Tuesday, Jan 31, 2023
Effective Strategies to Manage an Offshore Development Team
Faced with a major talent shortage, companies today have to search for tech talent globally, which has made offshore outsourcing experience grow impressively in the past couple of years. This trend is expected to continue in the coming years.
Offshore outsourcing not only solved the lack of available talent, but it also allows for cost savings, time savings and the optimization of the entire software development process.
However, if an offshore team is poorly managed, no matter how experienced and professional they are, the project will likely lead to failure - either a failure in quality, misunderstood and wrongly executed project requirements, missed deadlines, or going over the budget instead of utilizing one of the greatest outsourcing benefits, cost savings.
Software development, a complex process that it is, requires thorough planning, excessive communication and good project management practices. To overcome the challenges that accompany a team of developers working in an offshore environment, certain aspects of managing a software development project need additional attention.
In this blog post, we will go over the best practices advised to be followed to secure successful project completion, and to make the best out of all the benefits offered by an offshore development team.
In 2022, businesses worldwide spent over $700 billion on outsourcing, with IT outsourcing alone projected to reach $519 billion in 2023.
Why is it so? Choosing outsourcing today simply makes sense - both due to the situation on the tech market, as well as the numerous benefits it offers. Of the various outsourcing options available, an increasing number of companies are turning to offshore outsourcing.
What is Offshore outsourcing? Offshore outsourcing in software development refers to hiring a company or team located in a different country to provide software development services, while this country is usually more time zones apart.
The reason it is gaining on popularity is due to the additional benefits that go along with offshore outsourcing, when compared to nearshore or onshore options. The countries that are the most common offshoring choices usually offer lower rates at no cost to the overall quality of the product whatsover. While traditionally Asian countries were the go-to choice for the Western world, Eastern European countries are also growing in demand.
Let’s highlight some of the greatest advantages that such partnerships can bring to a client:
- Lower hourly cost of development.
- Access to a wider pool of tech talent.
- Quicker access to needed skills and developers.
- An experienced team of developers, testers and other specialist with a range of skills needed for the development of your project.
Despite the advancements in technology and communication, some companies remain hesitant to manage teams remotely, opting instead for nearshoring or onshoring options. To alleviate any concerns about managing an offshore team, we will provide clear guidelines that will address common worries and help streamline the management process.
Remote team vs. Offshore team
In the post-Covid time, remote work has seen a major growth in popularity. It has emerged gracefully as an excellent solution for difficult times and - it is here to stay. Many companies that were forced to work from home, saw the benefits and the general employee satisfaction, and decided to keep working in a remote or hybrid environment. This has set a great foundation for going global and expanding the teams even further, with different nearshore and offshore options.
To manage an offshore team, do what you would do to manage a remote team - with just a few extra steps.
In its core, working with a remote team is basically the same as working with an offshore team. The main differences come from the distance between you and the offshore team:
- Language and cultural barriers
- Time zone differences
With remote teams, you are likely still working within the same country. With an offshore team, not only are you not within the same country, you can be as far as 10 or 12 time zones apart. This can badly affect your work if you fail to prepare and find ways to overcome these challenges. However, if you do prepare in advance and know how to work your way around it, the benefits of your cooperation will easily come to light.
How to prepare for offshore team management
Set clear expectations
To ensure that your offshore development team is working effectively, it’s essential to set clear expectations from the outset. This includes defining project goals, timelines, and deliverables.
It’s important to be realistic when setting expectations and to ensure that everyone on the team understands what is expected of them. Working across different time zones can impact your working hours, particularly when the time zones are significantly different. This can result in varying start and end times or overlapping work hours, depending on the time zone differences.Without a clear understanding of project requirements, offshore teams may encounter roadblocks that can bring the project to a halt. This can result in significant time and financial losses.
Explain project vision
Understanding project requirements is not enough. If you wish for your team to be invested in the project, you need to invest effort in explaining your general project goals - what the project is, what problems it will solve, what it will look like in the end, what your business does and in which way will the project impact your business.
If the team working on the project understands its ultimate purpose, they will be able to produce a product of better quality. They will not only be focused on fulfilling requirements and blindly implementing features, but instead, they will be able to shift their focus to the end user and user experience, as well as its effect on your business success.
By sharing your project vision, i.e. the whole picture of the project, you are making the development team a bigger part of the project - they will feel like they are making an impact and, probably, even share their ideas on improving the project, because, simply, they will care more.
It’s important to provide regular feedback and to be available to answer any questions or concerns that team members may have. If you fail to regularly communicate about your satisfaction with the current project development stage, you risk getting a product you are not satisfied with.
Despite the project requirements, you will need to keep being involved to see the direction in which your product is developing and to guide the development and the testers team.
The sooner you react to potential issues, the easier it will be to change and fix them
Ensure seamless communication
Effective communication is essential when it comes to managing an offshore development team. While it may be a cause of worry for clients when deciding whether to go for an offshore team, remote communication today is simple. However, it is crucial to establish clear lines of communication from the outset of the project to ensure that your team is on the same page and working towards a common goal.
Regular contact is an essential part of effective communication.
Daily, weekly, and monthly meetings with the team help you to analyze progress and identify any blockers that may be impeding progress. Instant messaging with tools like Slack is also a valuable communication tool for quick daily communication with the team, as it allows you to address any urgent issues promptly.
Email is a classic communications channel that should not be overlooked, as it provides a reliable method for conveying important information and documents. Additionally, project management tools can help you communicate via tasks, explain tasks in greater detail, resolve issues, and monitor progress.
Despite the physical distance between you and your offshore team, face-to-face communication is still essential. Video conferencing tools like Zoom, Skype, or Google Meet can help you maintain a more personal connection with your team members. This can help build trust, foster collaboration, and promote a sense of teamwork, which are all crucial elements for effective offshore team management.
Foster a collaborative environment
While your offshore development team may be located in a different part of the world, it’s essential to foster a collaborative environment. This means creating opportunities for team members to work together and share ideas. This could include regular team building activities, encouraging open communication and feedback, and providing opportunities for team members to collaborate on projects.
It is also of crucial importance to build trust and establish relationships with your offshore development team. This means taking the time to get to know your team members on a personal level, understanding their working styles, cultural differences, and creating opportunities for them to provide feedback and input. This also means trusting their skills and not micromanaging them (however, not at the expense of simply giving up control).
You should also focus on making them feel like they are a part of your company - especially in a team augmentation or dedicated development team models, when they essentially do function as one of your own. In no scenario should the outsourcing team work and feel isolated. Finally, acknowledging and appreciating the team’s efforts and accomplishments can go a long way in fostering a positive and collaborative working environment.
Emphasize quality control
Managing an offshore development team requires a strong focus on quality control. This includes establishing clear coding standards, testing procedures, and review processes. It’s important to ensure that all team members understand and adhere to these standards, and to provide regular feedback on performance. Additionally, it’s important to regularly review the codebase to identify any potential issues and address them proactively.
Overlap and synchronize work hours
While not all of your work has to be done at the same time, you should find common working hours between you and the offshore team. This is especially important if you have chosen a team augmentation scenario, which would require even more cooperation between the different parts of the team, instead of just you monitoring the progress and development.
While not impossible, it may be difficult to find common working hours with countries that are more than 9-10 time zones apart. This is why, even if you do outsource offshore, you would ideally look for countries that would allow you to cooperate and communicate more effectively, during each of your respective working hours. Luckily, there is a great option for Western countries which was mentioned earlier - outsourcing to Eastern Europe.
Outsourcing can be a game-changer for your business, offering a multitude of benefits. However, if you widen your perspective even more and consider offshore outsourcing, you’ll unlock even more potential advantages that can propel your business to greater heights.
Managing an offshore development team can be a challenging task, but with the right principles and advice in mind, it can be a rewarding and successful experience - for you, your product, and, ultimately, your business.
If you’re looking for a reliable partner to help you navigate the world of offshore outsourcing, look no further than Mono. Our exceptional services and expertise in managing offshore teams make us the go-to choice for companies both near and far. With a wealth of experience working with clients from across the globe, we have honed our ability to adapt to diverse business cultures and practices. By choosing Mono, you’ll enjoy all the benefits of offshore outsourcing without any of the stress or hassle. Trust us to make your offshoring journey a smooth and successful one.