A different kind of offshore
As a business operating at the forefront of software development, we faced a significant challenge several years ago: one that forced us to rethink our operating model fundamentally.
Having secured £1m+ of VC backing into a platform we’d developed, we realised just how difficult securing the right expertise to see it through was. The hard way.
Struggling to build teams using traditional recruiters, we addressed our supply challenge head-on. In so doing, we embraced – and remodelled -the concept of offshoring.
What is offshoring?
Simply put, offshoring refers to the relocation of business processes from one territory to another to create efficiencies in the production chain.
In the 1960s, manufacturing was the first industry transformed by shifting operations overseas, with significant increases in profitability driven by the lower wages and a less restrictive regulatory environment found in those countries able to meet the demand.
As the global communications infrastructure improved throughout the 90s, the diversity of operations that businesses could relocate increased.
No longer was it just physical production that companies could outsource; they could deliver service-based processes remotely, too. As a result, offshore customer support centres became ubiquitous. However, they soon attracted a degree of disdain from users, with language barriers often compounding already challenging situations.
And over the last two decades, as the world adopted internet connectivity, it was inevitable that digital development would ultimately find itself untethered from physical locations: which led to the emergence of global hubs of technical development resources in Eastern Europe, Latin America and Asia.
And what are the benefits?
Historically, one of the primary benefits of using an offshore development resource was its potential to reduce costs significantly: it was cheaper to pay developers based in Eastern Europe or Asia than those in the UK.
And whilst that idea still holds water, increased demand for tech talent has had a knock-on effect upon the rates offshore developers can attract.
But, as we’ve found, the benefits of working with a remote team of developers go far beyond simple economics.
- Access to knowledge, skills and talent – technology hubs such as Mumbai offer a gateway to highly-skilled development professionals with a diverse range of expertise.
- Faster project turnaround – managed correctly, operating across different time zones can supercharge productivity. As one shift completes, another is ready to pick up the baton.
- Flexibility – rather than grow a salaried development team with a fixed skillset, offshored software development allows companies to scale capacity as and when it’s required.
- Increased strategic focus – with less time spent worrying about day-to-day operations, leaders can focus on achieving their vision for the business.
Why would people object?
Sadly, it’s clear that some of the negative perceptions around the earlier applications of offshoring have influenced how remote digital development is perceived now.
For example, perceptions linger that such practices are exploitative, with staff under-paid and subjected to long working days. There are concerns about language barriers (“What if they just don’t get what we need?”), and how issues arising from them could easily cause project costs to escalate: negating the lower staff rates promised by offshoring.
Of course, practical considerations also impact how the offshoring of software development is perceived. For example, some might think that team management at a distance makes communication a significant challenge and leads to a loss of control.
And perhaps the most unfair perception of a remote development option is that the quality of the work delivered wouldn’t match the standards on offer through a locally-based team.
But, as we’ve found, none of these concerns are reflected in reality.
Our experience surpassed our expectations.
When we started developing our remote team offer, several things stood out to us about the workforce in our chosen location, Mumbai.
First, the sheer range of technical skills and experience available genuinely surprised us: Mumbai is a vastly populated city that’s served by a solid education system, meaning its talent pool is second-to-none.
It wasn’t just the current technology stacks that our new colleagues were proficient in, either. We also found developers with deep knowledge of legacy technologies. And that’s particularly useful when we’re sunsetting older systems.
Further, every team member we brought into our operation came to us with the same strong work ethic. To borrow from a phrase from our Manchester team, they were “proper grafters.”
So we built a culture that embraced it.
Understanding the potential in basing our engine room in Mumbai, we wanted to shatter any remaining myths around offshoring: creating an environment that respected and developed our team there.
We started by defining the fundamental culture of the team. So rather than treating it as separate from our UK offices, we fully integrated our Mumbai unit into our existing operation. There were no expectations of long working hours, a fair approach to remuneration, and a consistent set of conditions across the business.
We wanted people to stay around, to grow with us. We empowered team members to take ownership over projects, demonstrate initiative in their solutions, and made them feel wholly valued across the business. And, of course, training and career progression become a critical part of our commitment to them, too.
Our Manchester office took on the day-to-day responsibility for client and project management, liaising between our customers and our development team to ensure complete clarity on the tasks at hand.
And with the development team 5.5 hours ahead of our UK business, we were able to shorten the delivery time for projects, with our UK and Mumbai teams effectively operating in relay.
A team you can rely on, always.
So now we employ a 40+ team of trusted colleagues in our Mumbai office, each committed to the long-term success of our clients. With a flexible approach, they can help you deliver individual projects or flex your entire team.
But however you work with them, you can be sure you’re getting the very best skills for the challenges your business face.