Outsourcing development is a relatively common practice: big companies have been sending development jobs overseas to contractors for years. But the results are not always exactly what you might expect. For many startups, the development work that they can do in house or locally (even with a crazy workload) can be dramatically better than what they can get by outsourcing.
What Are You Selling?
If you’re bootstrapping a technology startup, you probably have some serious technical skills. If that’s what you’re best at, why would you outsource doing that sort of work? Development is likely your core competency — the area in which you can outshine the competition. Handing off the ability to get ahead just doesn’t make sense on a fundamental level.
Furthermore, you care about your ideas. There are parts of running your company that are boring and it makes sense to hand those off to someone else. But actually executing the idea you set out to create is something that you need to stay involved in.
The Communications Issue
The ability to communicate with the people you hire is one of the most common issues in outsourcing. Even if you outsource to a country that officially speaks the same language you’re fluent in, communication difficulties are common. The differences in jargon and idioms alone can cause major issues, but when you add in the inability to easily ask questions if you and your team are in dramatically different time zones, communication seems impossible.
When Outsourcing Makes Sense
Just because outsourcing development work isn’t a panacea that will solve all your problems, there are situations in which it can work. In order to localize a project, handing it off to someone who actually lives and works in the audience you’re trying to reach makes perfect sense.
You can head off some of the problems that go along with outsourcing, especially if you can invest some time into creating an in-depth plan. It does take a lot of work, though, so make sure that outsourcing really is your best option before jumping into it.
Image by Flickr user Kuster & Wildhaber Photography