A small business owner or IT director faces a tough decision when evaluating custom software providers. There are typically strong local options with great customer service and english-speaking developers. Offshore developers are an attractive alternative for their lighter price tag. But when is an offshore developer the right choice, and when will it be a business decision that could cost you? We break down the key factors you need to consider.
The Right Fit
There are some software projects that are definitely a good fit for an overseas development company. You stand to save a decent amount of money as long as you understand the caveats and danger zones of going this route. Let’s examine a few good examples of a strong overseas developer project.
You’re making “The [startup] of x”
Let’s say you want to develop the Uber of riding lawn mowers. Or the AirBnB of doghouses. Maybe Tinder for mimes? The point is that if you have an app that already looks a lot like popular existing software there’s a good chance you can get it cheap overseas.
Offshore development companies commonly reverse-engineer major SaaS platforms for use-cases just like this one. It will be by far the cheapest option if you need something that looks just like an existing platform.
The Wrong Fit
While there are some specific projects where offshore development can make sense, there are many other examples where that is not a great option. Here are the top reasons:
Bespoke requirements are highly important
The more unique and specific your project is, the less likely an offshore developer will create exactly what you want. There are many variables that influence this, from time zone differences, language barriers, to recycled code.
As we mentioned earlier, a recycled software product might be a great fit in some circumstances. For the business that is creating something highly custom, this will not be the case. In order to get high quality custom software you need excellent communication and attention to detail. Those are traits that will be much easier to find in a local software development company.
You Need High-End Design
Design runs the same way as custom code. If you need something basic and generic, any creative team could get you something that is loosely what you want.
If you have a specific look and feel in the branding and user experience of your custom application, then the creative development process is going to be just like it would be in custom software. Close collaboration and constant communication are going to be the keys to getting your project completed according to your expectations.
The Functionality is Complex and Intricate
The more moving parts a machine has, the harder it is to design and build efficiently. If your business has complex processes that are specific to your niche or industry, chances are, your software will look similar.
Once again, an overseas developer will be able to code less expensively than an American company. They might not be as accurate at catching intricate and important details that are crucial to your business operating smoothly in your new software.
The age-old adage holds true that “you get what you pay for.” For example, you have to factor in the time it takes to effectively communicate a message to someone who may not be a native english speaker over text-based communication across multiple time zones. Assume that, at times, there will be misinterpretation and then revisions after the code is released. Now multiply this occurrence over and over through the course of the development process. What you get is thousands of dollars in additional expense and potentially weeks or even months of extra development time. The more complicated and nuanced your software is, the more likely this outcome will be.
For these more complex projects, having an American developer you can schedule a meeting with is extremely important. Investing in custom software should be a mutually beneficial business relationship that you can trust.
Intellectual property is an important factor
Registering patents on anything related in or related to your software project? Do NOT send it overseas! Intellectual property is high risk of being stolen and reused in an overseas development company. There’s a reason they are so cheap to create your DoorDash for potting soil.