In today’s increasingly globalised business climate, recent figures showing that more than half of Fortune 500 companies practice offshore outsourcing as a part of their overall business strategy should come as no surprise. For several years now, the benefits of outsourcing specific aspects of your workload to more economical parts of the world so that you are better able to concentrate on your core specialisations have been well known. And in no area of offshore outsourcing has this been more valid or necessary than Information Technology, and in particular the development of new software. The principal reason for this is that IT uses a language and skills that transcend national and cultural barriers. And the potential expenditure in time and money spent developing a bespoke piece of software for your company makes sourcing the cheapest provider a top priority.
Regardless of this, if your company is proposing to outsource to an offshore software developer, it is worthwhile understanding the benefits and risks involved. A good way of minimising risk, for instance, is to use a UK based offshore software developer, or an agency whose business is to connect clients with developers matching certain requirements. The Approved Index, the UK’s leading online business to business referral service, is an excellent place to find such an agency, with up to 8 companies listed in your area where you can visit the site or get in touch directly.
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Benefits of Offshore Software Development
The benefit of using a facilitator to outsource your offshore needs is that they will have the experience to secure the best package with the minimum of fuss. In no time at all you will be able to get on with your core competencies while your software is built to your specifications. However, in order for this process to run smoothly, it is important to establish certain working conditions:
- That there is a project manager on the ground who is contactable during UK office hours and will give you daily progress reports by phone, text or email. Seek assurances that the same project manager will be with you for the duration of the project and is not replaced by a more junior employee half way through.
- That there are regular opportunities for the people who will be using the end product to test the prototype and have a say in any improvements. Also, that any decisions about the development of the software above a certain level are referred straight to head office.
- That any future product enhancements or upgrades will be carried out by the original team of software developers using the same stringent quality and testing standards.
- A top of the range piece of software will only be useful to you if you understand how to get the most out of it. Ensure a clear user guide accompanies the final product and sufficient training is carried out during software implementation.
- Seek guarantees about the quality, usability and durability of the software and establish a clear timeframe and budget for its development, above which certain penalties will be incurred by the developer.
The time and effort spent establishing a good working relationship with an offshore developer is worth it because of the 40% to 60% savings you’ll make compared to using a UK based developer. Alternatively, if time is more of a factor, it is possible to set up an onshore/offshore system, so that as the British team starts their day’s work, the Indian or Chinese team is just completing theirs. Or perhaps you’d prefer an offshore developer who keeps similar hours to you, in which case contracting the work to South Africa makes more sense. An additional benefit of the South African model is that you will be able to conduct video conference meetings and emergency phone calls at mutually convenient hours and won’t suffer from jet lag visiting the site!
As should be clear by now, offshore software development can be a winning formula for your company, so long as the client/developer relationship is strong, with benefits including improved access to local labour and IT markets in the world’s fastest growing economies in addition to considerable cost savings. Thanks to the software outsourcing pioneers of the 1980s and 90s, offshore software development is now a highly competitive industry offering lower risk and higher gain. As such, there has never been a better time to outsource your next IT project to an offshore software developer.
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