Benefits and Risks: Outsourcing Web Development to Foreign Countries
Outsourcing is a common buzzword in the business world today allowing many companies to become more competitive and efficient in doing their businesses. One of the most common strategies being adopted by companies is outsourcing web development. In this article, we will be discussing the benefits of outsourcing your web development project. We will examine the risks and pitfalls you need to be aware of when selecting an outsourcing partner.
First of all, you need to understand what outsourcing is before rushing out and hiring an outsourcing company. Outsourcing is hiring other companies to handle tasks normally completed by someone in your organization in order to save costs. This allows the business owner, or manager, to concentrate resources on more important or relevant matters.
This is why outsourcing is so popular in the business world today. With outsourcing, you can save your company from spending a lot of money and at the same time, allow your business to focus on matters that are more relevant and important towards making a profit.
But, why specifically are more companies adopting the strategy of outsourcing web development?
Many companies already employ one or more people that specialize in IT. However, understanding and supporting IT is not the same as web development. Many IT people are very technically adept, but they do not necessarily posses the skills to write code, develop a web site, or improve the companies profitability using web development skills.
Outsourcing web development is usually done for the same reasons as outsourcing business processes. To get the tasks associated with web development done at the lowest possible cost without committing to hiring a full time web development team. Outsourcing web development is most common to other companies in developing countries, such as Mexico, Philippines, China and India because of the relatively cheap labor these countries offer.
For example, if your company needs a web development department, your company will invest a lot of money and resources create and support this team. You would need to purchase computers, get these on a company network, purchase web development software and also hire additional employees as web developers. This would also require the necessary office space to accommodate these employees, who will most likely be asking a high salary with full company benefits as a full time employee.
While there are some considerable cost savings to be realized by outsourcing web development overseas, there are pitfalls to watch out for as well.
Risks and Concerns of Outsourcing Web Development
Starting a relationship with a foreign company is a very difficult task. Trust is the primary obstacle that many companies face. Here are some of the primary risks and areas of concern you need to address when outsourcing web development.
Language and Communications
Possessing excellent English communication skills is critical to achieving success in your outsourcing venture (especially when you are trying to maintain control and visibility). The ability to communicate in English, or in your native language, should be the primary reason to carefully select the country of your outsourcing partner. Select a country that has a proven track record of teaching languages you need, and select a partner that guarantees that their team members will be able to complete their project using your preferred language.
Loss of control and visibility
Being able to physically handle or view objects as they are developed or a lack of ability to see the working code can leave you feeling as if you’re not in control of the project. Maintaining visibility throughout the development process, so that you can gauge progress, or lack of it, is a key element to the success of a project. Communication problems and slow response times can result in frustration and could end up costing you more overall, destroying your project budget. A good outsourcing partner is going to be equally concerned with these areas as well.
The key to addressing this challenge is realizing that the outsourcing relationship must be managed by your company and the vendor equally. Assign a “Single Point of Contact” from your company as the person for which all issues, questions and problems must go through. Like a project manager but with the interests of the business as their focus. Concentrate on good communication with your outsourcing team, as well as making sure the in-house team, or stake holders understand what outsourcing entails.
Assigning this contact person is the key to successful communication and maintaining a sense of control.
Before hiring an outsourcing partner, educate yourself about the potential hidden costs of the project. Question your potential partner about all costs, and speak directly and openly about the potential for hidden costs. A good outsourcing partner does not want to deal with delays in payment because you weren’t aware of the costs before hand. You and your partner should have a clear picture as to exactly what costs will be associated with the project and when they should be paid.
However, regardless of how much planning goes into the project, some unforeseen event or problem will arise. So have your Project Manager put into place an escalation process. This way everyone is clear how to handle any surprises so that both the offshore and in-house teams can rapidly address and close out the issue.
Working Across Different Time Zones
One of the problems working with a vendor halfway across the world is that your development team may not be working at the same time as your in-house team. This is particularly problematic if your project requires very close collaboration with your remote development team. Thankfully, due to the flexibility of many vendors, working hours should not be a problem. In many instances vendors are able to accommodate specific working hours, or shift them slightly to guarantee an overlap. Plus, there are plenty of global locations for outsourcing and it is worth exploring the benefits of each location, including the difference in time zones. Here you can download white papers to find out more about software development in Belarus and Ukraine.
You want to make sure that the end result from the outsources web development is on par with your quality standards. The risk is that sometimes you receive a working product that has bugs or does not operate properly after it has gone through the handover process. This can be avoided by ensuring that your outsourcing partner follows the latest quality standards. Depending on the scope of your project, you may want to consider hiring a certified quality assurance specialist on your development team.
In any case, your outsourcing partner should go to great lengths to test the final product and demonstrate to you that there are no bugs or issues before you accept the handover of the project to your in-house team.
Another key area of concern is to make sure that your company’s data is secure, especially if your project involves working remotely with highly sensitive information. This is normally not too much of an issue with a web development project, but the possibility should be a serious consideration.
If company data will be used remotely during the web development process, great importance should be given in selecting a reliable, certified outsourcing partner. Take a look at your potential partner’s case studies and make sure they experience in handling sensitive information. Discuss their security methods and how they’ve dealt with security problems in the past. If they don’t have a clear answer and examples to back them up, then you may need to consider if they are the appropriate outsourcing partner to consider for your project.
Overall, you want to find a stable outsourcing partner who is committed to your project and it’s success if your project becomes complicated.
Evaluate closely what your outsourcing partner is capable of offering.
- What is their outsourcing model?
- What is their team structure?
- Do they offer only fixed outsourcing services, or are they able to be flexible and act as a strong business partner?
Do your homework before you pay any deposit to begin the project. If you know of other companies that have used outsourcing partners, get a bit of time with them to discuss how their project progressed.
If you would like to discuss outsourcing your web development project to Siam Communications, feel free to contact us and ask questions.