5 Lessons For Hiring an Offshore Development Team


More companies than ever are turning to offshore software development teams for their technical projects, but many are still rushing in too soon without conducting the proper planning or due diligence. This is regularly undermining their efforts as they end up with a team that doesn’t match their requirements or their ambitions. 

At Digital Knights, we’ve analysed thousands of software development projects and picked up a few lessons on the way that have given us great perspective on what good looks like and the common pitfalls many fall into when hiring an offshore software development team. In this blog we take a look at the critical lessons you should keep in mind before choosing a team of your own. 

Lesson 1: Plan Before You Start 


Before you can plan out your software requirements, you must first get to grips with your own needs. It’s crucial  you take the time to plan and strategise around the work that will be carried out. Assumptions must be tested, business cases developed and expectations fully scoped and justified. These are all critical stages that must occur before an external development team is engaged. Too often clients want to rush into projects without spending the time necessary to plan and identify what’s really needed, and this often undermines work produced further down the line. 

Remember, it’s critical to avoid:

  • Undefined Metrics and KPIs 
  • Inconsistent Priorities 
  • Unrealistic Expectations 
  • Unclear Milestones 

Lesson 2: Quality Takes Time


When it comes to software development, quality is the name of the game, yet many fail to appreciate that finding and achieving quality often takes time. This is particularly true when it comes to choosing an offshore development team. Time must be committed to extensive research and due diligence in order to identify the right team for your needs. Once a team is found, time must then be invested in a comprehensive plan that works for all involved. Finally, once a plan is agreed, the external team must be given the time to effectively carry it out, and not be held to unrealistic expectations. It’s worth keeping in mind that software development is a reiterative process and needs cycles of feedback and direction to get it right. Time is often the key ingredient for any successful development project. 

Lesson 3: You Get What You Pay for 


Unsurprisingly, price is often the greatest indicator of success when it comes to offshore software development. Everyone wants cheap prices and high quality talent, but very rarely do these two go hand and hand. You have to be very lucky indeed to find a great development team who’ll work for relatively little pay. The reality is, more often than not, you get what you pay for, and even when you think you’ve found cheap talent that produces great work, it’s important you take the opportunity with a grain of salt until you’ve had a chance to verify it for yourself. 

As a general rule of thumb, vendors who advertise themselves as the cheapest in the industry are clearly the wrong choice. If a team is selling themselves on price alone, that in itself should be a major red flag. In many parts of Eastern Europe you can expect to pay between €40-70/hour for good quality talent. Some software partners will have flat rates across all roles and seniority levels while others will have a tiered pricing system based on these factors. 

With these figures in mind, your average day rate should be roughly between €320-560, any quote less than this should be properly evaluated and reviewed with extreme scrutiny. 

Lesson 4: Find a Trusted Partner Who Will Challenge You, and Meet the People Behind the Team 


When it comes to finding an offshore software development team, you want to look for a partner who will challenge your views with the aim of achieving the very best outcome. You do not want a group of YES-men. The reality is, you won’t always be right, and it’s important you have an external team that will make noise when they don’t agree on a decision or strategy. A partner that understands your requirements and challenges your thinking to deliver better results will inevitably offer significantly more value than one that can’t say no. Remember, the very best partners do more than just execute tasks, they also solve problems as and when they arise. 

Before choosing your external partner you want to meet the individuals who will be responsible for the delivery of your project.  It’s important to consider that you may be working with these people for months and years to come, so it’s essential that the ‘fit’ is right. If there is no natural energy, trust or chemistry, then it’s worth looking at alternatives, no matter how good their portfolio may be. 

Lesson 5: Always Review References, Previous Work and Open Source Contributions


Hiring an offshore software development team is a big decision, and so it’s important to thoroughly check a partner’s working history before committing to a project. You want to evaluate previous successes, results and challenges to determine if they’re the right partner for you. On top of that, if there’s a possibility of collecting testimonials from past clients then it’s worth investing the time and really getting to understand how they’ve performed previously to see if any red flags arise. This is best done face-to-face or at least over a call as it allows you to get a personal perspective from the client on how the agency delivered the project and an honest view on the experience working with them. Of course to get maximum value from such a meeting, it’s crucial you ask the right questions about the key details. What exactly did they deliver? Who was involved? What was the key problem they were tasked to solve? What was the solution they built? The answers to these questions will all help you get the key insights you need to effectively evaluate the partner. 

Remember, you can’t afford to make the wrong decision and so it makes good sense to invest in the due diligence necessary to maximize your chances of choosing the very best team for success. 

With these five key lessons in mind as you search for an offshore software development team, you’ll be fully prepared to find the right partner for your needs, while avoiding the common pitfalls many hiring organisations fall into. It’s worth keeping in mind that finding the very best partner for your requirements takes time and resources, but it’s all worth it in the end when you find a team that delivers above and beyond expectation as standard.

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