According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, the number of job opportunities in software development within the US is projected to increase 22% from 2020 to 2030 , much higher than the projected national average growth rate for all professions, which is eight percent over the same 10 years.
Coding software is a culture-agnostic skill that can be performed by individuals and teams located virtually anywhere. “Especially in highly developed markets, like the US and Europe, hiring software engineers has become extremely competitive and expensive,” says Ryan Desmond, CEO of CodingNomads, a global software engineering training company. “Engineers in these countries are well aware of their coveted skills and negotiation power and are accustomed to engaging in bidding wars and job hopping to go with the highest offer.”
Outsourcing coding promises to give adopters the resources necessary to maintain timely software development in a uniquely challenging employment market. For many enterprises, cost-savings is yet another key motivator. “Whether this is due to the lower cost of developers in some regions of the world, or the expedited development providing business benefits and products to market faster, the decision [to outsource] is typically financially motivated,” says Tony Anscombe, chief security evangelist at IT security software developer ESET.
Kinjan Shah, a senior director in the engineering practice, at Apexon, a digital engineering professional services company, agrees that companies are looking on a global basis. He notes that software engineer availability is especially good in India, Latin America, and Eastern Europe. “Coding services companies are mature, and staff are generally experienced, so they produce high quality software code,” he says. “In that same vein, the outsourced companies understand the product development cycle. And, because of their long experience, they understand users and the needs of the western world.”
To find the right match, organizations contemplating an outsourcing initiative should look for a partner that has already established a set of best practices based on coder development and have strengthened their processes at every step to ensure superior code quality. “Ownership at every level – from product managers to programmers — is very important for the success of any product development,” Shah says.
Large enterprises with strong internal systems and processes are most likely to benefit from outsourced coding. “Small companies can also benefit because of budget constraints, getting similar development work done for a fraction of the price,” CodingNomad’s Desmond notes.
The possibility of poor code quality and cybersecurity issues are the biggest drawbacks to global outsourcing. “The introduction of vulnerabilities or, potentially even worse, backdoors — intentional or not — could be devastating in the unfortunate situation that they are exploited by bad actors,” ESET’s Anscombe says.
Anscombe believes that any organization considering an outsourcing initiative needs to ensure that its potential partner is committed to adopting the same, or even tougher, security practices employed by the client, and that such practices are regularly validated and monitored.
Unfortunately, for some organizations, the cost and effort needed to create an outsourcing environment that ensures code integrity, strong security, and timely delivery could ultimately outweigh all the approach’s benefits. “This is not only about the cost of external versus internal developers, but also about having the confidence that the partner is a fully vetted extension of your own environment,” Anscombe says.
While coding itself is generally culture-agnostic, cultural differences can still arise when working with international coding teams. “The communication and work styles in the US, Asia and South America, for example, can be quite different,” Desmond says. “There’s a deeper inherent trust between people from the same country, and this can be invaluable when considering the high importance of software development work.”
Working across multiple time zones can also be a problem, particularly for organizations on tight development cycles. “Some employers would rather pay a premium for local employees than have to deal with cultural or time zone differences,” Desmond says.
Code Outsourcing Outlook
Desmond believes that code outsourcing will be adopted by a growing number of organizations in the coming years. “The demand for software engineers is already high, and it continues to grow exponentially as we continue making forward progress in areas like data science, machine learning, AI, cybersecurity, and blockchain,” he explains. “There are simply not enough engineers to fill these roles domestically, and other countries are investing heavily in technical education and training to fulfill the demand and work with higher paying companies in the US and Europe.”
Desmond also sees another important factor at play. “With the remote work trend that was fueled by COVID, employers have grown more comfortable with working with distributed teams, which I believe will increase the adoption of outsourcing,” he says.