Similar to many business areas, software development and application support over the last 10 years has been under intense pressure to reduce costs, increase productivity and manage greater software complexity. Furthermore it has become much more transparent in terms of the software development process. In turn this enables customers and other stakeholders to have more involvement during the process of software development.
Off-shoring software development and support to lower cost locations is now a well established practice, as businesses look to take advantage of substantial cost differentials. Offshore locations such as India have experienced a boom. The off-shore outsourcing industry has also matured over the last five years as many businesses experienced problems getting software delivered on-time, on-budget and to a high enough quality. Practical factors such as time differences, cultural issues and language barriers are ever present. Some industries have difficulties overcoming regulatory, security or legal barriers of off-shoring processes, especially for financial or medical businesses. Where ‘on-the-ground’ support requiring a customer visit is needed, UK-based operations are often still required.
The industry has recognised that if the basic principles of good software development and support are not adhered to, such as using UML for the software design or engaging software developers in the process through Agile methodologies, the initial savings of off-shoring can be lost. Poor initial experiences of off-shoring and cost rises from offshore locations combined with a global downturn have forced many companies to re-examine whether they need to keep skill bases closer to home. There has thus been a growing interest in ‘near-shoring’ and ‘re-shoring’ – bringing software development work back to the UK. Near-shoring uses offshore locations which are closer to the UK, where language and time barriers are shortened and product quality is higher.
Dunstan Thomas operates with a near-shore software development partner based in Romania. This combines a local presence and familiarity for management, support and analytical responsibilities together with the cost savings that can be realised through an offshoring model.