Offshore Team Management to Succeed in Business
The offshore development or outsourcing is a popular IT service delivery model, in which all the programmers are located in the other country. Managing offshore development teams you should be ready to have no face-to-face interaction with people working in your project. All the communication is usually held through Skype, messengers, video calls, and any other digital means. The best practices for managing offshore resources show, that this model works best of all in well-planned and structured projects.
This model is popular because of the benefits and opportunities it opens comparing to IT nearshore outsourcing. Cost reduction, flexibility, improved quality, and productivity are among the reasons to choose to outsource:
- The popularity of this model is growing: in 2019 the global market size of the outsourced services reached $85.6 billion. Europe, Middle East, and Africa appeared to be the biggest markets for outsourcing.
- IT outsourcing took more than a half from the global amount of the outsourced industry. In 2019 the revenue has reached $62 billion in comparison to $23.6 billion in revenue from the business process outsourcing.
Why It Is Important to Manage Offshore Teams
Despite the high level of independence offshore teams usually have, it doesn’t mean that the main company manager should be fully removed from team management activities. By keeping an eye on the project’s status and following the tips for managing remote team developers, you increase the odds of getting a high-quality project with minimal delays.
Here’s why knowing how to manage a remote team is essential for the product’s success:
- It keeps developers motivated. As the team sees the high engagement level from the end client, their understanding of the project’s value increases, along with the motivation to design the product to the best of their ability. Overseeing development progress positively impacts a developers’ sense of purpose, leading to higher product quality.
- You know exactly what you get. If you are actively present during decision-making stages, you have an idea of software’s features, technical limitations, interface, etc. This way, there will be no mismatch between expectations and reality once the final product is ready.
- Maintaining the product in-house is easier as the main company has a better idea of the technologies that are used for development, the ins and outs of the back-end and front-end code.
- You will provide a dedicated team with domain knowledge. Team management is a way for company owners to ensure that the product resonates with the target audience well. You will provide developers with domain insight, ensuring all the product’s features, along with the interface, will be well-received by the end-user.
The motivation of the managed team of developers highly depends on you. And motivation in remote cooperation is not the last thing to think about. Establishing relations with the outsourced team is an important step to the success of the venture. How do you keep your outsourced team interested in your project and passionate about providing you with the top-quality code? Will you be able to keep the best professionals in their positions? Choosing an outsourcing model of work you face a range of common challenges. And the project will be a success only if you are able to handle all of them.
Handling Common Offshore Team Management Challenges
Outsourcing business processes is a way to reach business goals that’s cheaper than relying on the local workforce. As they learn how to hire and manage a remote team, business managers should be aware of potential challenges that come along with hiring dedicated teams and know how to mitigate them.
1. Cultural difference
Unlike working with a local agency, hiring developers abroad might result in potential miscommunications. It takes time to overcome cultural barriers when it comes to communication and work ethics.
How to overcome the challenge: have a dedicated conference call with the offshore team to discuss cultural differences and build ethics both parties are comfortable with. After several weeks of following the tips for managing a remote team, you will no longer be affected by the cultural difference between the main office and the dedicated one.
2. Conference call scheduling
When planning communication with a dedicated team, business managers have to take time zone differences into account. Aside from that, an offshoring team might have a national holiday on a day that’s considered a regular workday at the main office’s location.
How to overcome the challenge: scheduling issues are easy to mitigate if you take your time to research the outsourcer’s national holidays. If you’re troubled with the question of how to lead multiple and remote teams and manage team leaders, hire an outsourcer that works on your terms and has synchronized days-off with the main office. As to the time zone differences, you can either hire a vendor you share a time zone with or find a middle ground – a time that falls into the workdays of both teams.
3. Lack of control
For some managers, being in charge of every step on the development timeline is crucial – that’s why working with an independent vendor is an uncomfortable experience. Not being able to ensure the project progresses according to plan is one of the challenges that come with outsourcing.
How to overcome the challenge: to know how to manage remote development team, a business manager can send a trusted employee to work at the dedicated office and oversee project development. Asking for a personal account manager who keeps tabs on the product’s progress is another way to get more control over development.
Finally, be sure to look for contractors who are ready to write detailed reports, schedule conference calls with the tech team, and include you in every decision made on the project.
How to Manage Developers as if They Were Your Employees
Human resources are the true prime asset of the company. Recruiting, retaining, and hiring professionals can become a real challenge. The quality of work in the remote development team highly depends on the comfort and satisfaction of the programmers. One of the most important things is how they and their work are valued.
Work at the atmosphere in the team – treat the remote employees as if they were in-house:
- Give clear ideas and objectives. Knowing the business goals employees get the possibility to make the project accountable. You will also make sure that you move in the same direction with the coding team. The managed front end developers align their professional aims with the success of the whole project. It makes them remember, that the success of the project is based on the quality of their work.
- Respect the team members as professionals. You hire offshore developers not only for lowering the cost, right? You also choose professionals with relevant skillset and experience. Involve these specialists in the brainstorming sessions, encourage them for the ideas and consult them about the improvements in the project. If you are looking for a simple way how to manage offshore development team – engaging coders in your project as consultants is a good exercise.
- Provide training. One of the major perks of being an offshore developer is training. Providing technical training you enables the team to handle the most difficult aspects of the project. Providing soft skills trainings you improve communication and management issues. Training will help if you have some unexpected technical issues. It also works for improving the relationship in the team.
- Leave space for learning curves. The significant learning curves help the team to get fully acquainted with the project, its nature, corporate culture, and technical requirements. It helps to make the whole project function effectively. Give the remote developers time to adapt your business culture when you manage development team.
- Respect the timing. Remember, that offshore team is located several time zones away. Maybe, even in several different time zones. While you are drinking your first coffee, they are already coding, documenting, and testing your software. And when your workday is still in progress, they have already finished their work for today. Don’t expect the remote workers to be online and answer your questions 24\7. How to manage developers under these timing conditions? Set the precise hours for communication.
Differences in Managing In-house and Offshore IT Resources
In comparison to onshore, offshore team management is more complicated. It requires more specific skills, attention and effort from the project or technical manager. If it is your first experience in organizing the remote work, keep in mind some differences between these two models important for the offshore remote team manager:
|In-House Team||Offshore Team|
|Required resources and technology||PMs use defined usual resources and tools limited for the specific projects.||You can pick any available extensive resource, use technologies and involve outer experts.|
|Speed of work||Steady, gradual.||Gradual, faster.|
|The expertise of the team||Narrow, specific.||Wider.|
|Flexibility||More defined, strict procedures.||More adaptive and flexible workflow.|
|Legal issues||Easier to manage because of the clear local legislation.||Issues may happen according to the differences in regulations and laws.|
|Management and communication||Easily controlled, centralized, responsive, you can control the efficiency on-site.||Workflow is less manageable, significantly depends on the communication skills and self-organization of the remote team.|
|Data security||On a high level, easy to manage and control.||On the lower level, it is more difficult to control it.|
Both options provide some benefits, as well as disadvantages. And, frankly speaking, outsourcing is easy only if you know for sure how to manage web development team. With this knowledge, choosing a reliable outsourcing service provider is a part of the smart business strategy.
Every software development project has a different scope and requirements. It may force you to look for the different dedicated teams for each product. If you go offshore, you get access to the large pool of talents with different experiences and skills. It may be difficult for the company to find coders with the suitable skillset for in-house work.
Thinking about how to manage a development team, keep in mind the industry knowledge. If your company is working in a narrow specific field, you may need the developers, who are committed to working with this topic and is eager to invest their time and passion into the project. The in-house coders may be more into your industry: they become experts and need less time to implement the needed features, come up with new ideas or fix the bugs. Outsourcing teams may not have such expertise in the specific industry, so they will need more time to carry out the same task. However, it may take less time to train the offshore team, then to find the in-house one.
In-depth understanding of the sphere and tasks, skills, patience, and diligence are important for both in-house and outsourcing models of work. And here offshore team management skills are extremely important for the success of the whole project.
5 Tips on How to Work With Offshore Teams
IA team is a reflection of their leader. With a leader capable of great management, you can gain great offshore development teams. And getting to hire offshore developers with great skills assures you of high-quality products and team dynamics. We have compiled the most prominent tips that would bolster the handling of your team. If you’re considering to hire offshore developers but you don’t know how to handle offshore team, here are some useful guidelines that you can follow for your offshore software development project to make sure that you are able to utilize you offshore development team to their fullest capacity.
Communicate and Build Rapport
Communication is one of the most critical elements in any offshore development team, and ensuring that your offshore software development team has open communication lines will yield invaluable rewards. When you hire offshore developers, establishing open communication lines, and discussing your vision and ideas for your project will help your team understand the goal of your project and act in accordance with this goal. Also, defining and discussing your expectations for the project and your team will help ensure that it works in line with your objectives for the project. With the entire offshore development team clear and agree on the parameters and expectations for the project, misunderstandings during the development will be minimized. Aside from this, constant communication throughout the entire development phase, and even after, will reinforce communication lines and can quickly address any concerns that may arise. Regular check-ins with your offshore development team will strengthen communication lines can be a platform for updates and feedback between you and your offshore software developers.
Plan to Succeed
No project should begin without any solid plan, and this is especially true when you hire offshore developers for software development projects. Before any code gets written, the plans for architecture, project schedule, user stories, testing and deployment cycles, and other project considerations should be in place. Always have a plan before doing anything, and plan to succeed. Knowing the parameters and expectations of your project and your offshore development team is good, but these also need to be supplemented by a clear plan on how to accomplish these expectations within these parameters. It will be a great practice to discuss and agree with the team on a plan that will best utilize the expertise of the offshore software developers, and meet the expectations of the project. Plan out the core details of your project; objectives, scope, timelines, deliverables, and such. Having a clear plan as to the scope and limitations of your project will help guide you to hire offshore developers who are best suited for your offshore software development project.
Another aspect that needs to be practice and honed when working with offshore teams is constant dialog. Without constant and uninhibited dialog, your offshore developers will have a very difficult time working and collaborating with each other. Offshore teams usually have diverse experience in working with various projects, thus would have a wealth of skill and experience. Regular communication with your team will bear input and feedback on your project, encourage it and will result in a healthy and productive discussion. This will go a long way into improving communication between you, your team and your project.
Apply Conflict Management
Conflict is a constant in all forms of organization or social structures, including collaboration with offshore development teams. Conflicts with and within offshore teams are usually caused by poor communication and an unhealthy work environment. Without a communication system in place, opportunities for constant dialog, and an environment that’s open to opinions and productive discourse, conflicts will definitely arise. And when working with remote developers when you hire offshore developers, there could be a lot of other triggers for conflicts: cultural differences, differing perspectives, language barriers, and personality differences, among many others. To address these, establish and reinforce a conflict management system for your projects. Be flexible and open-minded with feedback or concerns that arise, but stick to your overall project goals! Be respectful, but remain honest. If issues arise, examine the root cause and work with your offshore development team to arrive an acceptable solution.
Utilize Time Zones
When dealing with offshore software developers, one of the first concerns that organizations raise when disclosing why they are hesitant to hire offshore developers is time zone differences. Since the offshore team will likely be on a different time zone from the hiring organization’s one, there is an understandable fear of facing challenges in terms of collaboration. However, this very challenge can definitely be a huge advantage when used correctly. If you have offshore software developers that are working ahead of you, make time to review their work and adjust your work and plans accordingly. And if you were in a timezone that is ahead of your offshore software developers, take the time to plan and organize for the needs of your offshore development team. If your developers will be coming from different time zones, then have them work in harmony so that some of the developers can continue working on the output of other developers, thereby creating a harmonious cycle of development for the entire offshore development team.
Smart Tools and Best Practices for Managing Offshore Resources
Managing work with offshore team, don’t wait for some magic spell for increasing effectiveness, team happiness, and motivation. Actually, these all are tasks for the team manager. Long-distance relations with the programmers are not simple – it is true for both personal and work relations. What can you do as a manager? We’ve prepared 6 best practices to deal with the remote team.
1. Set Boundaries and Schedules
Sometimes the members of one remote team are working in different time zones. For the comfort of all the employees, discuss work schedules with each of them and distinguish common working hours. Show that you respect the personal time of each worker. Setting work schedule you make sure that no one will break the sleep of the colleague or disturb others during personal time. Use management tips for offshore teams to make the interaction more comfortable.
2. Encourage Diversity
The best practices for managing offshore resources always remind about the cultural differences in the international team. Misunderstanding and conflicts of people from different countries, cultures, and religions may become a big obstacle in the work. To solve this problem, encourage workers to receive feedback, promote the policy “celebrate differences”, be respectful about traditions, national and religious holidays of the team members.
3. Be Clear and Inform About Your Expectations Timely
Set clear goals to keep your workers focused on the main tasks and goals of the company. To exclude misunderstanding, define from the very beginning working hours, communication system, availability, the timing of the meetings and email response, key tasks, and deadlines.
4. Improve Your Communication Skills
Managing an offshore team you may find out that your communication skills are not good enough to set successful cooperation among the remote team members. And online communication skills can be defined as a separate topic in this field. To receive better results in communicating with the remote developers be concise and quick during the meetings, improve writing skills.
5. Give Support When Needed
Manager for offshore teams is not only about organization and control of the workflow. This work is also about giving your team a helping hand when they need it. If your employees feel worried about something, or you know about some issues bothering them – understand the needs of the employees and try to solve the problems as soon as possible.
6. Don’t Underestimate the Right Software
Have everything under one roof if you don’t want to get a mess instead of a project. Use the smart applications and programs to communicate, track progress and productivity, maintain timesheets, share the information, discuss work issues, interact with other team members. Managing an offshore team using G Suite may also be comfortable. Simple Google Docs, shared calendars, video conference tools available from any gadget, screen sharing, spreadsheets and cloud for file sharing – only a shortlist of the Google services people use for business.
After you determine what exactly you are going to do with your remote team of the developers, it’s time to choose some tools which can help you. Of course, it is possible to stay in touch with the offshore IT resources using only email or Skype, but it is not enough for the communication to be efficient. For different tasks and types of interaction, it is better to use combined means. You will find a perfect combination during work. And for now, as an example of managing offshore team we have a list of the tools you can apply:
- TimeDoctor – a tool that helps to raise productivity. You can see in real-time, how your employees are working. Check if they spend half of the day on FaceBook. Another option for this aim – SalesHandy.
- G Suite – Google offers a wide range of services. Several people can have access to the calendar with the schedule, spreadsheet or document. Some projects also use Google Classroom for business needs.
- Skype – a chat program with the options of the video call, file exchange, and group conversations. For chatting offshore IT resources also use Slack, Zoom, and Google Hangouts. VoIP is also used for messaging, video calls and task management.
- Jing – a screen capture tool, which can help if you need to show what you see or what you are doing. A similar tool TeamViewer also allows controlling another computer remotely.
- Confluence – a system of collaborative documents. At the first glance, it is similar to Google Docs, but its functionality is far beyond Google. It is built for the large, multi-document projects and has user-definable templates, cross-document notes, and labeling. Take a look, if you have no idea how to manage development team’s documents.
Managing an offshore team you can choose several tools or pick just one with the widest range of options. The choice highly depends on the scale and aims of a particular project. But even the smallest project requires full engagement and a lot of effort.
How to Motivate and Engage Remote Teams?
Feeling unmotivated and undervalued is a common problem among remote employees. They feel left out of decision-making conversation, handle monotonous tasks and fear for professional stagnation.
Project managers have to help the members of remote teams develop professionally and personally, be invested in the project’s success, and build valuable bonds in the workplace. Here are the practices that help increase and monitor remote team engagement:
- Share online workplaces. Having a common Slack chat, a Hangouts room, and a corporate Trello account helps promote a collaborative spirit within a cross-cultural team. Make sure to offer employees more visibility of each other’s activities to foster a spirit of healthy competition. Using shared calendars with deadlines, schedules, and team availability tracking facilitates remote project management exponentially as well.
- Always stay in touch with the team. Even if your employees are skilled enough to handle their assignments independently, the lack of cross-team communication is often mistaken for indifference. To maintain contact with the team, schedule regular status meetings so that everyone on the team can express their ideas and concerns.
- Update a remote team on what’s going on at the organization. A project manager is a link between a team and the company. Work consistently on keeping your employees in the loop of the company’s development vector, goals, and latest achievements. This way, every team member will feel a part of a successful, dynamically progressing project.
Main Benefits of Managing an Offshore Team
Companies, which know how to manage offshore developers, use their 3 main benefits to build successful projects:
- Large talent pool. When you hire in-house workers, you mostly have access to the candidates from your city. Hiring remotely you can reach any country and any part of the world. It is a possibility to choose the best of the best without paying attention to the place of residence.
- Cost-saving. With the help of outsourcing, you can cut your budget in different ways. For the offshore team manager, remote workers mean smaller salary, lower taxes, no expenses for the office maintenance. Hiring remote workers on a project basis is also cheaper than a crew of full-time employees.
- More time. The remote team is mostly interested in fast work. The developers can complete your project and move to another. Of course, if it is not a long-term project. You can also choose a team with the project manager – it will save time for the communication and coordination of work. The remote manager will cope with the team, and you will have time for the other tasks.
5 Smart Management Tips for Offshore Teams Productivity
Some managers say – work with the remote programmers can make you want to tear your hair out. But it also gives the competitive strength for the company, improves the skills of the in-house staff and gives the benefits mentioned above. That’s why we’ve prepared 5 management tips for offshore teams, which will make your work more pleasant and effective:
- Measure everything you can. If you pay for the hours worked – track these hours for every worker. Make sure the employees are not wasting time watching YouTube or scrolling Instagram.
- Use systems. Don’t let people invent their own processes and procedures. The best variant is to have clear documents with standards you want people to correspond to.
- Be flexible, but set measures. People, working from different parts of the world will probably have different working hours. Respect this time, but also set some rules. For example, distinguish the time of common online-meetings.
- Track the progress. The output can also be measured – it is the main indicator of your success. Divide a big task into some small goals so it will be easier to watch the progress and understand what is done.
- Check if the virtual team members are doing ok. Work from home can make people feel isolated and lonely. It is important to check if your employees are still feeling good about this type of work, it can influence productivity a lot.
It is not an easy task to manage an offshore development team, so it is important to determine all the positive and negative sides of this model of work:
|Lower price in comparison to the in-house development team.||Low security – the confidential information may leak through the communication channels.|
|No commitment – if you don’t like the employee, you can end the cooperation after one project.||Deceiving profiles – there is always a risk to meet someone who claims the expertise they don’t have.|
|A great pool of talent – you have more chances to find someone brilliant.||Communication issues – different time zones, languages, business hours can make some problems.|
|Efficient budget – find the performers who better suits you by the price and quality.||Poor transparency – lack of in-person communication may cause no trust and work issues.|
|Greater speed of the delivery – the remote workers are usually interested in completing the project without the delays.||Dependence of an outsourcer – you will have to work with this agency again if you need software support and maintenance.|
Manage an Offshore Development Team in Ukraine
If you choose the offshore team management software development can become much easier and cheaper process. Many startups and businesses have already tried this model of work and succeed. If you really are to choose between the offshore and in-house web software development, pay attention to the main criteria: budget, the scale of the project, and deadlines. And if you are looking for a professional outsourcing company – you are in the right place.
In Mobilunity we know how to manage an offshore development team. We have many professional programmers working with different coding languages and tools. Here you will get a dedicated team of professionals, completed according to the tasks and needs of the project. And the offshore developers’ manager will do his best to coordinate the team for fast, qualitative and effective work.
We manage an offshore development team in Ukraine – it is another advantage of our team. In this country, you will find the professional developers for the lowest prices in Europe. The time difference between Ukraine and European countries is about 3 hours, it is comfortable for communication. And if you want to meet us – Kyiv is easy to reach.