Choosing Between Offshoring and Outsourcing for Business Efficiency

Every business needs a digital infrastructure to help it scale. However, in practice, working with local IT service providers can be too costly. Therefore, the inevitable question arises: What is the outsourcing vs offshoring difference, and what should companies select if they need to create a digital product quickly and efficiently?

According to forecasts by the analytical group Precedence Research, by 2032, the value of the IT outsourcing niche will exceed $1.149 trillion. This indicates that the market is gradually expanding, and demand for it is growing.

However, to choose a provider, you still need to determine the differences of outsourcing vs. offshoring and evaluate the advantages and disadvantages of cooperation models. By reading this material from, you will learn how outsourcing differs from offshoring and will be able to determine what your business and project type specifically need.

Understanding the Basics

The only thing that cannot be compared in offshoring vs. outsourcing is the general concept of cooperation. Both models, for example, in software development, involve the remote provision of services. Yes, you will work with teams through video conferencing and a range of specialized tools like GitLab, Jenkins, and Slack.

As for the challenges that arise during cooperation, there is no offshoring vs outsourcing difference if outsourcing work does not mean handing tasks to one of the local (regional) teams.

However, there are also key differences, such as:

  • Time zone.

  • Another country.

  • Cultural differences.

  • Complexity of organizing and controlling processes.

  • Risks that arise when work is done by a third-party contractor instead of an in-house team.

We'll delve into this and more in a bit. For now, let's consider the key features of each model. Let's start with offshoring.

Delving into Offshoring

Typically, the concept of offshoring is associated with something not entirely legal. However, in the context of software development and support, IT services, offshoring means the remoteness of the team of the direct executor from the customer's company.

For example, if your organization operates in the USA but hires people from Eastern Europe, such cooperation can be termed offshore. Different time zones, cultural differences, and communication complexity.

Another scenario is working with companies operating in special economic zones, such as the UAE, where different rules apply to different regions and organizations providing services from these jurisdictions.

Offshoring should not be perceived as something negative. It's rather a specific and, in some respects, advantageous type of cooperation. Just consider its drawbacks and benefits.

Pros and Cons

Now that we've discussed what is offshoring vs outsourcing entails, it's time to delve into the advantages and disadvantages of each model. Traditionally, let's start with the one that sparks the most debate—offshoring.

The advantages of this type of cooperation include:

  • Relatively low cost of work, especially if the company operates from free economic zones.

  • A robust talent pool where you can find experts of various specialties and skill levels.

  • Flexibility achieved through scaling the team size according to project needs.

As for the drawbacks, there are also plenty:

  • Different time zones affecting communication between clients and vendors.

  • Process synchronization complicated by distance and lack of communication.

  • Varying service quality depending on the region you cooperate with.

However, it cannot be definitively stated whether, in the outsourcing vs offshoring definition, the second option is inferior to the first or vice versa is the winning solution. It all depends on the project needs, budget, and vendor accountability.

Best Practices for Offshoring

To build truly effective cooperation, you should apply Scrum or Agile practices and adhere to the following recommendations.

  • Seek experienced vendors. Do not be tempted by overly low prices and significant promises. Verify the team's expertise through review aggregation platforms.

  • Implement a risk management program. Identify in advance the difficulties and challenges the project may face and preemptively address them.

  • Find mutually beneficial touchpoints. Establish compromise boundaries that you and the contractor can agree upon to build an adaptive and controlled cooperation process.

  • Work through problems. If you and your partner cannot reach a compromise, propose an alternative or change the vendor to avoid project failure.

  • Clarify responsibilities. To prevent potential issues in the future, assign boundaries of influence that each party cannot exceed.

Also, don't forget to use specialized tools for process synchronization, control, and communication. These simple tips will help you work with offshore organizations.

Exploring Outsourcing

The fundamental difference between offshoring and outsourcing lies in the fact that the latter can be either regionally remote or even have an office in the neighboring building. However, outsourcing is more about how you can delegate part of the business process and business operations to a third party.

In contrast to offshore outsourcing, the classic type allows for easier collaboration but can hit the wallet hard, especially if you're based in the USA or Western Europe and hire contractors from the same regions.

Nevertheless, outsourcing is a common type of working relationship that is utilized by tech giants like Google, Apple, Samsung, Amazon, and others. This model can also be considered a magic wand for startups, enabling them to achieve goals without excessive budget expenditures or staff expansion.

However, even in comparison to outsourcing vs offshoring, the former also has its strengths and weaknesses. Let's delve into them further.

Pros and Cons

You might have been assured that outsourcing is the optimal and cost-effective cooperation model and that it has no drawbacks or risks. This is not entirely true; even an in-house team, let alone external contractors, can falter at a critical moment.

Nevertheless, there are still several significant advantages:

  • Flexible resource management. You don't necessarily have to pay for services from a standard-sized team if there's no need. You can freely decrease or increase the number of contractors based on the current workload and project specifics.

  • Talent pool. You can find the best specialists on the side, with sufficient experience and high skill levels needed here and now. Therefore, onboarding experts via the outsourcing model is more advantageous and faster than hiring them in-house.

  • Cost-effectiveness. You only pay for the services provided and the duration of the cooperation. No additional fees (especially in the case of free economic zones, with minimal taxes), office rent, equipment purchases, licenses, technologies, or transportation costs for employees.

As for the drawbacks, they include the standard set:

  • Complexity of cooperation. Especially when working with overly remote regions and time zones.

  • Manageability and quality. This depends more on the potential contractor, but it's still a factor to consider.

  • Availability. Top-tier teams come at a corresponding cost, so their services may be beyond the reach of a startup.

Classic outsourcing isn't a one-size-fits-all solution.  Before deciding if it's right for you, consider your budget and project goals first. Once you have a clear picture of your needs, you can find the most suitable project executor.

Best Practices for Outsourcing

If you choose between outsourcing and offshoring, we recommend preparing in advance for the start of cooperation. To be precise:

  • Evaluate your capabilities. It's not worth using the entire budget to release a full-fledged product; it's better to focus on MVP and gradually scale it.

  • Select a contractor. Depending on the project's needs, find a team with the relevant experience backed by completed tasks.

  • Implement a risk management program. It has already been mentioned, but it is a critically important element that prevents stressful situations in the future, so don't ignore it.

There are other tips for business process outsourcing that let you minimize the disadvantages of this type of cooperation. Want to learn more? Reach out to a manager for consultation.

Comparing and Contrasting

We've already discussed outsourcing vs offshoring pros and cons, so let's finalize this material with dry tables demonstrating the differences between Outsourcing vs. Offshoring vs. Nearshoring.

Comparing and Contrasting

As you can see, there's no clear favorite among the three cooperation models. Each has its strengths and can be useful in certain situations.

Making the Right Choice for Your Business

Outsourcing, offshoring, and nearshoring are the most common types of third-party interaction that offer a defined range of services. Among them, only classic outsourcing is the most flexible in terms of price/quality ratio. However, it also has its drawbacks. So what should you choose in the end?

We have only one piece of advice – focus on the project's needs, deadlines, and budget. In situations where speed is paramount, it's worth turning to the pool of outsourcing and offshoring teams. If waiting is an option, then nearshoring may be more practical in terms of quality.

The reality is similar in terms of cost. If you operate in a region with a high standard of living (and therefore incomes and service costs), then the best option is to find contractors from remote corners of the world.


Offshore and onshore are subtypes of the classic outsourcing model, so there's no fundamental difference between them, at least regarding how the cooperation process is structured. That's why you can simply open the appropriate aggregator, choose a contractor, and hand over the project to them.

Let's save you some time. If you need quality and expert services, delegate the project to the team. We adapt to your needs and offer the optimal solution for implementing your digital product.

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