- Nearshore indicates a foreign country somewhat close to home, whereas offshore simply means a country further away
- A more globalized world means that language and cultural barriers are less significant than ever before
- Differing time zones can work to a company’s advantage, especially when the offshore partner is an expert at managing them
In the wild world of the second decade of the 21st century, it’s easier than ever to find software developers for all varieties of work. While this may appear to simplify people’s lives, it often does the opposite due to the bewildering array of choices. Consider, for example, the cereal aisle in a modern grocery store, which isn’t often compared to software. Choosing the right cereal can take forever if you have no frame of reference, and choice overload can lead to mental paralysis. The same is true for selecting software developers: Even figuring out where to start can be overwhelming. Should you hire onshore or look abroad? If you’re looking abroad, should you choose nearshore outsourcing or offshore outsourcing? What’s the difference between nearshore vs offshore, anyway? How do you navigate these many choices without pulling your hair out?
There’s a lot riding on a software hiring decision. Indeed, choosing the right development team can be the difference between a successful and an unsuccessful project. Narrowing down your hiring choices by geographic location is a valuable step in figuring out just who to hire.
So, let’s explore the differences in nearshore software development vs offshore software development as well as why one might choose to outsource in the first place. Spoiler alert: We’re going to recommend Vietnam (and ourselves, of course). But more on that later.
Getting Definitions Clear: Nearshore vs Offshore vs Onshore
First things first: Let’s make sure we’re all clear on definitions and working terms. Onshore outsourcing, which we won’t be discussing in any great detail here, is simply hiring a team within your own country to perform a service you don’t want to or can’t do with an in-house team.
Nearshore outsourcing is hiring a team from a nearby country. For the UK or European countries, examples of nearshore outsourcing destinations could be Poland, Ukraine, Romania, or other countries in Eastern Europe. For the US or Canada, Mexico or other Latin American countries are good examples. Whatever the case, nearshore outsourcing means hiring in a nearby country with a time zone that’s relatively close to the home country.
Offshore outsourcing is looking further afield for a team to hire. Perhaps the most common form of outsourcing over the past several decades has been that of manufacturing moving to China. In the software world, Asia has drawn much of the offshore attention. Countries like India, Pakistan, and — ahem, Vietnam — are very popular examples of offshore software hotspots.
Nearshore vs Offshore: Assumed Differences
Although high-quality software development can be found anywhere in the world these days, many companies choose to stay close to home when hiring. Managers may decide that minimizing cultural differences and language barriers are paramount to good communication. At the same time (no pun intended), a similar time zone can be attractive since one can assume the outsourcing partner is working essentially the same hours as the hiring company. These are some of the common arguments in favor of nearshore outsourcing.
Because offshore outsourcing simply means looking further afield, some may assume that the cultural differences and language barriers may be greater than those closer to home. Some of this thinking comes from a tendency to favor the familiar as well as a fear of disrupting the development process. It also comes from old thinking that’s not necessarily accurate anymore.
One fine example is that the level of English (the international language of software, much to the chagrin of many non-native speakers) may be assumed to be worse in Asian countries than in Eastern European ones. And while this may have been true 20 years ago, the last two decades have been witness to enormous economic, educational, and cultural strides all across east and Southeast Asia.
Dispelling Myths about Offshore Outsourcing
Full disclosure: We’d love to convince you to consider offshore software development rather than nearshore development. Our motivating factor here is that SmartDev’s development center is located in Vietnam, a country with a massive and growing talent pool — one that we rely on to be the lifeblood of our company.As mentioned above, there are three myths that may stymy the hiring of an offshore team in favor of a nearshore team. In no particular order, these myths are:
- Nearshore teams have more cultural and linguistic similarities with their partner, so confusion in communication can be avoided.
- Timezone differences are of paramount importance, and working with a team in a very different time zone can hinder progress.
- Cost savings are relatively similar, whether the team hired is in Poland or Mexico or Vietnam.
The header above indicates that we’re keen to dispel these myths. Want to see how? Let’s go through them one by one and see how these assumptions can be corrected.
Cultural and linguistic differences: Totally manageable when managed right
We certainly understand how the notion of a neighboring country’s similarity to one’s own can be appealing. But globalization has led to a vast, worldwide cultural convergence — and it’s best exemplified in the tech sector. No matter what part of the world your development team is in, they’ll use the same coding languages, frequent the same forums to discuss problems and ideas, and essentially operate with the same mindset.
The worldwide dominance of English as a working language has led software teams everywhere to follow the same script. Indeed, the spread of English as a lingua franca has brought people closer together than ever, though the irony of the terminology is certainly not lost on us.
In addition to improving levels of English in basically every corner of the world, having some members of a managerial team come from Western countries can help bridge any cultural divides in communication. A mixture of local and foreign managers works very well for us, for example.
Time Zone Differences: Not such a big deal
The draw of a nearby time zone can be a significant one, and we get why. However, having a team that’s ahead of you in time can be quite beneficial for a company. Waking up to an inbox of completed projects and progress reports can help boost efficiency. On top of that, knowing that your offshore team is working on the project while you sleep is a comforting feeling. Geographical proximity isn’t much of a barrier when the product is software, which doesn’t have to be shipped.
Purchasing power leads to lower costs
Salaries in Vietnam have increased significantly over the past two decades, and that’s both a cause and a result of the country’s near-miraculous economic success. At the same time, the cost of living has remained low — so developers can live a very comfortable lifestyle here on what still makes for a lower hourly rate than can be found in other countries.
We at SmartDev believe in paying our talent well, since they’re the ones that make the gears of this company turn. In fact, we’re here more because of the outstanding talent in the country than because of labor costs. The cost of labor just happens to be a nice cost savings we can pass on to our clients.
The difference in savings between hiring offshore vs nearshore can be significant. Savings are even more dramatic when compared to onshore software development.
Considering looking offshore?
If you’re considering outsourcing software development, look no further. We’re right here: a full-fledged software development team with outstanding talent. Our blend of European and Vietnamese skills and values makes us accessible to our clients everywhere, and we’re quite proud of what we’ve accomplished. Whether you’re a startup, a fully-grown company, or anything in between, we’re here to help.
So, want to see what it’s like to work with us? Reach out to us and we’ll be thrilled to chat with you and see if we’re a good fit. Whatever your outsourcing model is and whether you’re looking for custom software, a mobile app, or more, we’ve got a way to make it work for you.