Offshore teams could be a potential alternative to software development because it is not time-consuming, expensive, and outsourcing the IT project. In today’s highly competitive tech industry, entrusting product development to offshore teams allows businesses to maintain agility while benefiting from more cost-effective labor. However, collaborating with remote teams, particularly when operating in different time zones, can pose challenges requiring careful navigation.
This article will define an offshore team and the best practices for managing an Offshore team.
What is an Offshore Team?
An offshore team is a group of remote employees in a different country or region working outside the company’s main headquarters. The offshoring model allows companies to leverage the offshore location’s skills, expertise, and cost advantages. Communication and collaboration with the offshore team often occur through technological tools like video conferencing, email, and project management software. Offshore teams are commonly used in software development, customer support, data entry, and back-office operations.
Practices for Managing Offshore Teams
Contracting with a software team located overseas is a beneficial strategy for cost reduction and faster development. While managing an offshore team can seem challenging, you can simplify the process by following useful tips. Here are key best practices for managing offshore Teams:
1- Define a Strategic Vision
Defining a clear product vision boosts job security for your internal team and gives them an idea of what the product will look like. When working with offshore teams, it’s common for companies to make the mistake of assigning urgent tasks without explaining the project’s objectives or overall picture. This lack of clear instruction can lead to disengagement and poor performance. To avoid this, offshore IT engineers must understand the project’s goals, scope of work, milestones, priorities, expected outcomes, and deliverable timelines. Providing release details and sprint planning helps them know and follow upcoming tasks.
2- Set a Clear Product Roadmap
Set a clear roadmap and well-structured sprints, can efficiently manage your overseas teams and create a comfortable working environment for them. It’s important to divide your project into manageable time intervals to ensure success with offshore development centers. Creating a product development roadmap gives you a high-level overview of the key tasks to achieve the predetermined product vision. You can break down the development process into sprints and individual scopes of work (SoW), each with specific priorities and timelines. Sprints enable you and your offshore team to track progress and adjust per the roadmap.
3- Develop a Proper Communication Strategy
In remote work, staying informed can be challenging. Unlike in an office setting, where you can see ongoing tasks, remote work often needs more clarity. It’s crucial to choose the right communication tools. In 2023 and beyond, Google Meet and Zoom dominate video conferencing, while Whatsapp, Skype, and Slack excel in direct messages and voice/video calls. For task tracking and reporting, Jira and Trello are popular choices. Simplifying your communication strategy can also help avoid metaphors, mitigate language barriers, use simple vocabulary, and be concise. Respecting cultural practices and beliefs and facilitating regular team sharing can further minimize conflicts arising from cultural differences.
4- Employ Aglie Approches
Agile development is widely acknowledged as an effective approach for managing offshore teams. It offers a transparent framework that supports iterative and incremental methods, accommodating market changes and feedback. Combining Agile with your team management system can enhance productivity while emphasizing quality and efficiency. This methodology prioritizes tasks based on business value and customer needs, ensuring the offshore team focuses on critical studies. That becomes particularly valuable when dealing with time zone variations and limited communication.
5- Operate with Overlap Work Schedule
Working across different time zones can pose challenges for real-time communication. However, you can maximize collaboration time for addressing critical issues by coordinating overlapping work hours. Making adjustments to schedules allows for strategic workflow planning, minimizing unexpected delays. For instance, if you’re in Australia and your offshore team is in Vietnam (4 hours ahead), you can request the offshore team to start their work 3-4 hours earlier on certain days for important meetings and team collaborations. This proactive approach helps mitigate the impact of significant time zone differences and ensures seamless cooperation for successful development.
6- Effective Onboarding and Knowledge Transfer
Effective onboarding and knowledge transfer are crucial for managing overseas teams. They enable talented programmers to learn new technologies and products, understand project objectives and expectations, and adapt to the organization’s culture and work processes. That includes training on software development practices, tech stacks, and methodologies and sharing relevant documentation and knowledge resources. Successful onboarding and knowledge transfer lead to quick productivity and seamless integration of offshore team members, reducing misunderstandings, delays, and mistakes caused by unfamiliarity with project requirements or work processes.
7- Avoid Putting Overwhelming Requirements
While pursuing perfection is admirable, excessive pressure and forced motivation can yield unforeseen outcomes. According to a Forbes article, some pressure levels can enhance productivity, but an overwhelming amount can lead to stress and anxiety, resulting in decreased performance and work quality. When setting goals and timelines, organizations should consider the task’s perceived difficulty, the feasibility of meeting the deadline, and the confidence in the worker’s ability to complete the project successfully.
Common Challenges of Managing an Offshore Team
Managing a dedicated offshore team is more complex than overseeing an internal team. Unlike a physical office, you can’t simply walk over and monitor an offshore partner. While offshoring software offers many benefits, businesses must navigate unique obstacles when managing an overseas workforce.
Cultural differences are bound to happen when working with individuals from different backgrounds and perspectives. It is crucial to acknowledge and respect cultural boundaries from the beginning. Even minor cultural differences, from etiquette norms to professional ethics, can significantly impact your workflow.
Clear and consistent communication is a common challenge when managing onshore and offshore teams. Unclear communication can lead to misunderstandings, mistakes, delays, and conflicts in software development projects. It hampers transparency and trust, making effective collaboration and knowledge sharing more difficult for team members.
Hiring offshore developers with limited English or language proficiency can worsen communication challenges. Collaborating with such teams becomes more difficult, leading to potential misconceptions. Onboarding and knowledge transfer processes are affected when the offshore team struggles to understand explanations.
Your offshore development center is most likely located on the opposite side of the globe, in a different time zone. While some teams may adjust their working hours to align with your schedule, challenges can still arise. Their holidays and traditions may differ from yours, resulting in situations where you need their assistance, but they are celebrating a national holiday.
Loose Progress Tracking
Consistency in schedules and evaluation criteria is crucial for measuring progress. If progress tracking is conducted regularly, offshore team members can meet deadlines and standards. That can result in compromised quality and lack of uniformity in outputs, potentially harming the company’s branding.
To Summing Up
In this fast-paced technological era, companies must maintain a competitive edge. Therefore, it is worthwhile to explore assembling a proficient and dedicated offshore team with the necessary skills and expertise to handle crucial tasks. However, managing remote teams can present a set of challenges, including disparities in time zones, limited face-to-face interactions, and communication inefficiencies. The best practices outlined in this article draw upon our extensive experience collaborating with numerous global clients, aiming to guarantee smooth product development and expedited time-to-market.