Analysing offshore development

I have read in the last time a couple of articles about offshore development and all of them seem to spread the same fears. Moreover all of them were written from the point of view of a consultant. After some thinking I must say that I cannot agree with some of their points, and I will detail this upon the article Consider The Total Picture for Offshore Development.

The main article argument (against offshore development) is directly the financial one. But, it is very hard for me to believe that some company financial dept. will miss this computation and so involving offshore dev will result in fact in a financial loss.
The computation made is based on the fact that offshore development implies the increase of the work done in the originator company. The over costs involved are: detailing the specifications, proximity to the customer, industry know-how, etc. All of these arguments seem to me pretty fake. Why? Let’s take them one by one and see.

  • Detailing specifications. A specification can be understandable and usable from the beggining in which case a good developer will be able to use it correctly, but in many cases the specifications are changing/improving during the project life cycle. These changes are adopted mainly after technical meetings. I cannot see a real problem having a face-to-face or a phone conference in order to establish some further steps. Moreover, some trips of the decision guys cannot brake the project budget.
  • Proximity to the customer. Hmmm, I do not think that a developer is in fact responsible with this. The marketing guys have this job and many times they do it much better than a developer may wish to do it. A company which base its relations to the customers on developers does not seem to be a serious company. You cannot ask a developer to sell.
  • Industry know-how. When involving offshore development it is not required to use entry level developers. I am quite sure that an experienced and well chosen developer will be able to understand the target of the product on which he is working.

Concluding on aboves I can say that it seems that not the real costs are the problem of offshore dev. Based on my experience I can say that the problems may come from other places:

  • communication deficiencies (easily solved if a correct location is chosen)
  • cultural differences (same as above)
  • national interests/subjective reasons (the IT market in the originated country is decreasing closing too many positions).

Finally, I can proudly tell that I was involved in many international projects which represented great successes (both from the point of view of the originating company and the final customers). I think the offshore development is a good solution for the companies which know how to work in a multi-national environment and in many cases will result in a big success.

Update: I think I should grow up this entry and post it somewhere else to counterbalance the criticism.

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