Offshore Website DevelopmentOffshore Website Development is widely used service by creative digital agencies, web design companies, ecommerce consultants and many individual freelancers from UK, US, Australia and Europe and the most popular destinations are India and China. It offers opportunities for cost savings and business growth however it can also increase risk of inability to deliver good quality website development, costs and overall project expectation. This article will highlight and identifies issues and risks attached with offshore website development and suggestions how to manage them and get more positive results.

Inadequate planning and management of risk in offshore website development is a major reason for project and business relationship failure. It is very important to realize upfront that the system will be developed by a team of people from multiple countries, speaking different languages (although English is the basic communication medium), separated by time and distance. Advances and availability of modern communication methods such as Skype, emails, video conferencing, social networking etc has helped in bringing onshore and offshore teams closure by creating a virtual working environment but it has been observed that differences in business culture (psychology), organizational behaviour, project management process and communication in global business environment has it’s limitations.

Few Major Risks and Suggestions to Overcome Them

1. Selection process of right company

Things can go completely wrong, frustrating and you may be let down in front of your client if you have made a mistake of working with a wrong company.

Risk Management suggestion

  • Check the history of the company.
  • Examples and portfolio.
  • Client references and testimonials.
  • Check code quality. Request for sample functionality code.
  • How do they perform on phone and any initial communication? Do you feel confident in getting answers to your questions? Do you feel sure that your understanding has been well read?

2. Project Scope, Estimation and Project Planning

Since both onshore and offshore team are placed at different locations, different time zones and different business culture, it is highly important to ensure that project requirement are well understood, time estimation and cost estimation are mutually agreed and milestones – target are discussed upfront.

Risk Management Suggestion

  • Document functionality and designs- wireframes very clearly.
  • Video, Skype or phone conference for project discussion can help in understanding how well both teams understand the project requirement.
  • Email minutes of meeting to avoid future conflicts and record all project communication before the project is awarded and started.
  • Ask offshore companies if they have development terms and conditions. If not prepare points such as technical guidelines, development server environment, quality expectations, change requests handling, bug fixing guarantee, support, deadline punctuality etc.

3. Development Costs Agreement

Although the main aim of using an offshore website development company is to have cost savings you may find that the overall timeline estimations for project development may be inflated compared to using onshore development team. Hourly or daily rate for offshore team may be considerably less however if the development time is more sometimes there may not be lot of total cost difference. And clearly agree on total development costs, scope of work, payment phases and how the delivery of code transfer will be managed.

Risk Management Suggestion

  • Avoid agreeing on time and material contracts.
  • Define phases and milestones for payments.
  • Check if any taxes or transaction charges are application. Normally bank transfer charges or PayPal charges have to be paid by onshore company.

4. Project Management and Communication

Offshore teams are more often becoming an extended arm of onshore team. Team work is required however since there is no face to face communication collaborative effort using virtual communication and project management tools can do wonders. An efficient development process minimizing the risks is what is required. A dedicated Project Manager both at both ends.

Risk Management suggestion

  • Dedicated Onshore and Offshore Project Manager.
  • Usage of online Project Management tools such as ‘BASECAMP’ can help in setting up project tasks, set timelines, keep project documentation at one location, bug fixing and bug tracking can be managed more efficiently.
  • Regular phone or video conference to check project progress and assure that your team is on right track as per the agreed scope of work.

5. Quality Control

This is the most critical point when involved with offshore website Development Company. Lot of bad experiences will be echoed related to the quality of work. Quality of project management method, procedures and tools – in short the overall development process will highly influence overall quality of website development. It’s always better to document minute quality requirements to avoid conflicts.

Risk Management suggestion

  • Prepare a technical guideline if you want the offshore team to work accordingly and if possible arrange a call or training session to go through it.
  • Browser Compatibility and testing on various systems and versions should be documented.
  • Prefer to use development teams with certifications to ensure that code development is done as by industry standard best practices.

It has been observed that outsourcing of web development work has been more successful when onshore teams take responsibility of documenting, defining and designing while the offshore teams take forward the technical development based on the guidelines supplied to them. Companies which are successful in demonstrating high level of communication, industry standard code development, flexibility in payment terms and quickly respond to support or urgent issues – are more successful and like to gain more recommendations and repeat business.