Time zone parity, English proficiency, cultural alignment, and high technical skills are some of the key reasons why software development partners in Latin America (LatAm), defined as nearshore, are choice partners for North American-based companies. Getting decision-makers to agree to leverage nearshore companies over offshore companies (think locations like Belarus, Ukraine, India, China, and the Philippines) that they have previously been engaged with may take some time. Offshore resources are certainly cheaper—and, in some cases, significantly so. As such, there may be initial resistance to spending more hourly on development resources without first understanding the impact those contributors will have on business outcomes.
During a period of expense management, one of our clients chose to ramp down offshore resources and scale up nearshore resources. To the finance team, this may seem initially counter-intuitive, but both the executive and technical leadership saw the productivity of their Costa Rica-based resources was two to three times greater, on average, than their Indian counterparts. In addition, the First Factory team was deemed more independent and readily available to communicate with their US counterparts. Costa Rican resources were less expensive than hiring directly in the US, and the company has been able to swap out or redeploy resources on other projects with ease. Despite a smaller headcount, the quality, communication, accessibility, and flexibility of the First Factory engineers in Costa Rica were—and are still seen—as competitive advantages to the client.
How is success achieved? Nearshore software development vendors like First Factory provide staff augmentation solutions with software contributors that are similarly trained as their North American counterparts. Cultural similarities allow those designers, engineers, analysts, and others to have a strong comprehension of the end-user’s needs and to seek solutions for problems that align with longer-term business goals. Our team is more than capable of identifying and proactively communicating downstream dependencies, long-term scalability, and projected maintenance efforts. Software contributors here understand Agile methodologies, code branch management, infosecurity standards, and cloud-based infrastructure. They also understand that the efforts are part of a larger business initiative and that time is money. While coding standards are maintained, predictable velocity is a primary goal. This is not an academic environment; we write code to ship so that the business and the end-user can see measured results.
The education, experience, and strong sense of teamwork also mean that nearshore teams are more effective at taking on many of the architectural and implementation decisions, if desired. Seasoned Engineering Managers can work with your technical leadership to identify the right set of tools and understand your company guidelines before designing the architecture and selecting the resources required to deliver in accordance with estimations and expectations. Those plans serve as blueprints for the system and the development project and will be referenced by Project Managers and Business Analysts when defining the tasks necessary for our team to execute.
Nearshore resources work best when they are a natural extension of your team, given the access, resources, virtual facetime, and independence to bring to bear the best solutions for success. Video conferencing with Google Meet or Microsoft Teams, communication tools such as Slack, and ticket management systems like Jira are all connectivity tools that nearshore teams have been using daily for many years. As such, our resources are extremely competent at working with distributed teams across multiple time zones; it has long been part and parcel of how we work.
There is a vein of truth in the adage regarding too many cooks in the kitchen. Oftentimes, what one needs to achieve a project goal is not more developers but fewer, better skilled contributors that can move swiftly and nimbly with your development needs. Fewer team members means less time spent in meetings, fewer code reviews and merge conflicts, a reduced burden on managers, and greater ownership demonstrated by everyone involved.
A comparison of hourly rates alone cannot predict the business impact of working with skilled labor. Often, we find that fewer and better skilled people saves time and money.
A comparison of hourly rates alone cannot predict the business impact of working with skilled labor. Often we find that fewer and better skilled people save time and money.