Challenges of IT Staff Offshore

Challenges of IT Staff Offshore

Staffs move offshore

In recent years, many companies have opted to send their software development offshore.  One of the key reasons for doing so is to reduce operational costs.  However, like anything, there is more to it.  There is more to sending software development and other IT needs offshore.

There are a number of risks involved that  are inherent to having software development teams offshore.  These risks are over and above the risks  of in house development back home.   Often times these risks, if not mitigated, result in increased expenditures and thus no reduction in operational expenses.

Let’s take a look at some key risks involved and considerations before making the move offshore.

Location, Location, Location

First, choosing the right location is key.  With companies overseas, it is often difficult to determine the best location that will yield the best results. Fully understanding the risks involved… such as level of expertise, the number of available staff, and when staff are available… is critical to success. Choosing the right supplier, capabilities and looking at past performance is also critical before making a decision to go offshore.  Oftentimes, this is not considered in great detail, and results are impacted shortages in these areas.

International barriers can oftentimes impact the success of a project.  This means that cultural differences, differences in work approach, and communication, can impede the progress. This is especially true in software development.  Having a clear path, a clearly defined set of processes, that local and offshore teams align, is critical to driving a successful project.

Passing It Along

Additionally there can be a lack of knowledge transfer when projects are offshore.  One reason is the distance between where the actual work is performed and the ability to visually confirm, inspect, and evaluate how processes are being followed.  The lack of direct involvement by local teams makes it a challenge to really know the details of a software deliverable.   One way to mitigate this is to utilize highly detailed software development requirements and specifications.  Doing so allows for the evaluation and measurement to a clear set of requirements and deliverables.  Thus these documents can be used as documentation by the onshore team and as a basis for knowledge.

Don’t Forget Security

A highly critical item is security.  In some cases, highly sensitive customer information may be involved in the system development.  This information may be maintained in a database offshore.  One must have highly detailed security requirements and expectations. There is a risk that this information could be exposed during the software development process.

Other key factors, and even pushback to offshoring, are comments such as “it was a logistical nightmare” or “the quality was poor”. Another said “we couldn’t get on the same page with process discipline”.  These are all critical factors and issues that can be mitigated by focusing on the items in this article, and giving consideration to the recommendations made here.

Offshoring, by definition reduces the direct control of a project from the onshore team.  Yet having strong processes in place, aligned with the team overseas will go a long way toward a successful project.   Having and keeping detailed requirements and system specifications, whether a software deliverable or a hardware deliverable, again, will mitigate the risk and support a more positive outcome.

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