OSD (Offshore Software Development)

Offshore Software Development (OSD) is an outsourcing approach [1] allowing businesses to get access to software development services by hiring an external team, company or individual from another country. Businesses typically follow the OSD approach to get access to top talent in other countries and to save capital.


1. A Brief History of the Term and the OSD Meaning
2. How Do Offshore Software Development Models Work
2.1 OSD Levels Models
2.2 OSD Business Models
2.3 OSD Service Models
3. The Size of the OSD Industry in the World
4. Benefits of the Offshore Software Development
5. Challenges of Offshore Software Development
6. Companies That Have Successfully Used Offshore Software Development Services
6.1 WhatsApp
6.2 Slack
6.3 Alibaba
6.4 GitHub
7. How Much Does Offshore Software Development Cost Worldwide

A Brief History of the Term and the OSD Meaning

Although the term is widely used today, many do not exactly know what is OSD and where the term comes from. It is said that three researchers from Sao Paulo confirmed that the term “offshore outsourcing” was first used by the economist Ronald Coase. Coase published a paper [2] about this form of organizing business in 1937. However, Rose India Technologies, an information technology company in India, claimed in an article that the origin of the term actually traces back in time to the first industrial revolution.

The origin of the term may not be confirmed, but economists and authors mostly agree that the term only became common around the mid-20th century. Back then, it was mostly the manufacturing industry [3] that started using offshoring. Businesses realized that they could save a lot of money by outsourcing certain manufacturing processes to companies in other countries. Since then, offshore outsourcing quickly gained popularity across many different industries, including information technology. Increasingly more businesses are opting to outsource specifically software development. This involves businesses hiring talented software developers from other countries to work on development projects, such as web and mobile applications. Offshore software development allows businesses to get access to top international talent and to save costs. As a result, many offshore software companies have been established, specializing exclusively in this type of service.

How Do Offshore Software Development Models Work

OSD is a common approach used by many businesses, big and small. To ensure an OSD partnership is a good fit and that offshore software development best practices are always in place, several OSD business models exist. The basic form of these models can be categorized into three groups: Low-level, high-level and complete technical.

OSD Levels Models

  • Low-level outsourcing. The low-level model involves outsourcing service providers to take on a client business’s development and QA processes, while product management is handled by the client. A newcomer offshore software development company will typically offer low-level outsourcing.
  • High-level outsourcing. With high-level outsourcing, additional responsibilities are given to the outsourced team, which may include product management. Compared to the low-level model, this model may be more costly to a business.
  • Complete technical outsourcing. Complete technical outsourcing involves businesses outsourcing all technical tasks to the outsourced team, including the design and implementation phases.

OSD Business Models

From an economic perspective, different business models also exist. These include:

  • Fixed cost. The fixed cost model exists to eliminate any extra or hidden costs. This model allows businesses to use a one-off established cost for outsourced services.
  • Dedicated resource model. The dedicated model involves an outsourced team that works exclusively on one project. The team will be hired for the duration of the project and will be dedicated to the job until it is completed.
  • Time and material or hourly model. Often the scope of work a project requires cannot be determined. With the hourly model, the client is charged for the precise amount of time or efforts spent on the project.

OSD Service Models

Service models also exist which depend mainly on the volume of work. These include:

  • Staff augmentation. This model involves client businesses to extend their in-house teams with offshore developers. This may improve communication and productivity in the future. This model is often used for projects that require ongoing work.
  • Offshore development center. For long-term projects, this model is ideal. It allows outsourcing providers to put together a dedicated team to work exclusively on one big project.
  • Project-based. For projects with defined timeframes and low to medium complexity, this model is most fitting. It allows businesses to hire a team one-off only for the period outlined by the timeframe.

Offshore software development trends may come and go, but these models are generally a permanent guide on how to approach offshore software development.

The Size of the OSD Industry in the World

The OSD approach has truly become a global trend and with a bigger focus on lowering costs and smaller in-house teams, OSD is only growing. According to Statista [4], the global market size of outsourced services is currently $92,5 billion. These statistics also show how OSD has grown rapidly between 2000 and 2019. It is predicted that the next ten years will see an even sharper rise.

Benefits of Offshore Software Development

OSD services became popular because businesses realized the many benefits it offered. These benefits include:

  • Less costs involved. Many OSD companies charge either a one-off fee or a set, ongoing rate with no hidden costs or extra HR and employment insurance fees. This allows businesses to save capital in the long run.
  • Access to top talent. Businesses can hire top candidates with expert skills from around the world.
  • Increased flexibility. Teams can be hired as and when needed according to a business’s project needs.
  • Easy scalability. Teams can be scaled according to project requirements without much effort.
  • Improved productivity. Outsourced teams are often completely dedicated to one project.

These benefits allow businesses to prosper when it comes to their offshore web and offshore mobile software development. In turn, this can lead to increased revenue and ultimately, business success.

Challenges of Offshore Software Development

As with any type of hiring approach, there are some challenges involved in investing in offshore software development services. These difficulties should be carefully considered before investing in these services. The challenges include:

  • Language and cultural barriers. Some countries have completely different languages and cultures, which may lead to miscommunication.
  • Difficult logistics. It may be difficult to manage teams remotely if the correct processes are not put in place.
  • Poor team cohesion. Due to individuals working remotely, they may often feel left out and not part of the general team.

Luckily, most of these trials can be overcome with the right processes and systems in place. It all starts with having excellent communication methods in place. This will ensure that no information is lost during the partnership.

Companies That Have Successfully Used Offshore Software Development Services

Due to the many benefits OSD offers, several big international companies have invested in this type of service. A few examples of such companies include:


When WhatsApp [5] was still in its development phase, the owners of the popular mobile application were looking for ways to lower costs. Therefore, they hired an iOS developer from Eastern Europe. The partnership was a highly successful one.


Slack [6] is a popular cloud-based service specifically for communication. It owes its success to an OSD team who created Slack’s logo, app and web design.


Alibaba [7] is one of the largest online marketplaces in the world. The company was established by Jack Ma Yun in 1999. During its development, the company lacked skilled and experienced software developers and they decided to outsource. Since then this big e-commerce has grown exponentially.


It is almost impossible to think that GitHub [8], a Git repository hosting service, once made use of OSD services. This successful company that now has 27 million active users was looking for top-level experts when they first started. They also had limited funds and decided that investing in OSD services was the best option. It proved to be a highly profitable decision.

How Much Does Offshore Software Development Cost Worldwide

Offshore software development costs differ greatly from country to country. There are many reasons for this, including the cost of living in certain countries. According to Payscale [9], the average annual offshore software development rates by country are:

USA UK Germany Switzerland Japan  Ukraine
$ annual $84,372 $45,955.91 $53,757.25 $95,605.98 $55,591.77 $30,000

From this, it is evident that Switzerland has some of the highest rates for offshoring, while Ukraine has the lowest average hourly rates. This may be due to the difference in cost of living, Ukraine is Europe’s most affordable country [10]. Today, Ukraine is also expanding its offshore software development center to offer an even better outsourcing solution, with top talent at affordable rates for businesses around the world.

See Also


  1. https://mobilunity.com/blog/offshore-software-development-services
  2. https://connectamericas.com/content/how-did-concept-outsourcing-begin
  3. https://www.dailykos.com/stories/2013/6/13/1216104/-U-S-Manufacturing-Off-shoring-1979-to-Re-shoring-2013
  4. https://www.statista.com/topics/1900/it-outsourcing
  5. https://populartimelines.com/timeline/WhatsApp
  6. https://www.borndigital.com/2015/09/25/a-brief-history-of-slack-2015-09-25
  7. https://www.bloomberg.com/quicktake/alibaba
  8. https://www.cnbc.com/2018/06/04/chris-wanstrath-co-founded-github-which-microsoft-bought-for-billions.html
  9. https://www.payscale.com
  10. https://www.kyivpost.com/ukraine-politics/ukraine-europes-cheapest-country-live-third-cheapest-world.html
Contact us
Go Up