Offshore programmer vs dedicated UK-based developer

Offshore programmer vs dedicated UK-based developer

With a new project on the table, choosing the right software developer is critical to success. Hiring or maintaining a complete in-house team is often not an option. This leaves you with a choice of working with an offshore developer or working with a dedicated developer closer to home who will partner with you long term.

Cost will always be a big factor in your decision. The figure on the quote is one thing: are you also clear about the potential for hidden costs? The experience, technical skillsets, project management capabilities and ongoing support from your chosen partner will affect not just the quality of what’s delivered, but also whether or not hidden costs arise later.

As an example of hidden costs, a medical company ran into trouble using Microsoft Visual SourceSafe (which they’d been using locally with no problem) with their remote development teams in India. It was taking remote teams 13 hours to access updates on the source code and with the time difference, the developers were a full day behind. Fran Schmidt, the executive who led the project, estimates it took six months to recover and get the project back on track. (Reference: see Outsourcing Horror No.1 in this article published by InfoWorld).

In this post we take a look at how an offshore programmer may compare to a dedicated partnership so that you can decide which one is right for your project.

A developer who works with you should be ready to understand your overarching business objectives, so they can tailor their output towards fully realising the value it will add for your business.

Experience and technical skillsets

This should be one the most important factors when choosing a developer but may be shaped by your own in-house technical competency. If you already have a high level and breadth of skill in-house, and an almost complete understanding of the scope and potential scope of your project, offshore development can offer an attractive option. You will be responsible for preparing a precise brief and the chances are your offshore developer will deliver exactly on brief at what appears to be a cost-effective price.

However, in our experience, when you start a new project, you may have a clear idea of what you need to achieve and when by. But if you haven’t got the necessary in-house expertise, you may not be aware of:

  • The different approaches available.
  • The hidden potential (or drawbacks) of those different approaches.
  • What issues others in your field or industry may have experienced.
  • Areas where costs savings may be possible short term.
  • Where spending a little more is advisable in order to achieve long term efficiencies.

In short, an offshore developer may often unquestioningly deliver on brief, whereas a dedicated developer who works with you as a partner is likely to push back and challenge aspects of the brief, making suggestions and drawing on similar industry experience to advise. A developer who works with you on a long-term basis should have an understanding of the overall objectives of your business, and where this project fits in to that picture. The result is often a project that doesn’t just meet the brief but delivers more potential and value. There are often significant costs savings to be made with this approach both long and short term.

Project management

Offshore developers may already have the required skillset for your project, or they may be able to collaborate with other offshore providers who do. Because they’re offshore, they can often do so at a very attractive cost.

However, offshore provision can cause issues with project management and the chances are, as the client, you will need to be much more involved, which of course comes at a cost for your time. You may be left trying to coordinate workflows, write strategy, issue instructions and ensure deadlines are met. This can be even more challenging if you’re managing different time zones and cultures, compared to a closer partnership, where your developers will take responsibility for full delivery of the project.

What’s more, although most developers are very competent in their field, if you operate in a highly regulated space, offshore developers may not be fully familiar with unique industry compliance and regulatory requirements that you need to comply with, and they may not have the processes in place to support accreditation. You may also find yourself with additional confidentiality and data protection issues.

By contrast, a UK based software developer will nearly always take full responsibility for project management and delivery, and a developer with experience of your industry will understand your regulatory requirements.

Support into the future

Almost every project will require ongoing management and support and there may be future development required as your project evolves. Look very closely at what is on offer in terms of this from your offshore developer and at what cost, and ensure you are confident that you’ll be able to rehire the same team in future. Ideally, you want a developer who always has a keen eye on future development so there is no need to reinvent the wheel when the time comes.

A dedicated UK provider like us, provide ongoing support, whether that is in respect of fixing any bugs, ensuring you’re confident in using the software, or ensuring your project can be scaled up or developed in an efficient way.


Finally, back to cost.

It’s only when you factor in the above that you can put cost into context.

It’s true that offshore outsourcing may offer lower costs and may even be faster to market. But short-term costs savings are often a false economy and can leave you with a solution that incurs unforeseen costs. These can be in the form of problems, delays or costly fixes and also opportunity costs where your software output doesn’t properly meet your requirements; falls short of its full potential or cannot be scaled.

If you’d like to find out more about our services and the ongoing support we offer, please get in touch.