Location Factors to Consider When Searching for an Offshore Software Development Partner
SOFTWARE DEVELOPMENT | 15 Mar 2020
Choosing an offshore software development team is a big decision that often involves a wide variety of factors, but few have more influence than location. Impacting everything from development costs and employee communication, to logistics and working culture, location is often a defining variable when it comes to choosing a remote partner. So with this in mind, it’s important to have a full view of the ramifications location can have on your ability to work effectively with an offshore software development team.
In this blog, we explore the location factors you need to consider and highlight the impacts they can have on the development of a successful working relationship.
The Financial Impact of Cost of Living
When searching for remote software partners, it’s important to think about the cost of living in each host country. If for example, one remote partner is located in Spain, and the other in Croatia, it’s likely the Spanish team will charge a higher cost, without necessarily delivering a better output. This is to reflect the cost of living in the area. In Spain, clients will typically get less for their money than they would in Croatia as their in-house costs are more expensive - it’s just that simple.
In locations where the cost of living is high, but the development costs are low, it’s likely the quality of output will be questionable. That saying ‘if something is too good to be true, then it probably is’ typically applies here.
The Role of Language
Language is a key component in the standard offshore software development relationship. The ability for both sides to communicate effectively is absolutely critical, particularly when many conversations will be technical in nature and highly nuanced. As a result, it’s important to evaluate the standard language skills of partner locations.
If a country has a low-level of English competence, then the risks of language challenges grows - and these can have major impacts on delivery. In fact, a simple miscommunication has the potential to undermine an entire project and so it’s key that a partner’s language capabilities are up to scratch.
In addition, language plays a major role in effective video communication. As both sides of the relationship will mostly be communicating via video conferencing, this is worth considering too. Conversations need to be clear and concise with few language challenges or barriers, anything less and productivity is likely to suffer.
Why Time Zones Matter
The time zone a partner operates in is an interesting variable in the partner selection process as it can be construed as both a challenge and an opportunity. When evaluating time zones, the first question that needs to be asked is, ‘How do their working hours overlap with your own?’, this helps to understand how convenient the relationship will be and what would be required to make it work.
In some instances, a small overlap in time zones will actually be an advantage with clients able to prepare work throughout the day for the external development team to progress when they arrive later. This unlocks an opportunity whereby a 24 hour team can be created, supercharging speed of delivery and competences. With that said, if working hour overlap is minimal, then there is a risk that the team will not have the access they need to solve queries and be required to take action without confirmation it’s the correct course.
It’s integral time zones do not impede collaboration and give both sides of the relationship the access they need to deliver the very best output. Depending on the nature of the project, time zone variation can be a valuable ally or a significant logistical challenge.
Evaluating Technical Pedigree
There’s no doubt about it, some countries are much more technically inclined than others. With infrastructure designed specifically to nurture and develop technical talent, countries like Serbia are developing a generation of world class professionals. This underlying pedigree is helping the country develop a global reputation for excellence, improving the profile of their workers. Such reputations should be heavily considered in the partner selection process; it’s important to evaluate the reputation of the developer’s country of origin, just as much as the developer itself.
When working with an offshore software development partner, it’s essential their country culture is compatible. Influencing every facet of a team’s capabilities, attitude and delivery, culture compatibility can often make or break a project’s success.
Playing such a major role in the development of a successful relationship, culture should be evaluated with a few key questions in mind:
- Is the partner’s culture compatible?
- Are there elements that could create conflicts or challenges?
- Are there wider cultural barriers in play?
- How will cultural differences impact the relationship?
The answers to these questions will showcase how easy the relationship will be to develop and ensure that any concerns can be discussed up front before any commitments are made. In some circumstances, cultural differences can be a fatal blocker as they undermine what’s expected from the partner and create insurmountable barriers.
The Importance of Good Travel Access
Practicality and logistics are a significant factor when choosing an offshore software development team and accessibility is a big part of that. While the development team will spend most of the project delivering unsupervised, there will be times when senior staff will want to visit. Whether this is to check-up on progress in person or just to make the team feel more integrated, whatever the case, they must be easy to access. As a result, multiple elements need to be considered that may influence logistical accessibility, including:
- The availability of direct flights
- The developer’s proximity to key airports
- The time it takes to travel
- The cost of travel
No matter how great a technical partner may be, if they’re hard to access, the logistical challenge may not be worth the extensive hassle.
Influencing so many elements of an offshore software development team and relationship, location is a critical piece of the puzzle that must be carefully considered in the selection process. Exhibiting such a major impact, it cannot be underestimated and so questions, concerns and challenges need to be surfaced up-front and discussed during the partner selection process. By taking this approach, influencing details can be evaluated at the discussion stage, preventing unforeseen challenges from impeding delivery in the future.