We’ve always been open with our clients about our business structure – much of our backend development team is located overseas. We have also covered the subject in this blog before. I mention the relocation of part of our team on every introductory call where I feel we will need these services. We’ve been doing it this way since 2006, with the same core team members. With the exception of the occasional client who has strict compliance requirements that require some housework, mainly in the corporate category, almost all of the projects in our portfolio have been worked on by this backend development team. However, even today, the concept bothers some customers. People hear the horror stories of offshore development teams and automatically assume that the quality of the work is of lesser value or that the skills are lacking. Obviously, this kind of general generalization is just not correct.
I believe in the global economy. And the Internet as a place has made offshoring a no-brainer for digital agencies. One of the most significant advantages this offers is our schedule: with our shifts only overlapping 3 hours a day, we have considerable progress before we even get to work. We overlap for essential meetings and communication, then our design and project management resources are free the rest of the day to test, plan, and communicate with clients. And because we’ve fine-tuned these workflows, it benefits our business and our customers tremendously – every given business day, while some organizations only work 8 or 9 hours, we progress for 18 hours. If we hear about it. of a task at 11 p.m., at 3 a.m., someone is working on it. This is a huge advantage for us.
Yet despite all the advantages, some customers are still hesitant about the idea of offshore (and even distributed) development. In most cases, the feedback we receive from those with strong opinions on the matter is influenced by hearing a horror story about work outsourcing or trying their hand and failing. in the past. Frankly, I’ve heard all these stories too. Often, this comes from clients who come to us while their projects are exploding. And generally they all follow the same story: People have tried to relocate without a full plan or without understanding how to get the most out of the strategy.
And that’s really the secret to being successful with offshore resources: you need to have a plan for how those resources work within your team and / or your systems. And if you don’t, hire someone who does. Why? Because an offshore development team is only one part of a successful approach to developing a product or application. It is not a one-size-fits-all solution to solving your problems.
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“I have worked abroad before and it did not go well.”
This is the most common objection we hear and we hear it often. There are indeed many relationships between developers and offshore resources that do not work. In truth, the same thing also happens on land. Only people talk much less about these issues because, more than likely, they suspect in the back of their mind that the failure of relationships on land may be their fault rather than the agency they hired. In my experience, the vast majority of bad offshore experiences are with people hiring offshore developers as their only technical resource. This means that someone looking around for a project employs a single offshore team to do it all. work. Ultimately, this is risky because you have no local resources, no local laws or oversight, and potential cultural differences. Not to mention, offshore agencies are generally not structured for a full service.
Risk is best mitigated by working with agencies that use a hybrid approach. At Digital Marketing Lahore, we have our design, account management and product development team in the Pakistan, most of them in our Lahore office, although we are now recruiting from across the country. Our backend development team works seamlessly with members of our local team to complete projects. This way we make sure our clients are working with local resources and eliminate almost all risk from the relationship.
Digital Marketing Lahore guarantees the job, we have all the necessary licenses and insurance, and in most cases clients never even need to deal with the offshore component. This reduces the chances that everything will go wrong later.
The reverse is that someone hires a team that is only located overseas, which introduces a host of problems. Now the client has to work around the time zone in which the agency is located – feedback loops can take a day instead of several hours. They have to be much more wordy in their project requirements to set expectations – offshore agencies are not good at “filling in the blanks”. Payment and logistics are more difficult, and if things go wrong there is ultimately very little recourse. These types of scenarios never work well.
For those who have worked overseas and have a bad taste in their mouths, I encourage you to think critically about this engagement and see where the disconnect has happened. Did you expect the offshore agency to do it all? To perform all the tasks around your project? Fill in the gaps that inevitably arise? These are all leading indicators of why your project may have fallen apart.
Another point I want to emphasize here – an agency that has a commercial presence in your country and offshore resources is not enough. Ideally, you want local project management, local design, and account management. Many offshore companies with hundreds of developers have local sales resources – these are decent solutions if you are an agency and can do the rest of the work, but not if you are a client with a one-time project.
How to make offshoring work
As a client, you need to understand the breadth of skills required to complete a digital project these days. It’s not just a developer or designer that you need. Instead, it’s a team of various people who help bring a project to fruition. And, of course, you need to define your role within this team. To build a starter mobile app, for example, you need some planning, which usually happens with an architect, product manager, UI / UX designers. You need design and layout; you need development, databases, API, testing / QA, deployment, system administration. I can go on and on. There are few or no purely offshore agencies that do all of this well, at the same time. And the risks involved are significant.
Instead, focus on areas where offshoring can work well in terms of the pieces of the puzzle. Can you hire local designers and product managers, then outsource development? Sure. You can create an entire team this way. Of course, unless you are planning on hiring them full time, it usually makes more sense to outsource the work to an agency!
The most successful organizations that operate overseas do so by moving segments of their operations, particular elements, to offshore resources that those resources can specifically focus on. And, above all, they do it for the long haul. Not for a one-off engagement.
As mentioned, we do the majority of our backend development offshore. Less front-end development and no front-end design or UI / UX work. This blend works for us – it’s an exceptional balance – and the work product is great. But we worked hard to define the processes, the workflows and we kept the work in touch with the local customer. And we have worked hard to remove the risks from the process.
In conclusion, I think understanding and setting expectations is essential. There is a big difference between an agency you hire locally that has offshore resources, and you hire offshore resources yourself. One is efficiency and the other is a handicap. Overall, for a well-run agency, offshore resources make virtually no difference from a business, workflow, or cultural perspective. But for those hiring an offshore team who expect an all-in-one solution, it’s a whole different story.