Project management

Offshore, Onshore or Nearshore - How Do You Get It Right?

Choosing a software development partner is a complicated task. It’s not a matter of simply opening up a search engine, typing in “software developers near me” and choosing the top result. There’s much more to consider when you’re choosing a development partner who can meet all of your needs.

You’ll need to look at a host of factors. How do they work? Do they use low-code software, a bespoke approach, or something in between? Do they understand your industry and the unique challenges your business faces? And do they specialise in the type of application you need?

There are a spectrum of factors to consider. A list of questions to ask. And one of the things you’ll want to know is whether they’re located offshore, onshore or nearshore. You’ll need to know, because the location of your preferred development partner can have a huge impact on how you communicate, and how your development project will run.

What’s the difference between onshore, offshore and nearshore?

The first thing to understand is the difference between these three types of partners. It all comes down to location. It’s about distance - both in a physical and a cultural sense. We’re talking from a UK perspective here - what’s offshore for someone in Bristol might be onshore for a business in Mumbai.

1. Onshore

Onshore is the closest type of developer. They’re based in the same country as you. You’re in Morecambe or Manchester, and they’re in Milton Keynes. An onshore developer works in your time zone, your language, and your currency.

2. Nearshore

Nearshore is the next distance bracket. They’re not in your country, but they’re located within a similar time zone. They could be an hour’s difference because they’re in Central Europe, or a few hours because they’re based in the Baltics. Language and currency will be different (although nearly all nearshore options use the Euro), but they’re typically more affordable than an onshore option.

3. Offshore

Offshore is everyone else. Beijing, Bangalore, Buenos Aires. There’ll be a huge timezone disparity - they may be coming into their office as you’re leaving yours - and potential language barriers to overcome. But offshore options can be very affordable, due to the fact that you’ll have access to a huge talent pool.

How do you make the right choice?

It’s not simply a case of asking “where are you based” and making a quick mental note that further away usually translates to more affordable. You’ll also want to consider the following factors:

1. Language

Unless you choose an Indian or US-based company, then there could be a significant language barrier. While Americans are native English speakers, and English is widely spoken throughout India, many other nationalities won’t use English in their day-to-day lives. And while you’ll probably be in contact with someone who’s learned English to a superb degree, some of your requests might still get lost in translation.

2. Time zones

If you can’t arrange a time to speak with a developer because they’re asleep while you’re at work, managing your project becomes a series of email chains with a day or more delay in between. This means it’s hard to get a quick response to even the simplest question.

3. Currency

Currencies fluctuate. What looks like a great deal in dollars in February can become unacceptably expensive by August. If you’re choosing an offshore developer simply because of price concerns, always check which currency you’re expected to pay in.

4. Company culture and working methods

Nearshore partners in Europe work in similar ways to British companies, and an onshore partner will work the same way that you do. But cultural factors come into play when you work with an offshore developer, so make sure you know what you’re getting into.

5. Credibility

It’s easy to do your due-diligence on a British company. But would you really know where to start looking for unbiased reviews for an overseas company? Many companies do create case studies and reviews in English for the benefit of UK customers, but it’s still something you need to consider. Credible information about their financial standing and compliance records might also prove harder to obtain.

6. Flexibility

Is a partner only based onshore, or offshore, or nearshore? A flexible partner making use of assets and resources from around the globe can help you take advantage of all the benefits of different locations while mitigating the drawbacks. That’s why Transition’s UK operations are supported around the clock by teams in Lithuania, the USA and India.

What about all those other choices?

The location of your development partner is just one thing to consider when it’s time to choose the right bespoke software company. And it’s only one of the things on the checklist at the end of our ebook -The Ultimate Guide to Choosing a Bespoke Software Company.

In this free guide, you’ll learn everything you need to make sure you consistently make the right decisions. Whether that’s being certain that you need a bespoke project to begin with, to preparing yourself to manage the process, to learning the right questions to ask, we cover all of the most pressing topics. And with 15 criteria to consider on our checklist, you’ll be well prepared as you search for the perfect partner.

If you’ve already read our ultimate guide and want a little more information, you can find out whether Transition’s hybrid approach is right for your development project by getting in touch today.

Last updated:
November 2023

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