Outsourcing software development is very popular today. A lot of products that many of us use every day were built with the help of offshore partners. When opting for software outsourcing, you receive a number of benefits, including access to a huge pool of professionals from around the globe, a high level of team scalability, costs and time reduction, the ability to focus on your core competency, access to the latest technological advancements, and many more.
However, outsourcing software development only works when a remote project team is managed properly. This article will provide you with useful tips for managing outsourced developers.
Establishing True Partnership
First of all, you should treat your IT vendor as a real partner. Feeling empathy towards offshore team members instead of being an evil client who just requires the tasks to be done will create a productive environment that is a great foundation for the project’s success.
If you make members of your remote team feel like they’re a part of one great project and show them that you care about their growth, their motivation and dedication to the work will increase. Effective communication of your idea, sharing your vision of the future product, discussing and accepting advice on the project workflow are also great ways that will bring you closer to people working on your outsourced projects.
So, get to know your outsourcing partner, leave some time for small talks instead of limiting all communication to business-related topics, and show offshore team members that you appreciate their work. Also, visiting your remote IT vendor will be a nice gesture from your side that will give you a better understanding of who are the people behind your outsourced project and what their working process is.
Being in Constant Communication
When managing outsourced teams, a sufficient amount of attention must be paid to communication. The idea and requirements of your project must be clear to remote team members from the very beginning. But you shouldn’t stop the communication process at that point—it’s important to check how the work is going through the entire project. In general, communication with an outsourcing partner must be regular if you want to build a strong team spirit and always know what is happening with your software project.
Also, when you choose an outsourced team, it is important to agree on the communication channels and formats you’ll use and make sure they will be suitable for your side, too. Luckily, there are many ways to enable effective communication for parties that are located far from each other. You can use emails, instant messengers, phone calls, video calls, and many more to arrange regular meetings and collaborate more effectively. It is good to stick to regular video calls because they provide the maximum level of visualization and ensure a better understanding of what people on the other side are talking about.
Constant communication with your remote team will keep you updated about what was done, what is going to be done, whether there are any challenges, questions, problems, and if everything is going the way it was planned. Being transparent about your goals, sharing your ideas and expectations, and communicating your strategy is vital if you want to get the desired result.
Keeping the Team Motivated
No matter if it is an in-house department or offshore team members located miles away from you–when a team is working on your project, it is your team. That’s why it is good to establish a feedback structure for people engaged in your outsourcing projects because no feedback means all things are good. When you are satisfied with the results – you should show a team that you noticed it and make them feel appreciated. And when there is something wrong – you should tell the developers about their mistakes.
Giving some level of flexibility also pays off. Your outsourced team consists of real human beings, and, like anyone else, they sometimes need day-offs or vacations. Allowing all these things will make the work even more productive. You can also give some bonuses for the good work. Even if it is not a large amount of money, it is a very nice gesture that staff always appreciates. At the same time, all the members of your virtual team must be treated equally, so the bonus system must be the same for everybody.
Eliminating Cultural Discrepancies
When hiring developers overseas, you have to deal with the fact that their culture differs from yours. And that’s another important aspect of outsourced projects. At first sight, it may look like a minor-league issue since many believe that the most important thing for understanding each other is speaking the same language. But just having proper command of English is not enough for managing outsourced teams since culture specifics can have a big impact on the working processes.
So, before hiring a remote team, you should find out whether its culture goes well with your product development culture. Even if there are some differences, both sides have to know about them and respect them. Being aware of communication habits, behavior rules, traditions, and customs of your offshore team members will help you avoid any misunderstandings.
If you read about the country of your outsourced project partner, its politics, social norms, and learn about the way the developers you hire do things and what working culture they have, it will help you get better results in the end. To get closer to the culture of your remote team, you may arrange some training programs for your in-house staff.
Using Project Management Tools
Working with an outsourced team on a software project means giving them precise and clear tasks, tracking task execution, setting deadlines, arranging online meetings while adjusting to the time zone differences. There are many project management software tools that are simple to use and can help you make the process of managing outsourced projects run smoothly. Here are the most popular of them:
Trello is an intuitive project management software that is all about Kanban boards. It allows users to create thematic boards and tasks and track their execution by just moving cards from one list to another. On Trello, a project manager and other people working on your outsourced projects can also add team members to boards, add due dates, attach files, make comments, etc.
Asana is another simple-to-use project management software that suits well for managing outsourced projects. It enables creating tasks and subtasks, tracking tasks execution, assigning tasks to other people, adding necessary attachments, and many more.
Wrike is project management software that allows users to view their projects in real time and track how they are progressing. It offers spreadsheets that you can use to see the big picture and to-do lists, as well as plan what to do next. There is also an embedded time-tracking system, general activity stream, dynamic Gantt charts, and other useful features for managing team members in different time zones.
Taiga is a project management software tool that is ideal for agile projects. It offers agile templates, where you can create sprints and add user stories with tasks. It is also possible to name a user story, add a description, and set the time needed to execute the task for a specific category, such as UX, design, front-end, back-end, choose the progression level, tag the person responsible, etc.
You can find more information about project management platforms in our article about 7 amazing project management tools.
Implementing Agile Practices
Agile methodology and outsourcing software development are the two trends in software development that enable modern product development. To implement agile development, both parties, a client and a remote team, need to apply the same practices and have a common understanding of them. Agile implies open and well-tuned collaboration, trust between all people working on outsourced projects, and taking responsibility. So, you need to be sure that all of your partners located in different time zones offer a sufficient level of flexibility, collaboration capabilities, and scalability.
Within Agile methodology, both parties of outsourced projects agree on making adjustments in the software development process if they are necessary for receiving better results. This way, the overall development process becomes very adaptable to current conditions, so changes can be easily made throughout the whole development cycle. In addition, using Agile techniques can help a team adjust a product to new market demands and implement improvements more smoothly.
Even when developers working on your project are outsourced and located far away, they are still your team members, and you should treat them properly. Treating your offshore software provider as a partner, communicating regularly with your developers, keeping their motivation up, being aware of their culture and respecting them, applying a suitable project management tool, and implementing Agile methodology are basic recommendations that will help you manage remote teams and get amazing results.
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