byAmol Gavai (Assistant Vice President – Business Development)
7 tips on how to communicate effectively with your offshore software development team
Many companies in the western world say that the main cause of problems in offshore outsourcing is - communication problem. Many find it hard to handle the extra documentation needed to transfer project requirements to offshore teams or they believe that since they are not in the same room available for frequent interactions which they normally would have with their colleagues. Of course, if the team members are trained in communication skills and cultural differences, it will positively impact the communication. But to communicate successfully and effectively is a process and here are some tips to achieve that.
Hire only those companies and developers you can trust - Every company client should select an offshore vendor, only if they can fully trust them. This could involve a thorough/rigorous selection process based on certain parameters – company history, references, verbal/written communication skills in English, work portfolio, experience in handling projects with similar requirements etc. If you don’t trust them, don’t hire them in the first place. Else, it will lead to uncomfortable interactions, bad faith and project failure.
Hire companies with representatives in your time zone/geography – This could help in situations when you need to reach out urgently and it can be comforting if you have someone locally available in your time zone.
Define exactly what is needed - Clearly conveying what is needed to be developed will help in achieving each milestone required to build the overall product. Most developers are analytical, organized and thorough people. If they are told specifically what is expected, they will work hard to deliver a product based on the specifications.
Daily and weekly meetings to do regular check-ins – When people work in different time zones, the communication is mostly in a written form - emails, chat sessions, project management tools. This may open doors to misinterpretations, incomplete information and, sometimes, distrust of your offshore resources. Regular verbal and video meetings at mutually convenient times in addition to written communication can help to keep everyone on the same page. Additionally, one can try to learn about the processes set by the offshore teams.
Online Project management tool to document the progress of the project - This tool should have separate sections for reporting bugs, tasks and questions. It is a good practice to ask everyone involved in the project to upload a summary of all calls or instant messenger chats to this online system.
Ask Good Questions and Give Good Answers - Questions asked well and answered well are a cornerstone of good communication. Making assumptions and leaps of inference can be deadly in a software outsourcing relationship.
Treat your offshore vendor with respect – Once you have chosen an offshore vendor after a thorough selection process, treat them with respect, spend time to understand their culture. It is imperative to empathize with them as they work hard to meet your needs rather than point a finger of blame. It is also advisable to recognize their efforts/achievements and share positive feedback wherever necessary.