How To Choose The Right Offshore Software Development Company

Emilien Coquard
6 min readFeb 25, 2019

Today, technology is advancing and evolving at a dizzyingly fast rate, making it almost impossible to keep up. While leveraging these advances can give you an opportunity to scale your business and increase profits, staying on top of the ever-expanding market can be quite a task.

With companies striving to stay ahead in this technological rat race, offshore software development has gained significant momentum. Through offshoring, companies in the US and Europe get access to talented engineers in emerging technology nations like India. These engineers build software- without any compromise on quality — at a comparatively cheaper cost.

However, unlike your on-site developers, you won’t be able to take your offshore employees out for a couple of beers to celebrate a great year or corner them at their desk when you need something done. In fact, you’re very likely to hire people you might only see once or twice a year. Establishing a meaningful connection with these employees; managing them and making sure they deliver great work, can be tricky. This is where an offshore software development company comes into the picture.

This means partnering with a company whose specific role is building the perfect offshore team on your behalf and taking care of the administration while you focus on running the business. The result isn’t a shady collection of cheap outsourced talent; it’s a close-knit team of exceptional developers who are an extension of your existing workforce.

So how do you choose the right offshore software development company ?

Start by defining what you really want

Before you go headhunting potential companies and signing contracts, make sure you really know what you want to gain from offshoring. Consider putting together a written proposal that outlines your specific goals and metrics, the kind of projects you want to offshore, your capacity and growth targets, existing issues — basically anything you think is relevant to the project.

This is crucial preparation for when you sit down to talk with offshore software development companies. You’ll have a crystal-clear view of your expectations in terms of team size, skill level, and other key details, which means you can precisely communicate your needs to the offshoring company.

You can then press them about their ability to deliver this kind of project, their past successes, and focus on making sure they are the right fit for you — and not the other way round. By evaluating this, you can more easily assess how suitable the offshoring company appears for your business.

Given the ever-increasing competition in building offshore development teams (not to be confused with outsourcing, which is about hiring individuals to plug temporary gaps) it’s not always easy to find someone you can trust.

While cost is an important factor when leveraging non-Western talent, hiring based on the cheapest rates is never a smart move. Today more than ever, even ‘years of experience’ isn’t a fool-proof guarantee of success: having decades of experience under the belt doesn’t mean the work is worth it.

At the end of the day, it’s a balance. What matters most is finding a company that can actually build a world-class offshore development team for your business — and that means a company that’s done it all before.

It’s all about demonstrable experience

If you’re in the room with companies who can’t showcase their successful history delivering offshore teams, then walk out of it. References from colleagues or acquaintances are useful, where possible, but an impressive portfolio is key.

At the least, you should expect to see a range of detailed case studies which highlight their ability to solve problems and deliver top-quality results. This lets you know they’re legitimate, and you can progress talks from there.

Investigate management capabilities and cultural fit

Management pioneer Peter Drucker once said management is doing things right. While many ‘offshore software development companies’ out there know the right things to say, there are very few who can actually do them.

To guarantee success, it’s crucial not to partner with a company that’s flying by the seat of their pants. You might have an incredible vision for your company, but clumsy execution will always hamstring it. Taking into account the unique logistical challenges (time zones and geographical distance), coupled with language and culture differences, strong management and guidance become essential.

Choose a partner that you can trust to manage all the administration tasks with due diligence. Ask directly what makes their management capability robust and reliable, and for evidence of their experience delivering effective offshore teams for previous customers.

For example, a European software company might want to leverage Indian engineering talent but work directly with European management, to guarantee cultural compatibility.

Evaluate cost-effectiveness, not cost

One way or another, every business solution eventually comes down to cost. Even when the cost seems immaterial, there’s a ceiling somewhere which can’t be breached. If you’re building an offshore development team, it’s about getting access to the best possible talent into your business — but at the most affordable price.

Because the cost of living is lower in countries like India and Ukraine, every offshoring partner is going to offer you lower rates than the equivalent back home in western Europe or the US. The key is assessing which constitutes the best value. For example, company X might charge 50% more than company Y but deliver results that are 3x better — more cost, but higher return.

We already mentioned case studies, and these results can be a good barometer of value. However, you also need to assess the management and staff within the company: do you feel confident in letting them help build out your business?

Then get specific with a thorough discussion of the costs. Ask about quotes, timelines, and how the company handles unforeseen costs during the project. Is it a fixed fee every month, or variable? The right partner will be able to supply all the answers without hesitation.

Prioritise long-term goals and strategy

Working with an offshore software development company means you are looking at the long-term. There are short-term milestones, of course, but as you’re integrating a full-time, permanent team into your business, the focus must be on the future.

Since typical offshore contracts run for years, your partner should not only understand your current business needs but also those you are anticipating in two years, five years, even ten years’ time. You need a partner who offers flexibility and adaptability as standard and is able to instigate changes within your remote team without broader disruption to the company.

When looking at the future, the recruitment strategy becomes crucial. You need world-class developers, but you need them to be invested in your company for the long-term. That’s what top quality offshoring is: a permanent workforce which is wholly and completely devoted to, and employed by, your company.

And that’s what we do. The Scalers is an offshore software development company whose entire focus is around two principles: building the most effective team possible for our customers while making the entire process as easy as working with a colleague next door.