How to Effectively Manage Your Offshore Development Team – It’s Go Time!
It’s true, offshore software development offers lower costs, swarms of high-quality software development specialists, and a work machine that produces while you sleep. But don’t get drunk on the punch without recognizing that if your glass is cracked, you’re going thirsty.
The right management and collaboration is essential. If you don’t have it, all you have at the end of the day are missed deadlines, poor communication, and punch stains on your pants (and we all know how hard it is to get Kool-Aid out of linen).
A Deloitte report on offshoring claims that the potential to achieve significant savings through offshore resources is well known. But without adequate advice, planning and management, offshoring software development projects can and do fail.
There are several reasons why an offshoring relationship can take a turn for the worse, but poor management is at the top of the list. Which is why learning how to manage offshore team members properly is one of the fundamentals of any successful offshore development collaboration.
Thankfully, TurnKey has the goods on how to do it right. This guide is a tell-all on managing offshore teams to get the best result. But first, let’s quickly recap offshoring and how it differs from onshoring and nearshoring.
Don’t have the time or manpower to effectively handle your dev teams at home and abroad? Partner with the best—TurnKey creates software success for clients every day.
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What is Offshoring
When you hire talent that lives in a faraway country from yours—think Eastern Europe, India, and Africa if you are an American-based company—you’re offshoring.
Offshoring allows you to hire readily available software development talent at a fraction of the cost. You benefit from their niche skills and the dedicated work they do on your product.
The cost of living in these countries is often lower, as are tax implications. Hence, the salary demand is less than what you typically find in America and Western Europe. The talent pool in these places is also deep and broad—and a high percentage of them have studied and worked in specialty areas of software development.
That means the Java Developer you can’t find in Jacksonville can be hired through offshoring (more quickly and at a lower rate) in Ukraine, Romania, or Brazil. You get talent, they get experience working at your kick-ass business, and everyone wins.
So what is nearshoring?
The name is kind of intuitive, so you might already have this one locked down—nearshoring is like offshoring but with closer proximity.
You’re still going to another “shore” for your talent, and you’re still paying less for the same (or better) quality software development talent. But you’re taking a shorter trip to find them since you are in similar time zones. They’re closer—nearby.
If you operate in the United States, your nearshoring partners might be in Mexico or Colombia. If you are in Germany, your nearshore partner might be in Lithuania.
Closer proximity=less time zone issues and more overlap in working hours.
Then what is onshoring?
When you don’t leave your home country at all to find your talent, you’re onshoring—doing business with talent who live on the same “shore” as where you operate your business. Maybe your company is in Palo Alto or Pasadena. If you are onshore, you’re hiring your developers in Austin or Atlanta.
Yes, when you hire at home, or onshore, you’re paying a premium. And you’re potentially waiting a while because the good guys and gals are booked. Not to mention, they can be distracted by shiny things.
You may think you have them locked into your project but when someone bigger comes along offering more money, you can end up starting all over again.
Best practices for managing an offshore development team
Because your offshore development teams are remote, you need to follow a distinct set of guidelines to achieve success. There must be effective communication, proactive leadership, and a clear understanding of roles and obligations.
Never fear, TurnKey is here with the tips you need to manage your offshore teams successfully.
#1. Hire the right people
There are over 26 million developers and over 5 million niche experts worldwide, and a good percentage of these people work on various offshore teams. Finding the right team may not be as easy as you might think, though, because demand for this talent still strips the supply.
According to Robert Half’s state of hiring survey, 94% of employers say it’s challenging to find skilled tech professionals. Can I get an amen?
Assembling your A-level team extends beyond expertise or talent. You gotta look for the right soft skills, too. You need clear communication, focused dedication, collaborative teamwork, and more.
The question is, how do you go about it? This way:
Dive into an exhaustive, thorough hiring process—you have the resources and time for that right? Kidding. So what do you do instead? You hire a credible offshoring partner with great reviews and proven success (it’s us, you hire us).
#2. Focus on leadership rather than traditional management
Managing an offshore team is not the same as managing an onshore team. There are challenges to engagement—you’ve got to navigate distance, language barriers, time zone variances, communication styles, and the work itself.
Traditional management techniques may not be effective here because you’re leading a team of experts that you cannot monitor or interact with physically.
What’s the quick solve here? Focus on the agreed deliverables and factors that affect the deliverables, including good time management, appropriate funding, setting milestones, consistent communication, and the right incentives for the team.
Motivation, you say? They get money; that’s enough, right? Wrong. Everyone needs inspiration from time to time to keep the energy at a high level, especially your offshore team, who doesn’t have the day-to-day interactions that fulfill and connect them to the rest of the team and the broader process.
TurnKey knows how to get the most out of your development team. If you need to offshore and want to do it right, work with us.
#3. Communication is everything
A survey from the High-Tech Guide reveals that 56% of project failure is due to poor communication. The problems with poor communication are varied—from a misunderstanding of the idea and project objectives to general timeline and work style disconnects.
This all then means that you need to communicate often and early. Remind your team of the objectives, share new ideas and suggestions with them, and listen, listen, listen. Learn about the difficulties they are having and solicit their advice as well. Make them feel valued, heard, and like they’re part of the process.
It’s also helpful to utilize technology that allows you to communicate asynchronously across time zones. And keep language barriers at bay by keeping your communication clear.
#4. Set a clear vision of the project and explain it in plain terms
Tech can get wonky if you don’t have a defined idea of what you want or cannot explain it properly. Without a clear direction and understanding, your offshore team—and your project—can wither and die on the vine.
Consider using visuals to get your points across. More specifically, engage your team in the process—create a wireframe to illustrate the product design process. Doing this gives a clearer picture of the product, what functions it should have, and what problems the product will solve.
Keep communication open, encourage questions, and confirm understanding before everyone gets their foot on their various remote gas pedals.
#5. Never lose sight of your long-term goals and objectives
It’s easy to get so lost in the swirl of daily activities, paperwork, and meetings that you lose sight of the main goal. Don’t forget that these smaller activities are for the actualization of the main project, so try not to get overwhelmed or exhausted while doing the smaller things.
Keep everyone’s eye on the prize by being as clear as possible about the goals they should all have in mind, what your business does in general, and how these individuals will contribute to it.
#6. Have a plan to record every process
Software development is a technical process that demands absolutely careful documentation. Every line of code is crucial to the functionality and effectiveness of the project. One single error, as little as putting a comma where it shouldn’t be, can set the entire project back longer than you imagined.
Changing teams, fixing errors, or making updates can cause even more harm if the existing code and previous processes are not properly documented. It could lead to a dirty code base and a massive amount of cripping technical debt.
So amongst whatever chaos may exist with your process, lock in your tech documentation so it stays under your control and minimizes the opportunity for issues.
#7. Implement KPIs and OKRs to evaluate performance
Setting realistic KPIs (Key Performance Indicators) is important. It helps push team members to hit short-term and long-term goals. It is also an indicator that assesses their commitment to the project.
Similarly, OKRs—or Objectives and Key Results—focus more on whether major objectives and desired results are being met.
Your KPI measures the performance of the offshore team in developing the project, and the OKRs measure the project’s impact on the company’s general objectives. It’s a two-step process that helps you more when used together than they do separately. (In other words, keep one eye on the prize and the other one on the road ahead.)
#8. Promote social engagement
If you’ve seen The Shining, you know what happens when it’s all work and no play. Granted, it’s a bit more of a challenge to “play” with a teammate that sits on the other side of the world and who is generally sleeping when you’re at work.
But socializing together as a team hits differently. It has a way of easing the tension with work and building better bonding and collaboration among team members.
Make an effort to host virtual parties, engage teams in asynchronous online games, or create other team-bonding activities, groups, and challenges that don’t have anything to do with work.
#9. Invest in onboarding
When you onboard an in-house staff member, you show them around the office, tell them where all the good snacks in the kitchen are, and seat them close to their team so they can listen and learn all day long.
Your offshore team—if you want them truly integrated—needs the same treatment. You just have to get a little more creative with it.
Onboarding can’t just be about signing the contract papers and getting to work. You should invest in educating the new hires on the company’s core objectives, goals, work culture, vision, and mission.
#10. Be open to feedback and suggestions
The best teachers are still students themselves. Approaching your teams with an open ear and willingness to listen not only builds trust, it builds morale. And, potentially makes you a stronger team, product, and company.
Let your teams—both in house and offshore—know they are welcome and encouraged to share feedback and findings that are useful to the work process. If there are any complaints, address them and discuss possible solutions to prevent future occurrences.
#11. Define the expectations and objectives of the collaboration
Every successful collaboration or professional relationship must begin with a clear delineation of roles, objectives, and expectations, especially for offshore software development teams.
You must state in a clear written document what you hope to achieve with the collaboration and the expectations you have of the team.
#12. Pursue long-term relationships with partners
You’ll connect more with your offshore team if you have a long-standing relationship with an offshore partner who gets you. They’ll understand your nuance, your needs, and your nitpicking. It will help you hire efficiently and keep your teams productive (and together) longer.
So find an offshore software development partner (keep reading to learn how) who you trust and then put a ring on it. (This is also known as TurnKey!)
#13. Choose the right offshore partner
Getting this right determines whether you’ll get it all right. You can just call TurnKey—we are the definitive correct choice. Or you can walk around in the desert interviewing other vendors until you realize the answer was always in front of you 🙂
We developed a detailed guide to help you make the right choice with offshore development companies. Read it here.
Challenges of managing an offshore development team
Here are some of the major challenges companies face with offshore development teams.
#1. Uncertainty about quality delivery
Having your development team live and work thousands of miles away is tough. Naturally, you might have questions about their efficiency and expertise, because you don’t see what they do or assess them physically.
If you hire the right offshore firm to partner with, it alleviates every concern. (Read above.)
At TurnKey, our offshoring solution is based on what you need. That’s why we coined it “Yourshoring.” It’s also why we custom recruit every team according to individual client needs. We have a comprehensive recruitment process that ensures that everyone who comes on board meets YOUR standards of experience and expertise. And, you make the final choice of which individuals make your offshore team.
#2. Culture gap
With offshoring, you’re combining two different countries, backgrounds, and cultures to collaborate on the same project. The cultural differences may often lead to friction or inefficiencies if a mutual understanding and a willingness to adapt don’t exist.
At TurnKey, we intentionally create a team that is responsive to your culture. They learn about you and immerse in how you operate, how your team vibes, and the way in which you like to work.
#3. Time difference
Time zone differences can be a major challenge, especially if it’s more than 4-5 hours. It could affect communications, and slow down both delivery time and work processes. Partners must be willing to find a method to the madness.
It might be that you assign projects to the offshore team with next-day deadlines knowing while you sleep, they’re getting the work done. There are lots of ways to take advantage of the time zone differences, you just need to approach it creatively.
Know who already knows how to work a time zone like nobody’s business? TurnKey. When you work with us, the team you get will fit your every need, requirement, and expectation.
#4. Lack of English fluency
Sweating not speaking the same native language as your offshore team? Grab a towel, kid; it’s going to be okay.
We bring on software development talent who have solid English speaking skills. Furthermore, we encourage them to continue their education—and then we make it easy for them to do so by offering free advanced English classes.
Yourshoring is where it’s at
Our mistakes, frustrations, and missed targets have become your easy way out. We used to be in your shoes on the client side—then we started TurnKey because we figured if we’re so clever and we were still having a tough time navigating the offshore world, everyone else must be, too.
Think of Yourshoring as offshoring’s hotter, smarter, older cousin. Yourshoring anticipates what you need and want—and then delivers it. (By contrast, Offshoring picks you up for prom on a bike. You’ll get there eventually, but you’ll look like you played in a wind tunnel along the way.)
Yourshoring gives you the skilled software development talent you need, assimilates them into your culture, and motivates them to meet your goals.
Yourshoring is by your side, helping you navigate issues and eliminating barriers to the finish line.
TurnKey is the one you bring home to mom. Start Yourshoring with TurnKey today.
Some final thoughts
Offshoring software development has numerous benefits, like reduced costs and access to a wider pool of expertise. And when you do it with TurnKey, the hesitations about working with teams across the globe melt away. Ready to accelerate your development efforts? We’ve got you. Let’s roll.
Onshore teams are physically present and can be managed directly. But offshore development teams aren’t. To effectively manage an offshore team, there must use effective communication, proactive leadership, and an understanding of roles and obligations. Hiring the right offshoring firm as your partner should be your top priority.
However you want—you’re in the driver’s seat so you decide. Just do it often and early—that’s critical. Use tech to your advantage and make sure everyone knows (and adopts the fact) that being responsive is the key to a positive, fulfilling working relationship.
Short answer? Call TurnKey and we’ll tell you. Long answer? We custom recruit your development team from a deep, broad pool of super-skilled, talented software developers across the globe who have specialty experience. You hire us, we vet and hire them, and together, we build a team that makes your company meet goals and exceed expectations.