Globally, companies are increasingly relying on outsourcing their IT services to hit targets and meet growing customer expectations. By outsourcing complex development projects to expert offshore teams,, businesses can make better use of their internal resources and improve their overall agility.
While there is a lot to be said about the benefits of bringing in offshore teams, there are a few challenges that a manager might expect to run into in the process. By anticipating these challenges ahead of time, it’s possible to prevent them from getting out of hand.
Why Hire an Offshore Team?
Using offshore teams might seem like a complicated endeavour, but it’s still very worthwhile. For one thing, outsourcing a large-scale project to a team with plenty of experience will be far more time-efficient than training staff in-house. When you are relying on people who know what they’re doing and have previously completed similar work, your project can only benefit and the odds of success increase. It’s also worth mentioning that by outsourcing to an offshore team, you are likely to decrease expenses as you won’t have to hire full-time employees to do the job for you; saving on salaries and employee benefits.
To ensure the team you hire is of the highest quality, start narrowing down your search sooner rather than later. You can do so by looking into outsourcing organisations in countries such as Vietnam where the IT outsourcing industry is going from strength to strength.
7 Top Tips to Manage Your Offshore Team Effectively
Working with an offshore team isn’t like working with in-house employees and there are several factors you’ll need to consider if you want to make outsourcing work at its very best. Here are our seven top tips to help you make that happen.
1. Get Everyone on the Same Page
It doesn’t matter where the team is based, who they are, or what the project is. Unless everyone is on the same page from the jump, your offshore team is unlikely to get the results you’re expecting from them. So, from the get-go, you must share your vision and long-term goals for the project in the clearest possible terms.
You can do this through a conference call, a presentation, or a project charter, but whatever your approach, remember to be specific. Without clear communication, how can you expect your offshore team to apply themselves to their responsibilities in the right way or achieve the results you want them to achieve?
2. Account for Time Differences
When you hire a team from Vietnam or another global outsourcing powerhouse, it’s important to keep time zones in mind. There will be times in your working day where your contractors are off the clock and vice versa. It’s best to ensure there are always at least a few hours of overlap each day and make it clear that people from both sides should be available during that period.
There are also likely to be development meetings and brainstorming sessions that your offshore team will need to be involved in. If you plan accordingly and communicate well, you make it far more likely that there will be full participation in every session.
3. Create a Solid Project Strategy
This one might sound obvious, but with the right project strategy, the delivery of your outsourced projects is far more likely to be successful. So, break your strategy down into stages, giving an indication of the timeframe each stage should be completed within before allocating resources and delegating responsibility for every stage of the project.
You may need to hold a meeting with your in-house and offshore teams to figure out the best strategy for each step.
4. Appoint a Project Manager
When you have a lot on your plate already, managing an offshore team yourself is likely to pull you away from other pressing responsibilities. It might, therefore, be worth hiring or allocating an in-house project manager. This person should be responsible for overseeing the delivery of the project and the hands-on management of the team.
If your offshore team is going to be working with you for the foreseeable future and on a variety of projects, then a local team leader might be more appropriate in the long term. To decide what is right for you, think about how much more responsibility you can afford to shoulder and ask yourself whether someone else might be better placed to directly lead a team of offshore staff.
5. Understand Your Team’s Work Culture
Your offshore team will probably have a different work culture from yours. As such, you should take the time to understand the overall working culture of the country they are from and speak to each team you are considering to determine their attitudes towards work. Just as when you are hiring a new in-house employee, it’s important to make sure your offshore team is a good fit.
Similarly, the team needs to learn about your company’s culture too, including the values it adheres to and its overall mission. Doing so will help to align both in-house and offshore workers and make for more successful end results.
6. Touch Base Regularly
Communication is key when working with offshore teams. From start to finish, you need to communicate objectives and keep your offshore workers up-to-date with strategy and goal-related changes. Progress should also be discussed frequently, ideally during regular catch-up sessions via Zoom, Skype, or a similar teleconferencing tool.
Sometimes, language barriers can get in the way of effective communication. But, if you keep your use of language simple and avoid analogies that don’t translate well, there is far less
chance of a miscommunication occurring. And, if you want to be sure your points have been understood, ask the team to explain them back to you.
7. Keep Your Team Motivated
Motivation is essential if you want to get good results. If you don’t give your workers an incentive to do well, they probably won’t work to the best of their ability regardless of whether they are in-house or offshore. Thankfully, with these seven top tips, you’ll find that you have plenty of opportunities to motivate and inspire your offshore teams.
The Key to Managing Offshore Teams Successfully
There is no one single thing you need to do to manage offshore teams successfully. There are, however, several approaches and best practices you’ll need to implement if you want to work efficiently across borders.
From practical considerations such as making time differences work to more personal concerns surrounding mutual understanding, managing an offshore team effectively hinges on the power of simple actions.