App dev outsourcing: Why IDT decided to buy local

The buy local movement isn't just about farmer's markets and locally grown produce: Even large businesses used to hiring offshore programming talent are discovering that buying local talent can be healthier for the corporate diet.

Andrew Luchsinger has been down the offshoring road before. But this time he decided to hire US-based talent to handle a large-scale Web development project. In initiating a development project that required expertise in the open source Drupal software, he hired Alpharetta, Ga.-based Mediacurrent LLC. While the hourly rates were higher than what he might have paid for offshore skills, Luchsinger, technical marketing manager at electronics manufacturer Integrated Device Technology, Inc., says he actually saved money over what it would have cost to rebuild the electronics manufacturer's Web site using offshore expertise.

It's not hourly rates you need to look at, he argues, but the cost of the overall project. And by this measure, buying local expertise was a far better value. "We used a lot fewer hours to do a lot more work," Luchsinger says.

How was that possible? For one thing, everyone spoke English as their first language. "With the US team we spent less effort trying to communicate," he says.

Having everyone closer in terms of time zones also served to keep the project moving faster. "That was very helpful during the initial creation of the Web site, when there were a lot of questions going on," he says.

Finally, the impracticality of holding face-to-face meetings with offshore partners also took its toll during a previous project. This time, he says, "I was able to meet with the team and the lead developer and build a personal relationship. That helped a lot in keeping the project moving."

With US-based talent, he says, "It was easier to meet in person, easier to communicate, and more efficient."

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