed teams.
By implementing strong oversight and collaboration models up front, businesses can maximize productivity and minimize risks around quality.
Keys for Smooth Collaboration
- Given the distance and other barriers, special attention must be placed on enabling continuous collaboration across global teams. Here are proven tactics:
- Overcommunicate critical context frequently through multiple mediums like email, chat, voice, and video conferencing.
- Bring offshore team members onsite, when possible, for in-person relationship building and synchronization.
- Embrace asynchronous communications for non-urgent discussions to bridge time zone gaps.
- Schedule a portion of overlapping work hours for live interaction during critical project phases.
- Document decisions and technical context thoroughly for shared understanding.
- Identify team members fluent in languages and cultural norms on both sides to liaise easily.
- Ensure offshore teams have access to the same knowledge, code, tools, and resources as onshore groups.
With strong relationships and shared understanding, distributed teams can operate at remarkable levels of productivity over time.
Integrating Remote Teams Effectively
Integrating offshore development centers into the fabric of a company is vital for smoothing collaboration and aligning priorities. Here are tips:
- Give offshore team members visibility into roadmaps, product requirements, and company goals so they feel connected to the mission.
- Rotate team members across locations when possible so in-person bonds can form.
- Include offshore staff in events, meetings, and employee perks and culture initiatives. Make them feel part of the same organization.
- Spend time educating offshore resources on internal business processes, systems, and domain knowledge to ramp them up quickly.
- Treat offshore staff as integrated members of product teams rather than as vendors. Have them interface with business analysts and product managers directly.
Taking steps to make offshore talent feel valued goes a long way to building cohesion and unlocking productivity.
Structuring Successful Partnerships
Companies have a few model options for establishing offshore centers ranging from wholly owned subsidiaries to outsourced partnerships:
- Build a dedicated offshore development center staffed fully with your employees. This allows maximum control but also caps scalability.
- Partner with an outsourcing provider leveraging a flexible, dedicated development team and infrastructure. Provides speed at a lower initial investment.
- Start your subsidiary with leadership oversight but leverage local provider relationships to hire talent. Balances control and scale.
- Acquire an existing local provider and mold their processes to your needs over time. Unlocks established talent pools quickly.
Assess long-term strategic needs and appetite for investment when determining the ideal structural partnership for offshore development capabilities.
Handling Security and Compliance Factors
Security and regulatory compliance are top concerns when utilizing offshore resources. Mitigate risks by:
- Limiting access to sensitive data like customer information and only providing necessary systems credentials.
- Using secure networks and VPNs for all access by offshore team members. Conduct regular penetration testing.
- Mandating code reviews for any high-risk areas related to data security, infrastructure security, or compliance.
- Enforcing strong password policies and multi-factor authentication everywhere.
- Building audit trails of access, changes, and activity across environments.
- Maintaining strict controls around where code is developed and tested when regulated data is involved.
With modern information security practices, companies can confidently mitigate risks.
Getting Started with Pilot Projects
Prudent organizations test the effectiveness of offshore centers through small pilot projects first:
- Identify a couple of non-critical applications or new features to prototype offshore.
- Assign a few onshore employees to work closely with the initial offshore team through the pilot.
- Define milestones and timelines upfront but remain flexible as learnings occur.
- Review results thoroughly, including code quality, product output, team productivity, and collaboration effectiveness.
- Pivot approach if pilots demonstrate areas for improvement around oversight, collaboration cadence, or resource skills.
- Use learnings to develop a broader offshore engagement strategy.
Pilots reveal strengths and weaknesses before larger investments, enabling smart scaling.
Scaling Ongoing Development Abroad
Once effective collaboration is proven via pilots, companies can consider expanding offshore centers to drive greater impact:
- Gradually transition to more complex application development and maintenance offshore as team capabilities mature.
- Build out a complete hierarchy of engineering roles from software developers to architects abroad.
- Establish a local program management layer onsite to bridge communication and culture gaps long term.
- Create formal educational programs to train offshore team members in the latest technologies and methodologies.
- Develop playbooks documenting best practices around security, testing, architecture, coding standards, and other guidelines.
- Plan visits by offshore developers to headquarters and vice versa to reinforce cross-team connections.
With the foundations for productivity and collaboration built, offshore centers can scale successfully.
The Future of Global Development Teams
Forward-thinking companies recognize that distributed development is here to stay. When executed strategically, offshore centers become invaluable competitive advantages through cost savings and elite engineering capabilities.
By investing in strong partnerships, oversight models, collaboration rituals, and integration upfront, businesses can unify global teams to achieve remarkable results.