Offshore software development is something that has grown increasingly popular over the past 20 years. Many companies are turning to overseas talent in order to spread their bandwidth, access hard-to-find skill sets, create better software faster, and lower overall costs.
It is not uncommon for companies to not only need software development help to create new products, but to also seek out capable technical staff to maintain programs that already exist. While there are many benefits to working with offshore employees, success relies heavily on things like day-to-day project management, overall communication skills and employee retention.
Nearshore software developers working for IT outsourcing companies are responsible for many tasks including custom software, web design, project documentation, information architecture, QA testing, and fixing issues or bugs as they arise. Because the idea of offshore software development is becoming increasingly commonplace, it is helpful to understand some of the important trends and changes happening within this growing industry.
Here are 3 significant trends influencing offshore software development:
- A Turn Towards “Nearshore” Help: In the beginning, many companies were looking for offshore technical talent in countries located on the other side of the world. These offshore software developers were often from places like India or China. Now, many companies are realizing that there is an enormous amount of technical talent much closer to U.S. shores in places like Latin America. Many Latin American countries, including Costa Rica, are proving to offer an excellent nearshore alternative to more traditional offshore outsourcing.
- Increased Daily Communication Between Team Members: In the past, the waterfall approach to software development was most popular. This meant that offshore developers would often work individually to create the assigned project. Then, they would deliver the finished piece of software. All of this often happened without a lot of regular, on-going communication. In more recent years, the shift towards the agile methodology for software development has made regular (even daily) communication between US-based and offshore developers more important. This is becoming increasingly popular and easy with the use of helpful tools like Skype and Google Hangout.
- Building Long-term Relationships: Many software development companies are increasingly focused on long-term or ongoing work, rather than short-term “project-based work.” An increasing number of offshore IT outsourcing companies are looking to develop relationships with U.S. companies who are looking to grow with an offshore partner, rather than simply seek assistance sporadically. Choosing an offshore development company that places special emphasis on the importance of regular project updates and daily communication may be necessary, especially when using an agile approach.
These three trends described above are driven by a variety of factors, facilitated in large part by the growing popularity of agile software development. The agile approach features a different leadership style focused on collaborative, self-organizing, cross-functional teams. This approach also emphasizes the value of testing throughout the development process so that product changes and adjustments can be more easily implemented during development.
Given the success of the agile approach, it is perhaps not surprising that it is creating significant changes in the nature of offshore software development. It is likely that technology trends and innovations will continue to drive future changes in the way that many business processes are conducted, in the realm of technology, and in other areas of business too.