The Pros and Cons of Outsourcing Development as a Product Manager
Are you thinking about outsourcing work for your product to a dev shop? Let us start with a pros and cons list.
Over the past few years, outsourcing has become very common. Sending work to India, the Philippines, Ukraine or any other country outside of North America is now considered a viable business. Today many companies outsource development, marketing, customer service and more. Generally, from my experience, small and medium enterprises are more open to outsourcing work. But large enterprises would instead hire the resource. In today's article, I want to discuss my background with outsourcing work and its pros and cons.
Before we jump into the pros and cons, let's talk about my experience as a product manager working with outsourced development shops. I have spent about half a decade working with developers, designers and marketers who live in India, Nepal or Europe. My experience so far has been positive, but like everyone else, I had to overcome some hurdles. Let me break down my experience a little bit.
- Kynza Inc.: Currently, I work as a Product Manager for a fast-growing FinTech company based in Toronto. We are a team of 5 people and have outsourced our development to a great firm in Gujrat, India. As a Product Manager, I am involved with the marketing team, customer success team, and innovation team. While working with Kynza, my biggest lesson was consistency. It is crucial to meet with your developers and get updates regularly. Staying organized and holding regular sprint meetings will take you a long way.
- LocalOps: As a keen entrepreneur, I saw the need to help local businesses here in Ottawa. LocalOps is Canada's fastest-growing network of verified vendors built on trust. We are commonplace to help Canadians access various services from Accounting to Window Installations. We worked with a great team in Bangalore, India, to build this product. The team was very reliable and knowledgeable in the industry. One of the biggest lessons was that constant checks on the progress helped us quickly release a product.
- Hyfer Technologies: In 2016, I co-founded a software development agency in Toronto. We worked with the business model of having an entire remote dev shop that hired resources from an agency in Nepal. We developed a relationship with the shop and were able to communicate regularly. To date, we have worked with over 10+ clients, and one of the biggest lessons from the agency was that resource management is very crucial.
- Fiverr: If you haven't heard of Fiverr, it is probably the best place to get some work done for a very low cost. I wanted to add fiver here because I have mainly done some designs and marketing work here. I have never outsourced development on Fiverr, but I am sure there are many skilled developers on the platform. For this pro's and con's list, I have not considered Fiverr, but I have undoubtedly gained much experience from outsourcing work there.
So, now that we have established my sources of experience for outsourcing let's jump into the list.
- Honest work: I have found over the years that most dev shops are willing to put in the hours and even spend time understanding your requirements. They are very open about the number of hours upfront and will help fix bugs, usually at no cost if introduced. To some extent, they heavily rely on honest work to get more work due to the stigma around outsourcing.
- Variety of talent and resources: One of the most significant advantages of outsourcing work is the availability of resources. The firms I have worked with in the past have helped me get resources on short notice. With many engineers and developers in India, acquiring new talent is a matter of a week at the most. Usually, these firms will fill the positions as long as you promise them the work for it.
- Easy on the wallet: Keep in mind that most of the outsourced development firms deal in USD. If you are paying in USD, the conversion rates are much better outside North America. The most helpful thing to know is that the cost of a developer here in the US/Canada is much higher than outsourcing. Usually, the price might be higher in top-rated cities like Bangalore, but it generally doesn't cross $100.
- Over delivering teams: Like how you hope to release the best product to the market, development shops also hope to help you reach your goal. If they can help you accomplish your goals faster and with fewer resources, that means they are going to get to work with you longer. Most development shops always try to get your job done quicker and deliver more than expected to ensure repeat business.
- Different standards compared to your country: In my experience, one of the biggest cons is the inability of the development team to understand your users and their habits. Designers usually build things based on their experience. If you go to a development shop without a design, you should expect a product that does not match your user's requirements.
- Lack of control on the resources: Generally, development shops have a client success manager who has some development experience. The client success manager helps convert your business requirements into technical requirements for their resources. As you mainly deal with the client success manager, you have little to no control over the resources working for you. This might be an issue if you cannot communicate your concerns and praises with the client success manager.
- Time difference: The biggest con to working with a team outside of your country has to be the time barrier. Sometimes it is unfair to expect outsourced teams to work in our timezone. If they are working full-time for you, then it seems fair. But if they are a development shop and you expect them to work with you, pause and think about their lives and efforts. I understand there is no room to think about being kind in business, but if you hope to build a relationship with these shops and expect the best results from them, then try to put yourself in their shoes.
- Language barrier: The chance of miscommunication is the biggest fear for many when outsourcing work. However, if you talk to a small development shop, you might run into this issue. The only way to counter this issue is by ensuring that you constantly engage the shop to understand you. Even if you end up with a team that doesn't understand you, try to draw things out to outline the requirements clearly.
With more than six years of outsourcing and building numerous products, here is a shortlist of the pros and cons of outsourcing your development you might face as a product manager.
- Honest work
- Variety of talent and resources
- Easy on the wallet
- Over delivering teams
- Different standards compared to your country
- Lack of control on the resources
- Time difference
- Language barrier
Hopefully, this list gives you the confidence to outsource your development and build that company/product you have always wanted.