It seems that more and more of our clients are working with offshore development teams, and that strategy is proving to be effective for the most part. Hiring an offshore development team, as opposed to hiring in-house, can often be a more cost-efficient and effective way to utilise the skills of development professionals.
By working with offshore development teams, you do not have to provide additional workspace, employee benefits or training. Offshore development teams also offer the advantage of working freelance, which means that you will only need to hire them when a project requires completion. As with many working practices, however, despite these advantages, the plan can fall short if not implemented correctly or when you ignore potential pitfalls.
To avoid that happening, here are some pointers from some of our most trusted clients on how you can work with offshore development teams effectively.
1) Create a clearly defined outcome based on your vision statement and timeline.
One of the most obvious but important points to start you off in leading your offshore team should be this one. Without a clear vision, defined goal and set end date, you can already expect to fail.
Keep things on track and ensure that your offshore team is on the same page as you by creating a project timeline. Outline each process involved in the project, with due dates that offshore teams can work around. Make sure everyone involved feels confident about those requests and timescales.
2) Hold regular meetings
The biggest mistake that you can make when working with an offshore development team is to lose communication. Stop this from happening by having a dev lead that can be the main point of contact. But do equally ensure you host regular team meetings with all team members. By being inclusive, you will uncover any issues more quickly while creating a more robust team feeling.
Remember to schedule meetings at a time that's convenient for everyone. Depending on time zone differences, you may also need to keep communication lines open at periods outside your standard working hours for any emergency messages from the offshore team.
3) Use the collaborative technology you have at your disposal wisely
We are assuming you have the appropriate collaborative tech already, but if for some reason you don't, then you are going to need to invest in it now!
In addition to your regular online meetings, you may want to create weekly scrum pages on an accessible platform for your offshore team to access when your company hosts any relevant in-house discussions. The result will mean the offshore team is more up to date and will feel like they can contribute even when not involved directly in the meeting.
Platforms, such as Slack and Trello, help keep all communication, idea development, and task delivery in one place so that team members can easily access work and all information remains transparent.
4) Give demonstrations
All development teams will have slightly different working methods and styles. To ensure that your offshore team completes their work in line with your company guidelines, provide them with clear demos, examples, specific step-by-step instructions, and precise, concise requirements. Helping the offshore team adapt to your style will save time correcting mistakes further down the line.
5) Trust and understand your team.
The start of building your offshore team may be a time of teething problems, and reviewing work may need to be a regular occurrence. However, as time goes on, learn to trust your new team. You may even find you prefer some of their methods over your own. You are more likely to build a trustworthy, lasting relationship with better outcomes if you can avoid micromanaging.
Understanding the culture, holidays, work hours, and etiquette of the offshore country is essential in building a lasting working relationship. If you want to find out more about the points to consider, our article on '5 Top Tips: Remote working etiquette considerations when working across the globe' is worth reading.
A shared calendar will help to ensure you know and understand when your offshore team's holidays and events are planned for, plus you can let them know yours as well.
Understand the labour laws of working with an offshore team and ensure you know the company policies about working with them in regards to hours, overtime etc.
6) Create a good team identity
Although employed as an outsourced team, you should make an effort to include each individual as part of your company 'team'. Feeling part of the bigger picture will help motivate offshore workers to complete tasks to a higher standard. Let them know that you value their work and opinions. Some clients we've spoken to who work with teams offshore have mentioned that some offshore developers have been worried about sharing their thoughts and speaking up. Ensure you create a culture that encourages inclusivity and values opinions.