5 Tips for Effectively Managing Offshore Development Teams

Maybe you have no in-house software development talent, and you need a reasonably-priced solution to your software needs. Or, you might need to tackle a larger project than your in-house IT team can handle. Whatever your situation may be, offshore software development is often a great choice.

Unfortunately, when you choose to outsource, there’s a strong chance you might find yourself managing offshore development teams. This is due in part to cultural differences in how companies are structured to differences in views of what a ‘quality’ final product looks like.

Despite this potential set back, if you’re still interested in pursuing offshore software development, you may want to know more about how to work with offshore developers. For your benefit, here are 5 tips for effectively managing offshore teams.

1. Share a clear vision with your offshore team. 

In software development in general, one of the greatest setbacks to project completion is an unclear vision. When an organization doesn’t have a clear vision for their project, they often find themselves requesting that portions of their project be rebuilt. Unfortunately, software development isn’t free, and as a result, many organizations find themselves without enough funds to bring the project to completion. 

Project Manager Showing His Offshore Development Team the Plan for a Software Project

That said, offshore teams often don’t work as quickly, or as intuitively, as many onshore teams do. As such, you’ll want to ensure that your team has a solid understanding of what you want out of your project. By nailing down as much as possible about your software project before getting started, you’ll have a better chance of sharing a clear vision with your team and, therefore, a higher potential for success. 

2. Assign your offshore developers with real tasks.

Given the unfortunate stereotype that outsourced work is lower quality, it may be tempting to think that you need to lower your expectations for your software project. Likewise, just because you’re paying less, you shouldn’t necessarily get less: As a matter of fact, when it comes to outsoucing, you should be getting more for your money.

While the cost of labor is lower overseas, many offshore software developers are well-equipped to do their jobs. Many of them hold four-year degrees from universities, along with further training from their agencies. With this in mind, there’s no need to belittle their abilities: These developers are fully capable to complete your requests, and maybe even do a better job than some of their U.S. counterparts. 

3. Allow your offshore developers time for training.

While I mentioned that many offshore software developers are well-educated and trained, it’s also important to note that no two developers (or teams) are alike. While many developers from third-world countries are educated at the college-level and by their agencies, their training opportunities may not have been of the same caliber as those here in the U.S.

As such, if your team comes upon a situation where they need to sharpen their skills in an area before working on your project, allow them the necessary time to improve. This will require a bit of patience on your part. However, it’ll be worth the wait, as your team will be more adequately equipped to do what’s necessary to complete your project well.

4. Be a pro-active communicator with your team.

Many offshore teams are faulted for having poor communication skills. As mentioned, poor communication can easily be attributed to language and cultural barriers, as well as time zone differences. However, as they say, communication is a two-way street, and the offshore team isn’t always the only one at fault for poor communication. 

Offshore Development Team Discussing the Details of a Software Project

You and your offshore team will need to work together to develop the best method for communication between parties. In many cases, that means using a means of communication beyond email. While tools like Slack can come in handy for sending quick messages, regularly scheduled phone calls or video chats often provide the quickest and clearest communication opportunities.

5. Understand your offshore team’s perspective.

This goes for most any team project: Really get to know who you’re working with. Even teams that speak the same language, and live in the same time zone, contain team players with their own unique sets of strengths and weaknesses. And in most cases, the more you get to know your team, the more likely you’ll be to develop and implement an effective team strategy. 

When working with an offshore team, you’ll need to take this strategy one step further. Rather than just getting to know who’s good at what, you’ll want to gain an understanding of the existing cultural barriers (not to mention the time zone differences). With better context, you’ll have a better idea of how to communicate effectively with your team—remember, they’ll have to do the same for you. 

Sound like Work? Hire a Team with a Project Manager

With these 5 tips in your back pocket, you should feel at least a bit better prepared to work with your offshore team. If you’re feeling even more overwhelmed than before, you’re not alone: Working with offshore teams can be quite a task to take on, especially if you have a lot on your own plate already. 

While managing offshore development teams may seem overwhelming, a limited budget often provides business owners with no other choice. That said, there’s not always enough time available to ensure that your team is taking the right approach to your project, let alone staying on task. 

Thankfully, there’s another option available: You can hire an offshore team with a project manager. A project manager will work to manage your offshore team for you, so you don’t have to—that way, you can continue doing what you do best for your organization.

Where Can You Find a Team with a Project Manager?

Here at ClikGlobal, we follow a unique approach to offshore software development. Rather than entirely outsourcing your software projects, we bring together U.S. and offshore team members. One of the most critical aspects of our process is our U.S. project management, as our project managers work to provide you with quality assurance.

To have someone else managing offshore development teams for you, contact us.