You Can’t Offshore a World-Class Experience

by Jason Ocker
Jan 28, 2020

It’s a set of questions that every prospective client asks us: “Where is your office?” “How many employees do you have?” “Where are they all located?”

They’re simple, get-to-know-you questions. But they have subtext. Underlying questions. For instance, clients are also trying to establish if we’re big enough to handle the project. Or if we’re too big to care enough about the work. But one underlying question that’s more and more relevant these days is, “Are you offshoring your software development?”

Software development is expensive, and that’s caused many agencies and organizations to offshore much of it to cheaper developers in other countries. And while offshoring is a legitimate practice for many aspects of modern business (as long as it avoids exploitation), offshoring software development is particularly fraught.

Today, businesses are competing on the experiences they create. If they’re not creating a world-class experience, they’re not competing. And world-class experiences takes world-class developers. Even if an organization is making innovative, world-class designs in-house, throwing those designs over the fence to lowest-cost developers not up to the task of turning those designs into world-class experiences, means that those designs went for naught and must be genericized down to what those developers can build.

Cutting corners on developer talent is cutting corners on your experience, your products, your entire reason for existing as a business. And that goes for us here at Maark, too, as we ideate and create world-class experiences for our clients. But that doesn’t mean we aren’t global.

Today, we have employees in about a dozen countries across four continents. But not a single person is an offshore resource in the business sense. Our international colleagues are as much a part of the Maark team as anyone who walks the halls at our Boston HQ.

I know, I know. Sounds like spin. But let me show you.

These employees are individually handpicked by us, vetted by us. They’re not assigned to us by a resource company that treats developers like cloud servers, ramping up more bodies when there are development issues. We’re also strategic in choosing the countries where we look for talent, not for cost reasons, but because some countries and cities have focused specifically on development and become great at it.

And, of course, the biggest evidence, is how these far-flung employees are assimilated into the company. Technologies like Slack and Zoom and work-from-home policies all make for an environment where being the width of the world away isn’t as isolating as it could be and isn’t too different a situation from our colleagues in other parts of the U.S. It allows employees around the world to have actual stakes and ownership in our projects.

Meanwhile, every employee at Maark, national or international, is on our monthly video meeting. Our yearly all-hands. We fly them in for Maark Week (when we throw our annual Maark Makes party, along with other events). Our leadership travels out to them, to their home turf, at least once a year.

Many of our international colleagues we’ve been working with for years, some for over a decade. Our relationship with them, just like the rest of our colleagues, is a priority for us. We want there to be no fences to throw work over. We want to be borderless in our ability to innovate.

However, despite not looking for lowest-cost developers abroad, we still see a cost-savings. For instance, international developers lower our costs by 20-30% over US-based developers in many cases. Not to mention that having experts do it once versus all the management, design, and development hours that go into the ping-ponging of inadequate builds is a tremendous savings. And then finally, never quite reaching the ambitions of the designs has a real cost on the business. All of these are costs that go beyond an hourly rate. 

We hire internationally because the right talent is hard to find. The talent that can make a world-class experience. The talent that can fit into our Maark culture and believe in our ethos. The talent that would wear the wolf proudly.

Photo by Lucas Sandor on Unsplash

Jason writes. Tells stories. Develops strategies. He oversees a wide range of creative and technical projects. He’s also an award-winning author of half a dozen books and has been featured on or in CNN, The Atlantic, The Boston Globe, The Guardian, The New York Times, and TIME.

The Robots are Writing, The Robots are Writing
GTP-3 has a byline in The Guardian and that’s great news for creative writing.
Where Does the Customer Data Go? A Look at CRMs, CDPs, and DMPs
What’s the difference between Customer Relationship Management systems, Customer Data Platforms, and Data Management Platforms?
It Takes a Village: Going Enterprise with WordPress
WordPress fills a critical hole in the enterprise CMS landscape, if combined with the appropriate plugins and hosting platform.