What Exactly is Nearshoring?


As organizations seek out solutions to save on overhead and labor costs while continuing to scale, outsourcing has grown in popularity. Outsourcing has been an effective model that allows companies the option to adjust their resources to improve productivity and efficiency while giving them the opportunity to focus on their core competencies. It allows businesses to save on direct and indirect recruiting and labor costs.

While overseas companies used to be the preferred choice for outsourcing as it offered the lowest cost alternative, many organizations have started to realize the unique challenges associated with offshoring and have started looking for an option that saves money and cuts down on the headaches involved.

One of the options many companies consider is nearshoring. Nearshoring is a type of offshoring that occurs when an organization decides to outsource work to companies that are geographically nearer (hence the word “near”) to them than some of the previously popular countries in Asia and Eastern Europe. For example, instead of offshoring development work to India which is between 9-12 hours ahead of the US, a company might choose a company in Central America, thus cutting the time difference down so work can take place in relatively real time.

However, although nearshoring allows two companies to be in more similar time zones, this doesn’t solve all problems with overseas outsourcing – just one of them. Nearshoring still presents contextual, cultural, and language challenges as well as those of cybersecurity, IP protection, and political uncertainty. Companies need to be aware of these dangers before considering this option for outsourcing any projects.

In this blog, we explore nearshoring in depth, including its benefits and drawbacks, and how it differs from other outsourcing models.

Nearshoring vs. Offshoring

As companies sought out solutions for reducing operating costs and gaining greater operational scalability, many organizations looked to other countries overseas such as India, China, and Russia to outsource their activities, otherwise known as offshoring.

Offshoring takes place across national borders and can be a cost-effective solution as offshore companies are willing to set lower hourly rates that are more in line with their cost living. For example, India became popular for knowledge-based offshoring (the best example being technology related) as India combines a relatively educated workforce with low wages. China became popular for manufacturing types of offshoring, with a lower skilled workforce and an even lower incomes.

However, although offshoring is a cheaper option, there are many drawbacks. Offshoring can present many communication issues, as language and cultural barriers can get in the way of effective communication and put a strain on the workforce. Plus, deadlines are often extended due to the large gap in time zones, making it difficult to collaborate, stay on schedule, and communicate in real time. Tomorrow can mean different things in different parts of the world. Combine these significant intangible hazards with the material presence of risks around cyber-security, IP protection and economic and political stability, and risk soon outweighs a perceived lower price with uncertain delivery.

Many United States-based companies wanted quicker turnaround times, which is why they started looking for partners that were located a bit closer to home.

The Nearshoring Advantage

The biggest benefit of nearshoring is that the organizations are physically closer, reducing time zone discrepancies. Fewer time zones differences allow teams to make faster decisions to stay on schedule and reduce delays. Closer time-zone alignment greatly enables operational cohesion, effectiveness, and team camaraderie. The geographic proximity improves productivity in both teams as they will no longer have to shift their hours to accommodate the outsourced employee group. Finally, travel between locations is made much easier under the nearshore model, making team interaction and regular inspection much easier.

What are the Disadvantages of Nearshoring?

As with any business model, it’s important to be aware of the challenges associated with nearshoring.

While nearshoring solves most time zone barriers, it doesn’t quite answer all of the challenges that operating in an international context – usually with developing countries – presents. Different countries will have varying national holidays, languages, and cultural differences that can prove a challenge to efficient working and communications.

For example, a US-based company that works with a Mexican or Central American company may run into some language barriers, which can make communication a challenge. National holidays can be different between US and Mexico-based companies, which can lengthen deadlines and delay turnaround time. Differences in work schedules can also prove to be a challenge, as typical work days may vary between countries.

Furthermore, it’s also important to consider any new laws and regulations you’ll need to adhere to when working with a company in another country, which can prove to be a challenge. Finally, nearshoring does not inspire much more confidence around geopolitical balance, the threat of compromised IP, or the management of sensitive data. Frankly, nearshoring is illusory in its ability to solve the problems of delivering high-quality software, cost effectively, at the required speed with an acceptable amount of risk.

Onshoring: An Alternative to Nearshoring

While nearshoring brings two companies closer in proximity, this business model certainly isn’t fool-proof. There are many language and cultural considerations that can lead to delays and problematic communication and navigating a nearshoring partnership – and the regulations associated with it – can be tricky. The real reason people opt for nearshore is nothing to do with the business conditions. It’s just more fun, or at least less onerous, to travel “nearshore” to inspect their teams on a regular basis. Let’s face it; most people would prefer a few days in Central, South America or The Caribbean than a quarterly 24-hour trek (maybe in coach) halfway around the world for a ten-day tour of duty inspecting your offshore resources in a far-flung country that feels as culturally uncomfortable as it is geographically remote.

Fortunately, there is a solution that provides businesses with a cost-effective alternative to nearshoring and overcomes any apprehensions with cultural barriers and delays. Onshoring, also known as domestic sourcing, is when a firm seeks out services from a partner within the same country. For example, a company in Los Angeles may look to an IT group in New Mexico or Georgia for help with a project as the cost of living offers more affordable rates in these areas than Southern California.

Onshoring cuts down on time zone concerns, language, and cultural barriers as well as preserving the rule of law over IP and data security. You can benefit from real-time collaboration and produce a high-quality product within budget, on schedule, and at the speed that modern business demands. With onshoring, you’ll be less likely to encounter delays that would typically occur with cultural and language barriers associated with nearshoring so that you can get to market faster with a high-quality product at an affordable price. You’ll also support jobs in your own country, so you can feel good about creating opportunities close to home.

Rural Sourcing: The Leader of Remote Delivery IT Services

Rural Sourcing is the leader in remote software development. To help companies lower their costs and create high-quality products, Rural Sourcing’s innovative onshore model allows you to benefit from talented, qualified IT teams living in mid-sized and small cities across the United States. With our onshoring services, you’ll eliminate time zones, language barriers, cultural differences, and delays to speed up deadlines and improve collaboration. If you think onshoring can benefit your organization, get in touch with our team today.


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