It’s not uncommon for us to have prospects who decide to outsource their apps instead of hiring a local company, and the reason always comes down to cost.
It’s true, if you hire people in the US, the cost of development will be higher - but you’re paying for the quality and for peace of mind that the job will get done without any surprises.
In the last few years we’ve had multiple prospects who have come back to us asking us to save their projects after they were promised a product in a timeframe of 3-4 months and after 9 months of debugging, and increased fees -- the product still does not work.
Here are a handful of the stories that sum up what we typically see: [ P.S. there is zero elaboration for comedic effect — even though some of these seem outlandish ]
Client 1 - THE MISSING DEVELOPER
Client 1 wanted to update their app that had been developed locally in L.A. We sent them a proposal, and offered a lower rate than the other local company. They stated our hourly rate needed to be half of what it was to be competitive with their other offer. There was no way we could reduce our rate lower, and so they outsourced the project.
The problems set in: 3 months pass, and we get an email from them saying they have a press dateline a couple weeks out, and this date had been set for months. The other development shop had promised them 1 month of development, but the development shop had switched developers on them multiple times, all the while billing them for extra the hours [ now 3 months of development when it should have taken 6 weeks ]. We were informed that the amount they had spent with this outsource firm was higher now than the amount we had quoted.
We inspected the code for them and it was a mess. The only solution was to scrap what the outsourced firm had built and go back to where we were to pick it up initially. (The local company had done their part correctly.) We had to launch with a reduced feature set, but we were able to hit the press date, and then roll out features over the coming weeks. Client 1 ended up spending more money on the outsource + rescue job than they would have spent if they had hired us (or other competent developers) in the first place .
Client 2 - SHIFTING STORIES
Client wanted an application but did not have the budget that it would take to develop it onshore: offshore was 2x-3x cheaper. The firm they went with stated they were a full development agency with multiple engineers on every project for redundancy. This company seemed to have a track record with multiple high profile companies in their region.
The problems set in: The project seemed to make good progress, until development stopped. Multiple calls to the company went unanswered; after 3 weeks the offshore company’s CEO stated that his mother was sick and needed some time. Client 2 asked if someone else could pass the project another engineer on his team. The CEO became accusatory saying that the client had no respect and that his mother was sick.
Three weeks later, Client 2 emails — the CEO states his mother died.
Two weeks later, Client 2 emails — the CEO blames the client for not being sensitive.
Three weeks later, Client 2 emails and requests that the existing code be sent to him immediately — the CEO states his mother hadn’t died, but that his office had been robbed so all the code had been stolen.
The situation unfortunately only went downhill from there. The offshore company refused to refund the money it had been paid, and Client 2 was left with very little recourse.
Client 3 - WHACK-A-MOLE
Client 3 came to us because their app, which was supposed to take 3 months to build, is now way over budget and they have been debugging it for 9 months and can’t seem to get it right. We investigate and determine that the code is spaghetti code. The platform has been built on outdated practices, and although the app is relatively simple, every time one thing gets fixed another breaks, even in areas that are seemingly unrelated. However, the company charged them for “fixes”.
Client 4 - EMPTY EQUITY
Client 4 came to us to figure out the status of their project. They had given a foreign company equity to help develop their app. It only took us a few minutes to figure out the company only had placed screenshots of what the app was supposed to be in an iOS wrapper to show a demo to them. This took 3 months of Client 4’s time, when it could (and should) have been put together in a week.
Client 5 - RESUME, EXTRA PADDED
Client 5 came to us to help finish a platform that was taking too long to launch. Their previous developer had said he had worked for Google so they were confident the code was good.
We inspected the code and found that not only was it disjointed with different syntax and styles [indicating the developer had probably outsourced the project], but through a little Googling ourselves, we found that (1) the developer never worked for Google, and (2) the platform was not PCI Compliant leaving the company open to being heavily fined. We were not able to help them.
They were never able to launch the platform.
HOW TO AVOID THESE PITFALLS:
Find someone who knows what they are doing. Someone you trust. I’m not here to say it is never the right decision to go offshore, or that there aren’t great people out there. But, you are opening yourself up to a lot of risks. Having someone in the US allows for you to meet them face to face, get them on the phone easily, and they have their reputation and their name on the line.
- Hire a tech founder. There are some great people out there — check out AngelList.co.
- Hire a digital agency with a track record you can verify. [ Here’s what an independent survey of our clients had to say about us - clutch link ]
The cheapest option is rarely the best option, especially when you need to trust someone to do tasks that you aren’t able to sufficiently supervise yourself. You wouldn’t go to a sushi restaurant that is 1/3 the price of all the others — so why would you do that with the core of your business?