Your Go-To Guide for the Global Expansion Of Your Software Development Team
As the world shrinks and connects, expanding into global markets will likely remain a fixture, even for software companies whose traditional worldview has been limited to their home countries. And Software-as-a-Service (SaaS), in particular, lends itself to global expansion because, thanks to cloud computing, nothing needs to be on-premise and can be easily distributed.
But while many folks – from academics to executives – tend to think of global expansion purely from a sales and marketing perspective, it also includes (often emphatically!) the software development team too.
And while many businesses fail in their attempt to go international when selling abroad, the same pitfalls are true when expanding your software development team internationally too.
Thus, to help make sure you are prepared to take your software development into new countries around the world, we’ve put together everything you need to know about why you should do it and how to implement the most effective strategy for building a global team.
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What is Global Expansion in Software Development?
Global expansion is how software companies expand their development operations and activities outside their home country.
This can include going to countries or regions that are several time zones away from your local base (called offshoring) or to places that are in a similar time zone (called nearshoring).
Global expansion for software development covers a wide swathe of items, including recruiting (how do you find great developers), talent management (how do you keep great developers), legal (how do we control the IP), payroll (how do we pay people on time and in the local currency) and administrative (how do we make sure the right taxes are paid and paperwork completed?).
And then, of course, you need to think about integrating the remote team with the developers back home to ensure everyone is rowing in the same direction.
Why Expand Your Software Development Team Globally?
Engineering leaders are embracing global expansion because of the numerous advantages it provides, including:
- Lower Cost: Thanks to a cheaper cost of living (and taxes) in many places such as Eastern Europe and Latin America, salaries are also commensurately cheaper as well. This means that software companies can get more bang for the buck by taking their development team global.
- Access to a broader talent pool: When you expand your dev team globally, you tap into a much wider set of available developer talent. Many Western firms have a hard time finding developers close to home; extending the search to other regions opens up – literally! – a whole new world of possibilities.
- Easier to find specialists: Sometimes a software company needs to find an expert in a specific technology or process. Trying to find this person locally can often feel like searching for a needle in a haystack. By taking an international approach, you have a much bigger haystack to search in–and you can even target regions that are known for having the type of specialist you need.
- Opportunity to innovate: With a global and diversified development team, you have the benefit of varying perspectives, worldviews, and thought processes –all of which foster innovation. Global teams have a collective wisdom that is much more diverse than one built entirely on a local level, which helps in problem-solving too. As Steve Jobs once said, “Think Different.” This is never more true than with software development.
7 Steps for the Successful Global Expansion of Engineering Teams
Merely establishing a global development team doesn’t guarantee success. You must have the right process in place and understand how to manage a diverse development team effectively.
The following steps play a vital role in determining whether or not your organization will be successful when expanding your software development team globally.
#1. Define Your Goals for Going Global Upfront
Before taking any action, clearly define the long-term and short-term goals driving your organization’s choice to expand your development team globally. This will allow you to understand what the firm plans to implement before implementing the global expansion strategy.
When deciding on these objectives, it is critical to include what your company aims to accomplish by expanding its development team. Some objectives may include expanding your talent pool, reducing wage expenses, reducing operational and development costs of some of your tech needs, or any other goals that pertain to your firm.
Be sure to also articulate the goal clearly to the broader team so that everyone has the context for what you are doing and can help achieve the established goals.
#2. Select the Right Global Expansion Strategy Based On Your Company Goals
There are various team expansion models you can adopt. It is critical that you understand each of them to know which one best fits your needs and can address your core objectives.
When considering expanding your team globally, consider the following software development expansion models:
Software companies resort to offshoring when they need to establish a new, long-term division of their operations to complete a specific project, build a specialized product, or simply manage expansion without overburdening the in-house workforce.
Whether it’s to fill a staffing void or bring in specialized technical talent, offshore software development can help.
You partner with an offshoring firm that handles all of your staffing needs, from recruiting to onboarding.
The developers stay with the company as a long-term solution, during which they become familiar with the business, its products, its customers, and its people.
The Outstaffing model is an alternative to traditional hiring in which skilled programmers are brought in to work as an extension of your in-house team without you having to deal with the paperwork and HR headaches that come with doing so.
The outstaffing vendor or agency handles the administrative burdens of hiring and paying these programmers on your behalf.
In its most basic form, outsourcing is contracting development functions to a third party. Outsourcing organizations have more management control over a project because they oversee the entire process. In contrast, the client has limited access to the team and is usually assigned to a project manager.
When you outsource, you hire an entire development team that is responsible for designing, building, testing, and delivering the product. You only need to communicate your idea, and the team will handle the rest. This is usually meant as a short-term solution.
TurnKey’s yourshoring model is like offshoring (fully dedicated development teams) but optimized to be truly customized around your needs. Yourshoring gives you custom-recruited developers that work seamlessly with YOUR team, are committed to YOUR plans, are ingrained in YOUR culture, and adhere to YOUR rules.
#3. Determine Which Remote Location is Best
There are diverse laws and policies governing employment in different countries. And what is obtainable in your country of residence may differ entirely from other places. So before setting out on a global dev team expansion, you must research where you intend to hire from and get acquainted with the specific laws and policies operational in that location. (Or you can just hire a firm – like TurnKey! – to do all the math for you.)
During your research, evaluate the tax requirements, minimum wage, and other working cultures. Your study should also include means for effective communication and collaboration. Having different languages and far away time zones can easily impede collaboration and workflow.
#4. Find a Partner Like Turnkey
To ensure the success of your global expansion, you must carefully select an offshore partner with whom you can collaborate closely. These partners facilitate the recruiting and hiring process and deal with all the legal paperwork and payroll.
That’s exactly what we do at TurnKey, and we do it with a touch of excellence (if we do say so ourselves). For us, helping companies establish their engineering footprint outside their local shores is a passion borne out of the needs we once faced when we started our own SaaS companies.
What we do is pretty simple but highly effective:
First, we ensure you have all the necessary knowledge and resources to operate in your chosen international markets.
Next, we custom recruit only the best developers that fit your brand’s culture and vision. We also ensure that they are 100% dedicated to you.
Third, we have a talent management team that monitors the happiness of your developers, thus dramatically reducing churn.
And lastly, we offer world class customer service so you always have someone to hold your hand every step of the way.
#5. Hire a Development Team with a Global-First Mindset
The kind of developers you hire is one of the most important factors that will contribute to the success of your product organization. All members of your expanding development team must have a global-first mindset, meaning they should have a wide purview as well as understand what it takes to collaborate efficiently with the home team.
This is another reason you should work with an offshore development firm like TurnKey when trying to hire new developers for your company. You need to screen candidates not just on their technical skills but also on their cultural fit as well.
Some characteristics to look for in new team members include fluency in a specific language, experience working with an international team, and an in-depth understanding of market trends.
#6. Adopt Agile into Your Global Development Process
In 2022, almost 37 percent of respondents used an Agile or Scrum method for software development.
Thanks to its many advantages, agile software development has become the dominant practice in software teams. Using Agile, you adjust your processes to match the project’s complexity. Agile also ensures that a working prototype is delivered quickly, giving teams plenty of time to polish it.
All of this becomes even more important when working at the global level. Speed is of the essence since teams in remote locations can work when the home team is not. Without an agile process, teams in different time zones may have to wait for certain milestones to be hit before they can move forward, creating inefficiencies in your development process.
#7. Monitor Software Development Metrics
As Peter Drucker famously observed: “What gets measured gets done.” Software development KPIs are much the same.
KPIs are meant to be ongoing measurements that are periodically monitored and assessed. You can think of KPIs as similar to statistics in sports, such as a baseball team’s win-loss record, runs per game, batting percentage, and earned run average.
KPI is critical in software development because it aids decision-making and allows you to gauge your team’s productivity as they develop software.
When working with remote teams, the importance of KPI grows because you can assess each member’s productivity and manage your team more efficiently with the right metrics.
A Few Examples of Global Expansion with Offshore Software Development
Many enterprises are expanding globally by adopting offshore software development solutions.
Just a few of the wide range of companies that have expanded their businesses by utilizing offshore software development solutions include:
Many of these firms chose a global development strategy so that their in-house staff could focus on other critical tasks while the offshore team worked on driving innovation.
Ready to Go Global?
We understand how difficult it is to find the right development talent to join your company. That’s why TurnKey is here: to make life a lot easier for you when it comes to the global expansion of your development team.
We get you the right developers at the right time with the right attitude and the right skill set so that you can hit your key software development objectives.
We take care of the hard parts of global expansion so you can just focus on building great software.
Global expansion is the process by which software companies expand their development operations, teams and activities outside their home country.
Many reasons may motivate a company to expand its software development operations worldwide. Some of the most common reasons that an organization decides to go global include lowering costs, gaining access to deeper pools of developer talent, and seeking more diverse viewpoints and perspectives.
There are various ways to expand a software development team to new countries and regions. The most popular models include offshoring (dedicated teams), outstaffing (staff augmentation), outsourcing (short term projects), and yourshoring (fully custom development teams).
The key steps in ensuring a successful global expansion of the engineering team include clearly defining your goals, choosing a high quality offshore partner, hiring developers with a global-first mindset, adopting an agile development process, and managing against a strict set of metrics.