Weighing the Pros and Cons of Hiring Offshore Developers

Written by Santiago Mino
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Are offshore developers the solution for your staffing needs? That answer depends on a wide variety of factors, including your hiring budget and the size and scope of the work you need done. Is the project one that will require long-term commitments from developers over months or years, or a quick tune-up that needs only a few spare hands for a couple of weeks? Do you have the HR capacity to offer an employer-matched 401(k), health insurance, and other benefits?

Before you dive into the deep end of the remote staffing pool, a quick look at some offshoring pros and cons could save you time and money (and swimmer’s ear).

But first, let’s clearly define two terms commonly used when discussing this topic.

Outsourcing vs. Offshoring

Boiled down to their essence, these terms define who’s doing the work and where they’re doing it. When you outsource, you hire a third-party vendor to take on a portion of your business operations; when you offshore, you hire workers outside the U.S., usually at a lower cost than stateside employees.

Outsourcing typically siphons somewhat menial but necessary tasks, such as IT, legal, or HR, to an outside firm, allowing your in-house team to focus on your actual product or service. Offshoring brings down labor costs by moving larger portions of your business to developing regions such as India, China, and Latin America.

For the purposes of this topic, we will focus on the pros and cons of offshoring.

Pros of Hiring Offshore Developers

There are some true financial and logistical incentives to offshoring developers:

  • Fast, smart growth.
    It’s a good problem to have—business is booming, and you can’t keep pace. But at some point, you need to staff up to be ready for those new customers and provide high-quality, on-time work. Staff augmentation is a great solution when you need a fully vetted, top-notch team at the ready.

  • A global talent pool.
    You now have access to the best developers in the world, not just those within commuting distance. This opens your company up to a whole new level of technical ability, and there’s no ceiling to the list of clients you can attract.

  • Specialized developers.
    Not only can you hire the best in the business, but you’ll also have access to all levels of expertise.

  • Diverse team, diverse perspectives.
    A team that represents multiple cultures and languages will have a greater base of experience and a wider variety of opinions on how to improve a product or solve a problem. It can also boost your bottom line.

  • Simplified HR process.
    In-house employees have many perks but can be a logistically daunting proposition for your HR staff. Between recruitment, interviews, background checks, onboarding, and more, an offshoring agency may prove to be a more efficient way to bring in talent, particularly when deadlines are breathing down your neck.

  • Less risk.
    In offshore development, as in investing, a diverse portfolio goes a long way toward reducing risk. Not only do you need a team with a wide range of backgrounds and talents, but a healthy mix of offshore vendors, each handling a different operation or component, can also spread risk around and reduce volatility.

The Cons

Offshoring isn’t a perfect fit for every business:

  • Different departments, different needs.
    A hybrid model may be helpful in achieving a mix of in-house and offshore teams because roles such as tech leadership are difficult to staff remotely.

  • Cultural differences.
    Though teams in separate countries may have common technical skill sets, their cultural preferences may diverge, which can show up in areas such as design, creative direction, writing, and engineering. An engineer in Manhattan or Chicago may have a different aesthetic than a colleague in Hanoi, Vietnam.

  • Communication bottlenecks.
    Even with the best video conferencing, file sharing, and collaboration software, sometimes things get lost in the shuffle, causing delays and driving up costs.

  • Unsupported code.
    The work product from an offshore firm may be top-notch, but if you can’t maintain it after the team has signed off, you’ll remain dependent on the firm to make updates and fix bugs.

  • Time zone trouble.
    The most common offshoring destinations may provide generous cost savings but can sometimes get snagged in delays due to their disparate time zones. India is 10.5 hours ahead of the East Coast, which can pose a problem if teams need to work simultaneously for hours at a stretch. A growing market of nearshoring firms in parts of South America boasts rising tech centers (“Silicon Vallecitos”) such as Ecuador and Colombia and provides a remedy for common problems such as production delays and rewrites.

Consider a Nearshore Firm

As the above offshoring pros and cons demonstrate, only you can know whether a distributed team will take your company’s workload, resources, and mission to the next level. If you’re a small-town business with big-city dreams, and ambitions that outrun the nearby developer pool, consider Jobsity’s staff augmentation solution. Our South America-based team provides a diversity of experience and a unique, multilingual perspective that can enrich your software and broaden your customer base.

Want to start building an amazing team? Take a look at our staff augmentation guide for a crash course in staff augmentation.


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Written by Santiago Mino

Santiago Mino, VP of Strategy at Jobsity, has been working in Business Development for several years now helping companies and institutions achieve their goals. He holds a degree in Industrial Design, with an extensive and diverse background. Now he spearheads the sales department for Jobsity in the Greater Denver Area.