Asia offers some of the least expensive labor costs and a great wealth of software engineers and mathematicians. The time zone and cultural differences can overshadow the savings, however, you can leverage the time zone differences for work you need done during off hours such as IT support, call centers, and the like.
Asia’s time zone differences make it an excellent place to do off-hours work such as 24×7 call centers and IT support, off-hours testing, and even some off-hours DevOps. However, Asia’s time zone difference can make software development challenging so choosing the right outsourcing model and vendor will be key to the success of using Asia.
I recommend you hire a team with one vendor who has US-based management, business analysts, and tech leads. Let the vendor manage the development staff and you simply hold them to delivering on time and on budget with high quality. The main thing you want to avoid is having to manage staff with a 10-12 hour time difference. If that is not possible, one option would be to use a time-zone bridge vendor in Eastern Europe. It’s not ideal and comes with some risks but it will work if done properly.
Most vendors in Asia do sell that they have people working in the US time zone. In order to accomplish this, realize that they have staff working the graveyard shift, and there is a reason why we call it the graveyard shift…it takes its toll on people, especially knowledge workers.
Many countries in Asia have a very high hierarchical work structure so it can be difficult to get accurate project status. I recommend you mitigate this by using vendors in Asia with US offices and personnel to bridge the cultural divide on this issue.
Communication will also be slower due to the time zone differences especially if the communication is over email. If you send an email at 1 PM, you may be emailing someone at 1 AM and the response may come back to you that night at 10 PM.
One of the major advantages to Asia is that you can hire a lot of software engineers, data scientists, and data engineers so if you need to hire a lot of people quickly, vendors from Asia can typically fill your need.
The mathematics education in Asia is typically excellent so finding mathematically inclined roles such as data scientists or statisticians can be quite easy. Technical skills like React.JS, .NET, and Node.JS are prevalent with a large development community. However, I recommend you use a vendor that offers a US-based PM and BA to work with the technical team in Asia. Another option would be to hire a PM and BA in Eastern Europe which gives you the advantage of bridging the time zone gap.
Financially, Asia will be your cheapest option when comparing a person from Asia with other regions. However, many Asian countries do not allow citizens to provide services for certain industries and products so when you engage a vendor make sure you are clear as to what industry and products that will be involved.
For contracts, I recommend you deal only with vendors from Asia that have a US entity so you can sign a US-based contract. As with any offshore relationship, I recommend you get no more than a 1-year pricing contract.