Five Tips to Effectively Manage An Offshore Development Team
A few years ago, our company’s leadership realized that we were going to need a more extensive development team than just the couple of us who were working on the wayfinding products. As we looked into our different options, the idea of an offshore development team arose. We were skeptical at first, but as we started to think more about it, it became clear that this was the smartest move to develop an innovative indoor wayfinding system.
Offshore development teams make sense for a couple of reasons. If you run a smaller company, you’re not always sure how long you’ll need a developer, so contractors can be more beneficial for smaller projects. It’s also difficult to find the most skilled developers in the region you occupy. Combine these challenges with the cost-benefits analysis, and an offshore development team comes out ahead.
Though an offshore team can bring advantages, it brings its own challenges as well. Through our experience, we’ve honed in on these top tips for managing an offshore development team that have helped us develop one of the best mobile blue dot platforms on the market.
1. Find the right talent.
Aim to fully understand the needs of your company, product and the infrastructure for the technology. It’s vital to be able to convert the requirements of the project into the technology. If management is on the same page about the skills needed from the beginning, it will be easier to find the right talent. Also, remember that you now have a talent pool from all over the world. Be sure that you’re focusing on those skill sets.
2. Clearly define the requirements and priorities.
Similar to finding the right talent, setting very clear requirements and priorities is extremely important. Early in my career, I learned that being able to set priorities is one of the most valuable skills. This is a skill we focus on when working with our development team. Throughout the entire process, we ensure that we’re making our requirements as clear possible and maintaining a set of priorities. Defining expectations from the beginning helps cut back on time spent down the road.
3. Develop a system of good communication.
In an age where you can have a meeting with people across the world at any time, it’s important to develop a system of communication that makes sense for everyone. Offshore teams and remote working seem to be increasing because of the ability to instantly connect with anyone. With so many virtual tools, you can feel like you’re having a face-to-face meeting and mark up a drawing board in front of all users. Of course, the tools that will work best for your team is dependent on your specific needs. Good communication is vital for your team to succeed and is a little bit easier when making use of available tools.
4. Provide adequate time to train.
Even the best developers need time to learn the technology and the product. Too often, management gives up on an offshore team because they didn’t give them adequate time and/or training. More training will lead to a more productive development team.
5. Understand your people.
While it’s becoming easier to communicate with your team, it’s still important to understand and know the human aspect of it. Often there are cultural barriers and different time zones that can be difficult to overcome if you don’t think through the human aspect of it. Be patient and try to get to know the people on your team so that you can lead better.
With every team comes different challenges, so keep that in mind when thinking about and/or implementing an offshore development team. Experience helps, but there will always be trial-and-error issues. If you know your product, know how to prioritize, communicate and know your people, offshore development can be achievable.