Offshoring comes with considerable risk, especially for a startup, and even more so for projects that have no comparison in the marketplace. Unlike local development, there are issues, such as language, culture, communication, time zones and culpability, which can and will impact a project's delivery.
For me, it came down to three fundamentals: capability, culpability, and visitation,
To minimize risk, I conducted about a dozen Skype meetings in order to identify two to three developers that suited my needs. I needed a developer who was capable of bringing together the features and functions my project required and, if that developer needed to outsource work, then I needed to feel confident that they could control the project without me interfering or micromanaging from the other side of the planet – literally.
In regard to culpability associated with offshoring works, I was looking for a developer who was based or registered within a Westernized legal system, a developer who could be, if needed, held accountable if things went sideways. It is this single biggest factor that most prospective clients probably overlook when offshoring. The primary driver of this mindset came when researching online other people's reviews. I realized that the worst that can happen to a dodgy developer was a poor review or two. Meanwhile, the client has lost thousands of dollars. A developer registered within a Westernized legal system at least has a level of concern for repercussions if they fail their client.
After a few weeks, I had narrowed it down to three developers. One in particular was Swiss-based, but their development office in Lviv, Ukraine. They did or do outsource work; however, it was their project management skills I was concerned with more than whether or not they developed in-house.
If you offshore without visiting your developer first, you're crazy or perhaps too wealthy. The whole point of offshoring is to save money, especially so for bleeding edge-type projects. If your project costs can be cut by tens of thousands, then it pays to spend a few thousand on a one- to two-week trip to investigate where you'll be putting your money.
Visiting your developer reduces language, culture, and communication issues greatly in that it provides you with the opportunity to establish a rapport and language style with your developer. It also lets you see if they have the capabilities you require. Most importantly, it allows you to get the information out of your head and into theirs.
I spent six days with Bytebrand in Lviv, and it was the best money I've spent on the project. The project itself was complex in that there are many variables and rules that, if the developer did not understand, could easily increase the budget by double. Bytebrand's project workshop was intense. We mapped out not less than 95 percent of the total scope. This meant that Bytebrand could complete 70 percent of the project before showcasing it to me. Btyebrand's claim that they "manage offshoring" was, in fact, true. They do manage both the in-house and outsourced project work very efficiently.