Industry News

South Africa: UK’s talent hotspot

Realm Digital 25 October 2022

A lot has been written about the advantages of establishing an offshore software development team. But where is the best place to set up this team? And what are the key things you need to consider? With a focus on UK staff augmentation, in this article we’ll be discussing the benefits of setting up a team in South Africa and examine some of the things you need to consider when making your decision.

What is staff augmentation?

Before we get into the specifics of setting up an offshore software development team in South Africa, let’s first take a step back and look at what staff augmentation is. In short, staff augmentation is the process of adding external developers (or other resources) to your existing team in order to increase capacity or expertise. Staff augmentation differs from hiring permanently or purchasing managed services, providing a workforce without the additional costs and overheads associated with traditional recruitment methods. This can be done either onshore (using resources from your own country) or offshore (using resources from another country). 

There are many reasons why businesses might want to consider staff augmentation. Perhaps your in-house team is already stretched thin, and you need to increase capacity quickly. Or maybe you’re looking to add specific expertise that you don’t have in-house. Whatever the reason, staff augmentation can be a great solution, giving your business an edge over its competitors.

South Africa as an offshore development destination for UK staff augmentation

Now that we’ve covered what staff augmentation is, let’s turn our attention to South Africa. Although India and Eastern Europe are viewed as the go-to destinations to find outstanding talent, South Africa has an equally large number of benefits with far fewer roadblocks.

English is the primary language of business and commerce in the country, so you won’t have to worry about communication problems. Also, there is no shortage of developers with diverse skill sets, which is great news for businesses. Another bonus is that the exchange rate favours UK Pound and US Dollar holders—and lastly, the time difference between South Africa and most other countries isn’t large enough to cause any major disruptions during your work day.

According to McKinsey research, South Africa has been voted the second most attractive Business Process Outsourcing (BPO) location in the world for three years in a row. Similar trends can be seen with other functions like development, business analysis and business intelligence research. Cape Town is also seen as the tech hub of Africa and has a thriving tech ecosystem including tech heavyweights such as Amazon, Naspers, Takealot, and Aerobotics. 

Challenges working with an offshore software development team

Of course, some challenges come with working with an offshore team. One of the biggest challenges is communication. Building trust and rapport with a team you cannot meet face-to-face can be difficult. This can be overcome with regular video calls and meetings, but is something to be aware of.

Another complication is contrasting cultures. This can be seen in the finer details such as how meetings are run and how engineers talk with each other. By investing in teaching and laying out procedures plainly for your staff, you can help reduce this problem.

Finally, there is the challenge of time differences. One method to address this issue is to establish core working hours that are simple for all team members to adhere to. This allows developers in distinct time zones to overlap for specified times each day, allowing communication and collaboration among them. South Africa is only 1-2 hours ahead of the UK, depending on the time of year, making it ideal for members to communicate within most of their standard working hours.

How to establish an offshore software development team in South Africa

Now that we’ve looked at some of the challenges and benefits of setting up an offshore software development team in South Africa, let’s explore how a UK business would go about setting up a team in South Africa.

The first step is to identify the skills and expertise that you need on your team. Once you have a clear understanding of what you’re looking for, you can begin the process of sourcing developers. There are several ways to do this, but one of the most effective is to use a specialist software development recruitment agency that understands the South African market and the industry. Businesses frequently misuse recruiters that are unacquainted with technology roles and provide candidates that aren’t suited to their needs or experience.

After you have found a team of developers, it is important to set up formal processes, lines of communication, systems for deploying code and procedures for escalating issues. This can be done through regular video calls and meetings, but tools like Slab, Slack and Miro can also prove invaluable for documenting processes and driving collaboration.

Finally, it’s important to implement core working hours which can be accommodated easily by all team members. This will help to minimise the impact of time differences and make communication and collaboration easier.

The next step

By following these steps, you can establish an offshore software development team in South Africa that will give your business a competitive edge.

South Africa is a great destination for businesses looking to augment their team with offshore developers. With the right planning and execution, your project can be successfully delivered by a talented and cost-effective development team in South Africa. If you would like help setting up a development team in South Africa, reach out to us – we’d be happy to assist!

If you missed part 1 of our Staff Augmentation in the UK series, have a closer look here for more tips on how to give your business the competitive edge it needs:

Why UK businesses are choosing South Africa as their outsourcing destination of choice.