How to Manage an Offshore Software Development Team

Managing an offshore software development team is an important challenge you will face to have a successful business. However, to get to the main purpose of this article about how to do it more efficiently we need to start by explaining what it exactly is and give you everything you need to know about successfully managing, having an offshore development team, and keeping everything in control.  

So what is an offshore software development team?

Offshore software development teams usually consist of a certain number of people who can be located in different parts of the world but nevertheless, they work together remotely. 

Most of the communication is held through video chats, phone calls, and messaging. Even though it may seem to be less effective, a lot of companies choose this method of working in order to reduce budget and time-to-market without compromising quality. 

Offshore development has become especially popular now when the whole world is “on pause” and almost everyone had to adapt to the situation and work from their home. You know what they say: “Modern problems require modern solutions.” 

Take for example these successful companies that work with offshore software development teams:

  1. Google
  2. Slack
  3. WhatsApp
  4. GitHub

The prominent names on the list should convince you that offshore outsourcing is a reliable and proven solution.

Managing offshore teams

Having an offshore software development team usually helps to attract top talents worldwide and save on development expenses but it also has some nuances to remember regarding managing it. When you know what problems may arise, it is easier to avoid them. And here we list possible challenges and most effective solutions to run successful cooperation with an offshore team:

English language level

A possible issue to know about is different English language skills. This can impact not only communication in the team but also the work itself. Developers can have lower language levels than you would expect and it will be harder for them to freely communicate with other employers and colleagues from different countries, and describe the problems they face in the process, which can affect the duration of the project and its quality.  

Solution: When communicating with your offshore team avoid complicated grammar, slang, and dialects. It’s a good way to prevent misunderstandings and be with everyone on the same page. Let them know that you understand each other and encourage them to be open while talking in a foreign language. 

Also, you can make the communication easier and more effective by employing a Project manager. A PM with a good command of both the team language and English is a silver bullet for managing offshore teams. 

Different time zones

Because of distance and different time zones, it can be harder to schedule a conference or a call. 

Solution:  When hiring a team abroad, it is better to choose a country where the working hours overlap with yours for at least 2 hours. This way you won’t have to wait hours or days for an answer. Scheduling a call won’t be an issue as well. 

Also, respect the time of your team. You need to take into consideration the national holidays of their country.

Working experiences and approaches may differ  

Every developer in your team is going to have different working experiences, skills, and his personal approach to fulfilling tasks, which can lead to more issues with code, deadlines, bug detection, and communication within the team. 

Solution: Make sure the people you hire have the essential skills you require beforehand. It is important that the team uses the required tools and follows an established workflow. 

Cultural differences

Another thing you need to be prepared for is that when hiring developers from around the world you can face confusion and miscommunication because of cultural differences. It can be harder to communicate and unite your team when everyone has different cultural backgrounds. 

Solution: Create a comfortable working space and have a video conference with the team where you can discuss not only work-related issues but also hobbies, interests of your colleagues, etc. It is important to ensure that your team has open communication when everyone can share their visions and ideas. Always encourage dialogs, it will lead to better results in the future.

Build a culture of being open-minded and emotionally connected despite the distance. 

Tools for better managing an offshore development team:

All the work will be done remotely, so using verified and popular tools is necessary for attaining productivity and good communication while managing an offshore team. It’s easier with the help of these tools that are perfect for communication, video chats, etc.:

  1. Skype 
  2. Zoom 
  3. Microsoft Teams 
  4. Google Meet
  5. Slack
  6. Discord
  7. Hangouts

There are also other great tools that a lot of teams use for task tracking and organizing work:

  1. Trello
  2. Jira
  3. Asana
  4. TimeCamp
  5. HeySpace

Offshore software development is very popular within startups and large companies despite the described challenges. Using effective solutions in offshore team management and proven digital tools enables them to largely benefit from offshore cooperation.

The best way to start is to collect the information and see for yourself that it’s actually attainable and has a lot of advantages.

Tips for making offshore team management easier

Offshore software development team management is not the easiest task to have. It has many advantages and reasons why so many companies use it. Managing an offshore team can be challenging sometimes but not impossible. There are many ways of improving offshore team management and we collected the best tips for you.

Assign a project manager

Proper work process organization is key for having a dedicated development team. The success of your team and work will be highly dependent on the person who manages it all. That’s why it is vital to have a professional Project Manager who will keep everything in control. A good Project Manager can foresee problems and find solutions beforehand. 

The advantage of this approach is that while the PM works with the team in the office, the customer doesn’t need to control the product development process personally. Instead, he can dive into strategic tasks, such as planning, marketing, partnerships, sales, etc. 

Explain and give clear requests, vision, and idea

It is important that your team understand what you want to be done and how. Ensure understanding between you and your offshore team before starting to work on a project. Be specific about all the requirements and approaches to work. Explain exactly your ideas, your vision of the end product, and the contribution you expect from them. But don’t micromanage them too much, they need to know that you trust them with their job. 

Respect team members and motivate them

Remember to respect your team and involve everyone in finding solutions and sharing ideas. If you let your team be open about their visions and motivate them to express themselves, they will know that their ideas are valuable and it will motivate them to be more creative and dedicated to what they do. Also, people tend to show better results at work if they feel respected. Let your team know that they can rely on you too and keep in mind that “Men are respectable only as they respect.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson.

Provide training

By providing training for developers in your offshore team you can quickly raise their skills and expand knowledge in specific topics regarding your project, which will lead to better results at work. Moreover, this can improve trustworthy relationships during the work process and their inner motivation. 

Working with Agile Development 

When managing offshore teams, the best way to maintain successful software development is with an agile methodology. There are a lot of pros and cons regarding working with agile development but it is used worldwide as an effective framework. Agile methods stimulate the project management process, encourage teamwork and organization for delivering high-quality results. It focuses on sequential processes and creating minimum viable products (MVP) with a number of iterations before the final result. 

A lot of offshore software development teams across the whole world are successful due to good communication and the correct distribution of tasks. Because of that, we made a shortlist of the main things to keep in mind for the productive work of an agile team: 

Focus on the process organization from day one.

You need to keep the focus on planning the working process and prioritizing tasks. Offshoring is impossible without the right schedule, plan, and communication.

Share every knowledge you have. 

Give your team the precise description of the project, it can be done with the help of sketches, tables, graphs, and videos as well. Share all small and needed details, ideas, and knowledge you have because the more detailed information your team will have, the more efficient their work will be. 

Treat your offshore development team as you would your regular team. 

Include your offshore team in all communication and meetings and treat them as your regular team. Make it important to always communicate with them, share all the news, and make sure they are not left in the dark.

Have short iterations.  

Having short iterations gives you an overview of specific requirements, reporting, and reviews without excess information. And it simplifies an overall work course. 

Have common standards. 

It can become harder to track what your offshore development team does but having set common standards will prevent them from making unnecessary mistakes and allow your team work better and smoothly.  

Product development

Offshore development is suitable both for supporting small projects and for product development when you need a team to build a complex system from scratch. Here is where a dedicated team comes for help.

A dedicated team in a nutshell

A dedicated team is a team of professionals that you can choose according to the requirements of your project and then hire them to work for you. A dedicated team focuses only on your project, which brings a better quality of the final work. It is a viable solution because it helps you to expand quickly and have the right people with specific skills that are needed for specific tasks. You can hire a full-time team that will work for you but if you have a small project, you can hire them part-time, which will help you not to overpay.

Hiring a dedicated team means having a team of specialists with the required skills who will help your business with attaining the goals. And not only it saves you costs but also ensures that your project will be delivered on time and without quality compromises. 

Where to find a dedicated team?

A dedicated team will help you deal with difficult tasks and schedules. It is one of those things that will completely facilitate the workflow. Many companies provide offshore software development services and offer you a custom team of experts with the required knowledge and seniority in a short period of time. Offshore companies can easily arrange a team extension for you if needed so you won’t need to worry about that as well.

Summary

Now you are convinced that having an offshore development team is not a problem in our reality and is actually highly effective and popular nowadays. Knowing how to manage such a remote team helps you to avoid pitfalls and benefits in the long run

First, working with and managing an offshore software development team it may seem to be too difficult because of a lot of problems and challenges you can face. It may seem like it’s impossible to keep everything in control. But following industry best practices and employing modern technologies it is more than possible. There are many services, tools, and information sources that will help you on your way to successfully managing your offshore software development team. 

We really hope that our tips and advice showed you more efficient ways of having an offshore team, clarified the questions that may arise, and now you are ready to successfully manage offshore software development teams from around the globe.