What Is an Offshore Development Center (ODC)? and How To Set It Up Effectively?


In an increasingly digital age, organizations constantly seek new strategies to gain a competitive edge, enhance efficiency, and deliver top-notch products and services. One such system that has emerged as a valuable solution to several pressing challenges is establishing an offshore development center (ODC). In this guide, we delve into what an ODC is, why it's a worthwhile investment, and how to set one up for your business.

What Is an Offshore Development Center (ODC)?

In an era marked by a surge in digital transformation, non-tech organizations often grapple with the shortage of software engineering personnel. This deficiency can hinder the pace of business growth and competitiveness. To circumnavigate this issue, businesses can utilize an offshore development center (ODC).

An offshore development center is a dedicated, remote agency located in another country, primed with the necessary personnel and infrastructure for software development. It's akin to having an extension of your in-house team stationed offshore, equipped to handle tasks ranging from software development to managing complex digital projects.

Moreover, an offshore software development center provides an all-in-one solution for recruitment, office administration, infrastructure investment, and administrative matters like taxes, accounting, and human resource management. It enables you to cut operational costs while ensuring top-tier output and innovation.

Since the 1960s and the early days of the Silicon Valley, technology pioneers developed offshoring centers in the state of Jalisco, Mexico. In 1996, General Electric offshored its IT for the first time when it opened its own center in India Given the rapid growth of this sector, several companies have started to use offshore development in China, India, and other countries with a lower cost per developer model." - Wikipedia

Distinct Yet Interlinked: Offshore Development Center and Outsourcing

Navigating the maze of offshore development often leads to the intersection of "offshore development center" and "outsourcing". While both pathways share common destinations - cost-effectiveness, access to expert talent, and increased efficiency - they offer unique travel experiences. Setting up an offshore software development center operates as an extension of your in-house team, just located overseas. 

The ODC model offers a dedicated offshore development center composed of a skilled team of developers, engineers, and project managers exclusively engaged with your project. This engagement allows for substantial control, continuity, and ownership, akin to managing an in-house team.

On the flip side, outsourcing represents delegating specific tasks or projects to an external service provider. This model typically thrives on project-specific engagements, with the relationship between client and provider tied to the project's life. While outsourcing can be a great strategy for standalone, short-term tasks, it may not provide the level of ongoing control and commitment characteristic of an offshore development center. 

Thus, your choice between these two should pivot on your project needs, long-term plans, and the extent of control you wish to maintain over your projects.

Why Do More and More Companies Opt For Offshore  Development Centers?

The Inner Workings of an Offshore Development Center 

Offshore development centers (ODCs) stand as pillars in modern software development. With responsibilities spanning project development, testing, and support, these centers function as your very own team, albeit in a different geographical location. An integral component is the ODC team, a group of competent professionals such as project managers, developers, and quality assurance experts.

This ODC team delves deep into your project details, going beyond mere task completion to proactive collaboration and performance optimization. As your project scales, the team adapts accordingly, offering you a unique blend of talent accessibility, operational efficiency, and cost-effectiveness. Thus, ODCs have emerged as invaluable partners in today's global business arena.

Benefits of ODCs

Venturing into offshore development centers unlocks potential advantages, presenting an appealing choice for businesses aiming for enhanced efficiency, scalability, and success. 

Here are a few reasons why companies choose to hire offshore developers to establish offshore development centers:

  • Expense Cutbacks: Outsourcing to an offshore software development center significantly reduces expenses related to personnel, administration, and equipment, allowing you to allocate resources to other areas of your business.
  • Starting a Business Abroad: ODCs are your gateway to new markets, providing local knowledge and representation that can be invaluable for expansion.
  • Access to a Team of Experts: Establishing an offshore development center provides a team of skilled engineers dedicated to your project, ensuring high-quality work while allowing your in-house team to focus on other core aspects of your business.
  • Tighter Protection: High skill levels ensure maximum information security for your projects.
  • Production Site Proximity: Local offshore development centers offer quick and easy adjustments to the language and culture of your target market, creating products that resonate with local users.


How to Navigate Challenges and Risks in ODCs?

When setting up an offshore development center, understanding potential challenges and risks can ensure smoother operations and successful outcomes. Below are critical considerations to bear in mind:

  • Clarity of Tasks: To prevent any confusion or oversight, it's crucial to maintain detailed documentation of your ideas, tasks, and functionalities.
  • In-depth Vendor Research: Before partnering with an offshore software development company, thoroughly investigate its reputation and capabilities using platforms, such as LinkedIn, Clutch, or Google.
  • Maintaining Account Access: As part of your agreement with the vendor, ensure you have proprietorship and access to all created accounts.
  • Understanding Work Processes and Confidentiality: Familiarize yourself with the workflow of offshore development centers and insist on implementing a non-disclosure agreement (NDA) to protect your business information.
  • Flexible Pricing Structures: Opt for payment plans that mirror the quality and quantity of the offshore software development center work performed, providing a fair value assessment.
  • Utilizing Project Management Tools: Implement effective tools like Slack, Jira, Trello, Zoom, and Notion to monitor progress and facilitate communication.
  • Addressing Time-Zone Differences: Make proactive arrangements to deal with time-zone disparities, ensuring seamless communication and collaboration.
  • Expectation of Regular Deliverables: Anticipate a demonstration of the minimum viable product (MVP) at the conclusion of each development sprint, keeping the project on track and aligned with your objectives.

Setting Up an Offshore Development Center: A Step-by-Step Guide

Setting up an offshore development center is a strategic decision requiring a thorough understanding of various factors. Let's decode the process into manageable, bite-sized steps:


  1. Identify an Ideal Country: Assess potential countries based on factors such as the availability of skilled workforce, cost-effectiveness, time zone compatibility, and ease of doing business.
  2. Select a Vendor: Identify a reliable ODC offshore development center partner with a proven track record. Consider factors like past projects, client testimonials, and industry reputation.
  3. Understand Different ODC Models: Get acquainted with different dedicated offshore development center systems, such as Time & Material Contracts, Fixed Price, Dedicated Development Team, and BOT. Opt for the one that harmonizes with your project needs and business goals.
  4. Solve administrative issues (if any) at the ODC location: Streamline administrative matters and resolve any issues at the Offshore Development Center (ODC) location for seamless operations.
  5. Learn about the Tax System and Business Law: Familiarize yourself with the selected country's tax system and business laws before establishing an offshore software development center. This will help you understand your obligations and ensure regulatory compliance.
  6. Register Your ODC Abroad: Using a legal entity, register your ODC in the chosen country. For example, when setting up a Vietnam offshore development center, it's advisable to engage with a local legal firm to assist with registration and compliance.
  7. Establish Your Brand: Start building your brand in the new location with your partner's assistance. This may involve setting up a local office, creating a website, and launching localized marketing campaigns.
  8. Recruit Skilled Developers: With your partner, initiate the recruitment process. Select skilled developers who align with your technical needs and corporate culture.

Demonstrating Success: Prominent Saigon Technology Case Studies

Saigon Technology showcased one of the top offshore software development center establishments with Merit Logistics. It’s an industry pioneer that’s been at the forefront of the latest supply chain management innovations of our time. It aims to boost business productivity toward optimal peak performance.

"Merit Logistics has been leading in the development of supply chain solutions based on planning strategies to increase productivity for partner companies and support operations to achieve the highest efficiency. After more than 100 years of operation in this field, Merit Logistics has built a strong logistics team, with many achievements proving that we are real experts, always ready to help our partner company improve. Professional activities, profits and maintain high competition between the fierce market today."

Mobile Team Manager: Enhancing Field Management

  • Client Needs:

The client sought to create an online field management system to streamline scheduling, enable real-time communication between field and office staff, and automate reporting and management tasks.

  • Saigon Technology's Approach:

Saigon Technology proposed a three-phased strategy, starting with a project-based model. This method was succeeded by adopting the Scrum/Agile methodology for maintenance and continuous improvements, promoting adaptability and rapid response to changing needs.

  • Outcome:

The project was executed smoothly by diligently utilizing Agile methodologies, fostering rapid troubleshooting responses, and implementing swift enhancements. Regular meetings and consistent reporting ensured a high level of transparency and clear communication, boosting client satisfaction.

Triptomatic: Revolutionizing Medical Transport Management

  • Client Needs:

The client's vision was to build a cross-platform booking system to bridge institutions with transporters in the medical sector, including features like transport management, vehicle management, invoice management, and a chat platform for real-time communication.

  • Saigon Technology's Approach:

Saigon Technology deployed a dedicated team comprising web and mobile developers and a project manager. They adopted various technologies such as AWS, Nodejs, React Native, and others, demonstrating their versatility and tech-savviness.

  • Outcome:

Saigon Technology's contribution resulted in notable enhancements in the client's operational efficiency and cost management. Regular meetings and structured reporting ensured that communication with the client remained transparent and comprehensive.


Offshore Software Development Center Working Models

When deciding to engage a provider, choosing which offshore software development center model to use is crucial. These models have been designed to meet various project demands, considering factors like project scope, timeline, budget, and the level of control you wish to maintain. Here, we look at four common ODC models: Time & Material Contracts, Fixed Price, Dedicated Development Team, and BOT (Build-Operate-Transfer), Time & Material Contracts,

1. Fixed Price Model

In a Fixed-price model, the client and the offshore development center agree on a fixed price for the entire project. This model is ideal for short-term projects with well-defined requirements and scopes. While it provides budget certainty and minimizes risk, it lacks flexibility and might not be suitable for complex or long-term projects that require iterative changes.

2. Dedicated Development Team

In the Dedicated Development Team model, a comprehensive offshore software development center team is assembled based on your project's requirements. This model works well for long-term projects or when you require a team with specific skills. 

It ensures high control and coordination, as the team functions as an extension of your in-house staff. This model is an excellent solution for augmenting your existing team or lacking in-house resources.

3. BOT (Build-Operate-Transfer)

The BOT model involves three stages: Build, Operate, and Transfer. Initially, the chosen group establishes an offshore development center model and hires staff on your behalf. During the "Operate" phase, the offshore development center will manage and run the project. 

4. Time & Material Contracts

Under this ODC model, the client pays based on the amount of time and resources utilized by the offshore development center. This model is often preferred for projects where the scope, requirements, and timelines are not clearly defined or are expected to change over time. It provides a high level of flexibility and allows for modifications during development.

Once the center is stable and running smoothly, ownership and operations can be transferred to the client. This model provides a low-risk opportunity to expand your operations offshore, and it's ideal if you plan to have a permanent presence in the new location.

Roles of Team Members

Managing an ODC team requires understanding the key roles within the team. Each member has specific tasks to undertake, ensuring the success of the offshore development center. 

Here are the main roles the key ODC team members play while managing the operations of the facility:

  • Account Manager: Maintains client relationships.
  • Project Manager: Responsible for the entire project.
  • Developers: Create, deploy, and maintain software applications.
  • Testing Engineer: Ensures product quality.
  • Graphic Designer: Creates visual concepts and graphics.
  • Content Writer: Produces instructions and content for the software.

Identifying the Right Time and Candidates for an Offshore Development Center

While many organizations can benefit from an offshore development center, it's vital to understand if your business conditions align with such a strategic decision. This section provides insight into the ideal candidates for an offshore development center and when it might be the best time to consider this option.

Ideal Candidates for an Offshore Development Center

Establishing an offshore development center is suitable for a broad range of organizations, from startups to multinational corporations. Here are some specific examples of who might benefit the most from establishing such a facility:

  • Startups and SMEs: Often, startups and small to medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) may not have sufficient resources or a large enough in-house team to handle complex or numerous projects. Offshore development centers can provide them access to a skilled workforce at a fraction of the cost.
  • Companies with High Development Demand: For businesses experiencing rapid growth or those with a high demand for software development that exceeds their in-house capabilities, it can supplement their development teams and help meet deadlines.
  • Companies Seeking Specialized Skills: An ODC can provide access to a pool of experts with specialized skills that might not be readily available or affordable in the home country.
  • Organizations Seeking Cost-Effective Solutions: Companies looking to reduce operational costs can leverage an ODC to access cost-effective labor markets.

When to Consider an Offshore Development Center

The decision to engage an ODC depends on several factors. Here are some scenarios when it might be beneficial:

  • Scaling Up: If your business is growing fast and your development needs are outpacing your in-house capabilities, it's a good time to consider an ODC.
  • New Market Expansion: If you plan to expand your operations into new international markets, an ODC can provide valuable insights about the local market and business practices.
  • Cost Optimization: If reducing costs is a strategic imperative, outsourcing can provide substantial savings on salaries, benefits, and overhead expenses.
  • Digital Transformation: If your organization is undergoing a digital transformation, it can provide the necessary technical skills to navigate the transition.

Navigating the Pitfalls: Avoiding Common Mistakes When Establishing Your ODC Team

Creating a successful offshore development center is challenging. However, by acknowledging these potential pitfalls, you can establish effective strategies to overcome them:

Don’t ignore communication challenges. Miscommunication can become a significant issue when working with a geographically dispersed team. Ensure to establish clear communication channels and encourage daily scrum meetings over the phone or through tools like Slack. Introducing video calls can also significantly enhance team cohesion and understanding.

Don’t neglect time-zone differences. Operating across multiple time zones can lead to missed meetings and delayed responses. Adapt your communication schedule to fit your developers' time zone, even if this necessitates early morning or late-night check-ins.

Don’t overlook language barriers. While English proficiency is often a requirement for ODC personnel, nuances and comprehension levels may vary. Assess the language proficiency of your developers and engage in one-on-one communication when necessary to prevent misunderstandings.

Don’t disregard cultural nuances. Cultural differences can significantly impact your team's collaboration. Embrace these differences and adapt your communication methods to align with the cultural standards of your team. This fosters respect and understanding, ultimately boosting your team's productivity and cohesion.

Why Choose Saigon Technology?

When it comes to selecting offshore developers, Saigon Technology stands out for several reasons:

  • Experience: With nearly 10 years in the field of software engineering, Saigon Technology has successfully delivered high-quality software products for various sectors, including finance, healthcare, banking, and logistics.
  • Global Clientele: They have served clients from powerful countries such as the US, Australia, Germany, the Netherlands, France, Belgium, and Singapore.
  • Industry Recognition: Recognized by VINASA as one of the top software outsourcing companies in Vietnam, Saigon Technology is devoted to contributing value to the international IT industry.
  • Collaborative Approach: Saigon Technology is ready to listen to your questions, ideas, and cherished plans, offering tailored advice.


1. What are the Cost Components Associated with Utilizing an Offshore Development Center?

There are several cost components to consider when establishing an offshore development center. These can broadly be categorized into:

  • Personnel costs: Salaries or hourly rates of the offshore team members, including developers, project managers, testers, and other staff.
  • Infrastructure costs: This involves the expenditure on physical space, software, hardware, and other resources needed for the team to function.
  • Administrative costs: These expenses encompass local taxes, accounting, legal fees, HR management, and other regulatory costs in the offshore location.
  • Vendor fees: Fees charged by the vendor providing the services.
  • Communication and coordination costs: Resources spent on maintaining smooth and regular communication with the team, including collaboration tools, regular meetings, and visits to the location.

2. How To Manage The ODC Team?

Managing an ODC team requires a balanced approach that involves clear communication, proper coordination, and efficient project management. Here are some key strategies:

  • Maintain clear and regular communication: Use tools like Slack, Zoom, or email to stay connected with your team. Regular meetings, both formal and informal, help in ensuring everyone is on the same page.
  • Delegate tasks effectively: Ensure that tasks are properly allocated, taking into account the strengths and expertise of individual team members.
  • Use project management tools: Tools like Jira, Trello, and Asana can help in keeping track of tasks and maintaining deadlines.
  • Foster a collaborative environment: Encourage team bonding and a positive work culture, despite the physical distance. This can involve casual catch-ups, celebrating team successes, and ensuring every team member feels valued.

3. Popular ODC Locations

There are several popular locations worldwide for setting up an ODC, depending largely on the industry, the specific needs of the business, and other factors such as cost, time zone, language proficiency, and cultural fit. Some popular locations include:

  • India: Known for its abundant talent pool, India has a booming IT industry and is a favorite among businesses looking for cost-effective ODC solutions.
  • Vietnam: With its young and dynamic population, Vietnam is rapidly becoming a preferred choice for businesses, particularly in the tech industry.
  • Eastern Europe (Ukraine, Poland, Belarus): These countries offer a combination of strong technical education, reasonable costs, and a wide range of IT services.
  • Latin America (Mexico, Brazil, Argentina): Close cultural affinity with the US, increasing numbers of software professionals, and almost similar time zones make these countries attractive locations.
Content Manager

Thanh (Bruce) Pham CEO of Saigon Technology

A Member of Forbes Technology Council

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