How to manage offshore development team

20 aug 2017

written by: theodor spadeson
Outsorcing

Today, a lot of companies and organizations employ offshore partners in order to complement their U.S. development teams. Offshoring the business nowadays is a standard practice.

Such condition is essentially formed by different reasons like a lack of talented experts in your area, the high cost of your native developer’s work, the ability to increase/decrease the capacity instantly.

Outsourcing as a way of business dealing helps in:

  1. Reducing the costs and preserve the capital;
  2. Accelerating the project;
  3. Improving the business/ customer focus;
  4. Reducing the time to market;
  5. Freeing up the native resources in order to focus the attention on core responsibilities.

Outsourcing of business provides the American entrepreneurs an opportunity to find highly innovative, talented experts that may not be at disposal in the United States.

The best companies are using these innovators to capture marketplace advantages like improving software quality and user experience to achieve a competitive advantage they could not achieve with only onshore resources.

According to the official statistics from Statista, the ITO is an advantageous way of business dealing. Let us hype the statement with the following graph:

Outsorcing

Just like a coin, outsourcing has its flipside. It is a commonly known fact, that the offshoring experience can vary greatly. The ratio of successful experience/horror stories is swinging around the 50/50 index.

Those “horror stories” are often about having to completely rearrange the work that an offshore team has done. This leads to killing the time and wasting the money in the end. Outsourcing can face following issues:

  1. The delays in schedule;
  2. An inability to meet the deadlines;
  3. The hidden costs;
  4. A lack of resources;
  5. The security issues;
  6. A lack of communication;
  7. An inability of the outsourcing team to understand the needs and requirements, etc.

Objectively, it should not be that way at all.

Willing to reduce the number of projects biting the dust, the development teams, either onshore or offshore, elaborate the detailed process models. These models are being constantly enhanced and improved in order to stay tuned with the changing priorities. This approach helps to guide teams through the development process “by the book”. Primarily, the detailed process models serve as a guiding light for development teams to make sure that they know what to develop.

Hiring and managing an offshore partner takes a start from the definition of your requirements and signing a contract.

As we have already stated, Define your Needs and Requirements. It is important to know, what you want. Moreover, your certainty is even more important for the outsourcing team.

Define the product and provide the specifications. You won't go far without a proper definition of your product. Plan your product development, because planning is crucial. What is the goal of your product, what is it supposed to do and how? Prioritize the features of your product, create a detailed description and definition. It would be handy for your outsourcing team to have screencasts with a proper illustration of your project concepts.

Introduce your partners an estimated schedule and up to scratch deadlines. The most convenient option is to designate the critical milestones for the important blocks. It helps to control every important stage of development and to prevent possible issues. Communication is a key to the successful outcome of your project.

Communication

The majority of companies practicing outsourcing claim in unison that the communication is vital. They also highlight the fact, that communication should be established starting from the hiring process. It is very important to come in contact with the prospective offshore member of your development team. A technical interview must be intended to assess the technical capabilities and communication abilities of the candidate. It can be performed via Skype and Google Hangouts, both are convenient.

Think of implementation of the IRC. It will help to establish the constant contact among the team members. By means of IRC, the hired teammate will be able to interact with the rest of the development department and to specify the peculiarities during the development process.

Talking of communication, a personal touch is way more efficient than chatting via messengers. A sophisticated entrepreneur would invite his new offshore developer to the office for a week or a couple in order to establish a personal contact. A vis-a-vis communication turns a lot more productive than the IRC based conversations. Moreover, your candidate will also be able to see how the development process is being carried in the native company.

Time difference

The time difference can be either good or bad. What is good about the time window between you and your offshore developers, is that while you sleep, the work continues on the opposite side of the world.

The bad about time window is in difficulty of getting answers when they are needed the most. Sometimes it happens, that a question, for which you need an answer in the same minute, can be answered by your partner only the next day.

The time difference is the least issue sometimes. We are hinting at the cultural aspect of communication. Culture is much broader than language.

For example, Indian people dispose to avoid “no” answers. Especially this tendency appears during the project consideration. Even if your idea and project have backlogs and defects, they will take it and go along. European outsourcing developers in such case will highlight the backlogs, represent their peculiar projection, and suggest improvement. This proves, that even subtle and faint cultural differences can make a great impact on the result of the collaboration.

In addition to the cultural differences, we would like to suggest you - remember the important dates. It is important to remember about the religious strife. As a leader, you need to plan the engineering process wisely and take into account important dates.

Keep your offshore team involved into the process as well as into the stand ups if you implement scrum development methodology.

Another thing, that is vitally important in terms of managing an outsourcing development is an expert assessment, or as it is also called the peer review. Assess each and every mile of code and page of the document. This trick helps offshore engineers to speed up and to cognize the code base. Constantly test all and sundry.

About dealing with an established team.

Work closely with your offshore team, build trust. In virtue of this approach you, as a leader, will have a true picture of the offshored business and see, how it works in sober fact.

When you have solid and trusting relationships with the team and the project manager, you will be confident in the productive outcome, because your goals will be understood and requirements will be followed.

The most important tip for proper management of an offshore development team. Your offshore partners are of the same piece with you: they have families, children, free time, and duties. Regretfully, but hirers from U.S. frequently treat their offshore partners like slaves. Oftentimes, those from abroad represent the third-class countries with poor returns, but it is not a motive to treat them like slaves. As it happens, they were born in a poor country, and you were born in prosperity. People do not choose the place to be born. Hence, if you want to be successful, you need to treat people nicely. Accept this tip as a fundamental rule, and you will have an effective and reliable team willing to lead your project to the success.

Project management software

Imply the project management software solution for your project and your team. For example, Jira. Such software allows tracking information about every stage of the development process due to the transparency and convenience of usage. Everything should run through the software do not resort using email or messengers to manage your projects.

Jira software is aimed at helping you in reducing the fatigue of managing, controlling, and tracking tasks. It is quite convenient and easy to utilize- boards like “Backlog”, “Team Scrum Board”, “Reports”, “Issues” allow you to do everything in one place. In addition, you can create and delete your own boards and tabs.

Apart from Jira, you have an availability to manage your development cycle through the Redmine, Trello, YouTrack, and EasyBackLog instruments. These pieces of software are functionally identical but have their own peculiarities, so every single user will be able to find the best suiting software.

Developing projects on the basis of an offshore vendor can work very well because hiring an offshore software development team can be a cost effective proposition. Many remote development companies offer skilled engineers at a reasonable cost while the average cost of in-house teams is way more expensive for the product owner. Using the right tools and techniques to manage these teams can help bring the desired results for business.

However you think you are ready and prepared to manage an offshore development team, you will probably face specific pitfalls. Do not escape the tips from our article, because there is nothing too small.

Summarizing our article, we would like to highlight the forecasts of professionals:

  1. "92% of IT companies, outsourcing disaster recovery claim the hosts are the same as or lower than compared to onshore functionalities" - Computer Economics.
  2. "65% of companies, outsourcing app hosting are looking forward to increasing the amount of work they will outsource" - Computer Economics.
  3. "IT healthcare outsourcing is expected to grow from 2013-2018 with a CAGR of 7,6%". -Statista.
  4. "In the next couple of years, clients will look to achieve more for better business service" - KMPG.
  5. "31% of IT services have been already outsourced, and companies are willing to continue outsourcing activities" - DELOITTE.
  6. "89% of clients are really satisfied with their outsourcing contracts" - Whitelane Research.

Catch the trendy tide and become a professional in managing of the offshore development team. We believe our article helps to get a bit wiser.