Whether you’re working together with a software development agency that offers cloud support services across the board, or via a partner service provider (such as a dedicated AWS partner, for example), supervising any software development lifecycle is demanding business. After all, even the simplest of projects last on a semi long-term basis (if not being perpetually long-term) and can be significantly intricate. Add to this the notion of gaps, be they physical or communicative, through working with a team halfway round the world.
On the other hand, software offshoring has long since been a highly cost-effective way of building advanced digital applications. With a wider talent pool and unique cultural insights for tapping into international markets, the pros of software offshoring are very much tempting, no doubt. In fact, the industry of software development in Sri Lanka has also been based on this premise, what with numerous international brands setting base in the country to leverage business and software operations.
Companies both big and small have long since been successful in maintaining high-quality digital presences, thanks to offshoring teams located thousands of miles away. So what’s their secret? By capitalizing on the advantages and circumventing through any disadvantages, a keen eye for detail certainly goes a long way. No two businesses (and their subsequent requirements) are identical, so it’s imperative to have a bird’s eye perspective of the software offshoring industry at hand, and analyse how it can be used to your business’s benefit.
With so many variables involved in software offshoring, how do you make it resourceful towards your business? Here we outline three constituents of quality software offshoring. While customizing these constituents will depend on the unique needs of your business, ensuring all these factors make it into the offshoring mix will ascertain long-term success. Also keep in mind that all these variables are inter-connected with one another; it’s the soft skills that complement the technical skills, thereby generating productivity that is valuable yet rewarding.
Ethos and etiquettes.
Are you a company that formalizes everything via email, or a fully-fledged Slack channel is sufficient to keep track of things (and then hit the search bar should you have the need to find anything)? Establish these fine lines from the get-go, so your offshore team is aware of which communication channels are more convenient for you – and where they can also easily find you if they require your assistance.
Additionally, considering time zone differences also comes into play here. Find a time that is convenient for both parties (irrespective of time differences) that can be used for regular discussions. This might even require scheduling meetings later or earlier than normal working hours on one or both destinations. But this can be compensated with free schedules during otherwise normal working hours, thereby giving teams more flexibility to create a better work-life balance.
Bridging the cultural gap.
Albeit having a strong command of the English language, many offshore teams aren’t familiar with the many linguistic intricacies that encompass countries which use English as its mainstream language. This goes down into a deeper psychological level, as certain cultural differences can also contribute to communication ‘silos’. However, competent offshoring teams are highly adaptive, and can accommodate to varied styles of communication within a short frame of time. As a matter of fact, this is one of the key attributes of a high-quality software offshoring company, and is something you can remain observant of to determine whether they will eventually be a good fit for you.
Cultural gaps or not, communication is a two-way street which requires the clear articulation of needs and goals from the business side of things. Using the channels already established, ensure your client objectives are prompt and to-the-point, so teams know what to plan for next.
Video and IM collaboration.
Although written forms of communication contribute more so to offshore teams than traditional in-person ones, it’s not going to suffice. This is where video conferencing comes in. While video conferencing has exploded in demand and use due to the increase of remote work environments, maximizing its true potential is something that is still in the shadows. Leading video conferencing providers today offer numerous versatile features which enable users to change participant numbers at scale, and even stabilize call quality depending on your internet connection.
Emulate an in-office feel by engaging your team to hop on a quick 10-minute video call to discuss an immediate concern about your project, or show what you’ve drafted by sharing your screen. Although this has long since replaced the need for teams to meet in person, it helps build rapport, while also inculcating cultural familiarity with every interaction.
Going beyond clear communication, by conveying business visions and objectives.
Especially relevant to long-term software projects, it is important to understand that your offshore team (albeit being sourced and managed by an external entity) is as good as a team that has been exclusively built by you, the business. In other words, a dedicated team that is allocated to commit its set of skills, time and other resources is going to be the heart and soul of your digital application. Maintaining transparency is paramount here, so that teams know what they can expect next. Be it long-term or short-term this is important nevertheless, as members can then divide and conquer your company’s specific goals for optimum performance.
Reviews, be they monthly, quarterly or yearly need to be segmented based on what has already been accomplished – and what you aim to reach for next. Although this is necessary for businesses in general, it allows for greater insight within the offshore context, as in-person communication is naturally absent and guaranteeing job security is more challenging.
Cross-pollination between different business units.
Again, this is also something which modern companies need to achieve irrespective of having in-person or remote work teams. Long gone are the days of staying within your business unit alone. Contributing to corresponding departments with useful insights or observing from the sidelines at the very least can leverage the efforts of employees across the board. With companies intricately entwined nowadays, integration is essential to learn what other teams are up to, and how a team member’s individual efforts can be maximized to even assist those outside their business units.
In turn, this allows all team members to work towards a larger, mutual goal – but one that’s comprised of segments which employees individually work on. In consideration to software offshoring, the team that’s behind your digital applications are already incorporating key top and bottom line objectives to their deliverables. Giving them a glimpse into how others are also working towards attaining these very objectives can reap fresh perspectives for the digital front – even though it may seem that other departments have nothing to offer to a remote offshore development team.
Milestones make the dream team.
As you supervise your software development project and monitor its progress, ensuring that everyone is also provided the same focal point is a no-brainer. With cloud-based project management tools, this can be easily achieved by adding users, as well as controlling how much they can contribute via role-based access control. Aim to check milestones off your project timeline, ideally within the scheduled time frame (especially since going beyond delivery dates is fairly normal in the world of software development).
By focusing on a milestone-based approach, your offshore team will be busy even as you sleep (especially if you have a 12+ hour time difference) while also giving them the autonomy to deliver independently. As long as they are aware of what is required, they will enjoy the freedom of producing the final result by putting all their skills into action. If you would still like to observe ongoing tasks, you can take this a step further by observing operations that are carried out on a real-time basis with tools such as remote desktop sharing.
Done is better than perfect – at least in the beginning.
The milestone-based approach is ideal due to a number of reasons – and its compatibility with Agile project management methodologies is one of them. As Agile focuses on delivering bite-sized goals in the interest of releasing a working product, implementing applications that still bear potential to be enhanced is beneficial both to the offshore team as well as the client. While the offshore team delivers smaller working products at a faster turnaround time, the client has the opportunity to test the same among its customers for obtaining feedback – which can be used to improve the application at its next iteration. Thus, a continuous yet resourceful feedback loop is maintained between offshore team and client, to determine a development stream that is cost-effective yet highly proficient.
This also supports the factor of transparency towards the product or company vision. With smaller productions of an overarching product, the offshore team also becomes more familiar with your long-term goals through hands-on experience – as opposed to simply acknowledging this verbally. With user-centricity at the fore of leading business models today, having a software team (offshore or not) which can stay on par with the changing needs of your consumers is an investment made more through consistency, than price – and smaller iterations will truly help achieve this over time.
Reward your team with every achievement.
In spite of being a team that has originally been hired to accomplish software development, the manner in which daily coordination takes place is akin to working with staff that are directly employed by your organisation. As dedicated teams focus on one client alone, their prolonged contributions can be evaluated to offer a chance for improvement, through pursuing education or attending workshops/seminars. Promotions are also another way to reward employees, as they add your deliverables to their portfolio.
Even though an offshore team rests under the operative care of an external entity beyond national boundaries, the dedicated in-person collaboration it demands is one that can establish sustainable rapport – and a reliable team for all your software development needs.
The software development world is a perpetually evolving one, and it is therefore crucial to build a team that is well-equipped to competently face forthcoming challenges. Choosing highly seasoned experts is key, but not before thinking twice about how costs can be optimised to bring the best value. This is why software offshoring has become a booming trend year on year, as businesses across every industry and company size begin to realize the outcomes it can have to an overarching, long-term business vision.
As our world gets increasingly digitized by the day, paving the path to digital transformation isn’t optional, but very much essential. The larger pool of talented IT individuals across the globe are now accessible via intelligent software offshoring, as teams from halfway round the world come together through regular video calls and project timelines. However, success in software offshoring goes beyond routine daily exchanges, as the right strategies are determined through careful analysis of what, who and how much each business needs.
While it’s most convenient, easy and even advisable to start small, being able to scale up or down in due course of offshoring shall make all the difference between a versatile team, and a static one. This is best discussed with your team before you sign on the dotted line, to ensure that both parties are aware of shifting variables well beforehand. Another important constituent of successful software offshoring is treating an otherwise external team as your own. Being transparent with your long-term business objectives will not only help with building rapport, but will give your team a clear sense of direction for both long and short-term goals. Also get them involved with other working parts in your company, for more insight gathering that can help development goals in return.
Last but never the least, rewarding them upon achieving key milestones will make a huge difference in retaining an offshore team that’s trustworthy and proficient.