Working with offshore teams is a common practice in the IT industry. Web and mobile app development are among the most common tasks that are outsourced to offshore development teams.
Usually, companies outsource their projects to offshore teams because of two main reasons, firstly, to better utilize their resources & time for focusing on their core business, and secondly, to get the work done at a significantly reduced cost.
Outsourcing to an offshore team allows you to hire expert professionals for a fraction of the price that you would have to pay if you would hire full-time in-house employees. Besides the salaries of the employees, you save on other expenditures such as national insurance contributions, health insurance, sick pay, bonuses and other employee benefits. You are not required to spend money on office space, IT infrastructure and utilities such as electricity.
Apart from the above reasons, hiring an offshore team provide other benefits to businesses. Companies get a chance to choose their offshore team members from a pool of highly talented and skilled professionals. Moreover, a business can easily decrease or increase the size of the team according to its requirements. Thus, businesses enjoy both flexibility and scalability by outsourcing their projects to offshore teams.
Your offshore development team is comprised of experts and experienced professionals that have all the required IT infrastructure to deliver high-quality products much faster than if you would hire an in-house team of developers. By outsourcing projects to experts in their respective fields, the risk of project failure gets significantly reduced because of their enhanced ability to mitigate potential risks.
Although working with an offshore team brings with it many benefits, it has its own unique set of challenges. The following tips can help you in working easily, effectively and productively with offshore teams:
Discuss Your Project Goals
Just assigning a project to an offshore team without letting them know the goal behind it can land you in trouble. The developed product may not be as you expected it to be.
For example, you want to outsource software development to an offshore team. If you will not provide the team the full product vision, the team may not have a clear idea of what exactly you want. Developers will be able to develop the software but the product may not satisfy all your goals that you wish to achieve through the product.
Offshore developers require full product vision before starting working on the project. Tell them why you want the product, what functions you want in the product, what specifications you want in the product, and when you are expecting it to be developed and delivered. This allows them to think and work creatively, innovatively and effectively to provide their best.
Communicate Frequently And Use Simple Language
When working with your in-house team, you can communicate very easily and frequently by initiating face-to-face talk whenever you require. With offshore teams, you should communicate even more frequently so that all the things are clear and there is no confusion despite large distance between your in-house and offshore team.
For communication and collaboration with your offshore team, you have to rely on the technology. A lot of tools are available to facilitate communication and collaboration. Slack is one of the most popular communication tools for direct and group messaging and even audio and video conferencing. It also comes with a search engine for searching information in the messages and documents. Another tool that you can use like Slack is Skype.
For managing projects of any size, you can use tools like Jira, which simplifies project management. Jira provides both planning and analytical features, and allows you to set goals and track their progress.
Offshore team may not be fully fluent in your language. So, try to keep your language simple by avoiding difficult words, metaphors, etc. that remote developers may not understand. Explain them in clear language what you require. To cross-check whether they have understood what you explained, ask them to tell you what they have understood.
Make Use Of Overlapping Hours
Differences in time-zones pose a great challenge in working with offshore development teams. Using overlapping hours helps in mitigating this challenge. Overlapping hours refer to those hours during which both in-house and off-shore teams are working. For example, in the case of outsourcing to India, the end of the shift in India may overlap with the start of the shift in the USA.
Another way to have or increase overlapping hours, is to change shift timings of the offshore or in-house team, or of both teams. If you think in the other way, time-zone differences provide an advantage of continuous productivity, i.e. when your team in the US is sleeping, work is still going on in India.
Understand Offshore Team’s Culture
It is beneficial to know about the culture of your offshore team. You can read about their country, its history and culture on the internet or learn from the team members themselves. Besides learning about their regional culture, also learn about their work culture. This will give you an idea about how they will handle your project. Also, try to make your offshore team aware about your own culture.
When both your in-house team and your offshore team will know about each other’s culture, it will become easy for both teams to communicate and collaborate effectively. This will reduce the chances of conflict between the two teams and will help avoid business missteps.
Make Use Of Agile Methodology For Both In-House And Offshore Teams
As software development is a process that requires a high level of interaction and iteration, adoption of agile methodology for both in-house and offshore teams results in significant increase in efficiency.
Agile methodology is the most popular project management methodology. For more than the last ten years, its adoption rate is growing continuously year after year. According to the report on the 12th State of Agile survey, 97% of respondents’ organizations practice agile development. 52% of respondents stated that more than half of the teams in their organizations use agile practices. 25% of respondents stated that all of the teams in their organizations use agile practices.
Agile methodology involves breaking of a project into short iterations or phases known as sprints. The length of the sprint may vary. For example, a sprint may be just of one week duration or it may be as long as one or two months. Various factors play a role in deciding the length of the sprint such as the complexity of the process, the technology being used and the team preferences.
You can prioritize features so that they can be allocated to the different sprints. At the start of a sprint, you and your offshore team can hold a discussion about the feature and plan in much more detail than that was done at the project’s beginning.
Adoption of agile methodology helps in the development and delivery of a high-quality software product on time.
If you will try to micromanage the work of your offshore team while sitting in your office, this will only lead to annoyance among the employees. Micromanagement is considered a negative practice that eventually results in the breakdown of trust between the employees and the employer. This loss of trust can have drastic consequences such loss of productivity and loss of employees.
Micromanaged employees think that they lack freedom and autonomy. This prevents them from thinking creatively and innovatively. For example, if you outsource website creation to a web development team and start micromanaging the team members, then this will act negatively by suppressing their creativity and innovativeness. The result will be a poorly designed website that provides a horrible user experience.
The best way to manage a team of offshore developers is by appointing a senior developer as team lead or rather by hiring a project manager. This person can make use of the best team handling and management practices to achieve fruitful results.
Treat Offshore Team As A Partner
Treat the offshore team provided by the outsourcing company as your business partner. When you treat your offshore team as equal to you, it is natural that the team members will work harder for you. They will willingly want to have more overlapping hours with you and may even change their shift to match your schedule.
Acknowledge the hard work the offshore team members put in to accomplish your project. Spend some time to know the members of the team and build a rapport with them. This will help solidify your relationship with the team and will create a happy working environment. Ultimately, all this leads to a better quality product.
Working with an offshore team can be highly beneficial for your business. What is required is to adopt best practices stated above to work effectively with offshore teams. When you work with your offshore team in the right manner, your offshoring venture is bound to succeed.
Originally Published On 12th September 2019; Updated On 20th September 2019