3 Types of Software Development Outsourcing Models [The Complete Guide]

One of the most difficult decisions to take when it comes to software development is whether to build an in-house team or outsource the work.

Are you facing the same situation? Let’s clear it out.

According to Statista, the revenue in the IT Outsourcing industry is expected to reach US$460.10 billion in 2023. This shows that outsourcing has been among the best choice for tech-savvy firms.

If you are a startup or a well-established company unclear about which outsourcing model is suitable for your business, then we can help you. As a leading software development outsourcing company, we can help you choose the best model and guide you through the entire process to ensure your project meets the business goals and budget.

This blog will help you understand all types of software development outsourcing models, and the factors to consider when selecting the best model for your business.

Let’s get started.

Model 1: Outsourcing Models Based on Geographical Location

Location-based models enable you to distribute software development work wisely. These three types of outsourcing models are offshore, onshore, and nearshore. Each of these models has unique benefits in terms of communication, cost, and collaboration. Let’s discuss each model in detail.

  1. Offshore Outsourcing

    Offshore outsourcing involves assigning various tasks or projects to outsourcing companies situated in countries that are geographically distant from the client’s location. This model is used to take advantage of the diverse expertise and technological advancements available globally, which allows companies to extend beyond the local or regional talent pool.

    Let’s understand the benefits and limitations of offshore outsourcing.

    Benefits and Limitations of Offshore Outsourcing

    Significant cost savings on labor and operational expenses.Managing work across different time zones can lead to coordination challenges.
    Access to specialized skills and expertise from a vast global talent pool.Ensuring consistent quality and adherence to standards can be challenging.
    Continuous development cycle due to time zone differences.

    When to Choose the Offshore Model?

    • Best suited for projects with a well-defined scope and flexible delivery schedules.
    • When cost reduction is a primary objective.

    When Not to Choose the Offshore Model?

    • Not suitable for projects with rapidly changing requirements.
    • When close collaboration and real-time communication are critical.
  2. Onshore Outsourcing

    Onshore outsourcing involves contracting out specific tasks or entire projects to outsourcing companies located within the same country as the client. This model facilitates more direct interactions, oversight, and a shared understanding of the legal and business landscape, making coordination more easy and simple.

    Let’s understand the benefits and limitations of onshore outsourcing.

    Benefits and Limitations of Onshore Outsourcing

    Seamless communication due to shared language and cultural norms.Costs may be higher compared to other outsourcing options.
    Better alignment with project objectives owing to shared cultural background.May face limitations in accessing specialized talent locally.
    Compliance with local laws, standards, and regulations is assured.

    When to Choose the Onshore Model?

    • When high-quality assurance, seamless communication, and compliance with local regulations are important.
    • When regular face-to-face engagement is necessary.

    When Not to Choose the Onshore Model?

    • Not suitable for cost-sensitive projects with a limited budget.
    • When access to a global talent pool is essential.
  3. Nearshore Outsourcing

    Nearshore outsourcing refers to the practice of partnering with outsourcing firms situated in neighbouring or nearby countries to the client. This model aims to combine the advantages of geographical and time zone differences with the benefits of outsourcing, creating a favourable environment for real-time collaboration and communication.

    Let’s understand the benefits and limitations of nearshore outsourcing.

    Benefits and Limitations of Nearshore Outsourcing

    A blend of cost efficiency while maintaining easier communication and control over the project.Currency exchange rates can impact cost predictability for the client.
    Similar time zones facilitate real-time collaboration and communication.Depending on the country, language barriers may be encountered.

    When to Choose the Nearshore Model?

    • Appropriate for projects that need real-time cooperation and a modest budget.
    • Providing a balance of cost efficiency and easy communication is important.

    When Not to Choose the Onshore Model?

    • Not suitable for projects with well-defined requirements and a substantial budget.
    • When currency exchange rate fluctuations pose significant risks to the project budget.

Which Location-based Model is the Best?

When it comes to location-based outsourcing, we highly recommend the ‘Onshore Outsourcing’ model as the optimal choice. This is just a suggestion as per our experience with our valuable clients. Even offshore and nearshore are good options but it depends on your project requirements.

The onshore outsourcing model offers seamless communication, compliance with local regulations, and shared cultural understanding, which makes it suitable for projects that prioritize high-quality assurance and face-to-face engagement.

Looking to Outsource Your Project?

As a trusted outsourcing partner, we can help you by offering different outsourcing models tailored to meet your specific project demands.

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Model 2: Outsourcing Models Based on Relationship

Relationship-based outsourcing models address your project’s changing demands. These three models include staff augmentation, dedicated team, and project-based model. These models provide control and engagement options to better suit your project’s scope and size.Here are the types of relationship-based models for outsourcing software development. Let’s discuss each in detail.

  1. Staff Augmentation Model

    Staff augmentation is a flexible software outsourcing method used by businesses to add expertise from a specialized software outsourcing company as required. This model enhances the team’s capability by bringing in specialized skills or additional manpower temporarily, to address the evolving demands of the project.

    Let’s understand the benefits and limitations of the staff augmentation model.

    Benefits and Limitations of the Staff Augmentation Model

    Acquire specialized skills and expertise that are lacking in the in-house team.Reliance on external talent can introduce project delays.
    Easily scale the team size up or down based on project requirements.Integration challenges with augmented staff and existing team.
    Retain significant control over the project and augmented staff.

    When to Choose the Staff Augmentation Model?

    • When there is a demand for specialized skills or to expand the team size temporarily to fulfill project milestones within set deadlines.

    When Not to Choose the Staff Augmentation Model?

    • Not suitable for long-term projects with a consistent team structure.
    • When seamless integration with an existing team is necessary.
  2. Dedicated Team Model

    The dedicated development team model is a collaborative approach wherein an outsourced team functions as an integral extension of the in-house team over a longer-term engagement. This model fosters a close working relationship and a shared commitment to the project goals and objectives.

    Let’s understand the benefits and limitations of the dedicated team model.

    Benefits and Limitations of the Dedicated Team Model

    A dedicated team fully aligned with the project objectives ensures a high level of quality.Managing communication across in-house and dedicated teams can be challenging.
    A long-term engagement allows for better budget management and cost efficiency.This may take time for the dedicated team to become fully integrated into the project.
    Offload non-core development tasks to the dedicated team and focus on strategic business activities.

    When to Choose the Dedicated Team Model?

    • The dedicated team model is most appropriate for long-duration projects with dynamic requirements, where sustained engagement and integration with an external software development team are essential.

    When Not to Choose the Dedicated Team Model?

    • Not suitable for short-term projects with well-defined, fixed requirements.
    • When budget constraints are a primary concern.
  3. Project-based Model

    The project-based model represents a one-off engagement with an external team contracted to accomplish a specific project within set parameters. This model integrates seamlessly into the development process, structured around achieving predefined deliverables. This maintains a clear focus on meeting the project objectives within the agreed-upon time frame and budget.

    Let’s understand the benefits and limitations of the project-based model.

    Benefits and Limitations of the Project-based Model

    Project milestones and deadlines are established upfront, ensuring timely delivery.Lacks the flexibility to accommodate changes in project scope.
    The budget is defined at the outset, mitigating financial risks.Limited ongoing collaboration compared to other models.
    The emphasis is on achieving the defined deliverables within the stipulated timeframe.

    When to Choose the Project-based Model?

    • For short-term projects that have established requirements and are constrained by a predetermined budget.

    When Not to Choose the Project-based Model?

    • Not suitable for projects with evolving requirements or a need for ongoing collaboration.
    • When project scope changes are expected.

Which Relationship-based Model is the Best?

Analyzing the requirements of our client we found that the “Dedicated Team Model” stands out as the best choice among relationship-based outsourcing models. Our client network is widely spread and the maximum percentage of clients prefer to choose a dedicated team model for their businesses.

This model offers a long-term engagement that aligns with dynamic project requirements, allowing for better budget management and cost efficiency. Also, it fosters a close working relationship and ensures a high level of quality while offloading non-core development tasks.

Model 3: Outsourcing Models Based on Contract

Contract-based outsourcing models provide formal financial agreements that are suitable for the needs. These models include the fixed price model and the time & material model. Both models ensure cost-effective and flexible solutions for your development needs. Let’s discuss each in detail.

  1. Fixed-price Model

    The fixed-price model is a contractual agreement wherein the service cost is predetermined by the outsourcing company, based on a thorough evaluation and understanding of the project scope, objectives, and deliverables. This model provides a clear financial outline from the onset, with all parties agreeing to the costs before the project begins.

    Let’s understand the benefits and limitations of the fixed-price model.

    Benefits and Limitations of the Fixed-price Model

    The total cost is agreed upon upfront, providing budget certainty.Does not accommodate changes or evolving requirements without additional costs.
    Financial risks are mitigated as the cost remains unchanged even if the project takes longer than anticipated.Strict adherence to budget constraints may impact the quality of deliverables.
    Less intensive management and oversight are required due to the defined project scope.

    When to Choose the Fixed-price Model?

    • Most suitable for projects with precise, stable requirements and an established scope.

    When Not to Choose the Fixed-price Model?

    • Not suitable for projects with rapidly changing requirements.
    • When flexibility in adapting to evolving project needs is necessary.
  2. Time and Materials Model

    The time and materials model is a contractual agreement wherein the billing to the client is based on the actual time spent and resources utilized for the project. This model provides a flexible framework that can adapt to changing requirements or unexpected project developments, with billing reflecting the actual work done.

    Let’s understand the benefits and limitations of the time & material model.

    Benefits and Limitations of the Time & Material Model

    Accommodate changes and evolving requirements with ease.The total project cost may become uncertain as it depends on actual time and materials used.
    Maintains transparency in billing based on actual work done.Requires careful budget management to avoid cost overruns.
    Make adjustments in real-time to ensure project success.

    When to Choose the Time & Material Model?

    • For projects where requirements are expected to evolve or the scope is not yet fully defined, necessitating a flexible and adaptive engagement approach.

    When Not to Choose the Time & Material Model?

    • Not suitable for projects with well-defined, fixed requirements and a strict budget.
    • When cost predictability is a primary concern.

Which Contract-based Model is the Best?

Among contract-based outsourcing models, we suggest that the “Fixed-price Model” is the best. With over 7 years of experience in the outsourcing industry, we’ve observed that fixed-price models are often preferred by customers due to their benefits over time and material models.

This model offers budget certainty with upfront total cost agreements and financial risk mitigation. Also, it is most suitable for projects with precise, stable requirements and an established scope, ensuring a clear financial outline from the beginning.

Choose the Right Outsourcing Model for Your Business

Talk to our professionals. Our team will help you with your outsourcing requirements and provide you with the best software development outsourcing services.

Now, you have covered all the models for outsourcing software development. Now, let’s discuss the comparison of all the categorized models.

A Comparison of Location-based, Relationship-based and Contract-based Models

Here is a table that shows the detailed comparison of all the categorized models.

AspectLocation-based ModelsRelationship-based ModelsContract-based Models
Types of ModelsOffshore, Onshore, NearshoreStaff Augmentation, Dedicated Team, Project-basedFixed-price, Time & Material
Primary FocusGeographical locationCollaborative relationshipsFormal financial agreements
CommunicationMay involve time zone differencesClose coordination, alignmentClear communication channels
Cost ConsiderationsCost savings vs. local expertiseCost efficiency vs. quality assuranceBudget certainty vs. flexibility
FlexibilityMay lack flexibility in real-time changesOffers flexibility for evolving requirementsAdaptable to changing project needs
ControlMay require additional oversightAllows for significant controlMay require less intensive management
Suitable Project TypesWell-defined scope, flexible schedulesLong-duration, dynamic projectsPrecise requirements, established scope

After covering the comparison of all the categorized models. Let’s learn which one is the best among all the models.

Which Software Development Outsourcing Model is the Best for Your Business Needs?

From our extensive experience in the outsourcing industry, we suggest the “Relationship-based Model” as the best choice since most of our well-known clients prefer this model over the location-based model and contract-based model. There are certain instances where the client prefers to choose the location-based model and contract-based model but this depends on the project’s unique requirements.

Here are the reasons why the relationship-based model is the best for your business needs.

  • Offers a highly personalized and collaborative approach.
  • Aligns closely with your project’s specific needs, goals, and unique requirements.
  • Allows for more efficient budget management and cost control over time.
  • Ensures a consistently high level of quality throughout the project.
  • Fosters a close working relationship between your in-house and outsourced teams.

Now, let’s discuss the factors to consider when choosing the right outsourcing model.

10 Factors to Consider While Choosing the Right Outsourcing Model

When selecting the best software outsourcing models for your business, considering these factors is so important to align with your strategic goals, operational needs, and project outcomes. Here are the factors to consider while choosing the right software outsourcing business model.

  1. Financial Efficiency and Cost Reduction Strategy

    • Evaluate direct savings on labour and infrastructure against total engagement costs, including hidden fees.
    • Consider the long-term financial impact, including the cost of managing the outsourcing relationship.
  2. Assurance of Quality and Provider’s Domain Expertise

    • Assess the provider’s industry certifications, quality of work, and technical expertise.
    • Review their track record and portfolio for consistency with your project’s quality requirements.
  3. Comprehensive Risk Evaluation and Mitigation Framework

    • Identify geopolitical, data security, and operational continuity risks with mitigation plans.
    • Ensure robust protocols for intellectual property protection and crisis management are in place.
  4. Robust Service Level Agreements and Performance Metrics

    • Define clear performance metrics, timelines, and quality standards within SLAs.
    • Establish mechanisms for monitoring compliance and handling service-level breaches.
  5. Cultural Alignment and Collaborative Work Environment

    • Evaluate alignment in business practices, communication styles, and corporate values.
    • Ensure that the provider promotes a collaborative and adaptable working relationship.
  6. Operational Scalability and Flexibility in Service Provision

    • Confirm the provider’s ability to adapt to business growth and variable work volumes.
    • Check for flexible operations that can meet your changing demands without service disruption.
  7. Adherence to Regulatory Compliance and Legal Protocols

    • Verify adherence to international and local regulations, including data protection laws.
    • Confirm that ethical practices are in place concerning labour laws and industry standards.
  8. Provider’s Market Reputation and Financial Stability

    • Research the provider’s financial stability and industry reputation for reliability.
    • Gather and analyze feedback from existing and past clients about their service consistency.
  9. Effective Communication and Information Exchange Systems

    • Ensure that effective, clear communication channels and protocols are established.
    • Verify transparency in operations and regular, structured updates and feedback mechanisms.
  10. Technological Advancement and Capacity for Innovation

    • Check to see whether the provider uses cutting-edge technology and new approaches to ensure the success of your software development project.
    • Examine if the provider keeps up with current technological developments and invests in learning and creating more effective ways of working.

So far, you have learned everything about the software outsourcing models. If you want to learn more about software outsourcing models, then you can check out the FAQ section.

FAQs About Software Outsourcing Models

  1. Which outsourcing models provide more control over the development process?

    The staff augmentation and dedicated teams model offers the highest level of control.

    • The staff augmentation model allows you to handpick experts to fill particular roles within your project, maintaining direct oversight while benefiting from an outsourced team.
    • Dedicated teams provide you with full-time professionals to work on your entire project where you can manage and direct the software development process as if it were in-house, ensuring alignment with your project goals and company culture.
  2. Which outsourcing models are most suitable for short-term projects?

    The project-based model is the most suitable for short-term projects. Here’s the reason.

    • Project-based model is designed for projects with well-defined requirements and deliverables, making it ideal for short-term timelines.
    • This model often operates with a fixed-price contract, which can be more budget-friendly for short-term engagements.
    • Provides a start-to-finish solution without the need for long-term commitment or extensive oversight, perfect for concise development projects.
  3. What challenges arise when switching an outsourcing model mid-project?

    Switching to different software outsourcing models mid-project can lead to several challenges. Here is each explained in detail.

    • A new software development team or individuals may have different workflows, causing disruptions as they integrate with existing processes.
    • There is a risk of knowledge loss during the transition, which can delay the project and increase costs.
    • Changing models may involve renegotiating contracts, potentially leading to legal and financial hurdles.
    • The new outsourcing model may require an adjustment period, affecting project momentum and deadlines.

Select an Appropriate Software Development Outsourcing Model

Now you know about all the models available for software development outsourcing and the importance of selecting a model for your business. Also, you have covered the factors to consider while selecting the right software outsourcing partner for your business.

Each model comes with its own set of advantages and is appropriate for different projects. Staying informed and selecting the right model that reflects your vision may become a key competitive advantage.

If you are looking for a reliable software outsourcing company that offers various models to select an appropriate one for your project, we are here to help you. We have been in this field for 7+ years and have helped many businesses by delivering the finest software outsourcing services for software development. Here are a few software solutions developed by us.

Recent Projects Developed by Space-O Technologies

Contact us and share your requirements.

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Rakesh Patel

Written by

Rakesh Patel is the Founder and CEO of Space-O Technologies (Canada). He has 28 years of IT experience in business strategies, operations & information technology. He has expertise in various aspects of business like project planning, sales, and marketing, and has successfully defined flawless business models for the clients. A techie by mind and a writer at heart, he has authored two books – Enterprise Mobility: Strategy & Solutions and A Guide To Open311

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