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The pitfalls of offshore development

A full featured website with all of the bells & whistles for just $2,000 does sound like a great deal…but is it? If you have received a proposal similar to this then it’s very likely that the development will be completed by an offshore team. While offshore development does have it’s advantages (mainly cost savings) there are also some things you should strongly consider before you sign on the dotted line.

  1. Who is managing the project?
    When working with an offshore development team the project management piece is vital. If the project manager doesn’t have a strong technical background and understanding of your project the chances are you won’t end up getting what you think you’re paying for. It’s also important that the project manager will be efficient in communicating with the offshore team to ensure deadlines are met.
  2. What timezone does the development team work in?
    If the development team are working in a different timezone it generally means delays in answering questions and getting results or staying up until all hours of the night to communicate with the team. If an agency and/or project manager is running the development for you you’ll want to find out if they will be communicating after hours as otherwise the project can drag out when 1 email is exchanged per day.
  3. Does your project have complex functionality?
    If your project has complex functionality and requirements you’ll want to be sure you can communicate this effectively with the offshore team (either directly or via the project manager). Relying on emails to communicate detailed requirements can be difficult and often things get lost in translation. This generally results in delayed development timeframes and a frustrating experience for all involved.
  4. Is quality a key requirement for your project?
    If a quality solution is more important than saving a few dollars then give consideration to who will be building and project managing your solution. Make sure that you check out their portfolio and that they have experience delivering similar solutions. While saving a few dollars up front might be enticing, if you have to start from scratch when your chosen company can’t deliver what you need then it could end up costing a lot more in the long run!

I’ve seen plenty of clients get lured in by the attraction of cheaper development costs only to regret the decision and end up paying more in the long run to fix or finish the project when it all goes south. Your website is generally a long term investment (on average a website should last 3–5 years before it needs to be upgraded) so spending a little more upfront and getting a solution that will last and deliver results is in my opinion a smarter choice.

Don’t get me wrong, offshore development can work but unless your project is relatively simple and you are very tech savvy and have experience project managing development teams I would not recommend it. In the end you do get what you pay for and your website is your online shop front so it’s worth investing in a solution that will deliver results.

The main point to take away is to know who will be working on your project and what their experience is. Make sure that when you compare proposals you really are comparing apples with apples and not apples with lemons. A small cost saving up front might end up in a lot of extra expenses later on so do your homework and know who you are engaging to build your project.

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Mitch Ellems

Sales & Strategy Director

Tags: Project Management, Offshore Development, Web Development, App Development, Outsourcing

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