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I have a confession to make.

When Swag Soft was still a 3-man team, we outsourced one of our app development projects.

We were new, but we were swamped with more projects than a small team could handle. Instead of giving up projects, we decided we would outsource. Since we were designing the app and handled the blueprints, all we needed to outsource was the programming. Quality could be managed and controlled on our side.

So we looked through Elance, Guru and ODesk.

Impressed by what we saw on an Indian company’s portfolio, we interviewed them on Skype. They were a bit hard to understand due to the accent, but overall they sounded enthusiastic and put together. We hired them.

This was a simple app we were outsourcing. It was an app designed to track and record a habit, and through gamification encourage the user to kick it. If Swag Soft was to do it internally, we would have completed the project within 2-3 months.

So for the Indians who professed to have 30 people on their team, we thought the 2 month timeline they proposed to us would be easy to meet right? Wrong!

I never thought we would be on the receiving end of such drama, where we heard so many excuses for delay of delivery that we could easily write the “1000 Excuses for Fucking Up Your Client’s Deliveries” guidebook. One day it would be Sanjay being on leave to see his ailing grandmother. Another it would be Patel having to attend to something urgent pertaining to his family. The best one was the office being on fire.

I swear to God I am not making this up.

Anyway, we ended up making the app on our own later on. There was just too much pain involved in dealing with those guys. We lost a little bit of money on this deal but we kept our client happy and our reputation intact.

You would have thought after this we had learnt our lesson. We didn’t.

A couple of years after this, we found ourselves having no choice but to consider outsourcing one of our projects again.

This time we tried the Vietnamese.

Again, although wary, we took comfort that we visited them and had no reason to doubt their sincerity in doing a good job. Indeed, for the first couple of projects, it worked out pretty well, granted there were a few hiccups but nothing fatal.

Then the drama began.

First they started demanding higher outsourcing fees for less complicated projects. Then they started being less pro-active in communicating with us and missed delivery deadlines. We had to fly down to Vietnam to sort things out and found out that they were having issues with retaining manpower. Companies were cross-fishing talents out of each other. We became collateral damage.

Needless to say, that ended our outsourcing adventures altogether. We had had enough.

While app outsourcing is helpful when you don’t have the resources to work on a project, and it can be pretty cost efficient, there are several things to consider.

Cultural differences – If we live in a different country from our outsourcing vendors, chances are they will have very different work etiquettes and behaviour from you. This results in misunderstandings as vendors can feel that we are too much of a slave driver, and we feel that they are not hardworking enough.
Manpower issues – Companies compete with each other for manpower all the time because outsourcing is so lucrative. They also tend to take on more projects than they can manage. This becomes a compounded issue and clients suffer from late deliveries and bad project management arising from ever-changing staff.
Rising costs – As the outsourcing companies receive more projects, they gradually get greedier and raise their costs because they get to choose their projects.
Accents – I know this is cliché, but this can indeed be an issue as this slows down communication. The Vietnamese are not very good at speaking in English and it can be very difficult to understand them when speaking to them on Skype. The Indians are better but they have a very strong accent and it may take some time before you can smoothly decipher what they are saying.
If an experienced team like Swag Soft had problems managing its outsourcing vendors, I shudder to think of what an entrepreneur with no tech problem would go through.

Yes, essentially Swag Soft is also a mobile app developer. But we are different. We are not somebody you go to if you want something done for cheap. Our prices are competitive and fair, but we do not charge unrealistic rates and start cutting corners. More than 90% of our clients give us excellent testimonials because we treat all client projects like our own.

How can you go wrong with a company running on that kind of mantra?

Swag Soft is a trusted and reliable mobile app developer based in Singapore. We have helped companies such as Toyota, BMW, Caltex, Philips Morris, government bodies and many other SMEs build their mobile apps and games. Please drop us an email at contact@swagsoft.com.sg to find out how we can help you with your project.