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Local vs Overseas Web Developers: Pros and Cons

Posted by Mark Fouche on Mar 7, 2017
Mark Fouche

When shopping for a web developer, it's important to think about more than just the price tag. That lower cost for the remote developer doesn't automatically come packed with all the benefits you get by hiring a qualified local professional. And if an overseas developer proves to not be competent to the task or outright defrauds you, it's very difficult to do anything about it.

 Local vs Overseas Web Developers: Pros and Cons

Local vs Overseas Web Developers: Pros and Cons

 

Local Developer Pros: 

  • Immediate contact.
    Sometimes chains of emails are simply not enough to coordinate properly, especially if sudden changes are needed or the project is on a very tight schedule. You have the option of face-to-face meetings with a local developer, the ultimate means of ensuring that you are on the same page with the project. Not only that, but you know you'll be in the same time zone, so telephone and electronic communications will also receive prompt responses. 
  • Reliability.
    A local developer has their reputation in the local community to consider, and likely have a business history and references that you can consult. You have a greater degree of assurance that when you commit funds and time to them, they will return a quality product on the timetable that you've specified. 
  • Understanding of the local market and culture.
    Communication relies heavily on cultural reference and shared understandings of that nature, something you almost never get with a developer in another country. Local developers also have a much higher level of inherent understanding regarding how the local market works. Long story short, you may have to spend significantly more time giving specific instructions of this nature to a remote developer. 
  • Supporting the local economy.
    Money paid to a freelancer overseas is a total and complete drain in this area. While your personal payments may seem insignificant, the net effect of many companies taking this route contributes heavily to domestic unemployment.

Local Developer Cons: 

  • The cost.
    This is by far the most significant barrier, and often the only one that puts companies off from hiring a local developer. The hard fact is that developers need to be paid commensurate to their cost of living, and a developer in a "first world" country like Australia needs more to pay their bills than someone in a developing country.

Overseas Developer Pros: 

  • The cost.
    Conversely, this is the primary reason why local companies seek out remote developers. A team that is operating from a country with a relatively low cost of living can afford to slash the cost of their services, and there's also less in the way of concerns about local employment or contractor regulations.

Overseas Developer Cons: 

  • Greater likelihood of being unreliable.
    The cost savings of outsourcing quickly becomes a non-factor when the overseas developer spends weeks or months only to come up with a substandard or non-functional final product. An overseas developer is also much harder to track down and obtain legal recourse from should they decide to depart with your money in the middle of the project. 
  • Communications breakdowns.
    There are two main factors to consider here. English is almost never going to be the first language of an overseas developer. If you luck into someone with high fluency, that's great, but a more common scenario is a developer with middling fluency acting as the go-between to a team that doesn't speak English at all. This almost inevitably creates confusion and miscommunication that stalls the project. The other issue is a lack of inherent understanding of your customers from a cultural perspective, requiring much more hand-holding and micro-managing on your part. These issues also extend to collaboration between your in-house staff and the remote freelancer team.   
  • Cultural calendars that don't line up.
    Developers in other countries may be taking time off for various celebrations and festivities that don't have a local equivalent. For example, in India and Pakistan wedding season takes place between October and December, and participants may take significant amounts of time off unexpectedly during this period. 
  • Adherence to local law.
    If you require your developers to sign an NDA, from a legal standpoint it may be absolutely meaningless in another country as there's no way to enforce it. 

Budget concerns are understandable, but when you consider the total cost, very often a local developer actually makes the most sense. Feel free to contact us with any further questions and to learn more about how our Sydney-based business can help you.

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