To use an offshore development team or not??

Discussion in 'IT & Internet' started by Richbdevs, Dec 18, 2019.

  1. Richbdevs

    Richbdevs UKBF Newcomer Free Member

    3 0
    Hi all.

    I am just looking for some advice, points and hopefully some previous experiences please when it comes to using offshore ( non UK ) software development companies or developers for hire? I have heard good and bad things and would love some advice. Are they any good, are they safe, what are your particular concerns etc.

    I agree that their pricing is great compared to purely UK companies but is that at a cost and if so what?

    Thanks in advance all
     
    Posted: Dec 18, 2019 By: Richbdevs Member since: Dec 18, 2019
    #1
  2. zigojacko

    zigojacko I say it how it is Full Member - Verified Business

    3,578 1,138
    In my experience, the savings in service rates often don't outweigh the additional time required micro-managing them directly, communicating with them over absolutely everything and coming along behind them cleaning up.

    Their only skill is usually coding, and this is normally limited to PHP and basic JavaScript along with some database experience. They normally lack any real knowledge of project management, web development workflows or even best practices so as soon as a complexity crops up such as configuring a website to run on Linux web server with Nginx caching or something, you end up having to deal with it yourself as they become quickly out of their depth. Their code is often inconsistent, messy and uncommented and they have absolutely zero frontend design or graphic skills.

    You might think that is quite specific or even stereotyped but it has been the exact experience with every single offshore developer I have ever worked with (and I've probably worked with a fair few hundred in the past on various projects).

    So really, I would say it largely depends on the project you want to hire them for and the specifics of what you need them to take care of.

    Be prepared for quite a painful and exasperating time though.
     
    Posted: Dec 18, 2019 By: zigojacko Member since: Dec 7, 2009
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  3. Wayne Smyth

    Wayne Smyth UKBF Newcomer Free Member

    5 1
    Offshore is very much hit & miss.

    I've never seen it work well for larger projects(multi million), and I've personally got a lot of work from cleaning up the mess that an offshore team has left, when a client has realised that it wasn't working.

    I've seen many larger clients onshore a previously offshore team, to keep an eye on them and monitor quality, and this is when you see the real mix of ability that you're getting for your money.

    What you often find is that in any given offshore team there will be a handful of decent devs, but the majority are often poor quality engineers who may also not speak any/much English. Not surprising when you consider that anyone who is decent is likely to move abroad where there is plenty of work, working conditions are much better and pay rates are much higher.

    People often focus on the technical deficiencies, but personally I think one of the biggest issues in IT(in general) is comms related. It's bad enough if everyone speaks the same language and is in the same room, never mind if there is a language barrier and/or if people are physically separate.

    Personally, I'd be happy to use offshore, but only if the requirements are completely nailed down. And even then I'd insist on staggered deliverables and monitor the quality regularly. But I can only do that because I'm also technically proficient and able to assess what they've produced. If it was the first time using them, I'd probably give them something small/cheap to test them out with.

    Opting for someone in the UK is no guarantee of success either; plenty of poor quality UK devs out there. It's just less risky due to no language barrier and the timezone making comms a bit more efficient.
     
    Posted: Dec 18, 2019 By: Wayne Smyth Member since: Nov 11, 2019
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  4. Richbdevs

    Richbdevs UKBF Newcomer Free Member

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    Thanks man, great answer. So if a good local project lead was to be used, or the offshore company was to offer a UK local project manager that did all the liaising and communication, do you think this would be viable?
     
    Posted: Dec 18, 2019 By: Richbdevs Member since: Dec 18, 2019
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  5. zigojacko

    zigojacko I say it how it is Full Member - Verified Business

    3,578 1,138
    Yes. Providing that the UK project manager was also a web developer as well and knew everything needed for the offshore developer to be able to carry out their tasks (big ask).

    If not, then they just end up being a go-between yourself and the offshore developer because they can't accurately relay the instructions or answer any queries that may arise.
     
    Posted: Dec 18, 2019 By: zigojacko Member since: Dec 7, 2009
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  6. Richbdevs

    Richbdevs UKBF Newcomer Free Member

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    Thank you. What are your thoughts on the security and integrity of the projects please? Are there issues with stolen source code / IP, data leaks, personal data and business data leaks etc also? Not be UK or Europe based, they dont need to adhere to GDPR etc.
     
    Posted: Dec 18, 2019 By: Richbdevs Member since: Dec 18, 2019
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  7. WebDesires

    WebDesires UKBF Regular Full Member

    236 41
    Another big problem, how would you ever hold them responsible for anything? Like quite a few above have said, they are cheap and there are reasons, they usually lack responsibility, rush code (messy un-commented un-thought out) and from what I find when clients come to us and need help is they quite often lack even the basic security knowledge when it comes to code leaving websites in particular open to easy exploits.
     
    Posted: Dec 18, 2019 By: WebDesires Member since: Feb 23, 2016
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  8. Wayne Smyth

    Wayne Smyth UKBF Newcomer Free Member

    5 1
    Honestly, I've never personally seen offshore projects succeed to the point where any of those things have become an issue. All the ones I've been aware of have been brought in-house fairly quickly.

    I would expect that anything that they write for you would be re-used on other projects if they can do, regardless of any contract clauses, as they'll know it's not something you could easily police. I've seen this happen with UK dev's too.

    I'd certainly be a lot more reluctant to allow them to run your live system and maintain sensitive data, than I would be with allowing them to develop you a piece of software, for the reasons you mention.

    I would say if you're technically competent and able to assess their work, then use them but keep a close eye on them. If you're not technical, I'd find a local company who you can meet with and vet for the dev work and the ongoing maintenance.

    I wouldn't trust a UK based PM/contact for an offshore team. It certainly makes comms easier, but ultimately they're marking their own homework and they will cover anything up which makes them look bad.
     
    Posted: Dec 18, 2019 By: Wayne Smyth Member since: Nov 11, 2019
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  9. Chris Ashdown

    Chris Ashdown UKBF Legend Free Member

    11,098 2,258
    It would seem that your asking UK developers to tell you the offshore guys are great, so use them instead of ME

    This forum and many others are full of bad news about some UK developers and some good ones

    If you are using UK designers and working with UK contracts then you have a certain amount of comeback and can visit them to check on their work process

    Using a offshore guy for some rather basic software then if you go by good recommendations it may well be fine and much lower cost with a strong contract and payment in stages

    On the other hand you may get burned just like the uk

    A cheap flight may be money well spent to visit a few potential guys in their home country to check out their previous work Mumbai is for instance £700 for a week return not a killer price
     
    Posted: Dec 18, 2019 By: Chris Ashdown Member since: Dec 7, 2003
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  10. gpietersz

    gpietersz UKBF Enthusiast Full Member

    630 124
    Having been on a few different sides on this.

    I have worked for an offshore software company in Sri Lanka that had good developers (a few outright brilliant) who spoke good English (there are a good many people in South Asia whose first language is English), but it was a company that had an excellent image (even better now its owned by the London Stock Exchange Group). The problem is that people there are very sensitive to how prestigious an employer they work there (I imagine its the same across the region as the economic and cultural factors are similar) and very few people will be able to attract that level of people.

    Obviously they only do big projects in a specialist area, mostly doing customised installs of their platform. £1m is a small contract in that world.

    I also know people at another good developer over there, less specialist than my former employer, but again I am pretty sure they only do big projects.

    Speaking good English is a critical skill for a lot of jobs and, as @Wayne Smyth pointed out anyone with both technical skills and good English also has the option of emigrating somewhere better paying.

    Small offshore developers are going get people from the bottom of the barrel.

    I have managed to find good individual offshore subcontractors, but its been a lot of work to sift them out, and I hired a few less good ones in the meantime. My clients who have hired offshore developers themselves have had worse luck (in many cases that is why they hired me) and this applies to Easter Euopean as well as Asian developers.

    The biggest problem is code quality - rushed, copy and paste, uncommented code that is hard to maintain. Its also the biggest problem with UK developers too, but its much worse off-shore.

    Also, beware UK companies that actually have UK sales and off-shore developers!

    No, but if they have access to your data, you are responsible for ensuring that they do. It should be in your contract whether they are offshore or not.

    You should also insist on a UK jurisdiction clause in contracts, but its still a lot easier to enforce a judgement against someone here.


    One of my clients recently found a front end developer with good design as well as technical skills. Unfortunately he turned out to be completely unreliable.
     
    Posted: Dec 21, 2019 By: gpietersz Member since: Sep 10, 2019
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  11. Nighthawk Software

    Nighthawk Software UKBF Contributor Free Member

    54 12
    Outsourcing work is always going to be tricky, regardless of whether its a UK based or foreign company. There's always going to be a handful of great companies, and a handful of awful companies. Whether the ratio is worse in certain areas or not, it's difficult to say.

    As always though, the general rule of "you get what you pay for" always holds true. As someone else alluded to earlier, any good developer will be able to walk in to a job in the western world for a hell of a lot more than what they will make at home, so you end up being left with the dregs from the barrel.

    Do your research first and make sure you are dealing with companies that have a strong reputation and a proven track record of delivering projects of a similar scale and complexity to yours.

    Working with a UK based Project Manager wont make much difference - you're still working with the same people doing the actual work, to the same standards. All you're doing is moving the responsibility for dealing with them from yourself to someone else. If anything this may lead to more issues due to more people being involved, and information not getting passed on to the developers properly.
     
    Posted: Jan 1, 2020 By: Nighthawk Software Member since: Feb 12, 2016
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  12. gpietersz

    gpietersz UKBF Enthusiast Full Member

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    On top of everything else cheap country developers can get good rates at home if they are good. Apart from better jobs (which I mentioned earlier), they can get better rates. I do not know whether that is on the basis of good technical skills, but I suspect its sales skills.

    I recently came across one (using a social contact to look for business) who said their standard rates approx £1,000 for a site using an existing theme and about £3,000 for a customised site, and their client list was entirely in their country.
     
    Posted: Jan 2, 2020 By: gpietersz Member since: Sep 10, 2019
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  13. Aleksander_Gramm

    Aleksander_Gramm UKBF Contributor Free Member

    64 3
    It depends on communication and Project Management skills of a team.

    I know that some people will criticize my opinion but it's just an opinion.

    The rate of developer depends on a location. If a JAVA developer live in SF CA, he earn 200k USD. If a JAVA developer live in Kyiv, he make 60-70k USD. Because to live in California or in Birmingham more expencive than in Kyiv. That is why many Ukranian developers won't relocate and prefer stay in Ukraine. If you earn 20-30k USD in Ukraine, you will be in the premier league. It isn't a big money for Birmingham.

    Certainly we can say as much as we like about bad developers or cultury... but if you search a good developers, you will find good developers. The main mistake of many busineesmen from UK (USA, France or other West countries people) is to search a 'cheapest team'.
     
    Posted: Jan 14, 2020 By: Aleksander_Gramm Member since: Dec 14, 2018
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  14. altteam

    altteam UKBF Newcomer Free Member

    16 4
    I totally agree with Aleksander_Gramm(previous post).
    Many clients are looking for the cheapest developers and of course, they can find them. Usually, it's students who have started to code several months ago and they have no knowledge of any code standards or developers who have no loyal clients because of their bad qualifications. Talented and experienced developers definitely know the world rates for their work and they won't agree to work for peanuts as they have a lot of loyal clients who are satisfied with their work and can recommend them to others. But as they live in counties where life is cheaper (India, Turkey, Ukraine, Belarus, Russia, Latvia and etc.) they can keep up with UK developers and can even be more profitable for the end client.
    To say the truth, our company is always working as an offshore development team with USA and UK clients. We have been even working with UK developers who
     
    Posted: Feb 3, 2020 By: altteam Member since: Feb 3, 2011
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  15. Alison Moore

    Alison Moore UKBF Regular Full Member

    126 13
    I think it depends how technical you are yourself. You can hire offshore developers and that can save money, but unless your spec if 100% accurate and not at all ambiguous or subject to different interpretations, you can't guarantee that you'll receive what you think you have contracted.
     
    Posted: Feb 4, 2020 By: Alison Moore Member since: Aug 4, 2016
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  16. Aleksander_Gramm

    Aleksander_Gramm UKBF Contributor Free Member

    64 3
    Nobody guarantee that you'll receive what you think you have contracted. I know it as client.

    UK agencies hire freelancers or offshore agencies. It is a common practice. And it is a good practice because UK agency solve problems in this approach (affordable price, no cultural difference).
     
    Posted: Feb 4, 2020 By: Aleksander_Gramm Member since: Dec 14, 2018
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  17. gpietersz

    gpietersz UKBF Enthusiast Full Member

    630 124
    Common language and culture help a lot.

    UK agencies who hire offshore developers will add a substantial markup, and often charge the client at UK rates anyway, so the cost advantage can disappear or even reverse.

    There is also a big advantage in dealing with someone in the same legal jurisdiction. What would you do in the circumstances in this thread https://www.ukbusinessforums.co.uk/threads/new-website-crm-£15-800-lost.403594/ if it was an offshore developer?
     
    Posted: Feb 4, 2020 By: gpietersz Member since: Sep 10, 2019
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  18. Aleksander_Gramm

    Aleksander_Gramm UKBF Contributor Free Member

    64 3
    Several months later and after asking several times about the actual design of the site, I was told it was ready to test. This had taken well over 12 months
    Well, I think that explains it. Project plan, agile development and other ways to reduce risks.

    As I wrote "Nobody guarantee that you'll receive what you think you have contracted. I know it as client".

    I imagined this situation for our projects... it is impossible. That would be a very big blow to our agency. One such case has the power to ruin us.
     
    Posted: Feb 4, 2020 By: Aleksander_Gramm Member since: Dec 14, 2018
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  19. altteam

    altteam UKBF Newcomer Free Member

    16 4
    Yes. On the one hand, it is a plus. In case there are any conflicts with the agency, you can go to court and it will be easier to go into litigation with the company that placed in your country. But how often do you have to use your right of the court?

    Also, bad reviews and official complaints to the company's partners are a powerful tool of penalty. I know one web agency that had been lowered in all partner's ratings, had lost their golden status and big discounts for partner's products because of one client complaint. And the client was absolutely right in that situation! The web agency was almost ruined.

    Usually, the reputation takes a lifetime to build and it costs more expensive than 1 client project.
    Such companies choose to make a refund than to get a bad review.
     
    Posted: Feb 4, 2020 By: altteam Member since: Feb 3, 2011
    #19
  20. Chris Ashdown

    Chris Ashdown UKBF Legend Free Member

    11,098 2,258
    Lets not get carried away by being very clever British people, Do not British firms not deliver, screw up completely and close down when awarded costs to their clients for being useless

    Its easy to knock the competition to make ourselves look great and perfect
     
    Posted: Feb 5, 2020 By: Chris Ashdown Member since: Dec 7, 2003
    #20