Onshore, Nearshore, or Offshore Software Development Team?

By Ryan Vice | Posted on August 23, 2019

Technology Trends

The beauty of software development is that, thanks to modern technology and Red Bull, software development can happen at any time in nearly any place on the planet. There is no longer a pressing need for an in-house team unless you just want one. Instead, you look both near and far for your ideal development team. Whether you’re looking onshore, offshore or the ambiguous nearshore, the location of software outsourcing is relevant for a number of reasons.

There are markets all over the world with skilled and affordable talent. To know where to start looking, you need to weigh the pros and cons of each location in proximity to you against the project you have in mind.

Onshore Teams: The Developer-Next-Door

An onshore software development team works in the same country as you. It’s barely outsourcing at all, really. A number of large companies such as Slack and Github will go this route because they can afford to do so. There are several advantages to staying close to home.

Simple Team Management

When your developers are living and working in the same locale as you, communication tends to a straightforward process. You have no language barrier or time zone differences to contend with, nor cultural differences that could get in the way of a productive working relationship. If you don’t have a team leader who has experience working with developers outside of your borders, staying onshore is the safe option.

IP Laws

Depending on the project you’re working on, protecting your intellectual property (IP) may be a top priority for you. IP laws vary around the planet. Countries with emerging economies in Latin America, Africa and Asia, such as Venezuela and Pakistan, can have some of the weakest IP protections globally. The United States, in contrast, has some of the most robust IP laws in the world along with other developed in economic powers such as Germany and Japan. If you aren’t familiar with the IP protections you would have abroad, keeping your software in America is a smart call.

Easy to Find

If you’re looking for an onshore software development team, you won’t have to look as long or as far. You’ll have a smaller pool of qualified candidates to choose from, and others in your network can probably recommend software developers they’ve worked with personally. Your search will take a fraction of the time than if you were scouring the globe.

Money, Money, Money

Choosing to keep your development domestic is not without a huge price tag, though. Software developers and engineers are some of the highest paid and most sought after people in our economy. The cost of a software developer in North America ranges between $50 up to $250 an hour. Additionally, America has a shortage of qualified developers for the number of positions available, so the good ones are snatched up quick. Staying in your own backyard certainly has its advantages, but only if you can afford them.

Nearshore Teams: The Ostensible Goldilocks

Nearshore teams fill the space between onshore and offshore spaces. They work in countries that are close to yours, perhaps even border your country. In the US, Mexico and Latin America are popular nearshore options. Nearshoring should be the perfect balance between the advantages of offshore and onshore teams, and they are. Mostly.

Minimal Communication Issues

Nearshore teams tend to exist in the same or similar time zone as you do, so generally, you won’t need to worry about systemic breakdowns in communication throughout the project. Also, while some cultural barriers could exist, they likely won’t be insurmountable and threaten the cohesion of your outsourcing team with your in-house team members. Face-to-face meetings aren’t even out of the question, though they may involve a quick flight.


With certain provisions in the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), Mexico is a premier nearshoring destination for US companies. There are no custom tariffs or trade barriers to worry about with digital services when partnering with developers in Mexico. IP rights are also enforced thanks to NAFTA. Outside of this free trade agreement though, nearshoring can be less dependable. Many countries like Peru and Ecuador still have comparatively poor IP protections in place.

Quality and Cost

You’ll no doubt find some good outsourcing developers in our neck of the woods, but the majority of experienced, talented developers will still be in Europe and Asia. The cost for nearshore developers is much cheaper than onshore teams, though, running at about $25-50 an hour depending on their experience. If you’ve chosen to go a little out of your comfort zone for nearshore pricing, be vigilant and make sure the software development team you partner with truly is the right fit for you.

Offshore Teams: Proof that the Earth isn’t Flat

Offshore software development teams can be found abroad, usually on the other side of an ocean. With the help of technology, they are able to work remotely and virtually to help you build your product at a fraction of the cost of their onshore counterparts. India, Poland, Ukraine and China are some of the most popular countries to find qualified developers for your project.

Very Cost-Effective

When you have the whole world at your fingertips, you can afford to shop around a little and compare prices. You’ll find that Eastern Europe and Asia are your most likely regions to find the type of software developers you’re looking for. Developers in Eastern European countries tend to cost about $25-$50 an hour, comparable to those in Latin America. Asia offers some of the most affordable outsourcing options in the world, where a developer can cost $20-40 an hour.

Around-the-Clock Development

Having your team of developers working in a completely different time zone than you may seem like a huge issue, but with good team management and strong communication channels, it’s opportunity to truly optimize your development schedule. Your outsourced developers can work while you’re sleeping and vise versa. Development could quite literally run 24/7, and you can start to see results much faster.

Olympic-Sized Talent Pool

As mentioned earlier, the majority of software developers can be found outside of your home country. By widening your search parameters, you’ll find yourself neck-deep in qualified candidates. 64% of software developers live in Eastern Europe or Asia, so no matter what specialties and skills you need, you’re guaranteed to find the right fit. However, while there are a lot of talented, experienced software developers and engineers out there, you should always be thorough and vet your candidates to make sure they have the experience and skills you need.

Requires Good Team Management

Working with a team on the other side of the planet can definitely come with some obstacles: potential language barriers, cultural differences or difficulties in communication. You need a skilled team manager to effectively oversee a global development team. Through a tight organizational structure and open communication channels, outsourced developers can truly bring your project greater efficiency and become an extension of your in-house team, bringing additional value.

The Best of Both Worlds

As you search for the best software development team to outsource with, location is an important factor, but don’t let it take precedence over the value and skills your project deserves or the level of communication you want to have. Onshore, nearshore, offshore – no one location is better than the others. You can find your ideal team anywhere. In fact, with a unique team structure such as our own at Vice Software, you don’t need to choose at all.

Our onshore consultants work with a dedicated offshore team of developers to deliver you premium software applications at an affordable rate. By only building what you ask for, we are able to more quickly introduce your users to the platform, build on your minimal viable product (MVP) from there with the features you need, or modernize your software solution with higher velocity. Whether your business finds a home in the tech industry or you want to modernize your workplace through proprietary software, our team has the knowledge and experience to develop the tools that will lead to your growth and scalability.

Get the experience of onshore with the value of offshore. Have a project you’re ready to develop? Get started with a quote! Just give a little information about your development plans, and we’ll have a quote ready in under an hour.

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