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Risks of Outsourcing: Understanding Top Challenges

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The ability to engage external teams has transformed the way businesses operate, offering a strategic pathway to efficiency and reduced operational costs. This appeal extends across all business sizes, from startups to large corporations, allowing them to focus on their core activities while remote teams manage other tasks. As IT services dominate global outsourcing, companies benefit from enhanced access to a broad talent pool, promoting profitability and streamlined processes.

However, despite its numerous advantages, outsourcing is fraught with challenges. From choosing the wrong partner to hidden costs, security issues, loss of control, and quality compromise, to mention a few, these risks can have detrimental effects on a project. 

In this article, we will explore the risks of outsourcing as they relate to software development and provide practical tips on mitigating them. 


What Is Outsourcing? 

Outsourcing is the business practice of delegating certain services or job functions to external third-party organisations rather than handling them in-house with the aim of enhancing performance and conserving time and resources. The three primary types include onshore, nearshore, and offshore, each offering different benefits depending on the company's specific needs and geographical considerations.

Facts and Figures About Outsourcing

IT services stands out as the most heavily outsourced sector, with 37% of operations being contracted out. This underscores the industry's reliance on hiring third parties to access specialised services and expertise, which is essential for staying competitive in a tech-driven market.

Statista's Technology Market Insights categorises the IT outsourcing industry into four main segments: 

  1. Network management
  2. Website or software development 
  3. Data warehousing  
  4. Cloud services.  

Together, these sectors generated more than $460 billion in revenue in 2023 [1].

Furthermore, notably, 60% of large companies globally are opting to outsource development teams, a trend underscored by the $731 billion spent in 2023. This widespread adoption is evidenced by the fact that more companies utilise it to fulfil their technological needs, reflecting its critical role in modern business strategies.

The accessibility of outsourcing is further demonstrated by the 37% of small firms that contract out at least one business process, proving that this practice is beneficial not only to large corporations but also to smaller enterprises seeking efficiency and expertise [2].

Other than this, the United States leads the global outsourcing market, generating $62 billion and representing a major portion of the international revenue [3]. This highlights the pivotal role of the U.S. in shaping the global dynamics.

Looking forward, the industry is expected to experience a yearly growth rate of 4% from 2021 to 2025. This steady growth trajectory suggests ongoing expansion opportunities for market participants, reinforcing this practice as a key strategy for companies aiming to innovate and optimise their operations in an increasingly digital world.

Now, let's explore some of the challenges of outsourcing and consider ways to mitigate them. 


1. Hidden Costs

Setting a budget is essential, but actual costs can exceed initial estimates due to hidden expenses. Often, the costs presented by vendors don't cover every potential expense, leading to surprises down the line.  

For instance, unexpected costs may arise from setup, training, customisation, or unexpected changes in project scope. These unforeseen expenses can significantly affect the cost-effectiveness of the arrangement. 

Moreover, if the project's scope expands, this can further increase costs, complicating budget adherence and financial planning.

How to Avoid Hidden Costs

Consider these strategies to overcome outsourcing challenges:

  • Service Level Agreement (SLA): When contracting out, you should finalise an SLA that explicitly states all services provided, their costs, and the fees for any additional work that may arise.
  • Ongoing Management: Actively manage the project by monitoring the activities and time logs of remote specialists to prevent scope creep and manage costs effectively.
  • Vendor Analysis: Conduct a detailed analysis of the vendor's capabilities, reputation, and financial stability to assess potential risks.
  • Contract Clarity: Ensure the contract is comprehensive and specifies all project aspects, including mechanisms for dealing with scope changes and their cost implications. This clarity can protect against unexpected financial burdens.


2. Loss of Control

Contracting out business functions often means relinquishing direct control over certain aspects of your operations. For example, if you outsource mobile app development, your influence over the quality of the solution is diminished because you cannot select individual developers from the other agency. 

Aside from that, geographical distance further complicates matters. Local vendors allow for regular in-person oversight, but with remote teams, you must rely on virtual meetings. These can be less effective due to the absence of nonverbal cues and potential technical issues, complicating seamless collaboration. 

How to Avoid Loss of Control 

To reduce this challenge, consider these approaches:

  • Detailed Agreements: Start with a clear contract that specifies work details, quality standards, and timelines to maintain control over the tasks.
  • Regular Monitoring: Schedule frequent check-ins and monitor KPIs to ensure the vendor meets your expectations and adheres to agreed timelines.
  • Selective Delegation: Decide which management functions you should retain and which can be safely delegated.
  • Dedicated Liaison: Appoint a specific team member to oversee communications and coordinate the project with the vendor, ensuring smooth operation and quick resolution of any issues that arise.


3. Budget Overrun

A cost overrun occurs when unforeseen factors increase a project's total expense, often due to economic, technical, or psychological reasons. 

More specifically, economic factors may arise from inaccuracies in the initial budgeting or scope definition. Technical issues often stem from incorrect data gathering or flawed price estimations. On the other hand, psychological factors, such as scope creep or diminished project commitment, can also drive costs higher. 

How to Avoid Budget Overrun

To tackle this outsourcing risk, follow these suggestions:

  • Accurate Planning: Ensure your project plans and estimates are as correct as possible. A well-detailed budget and risk management plan are crucial for keeping the task within financial bounds.
  • Vendor Due Diligence: Engage with third-party vendors carefully. Assess their ability to meet project demands and ensure their cost calculations are reliable. Plus, review the vendor's performance history and conduct thorough background checks to verify their capability to meet quality standards and timelines.
  • Scope and Resource Management: Prevent scope creep by scrutinising any change requests and managing resources effectively. 


4. Communication Issues

Effective communication is paramount in any outsourcing arrangement and is one of the reasons why outsourcing fails if not managed properly. Inherent challenges often arise with distributed teams, yet deeper issues frequently stem from differences in national and organisational cultures, as well as language barriers. 

Moreover, the varying dynamic between clients and service providers can exacerbate these problems, as external staff may feel pressured to agree with the client, thus avoiding confrontation over unrealistic demands. 

How to Avoid Miscommunication

To minimise miscommunication, implement the following strategies:

  • Language Proficiency: Verify that all team members from the external provider are proficient in your business language to facilitate easy communication. 
  • Leadership and Facilitation: Ensure that vendor leaders possess strong facilitation skills to effectively manage meetings, encouraging clarity and alignment among all participants.
  • Utilise Visual Communication: Engage in face-to-face or video calls to capture non-verbal cues, enhancing understanding and rapport.
  • Manage Time Zones: Agree on work patterns that accommodate significant time zone differences to optimise collaboration.
  • Direct Involvement in Team Selection: Actively participate in interviewing and selecting the development team to ensure alignment with project goals.


5. Poor Quality Software and Services

Any company's primary objective is to procure functional, high-quality software products accompanied by excellent service. However, uncertainty of outcomes when engaging with a new vendor is a prevalent issue. 

Importantly, cost-cutting measures such as hiring a cheap development team with little to no experience and attempts to save on development time can backfire if the end product is unsatisfactory, potentially necessitating starting anew with another vendor. 

How to Avoid This

To prevent these risks, adopt these approaches:

  • Thorough Vetting Process: Ensure a comprehensive vetting process is in place to select the right software development team, focusing not just on cost but on the overall value they bring.
  • Beyond the Price Tag: While budget considerations are important, opting for the lowest bid can often lead to greater costs and complications later. Therefore, allocate enough budget for the project. 
  • Review Past Work: Request case studies or examples of previous projects from the external team. Additionally, assess their track record with similar tasks and scrutinise the quality of their past deliveries.


6. Privacy and Security Concerns

Outsourcing exposes your business assets, either fully or partially, to an external party. This vulnerability necessitates a vigilant approach to privacy, intellectual property, and data protection, including copyrights, patents, and trade secrets. 

Although the risk of information theft or leakage is lower with reputable vendors, the possibility remains, particularly with international arrangements where your country's laws may not bind the vendor. Consider a scenario where a member of an outsourced software development team steals code; navigating legal actions across borders can be complex and fraught with challenges.

How to Avoid These Challenges

To mitigate these threats, consider the following precautions:

  • Certification Checks: Look for ISO 9001 and other relevant industry-specific compliance certifications on the vendor's website. These indicate a commitment to quality management and security standards.
  • Non-disclosure Agreements: Always sign a comprehensive non-disclosure agreement (NDA) that ensures all confidential information and intellectual property are legally protected.
  • Documentation of Work: Ensure that all created code and processes are thoroughly documented. This not only enhances transparency but also secures your intellectual assets.
  • Risk Management: Verify that the vendor has effective risk management policies in place to address safety issues proactively.
  • Data Limitation: Limit the data shared with vendors to only what is necessary for them to fulfil their tasks, thus minimising the exposure of sensitive information.


7. Inexperienced Development Team

Hiring an inexperienced development team can lead to significant project setbacks, including poor quality outputs, delayed timelines, and escalated costs. The core of the issue lies in the lack of requisite skills and understanding needed to meet project specifications effectively. 

This challenge is heightened when projects require specialised knowledge or advanced technical skills that inexperienced developers may not have.

How to Avoid This

To reduce this risk of outsourcing, consider these solutions:

  • Rigorous Vetting Process: Implement a stringent vetting process similar to Deazy's to assess the skills and experience of potential development teams. This helps ensure that you engage with professionals who have already been evaluated for their technical capabilities and project experience, eliminating the risk of hiring an underqualified team.
  • Reference Checks and Portfolios: Request and review past work portfolios and conduct reference checks. This provides insights into the team's capability and the quality of work they can deliver.
  • Trial Projects: Start with a small, manageable project as a trial to evaluate the team's actual working capability before committing to larger, more critical tasks. This can serve as a realistic assessment of their skills in a real-world scenario.


8. Constant Delays

Constant delays can disrupt project timelines and impact overall business performance. These holds often arise from a lack of clear communication, inadequate project management, or unforeseen complications that the external partner may encounter. 

Such challenges are particularly prevalent in complex projects where precise coordination and technical expertise are required. Delays can lead to increased costs, missed market opportunities, and strained relationships between the client and the service provider, making it a critical issue to address in any outsourcing engagement.

How to Avoid It

Implementing the following strategies to minimise the risk:

  • Clear Communication Channels: Establish open and efficient lines of communication between all parties involved. Regular updates and feedback loops can help identify and address issues promptly.
  • Detailed Project Planning: Create a detailed project plan with realistic timelines and clear milestones. This plan should include buffer times to accommodate potential setbacks without affecting the overall deadlines.
  • Hire Experienced Team: Engaging with qualified software developers ensures that the team has the required expertise and experience to meet project demands efficiently, reducing the likelihood of delays.
  • Performance Check: Implement a robust system for monitoring progress against agreed milestones. Use project management tools to track all aspects of the project and adjust resources as necessary.


9. Lack of Experience With Remote Teams

Remote teams require different administration techniques compared to traditional, in-office staff, including adjustments in communication styles, work schedules, and performance monitoring methods. Without prior experience, organisations may struggle to effectively coordinate and motivate experts, potentially resulting in missed deadlines, lower productivity, and suboptimal project outcomes.

How to Avoid This

To overcome this challenge, consider these strategies:

  • Structured Onboarding: Implement a comprehensive onboarding process for all team members that focuses on establishing clear communication protocols and project goals.
  • Cultural Sensitivity Training: Provide training for your squad on cultural disparities and communication styles to foster better understanding and cooperation between diverse members.
  • Regular Training and Support: Offer ongoing training and support to develop management's skills in handling remote teams effectively.
  • Utilise Project Management Tools: Make use of advanced project management and collaboration tools designed for remote teams. These tools can help track progress, maintain communication, and manage tasks efficiently.
  • Frequent Reviews and Feedback: Schedule regular meetings to review project progress and address any issues. Frequent feedback sessions help adjust strategies and improve team performance over time.


10. Contract Misalignment

This occurs when there is a discrepancy between the expectations you and the vendor set and the details documented in the contract. It often stems from the contract's failure to clearly work scope, deliverables, performance metrics, and quality standards. 

Misalignment can lead to disputes, and without clear exit strategies included in the contract, disengaging from the arrangement can become problematic, leading to messy and costly separations.

How to Mitigate This Risk

The contract should include:

  • Scope of Work: Clearly define what the task entails and the expected outcomes.
  • Deliverables: Specify the deliverables, including their format, quality, and timelines.
  • Responsibilities: Detail the responsibilities of both parties.
  • Performance Metrics: Establish clear metrics by which the service's success will be measured.
  • Risk Management Strategies: Include methods for identifying, managing, and eliminating issues.
  • Exit Procedures: Detail clear exit strategies to facilitate a smooth termination of the contract if necessary.

Additionally, legal experts experienced in outsourcing agreements should be involved in reviewing and drafting these documents, ensuring they protect the interests of all parties involved and align with legal standards.


Enjoy Risk-Free Outsourcing With Deazy

If you are looking for a partner who can accelerate your digital development, look no further than Deazy. We help agencies, enterprises and startups build software products for their businesses by providing access to vetted programmers from nearshore squads. 

Our standout benefits include: 

  • We make it easy for you to scale your team, adding and removing developers as needed. 
  • We only pair development teams who have the right skills and experience to work on your project. 
  • Our ecosystem consists of experts with skills across tech stacks, from software engineers to DevOps, quality assurance (QAs), product owners, project managers and designers. 

To ensure risk-free engagement, we provide transparent pricing and help you estimate your project budget from the onset to prevent issues along the way. 

Aside from that, we help you take the pain out of project administration with our internal delivery management platform that helps track changes and get up-to-date delivery oversight. Our delivery managers take charge of your project from beginning to end to ensure that you get quality software that exceeds your customer's expectations. 

Ready to outsource your software development project risk-free? Schedule a consultation with us today.



While outsourcing offers significant advantages in terms of cost reduction and access to specialised skills, it also presents unique challenges, such as contract misalignment, wrong vendor selection, and privacy concerns. Understanding these risks is essential for navigating the complex landscape of successfully hiring external teams. 

Businesses can enhance their strategies by taking proactive steps to eliminate these threats through careful planning, clear communication, and thorough vetting processes. Remember, the key to success lies in handling challenges efficaciously to harness the full potential of your external partnerships. 


Frequently Asked Questions 

What are the risks of outsourcing software?

Outsourcing software can expose businesses to threats such as quality issues, loss of control over project management, and potential breaches in data safety.

What are 3 disadvantages of outsourcing?

The three disadvantages of outsourcing are communication difficulties, quality control problems, and a dependency on external entities, which might not always align with a company's goals.

How do you manage outsourcing risk?

Managing outsourcing risks involves conducting thorough vendor vetting, setting clear contractual terms, and maintaining strong communication channels to oversee task progress effectively.

What is outsourcing, and what are its advantages and disadvantages?

Outsourcing involves hiring external organisations to handle certain business tasks. Advantages include cost savings and access to expert skills; disadvantages may include less control over business functions and potential quality issues.