The Problem with Offshoring IT

Over the past 15 years or so, there has been a continued push, until recently, to cut information technology costs, especially in software development, to the bare bones through offshoring – the practice of shifting labor-intensive work to countries where very few, if any, minimum wage standards exist and average income per capita is a mere fraction of that in the U.S. However, what too few understand and what most who have made this mistake have learned is that the costs saved in lower hourly rates on the front-end are gained back (and then some) by having to often deal with a lack of communication, a misunderstanding of your requirements, and inherently poor quality put forth by underpaid and under-qualified personnel.

I say “until recently” above because things are gradually changing. Companies once tripping over one another to move their operations abroad have now been dealing with not only the aforementioned side effects but also the issues of rampant intellectual property theft and other security concerns. This is slowly, but steadily, creating a rebirth of on-shored work. We’ve even encountered offshored projects wherein code has been simply copied from one client to the next, even though each had paid for their own custom solution. While this could happen anywhere, there are far more protections in place locally to deter these activities.

You see, shipping your codebase and intellectual property to a minimum-wage vendor in another country is essentially asking for theft, especially in the case of small businesses without the global legal reach of the Fortune 500. It is all but assured that key pieces of your system, that you pay for, will be re-used for the benefit of the offshoring company, as we have seen many times. This is mainly due to the lack of legal oversight and avenues for legal remedy between countries. Using an on-shore developer is a crucial aspect in maintaining secure oversight of and protection for your intellectual property.

Beyond legal implications, there are often issues of quality assurance. When you pay pennies on the dollar for developers, you are getting the equivalent quality. If it sounds too good to be true when you find a “well qualified” company or individual for 1/5th the cost of an in-country counterpart, it is. These developers, in some countries abroad, work in the technical equivalent of sweatshop conditions at times where they are pushed to churn out barely-working, buggy code without thought of the long term supportability, security or quality.

After all, it’s not their problem once it’s delivered – it’s yours. You are ultimately responsible to your end-users for ensuring that the application delivered will not breach business-critical data. Without the adequate legal protections of using an in-country development team, there is no way to ensure you’re getting a quality result without additionally hiring a local quality assurance team. This would only serve to bring costs in line to where they would have been originally had an entire local team been utilized from the beginning. So why go the offshore route at all? Truth is, there are fewer and fewer reasons to do so and many companies are now realizing this. The old adage most certainly rings true here – you get what you pay for.

There is only one tried and true way to ensure the ultimate quality and security of your product, and that is to utilize a team of talented, background-cleared in-country developers and technicians who have a deep desire to obtain total client satisfaction and not a rigid goal to simply churn out more code, however poor or vulnerable, in questionable conditions. You need someone who will be available at your beck and call, a partner who understands the requirements of your project at every level and offers iron-clad protections for your intellectual property while guaranteeing prevention of common software vulnerabilities. That’s a level of White Glove Service you’ll only find locally.

One thought on “The Problem with Offshoring IT

  1. Pingback: 1p – The Problem of Offshoring IT – Blog

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