A Startup’s Guide to Managing Offshore Development Teams
Outsourcing is a tried and tested method for companies to harness global talent and streamline their processes while helping founders focus on their bottom line business goals.
“Do what you do best. Outsource the rest”- Peter Druker, Father of Modern Business Management Thinking
Offshoring was considered a means to curb costs and save time. Now, it helps businesses, especially startups, to stay competitive and forge ahead of their competition. Building the right team is key to a startups’ success. Most successful startups have the right team onshore and the right team offshore. The founder onshore to get firsthand customer feedback, someone technical to break it down into technical specs for developers, a product guy to ensure what the customer wants and what the developers deliver are the same, and a team of developers that deliver excellent code. Product delivery depends on how well the team works together, whether onshore or offshore.
Is striking the perfect onshore-offshore balance the way to go? You decide.
The Argument for Having an Offshore Development Team
Availability of skills locally
Finding highly skilled software developers is a very difficult task especially when you are in the initial stages of your startup. For one, the talent pool is not large enough to find the required resources. Secondly, it will be really hard to convince the best talents to work in your startup owing to the heavy competition for talented individuals.
As a startup you’ll always have one eye on how much your are spending on resources. Salaries make up a huge chunk of your expenses and its critical for your startup to find the perfect balance between talent and cost-effectiveness when it comes to your team. That’s where offshoring helps. You’ll have access to some of the best talents in the industry at almost half the cost. You can save not just on salaries but also on benefits and perks if you offshore your development.
All of these theoretical savings mean nothing if the team doesn’t work well together. So, the focus in our experience has to be with getting the team working well together, rather than thinking about whether to have someone offshore, or onshore.
An offshore development team will help you focus on your core business activities by taking responsibility for your technology requirements. They help your in-house team concentrate on the big picture stuff that requires your complete attention like business strategy, goals, growth plan, etc. Also, you have the flexibility of increasing and decreasing the size of your team based on your requirements.
So the bottom line is, if you can get your team working well together, towards the same vision, it doesn’t matter if your team is onshore or offshore. You could save thousands of dollars every month if you get right balance with your team structure.
That’s not all.
For all its advantages, offshoring comes with its new set of challenges. We will be exploring ways to overcome these challenges and learn how to manage an offshore development team.
Let’s dive in and find out how we can manage an offshore team effectively to ensure success.
“The most crucial elements of offshoring are to enable a team which is prompt in communication and ensure messages are well articulated across.”– Faiz, CEO of Neoito.
Communication can easily make or break your chances of success. At the office while you take a short break to stretch your legs and go for a stroll inside your office, more often than not you might strike up a conversation with some of your teammates and perhaps give them some pointers. That is not possible while working with your offshore team. But you can still engage with them through the plethora of communication channels available nowadays. Ever since Covid, everyone is used to working remotely so communication with your remote team won’t be as big a problem as it used to be.
Make sure you engage as often as possible with your offshore team least until you are in complete sync with your team. Show that you are available and that they can approach you with any concerns or doubts. Be open and friendly to your team. Show them you are willing to hear them out and support them.
Daily Scrum Meetings
Scheduling daily scrum meeting is an excellent way to align your with the team and get updated on your projects progress. Scrum meetings promotes high process visibility by getting your team members to answer the three important questions:
- What did you do yesterday?
- What is planned to be done today?
- What are the issues have you faced so far?
These meetings also help to improve familiarity with everyone and build trust.
Get off on the Right Foot
Before you start assigning tasks and milestones get to know the team first. Find out who all are your players and show a genuine interest in them. Get them excited about your project and the journey you will go on together. Take the time to help your offshore team understand who you are and what you are trying to achieve. Tell them about the product, its purpose, the functionalities you are looking for, the deadlines you want to meet and most importantly to whom you are selling this too, aka, your target customer.
“Coming together is a beginning; keeping together is progress; working together is success.” — Henry Ford
Get Your Vision Across
When you pass on your vision and values to your offshore team, it will reflect in the development process. The team will invest in your vision and take an active part in the development process. They will contribute to new ideas, be more effective and creative; helping ensure that the final product will not be just some run-of-the-mill software but one that will closely adhere to your vision and satisfies your business goals.
How We Roll
At Neoito, we won’t blindly rush into product development. We make sure both us and our clients have all the information needed to achieve clarity on all aspects of the project. We introduce the stakeholders to every member of the team — not just the project managers and team leads. Putting faces to names goes a long way in establishing a trusting partnership and aligning themselves towards a specific goal.
They Are Your Offshore Team
Want to get the best out of your offshore team? Then start considering them a part of your team. And why not? They are working towards your business goals and helping out with your success, right? So why treat them any different.
Keep Morale High
It’s always good for morale if a team knows that they are valued. It instils in them a sense of belonging and in return, you will have their dedication and hard work. Offshore teams often feel alienated since they are not in direct contact with you. So try to get in touch with them as often as you can. Take the time to listen to them and what they have to say. Communication with your team should not be solely focused on your business objectives, especially if you are aiming to get the best out of your offshore team.
Source: AZ Quotes
Motivation is Key
It’s the small things that make a huge difference like celebrating birthdays, anniversaries, engaging in casual conversations from time to time can all make a big impression on your offshore team. Make sure to commend them on a job well done if they deliver the product on time and under budget. Boost their morale by appreciating them on their hard work and how they are contributing hugely to your business. When customers start loving your product, make it a point to share it with the team and include them in your celebrations.
Trust Your Offshore Team (They Know What They Are Doing)
Why did you hire a particular offshore team? It’s because they bring a set of skills and expertise in areas where you are lacking or need strengthening. So what happens when you won’t let them do their thing and keep pestering about every single detail? All hell’s going to break loose! You have to learn trust and respect your offshore team. They are experts in their fields and sometimes know what would best work for your product. Yes, it is great that you want to be part of the process every step of the way and its commendable. But it should have its limits. You need to allow them to express themselves. It will make them feel valuable and more comfortable in coming up with suggestions and taking decisions. They are professionals and you should regularly ask them for their input to help improve your product and the overall process. It can encourage them to take initiatives and put in that extra effort. All the money in the world won’t replace the output you’ll receive if you start to place your trust in the right people.
It doesn’t make sense to hire smart people and tell them what to do; we hire smart people so they can tell us what to do. -Steve Jobs
How We Build Trust
We believe trust is the foundation of every successful partnership. Even though we have a strong base in Utah and amazing relationships with startup founders in the Silicon Slopes; we went ahead and set up a dedicated office in Salt Lake City, with Utah’s own Joel McKay Smith at the helm. Our onshore team of project managers and technology consultants help liaison between clients and our offshore team. It solves the issues caused by time zone differences, differences in culture and also renews their trust in us. Having an onshore team in Utah is helping us get a deeper understanding of the startup culture in the Silicon Slopes and help more startup founders to leverage our technology prowess to transform their ideas into lightning fast products.
Yes, it’s a huge advantage to have an offshore team fluent in your language. But that doesn’t always mean they will always understand your regional and pop-culture references. Even metaphors are also a strict no-no. So try to stay away from those as much as possible. Simplify your language to avoid confusion. Clarity is king. Provide clear-cut directions to your team and leave no room for assumptions.
Take Advantage of Different Communication Channels
Leverage technology to communicate with your team effectively. Tools like Slack have all the tools to communicate and share information like video conferencing and group messaging. You can use other chat applications like Skype to engage with your team members on a personal level. One on ones with the team is effective in building a strong sense of belonging within the team. Daily scrum calls and project management tools like Trello and Jira will help you plan, track and stay up-to-date on your projects progress.
Take a look at some of the communication and project management tools below:
Offshore development teams are now a staple behind success stories of some of the best startups and scaleups. It is now becoming a necessity owing to the time we are in now. So getting the best out of them is crucial. Changing your approach towards your offshore team can have a massive impact on performance and productivity. Bringing a positive vibe can encourage them to give you their 100%. Learning to trust them and their expertise will maximize output and help you gain valuable insights from them.
We are lucky to have worked with some of the coolest startups founders who understand the value of an offshore development company can bring. They trusted our technology expertise to take them forward and help them achieve their goals. We have been part of startups and scaleups whose products have earned more than $20 million in funding and used by millions of people.
Are you on the lookout for an offshore team? We would love to hear you out.