Why It Is So Hard to Trust Your Offshore Development Team and How to Fix It

Trust has always been one of the major problems of business relationships, and the IT industry is not an exception. Mutual trust is a paramount factor in setting up a productive and successful workflow with the software engineers. Ultimately all of the fears of tech companies boil down to a question of trust:

“How can I be sure a partnership with a software development vendor won’t f*ck up my business?”

Unfortunately, sometimes it may take quite a long time to develop such trust, especially with the offshore teams involved in so many horror stories of IT outsourcing.

There are so many risks when outsourcing your product development to third countries but still, many tech companies do that without even having enough information about the agency they’re going to partner with. However, exactly the lack of such information is the reason why it’s so complicated to make the right choice among the hundreds of companies available on the software development market and find a team that you can trust.

Before you decide if you want to outsource your project, you need clearly understand the pros and cons of offshore software development, potential risks, and reasons behind them and stop jumping to the worst-case scenario.

Offshore Development Team: Pros and Cons

The number of offshore developers in the world is enormous. Offshore destinations offer the lower cost of living so you can cut your development cost but at the same time, these advantages can have some “dark sides” that you must be aware of.

1

  •       Access to thousands of brilliant talents. The number of offshore software developers in the world is more than one million, meaning that you have a wide variety of talents to choose from.

BUT

  •       A number of offshore developers and companies is enormous. Yes, it is an advantage, but it can also become a disadvantage. You can spend weeks or, even worse, months trying to hire a product/development team that perfectly suits your project, delivers the work of exceptional quality, and can be trusted. This is a bad option for startups, when each hour worked is critical for the business.
Source: Behance

2

  • Good price/quality ratio. You may think that the low prices mean low quality and the lack of experience but this is not the case with some countries, especially the Eastern European ones. Such reasonable prices are typically the result of the low cost of living and in most cases have nothing to do with the quality.

BUT

  •       Cultural differences might be tangible.  According to Mikita Mikado, the Eastern European developers have a more critical attitude towards the quality of the code. Moreover, they are quite straightforward with this criticism, even if the code is actually of medium quality. On the contrary, developers from Asia are more likely to say that the same code is “OK” to avoid confrontation. Don’t take me wrong but it is important to consider those cultural differences when you hire a development team in an offshore country.

3

  •       Infrastructure is provided. If you open an office in your own location, the infrastructure setup is very likely to carry lots of costs and take a lot of time. However, if you cooperate with the developers in software development centers that already exist in offshore countries, you do not need to worry about that. All admin and legal stuff is handled by the onsite software development firm.

BUT

  •       Distance and time zone differences. As in most cases, the offshore developers are located in a time zone that is different than yours – and in the case of distributed teams, even in several different time zones. As a result, you may experience communication problems. However, you can solve this issue with the help of specialized time zone management tools that are available on the market.

4

BUT still, there is

  •      A question of trust. It is really hard to work and build trust with people whose faces you have never seen. Even the highest ratings and proven track record cannot save you from possible trust issues that may arise when working with offshore development teams.

So why is it so difficult to build trust?

You Can’t Trust Any Offshore Development Team. Here’s Why

Before you hire a development team in an offshore country, it is good for you to clarify all of the trust related issues beforehand. Let’s find out which reasons can prevent you from trusting your dedicated development team.

Reason 1. Lack of information about software engineers.

It is essential to have all of the information about the candidates, such as their technology stack, experience, projects’ portfolio, education, etc. Recruiters and talent acquisition specialists say that incomplete profiles make a bad first impression. Moreover, offshore companies may not provide their clients with all necessary info, so there are always risks that it will lead to misunderstandings and the client’s requirements might not be met. It is not always clear if, for example, offshore software developers are familiar with modern technologies such as Git and approaches such as test-driven development. Finally, the engineers do not update their portfolios on a regular basis so the client does not really know who will be working for them eventually.

Reason 2. The ambiguity of ratings and rankings.

You can browse the websites such as Clutch.co to look up the category rankings of offshore companies that you may be working with. However, all projects and people are different, and what is good for one company can be bad for another one. Moreover, any company can apply and arrange a raking which would meet their requirements on Clutch.co. For example, Clutch can highly rank their most sponsoring service providers. As a result, the ratings are not so valuable anymore when it comes to deciding who is better for your project. Forming a personal rating based on your own experience is always a good option; however, it is not always possible in the offshore development setting. Just imagine how much time you would request to create such a rating for your specific project on your own.

Reason 3. Lack of face-to-face communication.

This is one of the most common problems of offshore software development, which is caused by the following factors:

  • The head office and offshore company can be located on the opposite sides of the planet, it can be hard to catch each other online and efficiently communicate. Moreover, it is hard to define if the developers really work during the hours that they report. For example, Jake Carlson, a software development manager at Oracle, shares a story on how he experimented with the hourly billing. He tried to perform the same task along with the offshore team and it took him only 4 hours to complete the project whereas the team billed 35 hours.
  • As Lorraine Longhurst emphasizes in her article “Why offshoring Agile development often doesn’t work”, offshore teams often prefer to avoid communication issues rather than solve them. As the teams are far away from each other, it is easier for them to stick with the avoidance tactics.
  • It is impossible to build trust when you treat your offshore team members not the same way as your local team members, e.g. give them less interesting and valuable tasks just because you haven’t explored their full potential yet. Mikita Mikado, founder of PandaDoc (the company outsources software development to Belarus), says that “you should absolutely treat your offshore team members the same way you treat your HQ team.”
  • Cultural differences between the onshore and offshore teams can also hamper the communication. Again, Mikita Mikado believes that if you do not visit your software development team and do not organize their visits to your office, it means that you are reluctant to share your culture with them.
  • Some offshore software development companies use their local project managers as a “bridge” between the onshore and offshore teams. As a result, you cannot communicate with the developers directly, as if they are “hiding” behind the PM’s back.

Reason 4. Risky money transfers.

Money transfers between the head office and offshore company can pose certain risks that are related to the security and transparency of the process. For example, (1) invoices from offshore countries may not be recognized by all tax authorities. This is because there is a risk of issuing a falsified invoice with the purpose to avoid taxes, as Tax Free Today reports.

(2) You will need to carefully check all of the legal documentation and ensure the transparency of transactions between the two companies, with proven and revealed identities. In this article, you can find detailed information on the best options to transfer money to an offshore country, with Ukraine as an example.

(3) Another issue is that you do not get a 100% guarantee that the work delivered by an offshore company will meet your quality standards. As a result, you cannot be sure that an hour paid is an hour worked because you can get low quality work in exchange for your money.

Source: Behance

Reason 5. What if a developer decided to leave a project ….

Sometimes a software developer can unexpectedly leave the project – this is especially common with freelancers. How to find a replacement in this case asap? It can be devastating for the project, especially if it is a startup since lots of time and resources will be spent on looking for a new team member and training them. Besides, it is not always clear who should look for the replacement and how easy and fast it can be. For example, software developers believe that it is the task of a company or startup who hired them. Therefore, the company should have an available talent pool where they can find the replacement. However, the developers need to hand over their tasks to the replacement within a reasonable time frame. Anyway, it sounds too complicated if doing on your own.

Is there any alternative?

All these five reasons were exactly why we decided to build YouTeam. We wanted to cover all these issues within one single platform, and here is what we have as a result:

Strict vetting of both the web development shops and the developers that are employed by them. You can trust the dev shop vendors if only each of them goes through a multi-stage screening process like vetting by YouTeam. We can even visit the offices of our vendors to make sure our partners organize their workflow and communication according to the industry standards.

Completed developer profiles and portfolios that are constantly updated. We never accept any empty or incomplete developer profiles. Detailed information about all of the completed projects, tasks and technology stack is a must for everyone who joins our platform. Check this profile of a React.js developer, for example.

Ability to directly communicate with your team. YouTeam clients can personally interview the candidates and communicate with the already hired programmers at any time in the course of the project. Also, there is an option to assign a dedicated Project Manager who will handle all the communication instead of you.

Secure payment system. Our clients securely transfer all of the payments through our platform. However, the offshore team members do not receive these payments until you approve the delivered work. In the case of dissatisfaction with the work quality, we fully refund this money.

Moreover, with the aim of making payments easier for you, we integrated payment processors operating worldwide. No more wire transfers when working with your offshore development partner. Few clicks. Invoice paid on YouTeam. Your dedicated team working non-stop.

Flexibility and scalability. At YouTeam, the web shops can sign a contract with you in the course of 24 hours whereas the developers are ready to join your team in a matter of days.

Better than freelancers. Unlike freelancers, software developers featured at YouTeam are employed by our trusted partners on a full-time basis. Therefore, our partners are fully responsible for their developers and they work, so they will not let you down as some freelancers can do (no hard feelings).

Source: Behance

To wrap up, trust has always been a decisive factor to consider when working with an offshore development team. It starts with a darkness when you know your offshore developers so little and it may take quite a long time before you start seeing the light and developing such trust.

The key reasons why you might mistrust your offshore developers are:

  • lack of information about software engineers.
  • the ambiguity of ratings and rankings.
  • lack of face-to-face communication.
  • risky money transfers.
  • developers suddenly leaving the projects.

YouTeam offers a unified solution to all of these trust issues. We provide our clients with:

  • access to profiles of the best software developers from our trusted web shops,
  • ability to directly communicate with the team,
  • secure payment system,
  • opportunity to scale the team in a matter of days,
  • reliability as opposed to working with freelancers.

With YouTeam, you will not have to wait for years until you build mutual trust with your team. Check youteam.io out and let us know if your concerns are solved.

Photo credits: Pavel Proskurin

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Anton Mishchenko

Anton Mishchenko

Anton Mishchenko is a CEO and Co-founder at YouTeam.

From 2011 onwards, Anton has founded a number of tech businesses, including Scen.io – a platform for creating highly customisable event pages. His area of expertise includes tech entrepreneurship and startups, business management, digital marketing, business development, product development, music & media industries.

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