Offshore software development is a great way to increase your competitiveness and save money on labor costs by outsourcing the project offshore. However, offshore software development can be difficult for some people to manage, as it brings many challenges and potential risks.
In this article, you will go through some of the challenges that offshore developers face, as well as how to deal with them. We will also reveal how to make your project as successful as possible thanks to offshore software development, how to find the right offshore development team for your business, and avoid making mistakes that could turn out to be harmful to your business. Without further ado, let’s dive right in.
What is offshore software development?
Offshore software development is the process where you outsource your project to another offshoring country and have offshore developers work on it for you.
In practice, offshoring is a type of outsourcing to some extent. Usually, various projects are outsourced not to neighboring countries (outsourcing), but to countries located a bit further (offshoring).
A great example could be American companies offshoring projects to Central Europe and countries like Poland, Germany, or Spain for example, where polish developers, as well as german and spanish can take care of your software and provide remote development on the highest level.
How to lead offshore teams - best practices
Making offshore software development work can be quite a challenge, actually. There are many factors and aspects that should be considered before you decide to let someone from the other side of the world manage your software for you. Let’s see what you should pay special attention to so that you can be well prepared:
#1 Communicate your requirements and expectations for offshore software development
Communication is key, there’s no doubt about that. In offshore software development, it's important to set clear requirements and expectations from the very start. Be open and honest about your demands and expectations, as well as ask as many questions as come to your mind.
Also, make sure everything you say (like your requirements and demands) is backed up by evidence, for example, sent through an e-mail. Miscommunication is a common occurrence when it comes to collaborating with international teams, so keep this in mind.
That way offshore developers will be able to complete the project according to your needs or decline it straight away knowing they won’t be able to meet your demands, which will save you a lot of time, energy, and nerves.
Being clear about what your wishes are can also help offshore software developers stay focused on important aspects of offshore software development without doing any unnecessary work that doesn’t apply to your specific project. Again, this will save you time, energy, and most likely money, too.
Not knowing clearly what you want can lead to delays in offshore production or even create obstacles in communication between overseas team members and yourself. This could expose your business to serious delays and unnecessary expenditures.
It's also worth mentioning that offshore software development is a long-term commitment. It’s not something you can decide to do in one second and end in the next one.
You need to be clear about what your expectations are for offshore production. It means how many hours per week you want them to dedicate to it, the type of scheduled tasks, the ways of monitoring the work and notifing about all changes and so on.
We recommend communicating offshore teams with regular updates and meeting them in person, at least once every few weeks or months if possible and necessary.
#2 Set up communication channels with your offshore software development partner
Do you want to lead offshore teams in an efficient way? Then create the right fundamentals for that!
Communication is key when deciding on collaboration with offshore software development partners, you already know it. Make sure you establish communication channels before offshore software development starts.
In offshore software, it's important to set up a way for your offshore team members to communicate without any language barriers or time difference issues.
That means setting up Skype for video chats and email that is translated by the IT company where offshore developers are located.
If there are any cultural differences that might create a problem, then make sure offshore software development partners understand your culture and remember to do things the way that they would normally do in the country where your company is located.
Communication is also important for offshore production - offshore developers need to know what you want specifically so there's no confusion as well as no misunderstandings or miscommunications.
Make sure offshore team members are always up to date with all our announcements and other messages.
Also, be aware of different cultures and take into consideration holidays in the offshoring countries. Don’t panic when your dedicated team doesn’t respond to your message instantly, it may be that they're celebrating some bank holidays.
There are many ways of communicating your offshore requirements: through video conference calls, by emailing weekly status reports etc., but not all methods would make sense depending (for example) on where both parties live and whether they speak each other's languages.
You also should specify whether you are fine with asynchronous communication (because of the time zones) or that you want your offshore software development company to be available at the same time when you are.
#3 Keep a crystal clear workflow
Do you want your offshore software development team to reach maximum productivity? Then you should create and maintain a crystal clear workflow!
When offshore software development starts, it's crucial to be organized and keep workflows as clear as possible.
Startup offshore developers are usually unfamiliar with your product or industry and might not know how to do the tasks you've assigned them for offshore production. It’s okay, though! Giving them clear instructions can turn out to be very profitable.
That means you have to give detailed instructions on what needs to be done so offshore software development team members can complete offshore software development according to your needs.
It's also important that your offshore software development team knows exactly how you want them to complete the offshore work and what steps they should take in order for the offshore production process to go smoothly.
That way, they will get a clear picture of offshore requirements and expectations as well as understand where their responsibilities start and end - which is, quite frankly, crucial for offshore production.
One way to do that is by creating a detailed offshore requirements document to use it as an offshore software development guide. That means the offshore development team needs to sign it and make sure they know what offshore project scope contains in order to avoid any confusion.
It's also important not to confuse your expectations with the offshore development team’s work as offshore production is not an open-ended project with undefined goals.
#4 Stay away from micromanagement of your offshore software development team
When offshore software production starts, it's crucial to stay away from micromanagement. That means you shouldn't be too controlling and constantly checking how offshore development team members are doing or the work they're completing - offshore software development is likely a new concept for them so there will most likely be some initial hiccups in the offshore production process.
This isn’t something for you to worry about, which is why you should always aim to focus on the final product.
Instead, give offshore development team members some time to adjust and learn new offshore software development processes.
That way they will have a better understanding of how offshore production works which is crucial for offshore work so micromanagement on your part might only make the situation worse.
It's also important not to overload offshore development teams with tasks. Give them time to get used to what you're asking from them, then gradually assign more complex duties (which is key in offshore production).
Communication is also very important when managing an offshore development team as it allows both parties to understand each other and avoid any misunderstanding or miscommunication which could lead to delays in offshore project completion date.
#5 Treat them like your team members
Treat your offshore development team like members of your own team so they feel more responsibility towards the offshore production process and understand where their responsibilities start and end (which is crucial for offshore production).
You should treat offshore software development team members like your own employees for many reasons.
You need to provide your offshore development team with clear deadlines and goals to meet, but also give them independence as they are responsible for the offshore production process that you have outsourced to them.
Offshore software development is a responsibility of the offshore development company after all, so you do want to create an environment in which they will be able to do their job effectively and according to your expectations.
#6 Evaluate their performance and give them feedback
You also should be open to offshore development team members’ suggestions and feedback, as well as prepare yourself to give feedback regularly.
Due to the fact that offshore software development is a process of continuous improvement, you should never reject any feedback and suggestions from experienced offshore development team members.
Moreover, regularly updating your developers with your thoughts, suggestions and overall satisfaction will be a great indicator for them as to whether or not they’re going in the right direction.
Giving offshore engineers room for offshore production will also give them a sense of higher responsibility and eventually, they will understand what offshore project scope means with time.
Moreover, thanks to your honest feedback, you will also do a huge favour for everyone who will use the services of that certain offshore software development company in the future.
It enables them to read, listen or watch your review (depending on how you submit it) and decide whether or not they want to cooperate with that company.
#7 Pick the right methodology for your project management
There are off-shore project management solutions with offshoring software for every type of offshore production process.
That means you should pick the one that's suitable for your needs. Then follow its guidelines so the offshore development team can understand what offshore requirements mean (depending on which work methodology they're using).
But not all offshore projects require formalized methodologies - sometimes it pays off to just be creative with no set rules in place because then everyone will have room for their own improvisation during the offshore production process.
But if this is an option, make sure there's some kind of system/process in place so people know how everything works before taking any action. Otherwise, things might get messy quickly!
Kanban, Scrum, Agile - you decide, but also it may be a wise idea to use the recommendation of your offshore partner.
Over to you
Thanks to offshore software development you can save money on labor costs and increase your competitiveness. Offshore development teams often have a low cost and high-quality work ethic, and reduce risks from bugs in products that could cause potential losses for your business.
However, these advantages come with many challenges and things to manage and take into consideration.
We hope you enjoyed reading this article as much as we enjoyed writing it for you. Remember that offshore software development can be highly beneficial for your company, provided that it’s done right. That's why is so important to put emphasis on how to properly manage offshore software development.For more publications on software developments and all-things technology, head over to our blog section, where you will be able to find many insightful pieces of knowledge.