Offshore Development vs. Onshore Development

Sep 10, 2013

When most people think of outsourcing, they probably think of physical products that are manufactured in a factory in some third world country on the other side of the globe, but the fact is that any kind of work, tangible or intangible, can be outsourced, and it doesn’t have to happen in a sweat shop. Software development is no exception to this rule. You might not realize it, but many of the applications you use all of the time were actually programmed by developers overseas. Even though it’s perfectly normal to outsource your project to an offshore developer, that’s not to say onshore development isn’t just as viable and useful.

Offshore Development vs. Onshore Development

Offshore development entails hiring a skilled developer in a foreign location to help with some or all of the coding for a specific project or series of projects. Companies choose to do this for a number of reasons, and while it certainly has it’s benefits, it also comes with some drawbacks.

Pros

  • Cost Saving — Ideally, an offshore developer will work for much less than an onshore one, which will allow to keep your overhead and charge your customers less. This is typically the main reason for offshore development.
  • Flexible Working Hours — Since offshore developers aren’t in the same timezone, you can have more flexible working hours and development cycle. For example, if you need someone working on something at 4 AM, all you have to do is find the developer who lives where it’s 4 PM. Onshore development, on the hand, will typically be limited by traditional 9 to 5 working hours, and good luck finding local developers who will be willing to give up nights, weekends, and/or holidays.
  • Increased Volume of Work and Workers — Since offshore developers cost less than onshore ones, you can afford to have more of them, working on more projects at once.

Cons 

  • Security — Security is a risk when working with offshore developers. If someone in India decides to steal your code, there might not be a whole you can do about it, and good luck finding them. With local developers, you personally know who your working with, and it’s highly unlikely they’ll try to rip you off.
  • Poor Quality — Offshore developers might not be up to par with onshore developers in terms of knowledge, skills, and experience, so you need to make certain the developer(s) you hire is indeed qualified for the job. Local developers won’t be able to fake their skills as easily, or at least not for long.
  • Unexpected Difficulties — All sorts of unexpected problems can arise when working with offshore developers. For example, you might consistently have a hard time reaching them and communicating with because of the time zone differences, or they might have slower connections and processing power than what you’re using to, making it impossible for them to keep up with your work pace.
  • Hidden Fees/Catches — Sometimes when something seems to good to be true, it is. If you find yourself thinking, “Wow, I can save 99% of my costs if I go with [X] company. I can’t believe this is true!,” it’s probably not true and you should expect a catch. Be wary of rates that seem unbelievable low.

What SourceToad Does

We divide up our work 50/50 between onshore and offshore developers so that we can maintain a 24-hour development cycle. This benefits our customers greatly by offering them faster turnaround times at competitive prices.

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