How to hire offshore developers: A guide and checklist

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How to hire offshore developers: A guide and checklist

how to hire offshore developers guide and checklist

Are you looking for an efficient way to complete your software product releases without running over budget?

Do you need a way to avoid the high costs of in-house tech recruitment, while still completing projects as quickly and with the same level of precision as an in-house team would?

Hiring an offshore development team is one of the best ways to do this.

If you want to know how outsourcing your company’s projects can benefit you, or if you’re curious to discover some ways to outsource part of the workload of your team, this blog post is for you. 

Here, we’ll share all the details you need to build a successful offshore recruitment strategy for dev teams, as well as a checklist to take you through the process step by step.

Table of contents



What is an offshore developer?

An offshore developer (sometimes abbreviated to OSD) is a software developer who carries out different software development projects from a remote location. 

Offshore development companies, to which tasks are often delegated, are third-party organizations located in countries where a great tech talent pool is combined with lower living costs. This enables them to provide IT services at competitive rates, while still maintaining excellent quality.

If you’re a US-based organization and you choose to hire developers located in Asia, this is an example of offshore software development.



Why should you hire offshore developers?

There are several ways in which hiring an offshore development team can be beneficial for your organization. For example, it can help you:

  • Increase the size of your talent pool
  • Enhance productivity
  • Avoid conflicts with co-founders
  • Scale your projects effortlessly
  • Meet deadlines with ease
  • Save on expenses

Let’s look into these benefits in more detail.

Increase the size of your talent pool

Hiring offshore developers enables you to effortlessly widen your IT talent pool, since you can hire globally. This helps you to discover the right talent for your position.

For example, if you’re looking for app developers who have specific knowledge of React Native or the jQuery Mobile framework for your team, you’ll increase your chances of finding a skilled developer if you decide to hire remotely. 

This way, you’ll be able to hire someone who not only has the right expertise and skills, but also knows how to apply these skills to your particular project. Many offshore development companies have highly skilled workers who have been exposed to all kinds of projects and clients and know how to consistently deliver high-quality work. 

Enhance productivity and flexibility

As stated by Eversoft, by outsourcing some of your software development, you can improve your productivity, since the talent you choose will bring you a fresh perspective and help solve the issues that block application development.

And if you outsource projects to a company that uses technology you may not have yourself, this can help you to complete tasks more efficiently, making you more flexible and adaptable. 

Avoid disagreements with co-founders

Startups’ progress is often hindered by conflict: up to 65% of high-potential startups fail because of disagreements between co-founders. Small disagreements could turn into huge gaps down the road, and hiring offshore developers is one of the ways to prevent this.

Outsourcing the development process to an offshore development team, instead of hiring in-house, can help you avoid conflicts at the MVP (minimum viable product) building stage and ensure you don’t run into disagreements over your budget or recruitment costs. 

Scale your projects effortlessly

If your organization simply cannot cope with larger-scale projects due to limited resources and technologies but has no problem finding new clients and negotiating deals, outsourcing might be the right solution for you.

You can always join hands with an offshore development company that is equipped with the right resources to deal with the demands of a challenging project that exceeds your capacity. 

Meet project deadlines with ease by gaining the support of tech experts

In addition to improving your ability to handle clients’ demands, outsourcing software development can help to ensure that you always complete projects on time and meet deadlines consistently. 

With the support of an offshore team, you’ll get extra assistance from highly qualified developers, which will help you move faster. At the same time, you will still be able to guarantee quality and consistency: with outsourcing, you’re able to gain access to some of the best talent in the world.

Cut development costs

If you’re looking for quality development work but don’t have the necessary budget, outsourcing development can be a cost-efficient solution.

Not only does outsourcing help you avoid the high costs of recruiting in-house teams (which cost on average almost 58% more, compared with outsourced teams), but it also means there’s no need to spend extra on infrastructure expansion, technology purchases, or training to achieve your project goals.



What are the challenges of hiring an offshore development team?

Some of the difficulties you may encounter when hiring an offshore development team are arranging in-person meetings with your offshore partners, the paradox of remote hiring and working, and the fact that collaboration can be difficult because of language barriers. You might also experience project delays in certain circumstances. 

challenges of hiring an offshore development team

1. In-person meetings might be difficult to arrange between teams

Since the offshore team will be located in a different geographical region, arranging in-person meetings can be challenging. 

Because of this, you can expect the majority of your meetings to be virtual. This will require high-quality video tools and equipment, and also, potentially, some time-zone gymnastics to find time slots that are convenient for everyone.

2. The remote working paradox

Nowadays, there are countless software tools for remote work, including Zoom, Microsoft Teams, and Slack, as well as many apps for team collaboration, such as Asana and Trello. This makes collaboration between teams efficient, but, at the same time, communication may have to be asynchronous due to differences in time zones.

Synchronous communication refers to communication carried out in real time; asynchronous communication refers to communication that doesn’t happen in real time.

Asynchronous communication might lead to misalignment and errors in projects, and there might be a lack of spontaneity and creative genius in team meetings, since your in-house and offshore teams won’t be sharing ideas in real time.

3. Collaboration may be challenging due to language barriers

The language barrier is another factor that you should consider, as it could lead to communication difficulties and, ultimately, to errors. If you’re hiring offshore developer teams in a different time zone or geographical location, they may not speak the same language as your in-house team. 

There are ways to overcome language barriers with offshore developers. For example: 

  • Avoid irony and sarcasm, since humor depends on the context in which you grew up and might not translate well
  • Ask team members to repeat or paraphrase information if necessary
  • Use emails and chat frequently, as offshore teams might better understand written English

4. Some delays may occur when completing projects

Due to language barriers and asynchronous communication, your team may still experience delays when completing projects. Even though you’ll likely be using several communication tools and channels, such as email, chat, task management software, and video conferencing apps, you might still face delays.

Anticipating these delays is important, as is knowing when to use synchronous or asynchronous communication to overcome them. 

Therefore, you should use synchronous communication if:

  • You have a crucial deadline approaching
  • You need to make several changes to a project
  • You need to communicate quickly to resolve an issue

Alternatively, use asynchronous communication if:

  • You need to assign a task that doesn’t have a tight deadline
  • You need to provide feedback to an offshore developer
  • You need to give your team an update on how a project is progressing



What are the top locations to source offshore developers? 

Some of the top locations to source offshore developers are Eastern Europe, Latin America, and Asia.

Let’s look into the details.

top locations to source onshore developers

Eastern Europe

There are plenty of benefits of outsourcing work to offshore developers in Eastern Europe. 

Not only is it faster to hire candidates for outsourced projects from Eastern Europe compared with other regions, but it’s also a location in which you’ll find developers who speak fluent English. This can help you solve the language-barrier challenges that you might encounter with other geographical regions.

Some of the countries in Eastern Europe you may consider in your search for offshore development teams include:

  • Belarus, which has 225 companies for IT project outsourcing
  • Hungary, where there are 71 companies that facilitate IT project outsourcing, including software development projects
  • Poland, home to 658 companies that you might consider for outsourcing your development and IT projects
  • Ukraine, where you can select from more than 1,000 companies to which you can outsource IT development tasks
  • Romania, which offers 249 IT development outsourcing organizations
  • Bulgaria, home to 156 companies that can help you with your IT and software development projects

Latin America

A huge advantage of outsourcing projects to Latin America is that the time difference is minimal for US-based companies.

There’s the added benefit that Latin America is geographically closer than countries in Eastern Europe or Asia, so if you want to arrange a company summit and invite offshore developers, it would be much easier to organize (and cheaper, too).

According to YouTeam, developers based in Latin America also have a solid educational foundation.

There are plenty of IT outsourcing companies in Latin America. Here are some numbers: 

  • Brazil is home to more than 180 top-quality IT outsourcing organizations that you can choose from
  • Mexico has more than 340 organizations that facilitate project outsourcing for IT companies
  • Argentina, where there are more than 190 IT development project outsourcing companies

Asia

According to DAXX, Asia boasts a vast tech talent pool — it has more than 10 million developers. The biggest advantage you'll gain from outsourcing IT development projects to Asia is the chance to widen your talent pool.

Here are the IT development outsourcing numbers for India and the Philippines, two of the top locations for outsourcing software development projects:

  • India has more than 1,880 IT development outsourcing firms to choose from
  • The Philippines is home to around 60 organizations to which you can outsource your company’s IT projects



How to hire offshore developers for a startup

We’ve prepared a step-by-step checklist to help you prioritize the different stages and outsource your IT development tasks without difficulty.

1. Be aware of your targets and business goals

As you’ll have to set goals for your offshore development team, begin by identifying the key targets for your business. What are your goals and what do you want to achieve with your minimum viable product (MVP)? 

Most development projects need to be broken down into achievable milestones. You can use these milestones as smaller goals, which will be simpler to explain to external teams.

2. Consider your budget and find ways to make savings

Staying within budget is critical to the success of your business, so ensure you make the necessary calculations relating to the salary range you can afford to offer candidates. To this, you need to add the costs of recruitment, as well.

To save on recruitment costs, define your budget first. Make plans for how to distribute it to particular areas, such as sourcing and onboarding. Research the costs linked to the locations of candidates (to estimate minimum and maximum salary ranges) and factor this into your outsourcing goals.

3. Do a job analysis and define the essential skills requirements

A job analysis will significantly help you during the outsourcing process. It involves systematically assessing the nature of the job, its core responsibilities, and the skills that are required to be successful in this position.

According to What Is Human Resource, there are two approaches for doing job analyses

  • A work-oriented approach, where you focus on the duties, functions, and responsibilities of the job
  • An employee-oriented approach, where you concentrate on the specific skills and expertise required to carry out the job successfully

When performing a job analysis for an offshore developer position, aim to provide accurate responses to the following questions:

  • What is the purpose of the job?
  • What will be the tasks and duties of the offshore developer?
  • What are the required skills for this position?
  • Where will the employee perform the role?

Let’s say that you want to hire a mobile app developer. When using a work-oriented approach, some of the responsibilities you might note when answering the above questions are:

  • Carrying out discussions with clients to ascertain their requirements and define ways to solve the development challenges of the project
  • Taking responsibility for building APIs that support the application on a mobile platform
  • Working alongside in-house teams to constantly innovate and contribute to the design of the app

When using an employee-oriented approach, some of the skills and expertise necessary for the job might include:

4. Think about which hard skills are required for your project

You’ll need to define the specific hard skills required for your project in order to write your offshore developer job description. You can complete this step when you carry out the job analysis. 

For example, does your project require Python, PHP, or Java skills, and which are the specific sub-skills your offshore developers need in order to use these frameworks successfully?

Perhaps your project requires knowledge of RESTful API principles, or of C++, or a solid understanding of Cascading Style Sheets (CSS): once more, the sub-skills for each of these skill sets will also be important.

Alternatively, your project might be geared towards mobile development, and your team might need iOS programming knowledge as opposed to Android development skills. 

In this case, take note of the specific skills you’re looking for and include them in the job description. Describe how they are relevant to the specific tasks for the project to give candidates more context. 

5. Draft and write a compelling job description

The next step, which is writing the job description, requires you to add some specific elements that will make it stand out.

Which details should be included?

Some of the essential details you should include in your job description for your offshore developer candidates are:

  • A clear, specific job title that uses the right keywords
  • A summary of the role
  • A brief description of the company and its story
  • Information about the company culture
  • A description of the perks and benefits that the successful candidate will get
  • A section on the skills required for the position
  • A description of the responsibilities the role requires

It’s recommended that you mention the perks and benefits of working for your organization in the middle of the job description: these are compelling components that will pique applicants’ interest and convince them to continue reading. Benefits could include stock options or incremental salary increases.

6. Gather data about the different geographical locations where your offshore development team could be located

When considering different locations to hire an expert offshore developer (or an offshore development team), gather data about each location, including: 

  • The time zone
  • The salary you can expect to pay
  • Differences between your culture and theirs

For instance, regarding salary, consider the differences between average salary ranges in each geographical location and compare them. Next, align the salary data you’ve gathered with your budget.

Since the type of outsourcing model you choose will determine the time-zone difference between your organization and the outsourced team, you must give this some thought. There are two types of outsourcing options to choose from:

  • Nearshore outsourcing. This outsourcing model involves selecting a geographical location in a time zone similar to yours. If your organization is located in the US and you outsource work to South America, this is an example of nearshore outsourcing.
  • Offshore outsourcing. In contrast to nearshore outsourcing, this model involves choosing a geographical location in a time zone that is not similar to yours and may be significantly different. If your organization is located in the US and you outsource work to Eastern Europe, this is an example of offshore outsourcing.

Whichever option you choose, the offshore developer or development team you hire should have at least a partial overlap of operational office hours with the headquarters of your organization.

7. Look at offshore developers' performance and track record

This step is essential: you must review the offshore developers’ performance and the track record of projects they’ve completed in the past. Take note of candidates who can show particularly innovative, efficient, and productive project work.

You can begin by looking at platforms such as Clutch, DesignRush, or Aciety to gather reviews of candidates.

You can also ask them for references from previous clients to discover exactly how well your candidates have performed on different projects.

8. Decide on a project time frame

How long will your project last? Are your candidates able to commit to the duration of the project? 

Find out if they can do this by looking for candidates who have completed projects similar to yours in both length and complexity. Check the success rate of those projects with former clients.

9. Ensure their workflow aligns with your organization’s

Delays can happen if there are discrepancies between an offshore team’s and your organization’s workflow. For this reason, how the project is completed is just as important as the productivity of your offshore developers. In other words, their workflow should match yours.

Remember that there are differences between the methodologies used in US development teams and those used in Asia: whereas US companies most often use agile methodologies, Asian development teams use waterfall methodologies. This can have an impact on the workflow harmonization between in-house and offshore teams.

Despite this, if your team does regular deployments after every sprint, so should your offshore developers – and if this is not part of their regular workflow, they should be able to adapt to your requirements.

10. Don't select the team with the cheapest rates 

The cheapest option is often not the best one. If you choose the cheapest team only because of the rate they’re quoting, you might find that you’ll have to make changes to code that’s badly written.

Selecting developers who offer the cheapest rates often leads to an expensive result in the end, so avoid making decisions based solely on the quoted fee.

Instead of choosing an offshore developer simply because their rates are low, explore profiles and compare options. This way, you can both save money and hire a team that can complete high-quality work. Poorly executed projects are a nightmare to deal with in the long run.

11. Ask your offshore team to sign a non-disclosure agreement (NDA)

If you’re worried about handing over your data and special ideas to an offshore developer, and you don’t want to take the risk of having your data disclosed to external parties, ask your offshore team to sign a non-disclosure agreement (NDA).

An NDA is a mutual contract between two parties (you and your offshore developer team) that guarantees the protection of your data.

The main benefit of an NDA is that it’s legally binding, which means that if your offshore team discloses any data to other external parties, you can start legal proceedings against them.

What is the main reason for companies to ask offshore teams to sign an NDA?

Because your company’s idea is unique, protecting it is crucial. It means that your software, app, or product idea will belong exclusively to you, and that information about it won’t leak.

Without a non-disclosure agreement, there is a risk that your offshore developer team could claim the idea and create a spin-off based on your concept.

What should an NDA contain?

As explained by Cloud Employee, there are some key features that hiring managers should include in an NDA, including the following:

  • A section that defines which parties will be entering into the agreement
  • A section that outlines which party possesses the data or idea that should be protected
  • Details about the information that is protected by the non-disclosure agreement and the specific data that is confidential
  • A section that outlines how the data can be used and with whom it can be shared
  • The length of time that the agreement will last, during which it can be enforced
  • The consequences your offshore developer team faces if it breaches the agreement

12. Invest in top project management tools to facilitate workflow processes

Project management tools can help to bridge the gap between your in-house and offshore development teams, and help them organize and track projects from the planning to the execution phase. For this reason, we advise you to consider top project management tools to facilitate your workflow.

In addition to GitHub, managers can choose between Jira, Bitbucket, GitLab, or Trello to efficiently organize and execute projects with minimal effort.

GitHub

GitHub’s collaborative tool is specifically designed for managing and monitoring code changes, keeping an eye on your offshore developers’ contributions, sharing code files, and managing repositories.

What’s unique to GitHub?

GitHub has built-in code review tools and APIs. It’s one of the most sophisticated development platforms on the planet and is used by more than four million organizations and 73 million developers.

Jira

Regardless of the size of your company’s project, project management can be greatly improved with Jira. It’s a platform that facilitates the planning, monitoring, and release phases of your software.

What’s unique to Jira?

You can use Jira’s pre-set workflows or create your own. You can choose between Kanban or Scrum workflow management boards to track, log progress, and manage the backlogs of both your in-house and offshore developers.

Bitbucket

Bitbucket is a project and code management platform that facilitates the process of building code and testing it simultaneously. It incorporates task management boards that are integrated with Trello.

What’s unique to Bitbucket?

Storing large files that are essential to projects can be done with ease with Bitbucket’s system, and its Trello boards make Bitbucket a great choice for task management and task tracking, especially with offshore development teams.

GitLab

For remote teams (and offshore development teams), GitLab is the ideal choice for project management. GitLab is suited to two of the main types of project management, lean and Agile. It also features Kanban and Scrum boards.

What’s unique to GitLab?

The option to foresee the potential performance of changes you wish to deploy is built into GitLab. There’s no need to switch between a huge number of tools or integrate them, and you can also track the progress of all teams using this platform.

Trello

Trello might not be the best choice for particularly complex tasks or projects, but it’s an option for simple assignments and can help you to manage your team of offshore developers. With Trello, you can easily monitor your teams’ progress and keep an eye on the tasks they’re working on.

What’s unique to Trello?

Trello can be integrated with several apps (when you use the paid version). You can also use Kanban boards to make it easier to visually track the progress of your offshore developer team.



How should you evaluate the skills of an offshore development team?

To hire an offshore team, you need to be able to assess the skills of each team member reliably. 

For this, you can use structured and behavioral interviews, plus skills-testing platforms that feature hard and soft skills tests, as well as personality and culture-add tests. You can also use custom questions to evaluate specific skills.

Skills-testing platforms

Skills-testing platforms such as TestGorilla are tools that offer a comprehensive selection of skill tests that you can combine to create an assessment for evaluating offshore developers. They’re a must-have tool for outsourcing development work, and help you get a more accurate picture of applicants’ skills. 

With TestGorilla, you can test for specific programming skills such as Python, Ruby on Rails, or Express.js, among others. You can combine multiple tests (up to five) to create an assessment that will enable you to evaluate your candidates’ skills in detail. 

Culture-add tests

Each geographical region has cultural differences (in relation to software development and/or the values of the candidates you want to hire), so using a Culture Add test is an insightful way to understand how your candidates might fit into your organization. 

Use a culture-add test to find out whether your offshore team's values align with yours and whether their approach to work aligns with your team’s.

Custom questions

Custom questions enable you to efficiently pre-screen candidates and only work with those who match your criteria (relating to, for example, time-zone availability or geographical location). With custom questions, you can instantly screen out candidates who don’t match your geographical or other preferences. TestGorilla offers you the possibility to ask pre-screening questions and make hiring offshore developers easier.

You can also test your candidates’ coding skills by using a custom coding question. If you want to get a better idea of their personality, you can ask them to record a short video in response to a custom screening question.

Structured interviews

When combined with two-way remote video interviewing and skills assessments, structured interviews are the ideal method to use when evaluating offshore developer candidates. A structured approach to interviewing will help you remain in control of the timing of the interview, and will also make it easier to collate and compare the responses of all candidates.

To carry out a successful structured interview, make sure you plan all interview questions before the interview, including your follow-up/probing questions. This element of standardization will ensure maximum effectiveness and help you get clear, accurate information from your candidates.

Behavioral interviews

Focusing on the work-related behavior and experience of candidates through behavioral interviews is another useful interview method to help you learn more about offshore developer candidates. This interview type is said to be one of the most accurate predictors of a candidate’s future performance.

You can analyze your candidates’ responses to your behavioral interview questions, together with the results of their skills tests, to check for any correlations or discrepancies between the two datasets that might indicate your candidates don’t have the required skills for the job.



What are the qualities of a top offshore development team?

qualities of a top offshore development team

Five qualities you should look for in your offshore development team are: 

  • Notable startup experience
  • Curiosity about your project and the requirements
  • Similar experiences to your particular project
  • The willingness to share coding examples
  • Experience with project management tools

Let’s look into each one.

1. Notable startup experience

According to Distant Job, although offshore developers are often very productive, they still need a solid understanding of the startup environment and how it operates: startups are born in a competitive setting and they’re often fast-paced and very dynamic. 

As the KofiGroup states, you might risk the overworking or burnout of your offshore team, if they’re not used to such a dynamic environment. Candidates must therefore be able to adapt to a fast-paced environment and show a track record of working on similar projects.

With this dichotomy between development needs and burnout risks in mind, do your offshore developer candidates have any notable experience of working with other startups? Do they understand that if there are delays in your product release, a competitor might beat you to it? Are they capable of juggling multiple tasks well?

2. Curiosity regarding the project's requirements

When you explain the project briefs to your candidates during the interview stage, take note of the candidates who ask questions about your project’s requirements and the specific questions they ask. 

This will help you find out which candidates are curious about the project and want to know more. It demonstrates their level of engagement and motivation.

Every offshore development team has unique skills. Candidates who simply accept every requirement and claim they’re capable of executing everything without asking you for details or clarifications might not actually be capable of providing the quality you need. 

Your candidates should discuss with your in-house team and hiring manager the precise requirements of the project before saying “yes” to the position. If they don’t, consider this a red flag.

3. Experience that is similar to your specific project

Can your offshore developers cite experiences that are similar to your specific project? For instance, if you’re working on an Android mobile app, it might be ineffective to hire an offshore developer who mostly has experience with iOS app development. 

Always look for a skill set that matches your project. In this example, that would be Android mobile app development skills.

The golden rule is that your offshore developer should have a minimum of one finished project that was similar to yours, and where they needed similar skills. Of course, the more similar projects they have, the better aligned they will be with you and with your needs.

4. Willingness to share examples of their work 

In addition to skills testing combined with structured and behavioral interviews, always corroborate what you learn about your offshore developer candidates by requesting code samples from them, as well as a complete portfolio.

If you find that a candidate is not willing to share examples of their coding work, this could be considered a red flag, indicating that they don’t have the required experience for your project.

5. Experience with project management tools

Since project management tools will help your in-house and offshore teams monitor their progress, your offshore developer candidates must know the tools you use.

Assess whether your offshore developers are familiar with these project management tools by asking the right questions during the structured interview, or use pre-screening test questions to eliminate unsuitable candidates.

For instance, if your organization uses Jira, begin by asking your candidates if they have experience with Jira for project management. Next, follow this up by asking for details about how exactly they used it for handling past projects.

Since your offshore developers will be working remotely, you could also ask if they have ever used your preferred communication tools. 

Don’t forget to check with their former clients whether what you learn about your candidates’ experience is true.

Hire offshore developers to complete projects faster, improve efficiency, and cut costs

Outsourcing project work to offshore teams can be an effective method to get your projects completed faster. When done correctly, you can also save on the expenses that an in-house team would otherwise incur. You can achieve all this by:

  • Researching the geographical locations that you’re considering
  • Writing a compelling job description that features the perks of your organization to attract top talent 
  • Asking for work samples, checking track records, and checking the references of candidates
  • Taking note of candidates’ clarifying questions
  • Evaluating candidates with skills assessments
  • Performing structured and behavioral interviews 

With our checklist and these tips, you’ll be able to hire the most suitable candidates to get the project done. Try TestGorilla for free.

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