Offshoring Your Mobile App Development Will Not Save You Money or Time

Offshoring may be attractive but it’s a dangerous choice. 

I lived in Hyderabad, India for six months managing a large telecommunications software project. During my 20+ year career I have worked with offshore developers from all across the world: India, Eastern Europe and South America.

These experiences helped me come to understand why offshore projects just don’t work.

Here are five pitfalls in moving your project offshore:


1. Offshoring solves the wrong problem

The vast majority of offshore projects happen because brands want to save money. But when your main motivator is cost, you’re solving your budgetary problem but not making the best possible app.

If there isn’t enough money to make a compelling, high-value app, hold off and seek alternative channels to engage your customers.

Focus on solving problems for your users, not yourself.

2. Mobile is highly contextual

Mobile apps are highly contextual products customers hire to do specific jobs. They are sophisticated, nuanced and require a high level of proficiency to resonate with users.

The natural disconnects and blind alleys that come with cross-cultural collaboration manifest themselves in stilted, odd, less usable and ultimately far less successful apps.

3. Offshore vendors rarely say “no”

Although deference is critical to a successful and cohesive team, there can be too much of a good thing. As the CTO or CMO for a major brand you can’t keep up with all the changes that are occurring within iOS and Android development.

To be successful you have to rely heavily on your mobile app development partner for far more than programming.

You need a development partner with a deep understanding of mobile to provide the best solutions and who knows when to tell you “no”. A team that never pushes back won’t produce the best app.

4. Mobile moves fast

Mobile app development requires intense and constant collaboration. During a sprint there needs to be continual back and forth between iOS, Android, back-end server, QA, Product Owners and Project Managers.

Unfortunately, many off-shore resources are hindered by immense time differences. In Agile development, major changes will occur domestically. Offshore resources are out of the loop and left behind.

5. The best talent has been poached

For any organization, exceptional programmers are extremely difficult to keep hold of, and with offshoring this is even more true. On many occasions I would be in the middle of a project to learn the most talented offshore programmer just got an H-1B sponsorship and was leaving for work in the US.

This leaves junior programmers whose skills might not be up to par to work on your projects. Their lack of experience can deeply affect the quality and speed of your app’s development.

Because of these issues and many more I have never seen an offshore project go well.

Offshore projects invariably manifest massive risk, require significantly more QA and bug fixing and have a tendency towards budget and schedule overages – all to produce a generally inferior app.

If you must send a project offshore, there are a few ways you can mitigate the risk, but whenever possible you should turn to local resources to produce the best app possible for your customers.

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