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Should you outsource development?

I often get asked whether we should outsource if development is cheaper elsewhere.

In my opinion it’s the wrong question to ask.

Day rates might be cheaper elsewhere but as Martin Fowler of Thoughtworks says, "rates are only one component of costs and productivity varies enormously between developers", I believe outsourcing should be primarily a strategic decision.

Outsourcing can indeed bring benefits for larger scale projects, round the clock development and rapid up and down scaling but it needs careful long term planning, investment and effort in bedding in your external team or company. One needs to align ways of working, communication, company goals and ensure regular exchanges of personnel throughout the year to allow for the culture to spread.

Although feasible, outsourcing in agencies can be difficult because advertising is such an interruption led activity and there is little consistency in the flow of work.