May 04, 2018

Managing a global software development team

Nearly every other IT company in the USA uses offshore teams to boost their software development efforts. Outsourcing some tasks to talented developers from China, India, Latin America or Eastern Europe lowers the overall cost and provides quicker results. However, offshore team management can be difficult, if you don’t follow the best practices. Today we’ll share the tips and tricks to get the most out of your outsourcing development team.

Keep cultural differences in mind

Language, time zones, and cultural sensitivities can all influence the software development progress unless you factor them in your management style. For instance, if your team speaks English as a second language, avoid using phrasal verb and idioms that don’t translate well into the teams’ first language. Unclear phrasing can cause unnecessary misunderstandings and alienate the team.

When you hire an offshore development team, take time to learn about their most important holidays. If you take the national holidays into account at the onset, you will be able to plan the work around them successfully. In China, developers will happily work through Christmas, but you won’t be able to reach them during the Chinese New Year celebrations.

Management style can also vary depending on the country your development team is based in. IT specialists in Eastern Europe and Latin America are used to the western management style with equal respect among the team members of different stations. The developers from South-Eastern Asia might require more micromanagement, and the team leader will expect more respect and some delicate handling.

Immerse the team in the company values

Every development project, either in-house or outsourced, starts with a system requirements specification. The designers, developers, and testers won’t be able to begin the work without a clear understanding of what they are expected to produce. Still, if you want the product to be outstanding, devote some time to acquaint the offshore team with your company, its mission, and values. Outline the goals you wish to achieve and the philosophy behind the project.

This preliminary stage will let you get to know the team better. And the specialists will become more invested in the project’s success. They might come up with unexpected solutions and insights that can expedite the development process and increase the project’s revenue.

Set up regular communication possibilities

Like any relationship, offshore team management requires transparent communication. You should decide on the preferred communication channels in the beginning. Explain your communication expectations, so the team can expect to hear from you at predetermined intervals. Video and audio calls are the best option for regular team meetings. Instant messaging can help when you require a quick update.

If you ignore this advice, you might face an unpleasant situation with the team being too afraid to reach out to you when something goes wrong. Due to the lack of productive and open communication, the project will miss the deadline, and you will lose money.

Face-to-face communication is still the easiest and quickest way to get the message across. So, make an effort to fly out to visit your team, especially if you are in for a long-term project. One meeting at the onset of your cooperation will let you meet the team members and make them understand your goals and needs better.

Oversee the work without micromanagement

Trust is the basis for any outsourcing project. When you hire offshore developers, treat them like the professionals they are. There is no need to check on the team’s progress every half an hour to see how much work has already been done. This will not endear you to the team, instead, causing tension and impeding the performance. The developers should not be spending more time on their progress reports than on actual coding.

So avoid micromanagement, set the interim goals and a plan for the project, select one day a week to conduct team meetings and address questions and troubles. Choose one among the numerous project management tools to follow the team’s progress without interrupting their workflow.

Offshore development teams can be more productive and produce quicker results than in-house developers if you treat them right. Follow our advice to set up communication channels, build trust and keep cultural differences in mind, and you will never regret your decision to outsource software development.

-Alex Slobohzan, CSO of Fresh Code

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