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Understanding Offshore Teams & How to Handle Them

Offshore Teams

The Covid-19 pandemic was one of the biggest accelerators of the IT outsourcing market. As per Fortunly’s report, the market revenue is set to reach nearly $413.7 billion by the end of 2022, which is a massive figure, and for a good reason.

Software development is time-consuming and expensive, so outsourcing it to offshore teams is a wonderful alternative. It allows companies to remain agile in today’s aggressive tech market by completely handing over the product development to a remote team and using their in-house staff to focus on other key areas.

However, as lucrative as working with offshore teams, it’s not all smooth sailing. In a nutshell, it’s like working with a remote development team and entails similar challenges brought on by time zone differences, inefficient communication, lack of physical interactions, etc. This blog covers the key tips to overcome these hurdles when working with offshore teams and why you must hire offshore developers or teams for your company.

Companies are increasingly choosing offshore development teams: here’s why

With today’s ever-changing product needs and customer demands, companies need to scale their staff up or down as needed. However, that means either undertaking the hassle of hiring talent yourself or terminating in-house employees. Both involve tedious documentation, legal procedures, and massive time consumption, which are incredibly unrewarding when you want to scale your staff for a short-term requirement.

This is where offshore teams shine, enabling companies to conduct swift staff augmentation. That means you outsource the task to an offshore development team instead of spending a ton of time, capital, and effort to hire the required talent or develop the software solutions yourself.

In doing so, you free yourself from the hurdles of recruiting developers just for the project, ensuring you get a top-tier product you can take to market. Let’s take a closer look at why many organizations opt for offshore development teams.

A cost-effective option

One of the biggest reasons companies work with offshore teams is to reduce operational costs. If you work with offshore developers, you won’t have to spend capital on expenses such as insurance payments, employee payrolls, office rent, vacation, software licenses, recruitment costs, etc. Instead, you will be spending on the most vital area, the creation of your MVP (the most valuable product).

Increased flexibility compared to working with an in-house team

As discussed before, hiring offshore teams can help you be an agile company to remain competitive. This is because of your immense flexibility when working with such teams.

With an in-house team, it can be quite challenging to scale the team or change the pre-existing tech stacks to match your project’s size. This scaling is a common problem with companies undertaking one-time or short-term projects, requiring them to scale their staff accordingly. By hiring offshore development teams, you can easily work with the professionals you need, and you won’t have to retain them after project completion.

Largely improved efficiency

When working with your in-house staff, you can’t do much if they fall sick, are late to their job, or do not show up at all. But, this isn’t the case when hiring offshore teams. Since they’re not so prone to understaffing, you don’t have to worry about employees not turning up and your development cycle getting delayed. The project can continue around the clock when an offshore team is working on it.

Plus, this also helps you to concentrate on business procedures that often fall off your focus when you’re hardwired to the development process. While the offshore developers work on your project, your in-house team members can focus on branding, marketing strategy, demand planning, and other key processes instead of rushing after project completion.

Easy access to professionals with advanced skills

Product development is a dynamic process. It’s not a straight line, so your requirements won’t always be consistent. The process might need you to develop a new approach or make changes to your existing roadmap. Along the way, you may need advanced expertise, but the difficulty of hiring such talent can push your development deadlines much further.

You can easily avoid this by hiring offshore teams with developers with the exact skillset you need. All you need to do is share your requirements with the agency/vendor, and they’ll provide you with a workforce having all the advanced skills needed to complete your project on time.

Benefits of hiring offshore teams for your IT operations

As mentioned above, outsourcing your project needs to offshore teams can be extremely beneficial. Below are the top advantages you can expect from working with an offshore development team today.

Ability to focus on overlooked areas

Besides marketing or demand generation activities, businesses overlook numerous other areas during product development. This is no fault of their own, as software development involves multiple steps, and delivering top-notch products can easily take your eyes off other internal projects and areas.

Outsourcing to offshore teams, partially or fully, can help you expand your business’s capacity. Hence, your managers can allocate internal resources to other projects that are usually overlooked. Not just projects, but taking your hands off the development tasks can allow you to pay attention to numerous other things, from shelved ideas and unexpected product bugs to customer demand changes.

Exploring options within a global talent pool

Not being geographically restricted for hiring talent gives you the biggest advantage: expediting recruitment.

Companies, on average, spend nearly two months trying to source and build a dedicated team of developers, which you can easily avoid by hiring offshore teams. That is because it involves working with remote talent, relieving you from the hassles of local hiring, and providing access to world-class developers from anywhere. Hence, you will have top talent at your disposal and the ability to quickly finish your product development instead of delaying it due to tedious hiring.

Easier business scaling

Once you start a business, you focus on your scaling strategy. Here, having an in-house team will only increase the expenses in the long run.

While working with offshore development teams, you don’t have to worry about expenses. You can scale your business as per the requirements with dedicated teams to help you determine what technologies to invest in, how to stay competitive, and how to enhance your engagement and marketing strategies. Since this will be your offshore team and not merely freelancers, they will be there beside you to help with anything you need until their contract is over.

You can also contact the offshore teams’ company to request more staff if you need to scale up.

Averting capacity worries

What if you encounter a sudden influx of work and you’re too understaffed or don’t have enough office resources to take them up? You can simply hire an offshore team and not worry about the sufficient capacity to undertake new projects.

The offshore developers already have the required space or technologies wherever they’re working from and can help you manage new work effortlessly. All you have to do is pay them for their work, and that’s it.

This is also useful when you have certain tasks or projects you haven’t attended to yet. Hiring offshore teams will allow you to significantly cut down costs, allowing you to turn your focus and resources towards pending projects or new incentives.

Avoiding full-time hiring

When taking up frequent short-term projects, it can be quite expensive to hire full-time in-house developers to work on them. Plus, it would make little sense to do so as there will be no need for these developers once the project is over.

On the contrary, hiring offshore teams will help you recruit within a tighter budget and for the specific time frame for project completion. Once that’s done, you can part ways with the developers without having to retain them full-time.

Key challenges of managing offshore teams

The global pandemic profoundly changed remote work. Everyone is now used to regularly collaborating on Zoom, or Google Meet calls with team members distributed across cities and continents. Most remote teams have completely moved on from working in-office anymore.

Managing offshore development teams essentially involves the same process. It’s similar to working with remote teams and entails similar challenges, which primarily include the following:

  • Unclear expectations and goals - Clients not establishing clear objectives and goals is, by far, the most prominent challenge when working with offshore teams. Due to unstandardized communication or different time zones, remote teams often don’t have a distinct idea about what they should work towards.

  • Logistic issues - When working with offshore development teams, carefully coordinating meetings, deadlines, team syncs, and different expectations is vital to keep everyone concerned on the same page. Moreover, the different time zones requiring meetings at unsuitable times can lead to longer turnaround times. These logistical issues can quickly create frustration on both sides, resulting in scope, timeline, and budget excesses.

  • Poor performance due to lesser quality control - Quality control can be challenging when working with a team you aren’t familiar with. Whether remote or offshore, they can include developers operating under different assumptions about project management and business practices. This can ultimately lead to a product that may or may not meet your expectations.

  • Miscommunication - Simply considering the above two pointers, you can see why an offshore team may not understand your overall business strategy or needs, leading to more bottlenecks. Moreover, cultural and linguistic differences can also create further challenges in communicating nuanced/niche requirements or understanding problems arising during development.

Tips for effortlessly managing offshore development teams

Having discussed the various difficulties of managing offshore teams, we can’t understate the benefits of working with them. So, how can you ensure seamless management of your offshore team?

Here are a few crucial tips to help you manage your team of offshore developers efficiently to ensure successful product development.

Define your product vision

A common mistake companies make when working with offshore teams is simply assigning them easy or urgent tasks without sharing the broader picture. It’s key to present them with the complete product vision to get the most out of your team.

Tell them their scope of work (SoW), comprising the reports, milestones, and deliverable timelines expected from them.

No matter which stage of development they’re working on, your offshore developers must understand the penultimate goal and where the project is heading. Painting them a picture of your product vision can help them make smart choices as they work on it, ensuring timely and efficient completion.

In addition, you must also provide them with the sprint planning and release details. This helps offshore development teams understand and see the upcoming work items they have to do. Plus, it instills a sense of job security in them and equips them with a clear idea of the project’s roadmap.

State a clear product roadmap

After listing the general tasks, you must divide the SoW by time intervals. This will create the product development roadmap, a high-level view of what’s necessary to achieve your product vision.

The roadmap establishes your product’s development process for the offshore teams. Furthermore, you can divide the development process into brief iterations called sprints. This iteration will help you and your team constantly track the progress and swiftly make changes to align with the roadmap’s direction.

Having a clear roadmap with properly distributed sprints goes a long way in managing your offshore team efficiently and letting them work comfortably.

Overlap work schedules

Collaborating with offshore teams means you’re most likely to work across vastly different time zones.

It can appear challenging to work with time differences, but you can leverage it by overlapping your work schedules. For example, if you’re in the USA and your offshore team is in the Philippines, that’s 13 hours ahead. While that’s a huge time difference, you can have 3-4 hours of overlap when working late afternoon or evening.

This particular time slot would be ideal for scheduling meetings, team huddles, or anything that requires you to collaborate with your offshore team actively.

By doing this, you can easily eliminate the problem of working across drastically different time zones and ensure smooth collaboration for development success.

Overcommunicate and simplify collaboration

Whenever you work with offshore teams, it’s very easy for them to be left behind in the dark about various things. In an in-office scenario, one can have at least some sense of what work is going on, but that’s barely the case when operating remotely.

Overcommunicating can help you better manage your offshore development team by keeping them in the loop about what’s happening and addressing their queries. Apart from group meetings and huddles, try to engage with them one-on-one, just like a regular employee.

The more you communicate, the better idea you’ll get about how they’re performing, and the clearer they will know about where they can improve or what they’re working towards.

Another vital part here is to simplify communication. Depending on where you and your team are from, they may not be entirely fluent in your language. By avoiding metaphors, and cultural references they won’t understand and limiting your vocabulary, you can simplify collaboration to get things across faster. Be clear, state the obvious, and get straight to the point to ensure your offshore team understands what you’re trying to convey.

Use video conferencing

While slack huddles and phone calls work well, video conferencing adds the human element that encourages team building. Your team should know who you are, instead of your picture or avatar, and vice versa, to establish an effective relationship and work together.

Videos can further help you understand your offshore team’s moods and emotions. It’s important to know they’re satisfied and getting work done, and if that’s not the case, regular calls can help you understand why and work on fixing that.

Use videos and pictures to get your point across

Software development relies heavily on effective communication. Instead of a bunch of text, a quick video or a screenshot with some doodles can easily help your offshore teams instantly visualize and comprehend what you are talking about.

Whether you’re providing work feedback or training or want to talk about development changes or new tasks, recording a clip and sending it over can save you a lot of time by letting your team understand what you want to convey.

Avoid micromanaging your offshore teams

A key part of managing offshore teams is not micromanaging them. Sure, you don’t want to be entirely aloof and want to ensure things are going according to plan. But, if you micromanage your team members, it will be quite difficult to scale the team and let them do what needs to be done.

If you are facing issues with getting things done effectively, your offshore team may lack senior developers who can offer leadership. Many companies mistake not hiring one by trying only to hire cheap developers. Thus, opt for an offshore team with the right mix of project managers and senior developers, ensuring that they’re self-managing and don’t require micromanagement.

Treat them like your team, not just another ‘offshore team’

Lastly, a common mistake companies make when hiring offshore teams is establishing an “us versus them” environment.

This can be counterproductive and create unnecessary issues to delay or, even worse, pause development. Instead of keeping them at arm’s length, treat your offshore development teams as a part of your workforce. Include them in all communication and company syncs, and regularly meet them virtually. Make them feel like regular employees, and you will have an efficiently-performing team at hand.

Summing up

In this modern tech era, businesses must stay ahead. To do so, they consistently need to build software, maintain it, and keep it updated.

Hiring offshore teams have been a robust solution, allowing companies to recruit talent flexibly to stay on top of their project pipelines and consumer demands. After all, scaling and adapting to the changing business landscape is the only way to survive.

In this modern tech era, businesses must stay ahead. For this, they consistently need to build software, maintain it, and keep it updated. This automatically requires a company to scale staff as and when needed.

Hiring offshore teams is the perfect way to do this. It is highly cost-effective, providing flexibility, quicker business scaling, better efficiency of your staff, and the ability to focus on overlooked areas within your project pipelines. The tips mentioned in this blog can also help you easily tackle the common hassles of working with offshore teams, ensuring seamless product development and rapid market-time.

If you want to scale your development team with the world’s top talent, Turing can help you do it with just a click of a button. Our AI-backed Intelligent Talent Cloud allows you to hire skilled remote developers quickly. It sources, vets, and matches Silicon Valley-caliber developers per your requirements. You can watch this video to learn how we ensure top quality when matching you with remote developers worldwide. Reach out to us and hire software engineers hassle-free!

Author

  • Author

    Soumik Majumder

    Soumik is a technical content writer at Turing. He’s experienced in creating content for multiple industries, including B2B, Healthcare, Tech, and Marketing. Beyond that, he loves Formula 1, football, and absolutely anything tech-related.

Frequently Asked Questions

Outsourcing with onshore teams usually involves working with employees within the same city or country where your company is. Contrary to that, an offshore team would comprise members from different countries working under your company.

One of the best ways to communicate with an offshore team is through video calls. Given how offshore team members work remotely, there are high chances of miscommunication. Simply communicating over team huddles or slack channels isn’t enough to achieve transparency and effective communication. You can introduce the human element with video conferencing, encourage offshore employees to voice their concerns and opinions properly, and be team players. Plus, a video call is one of the best ways to gauge how your team members behave, clearly communicate your feedback/opinions to them, and work on project bottlenecks more collaboratively.

Offshore teams usually involve employees operating remotely from various time zones and locations. As they aren’t a part of your in-house team, there can always be bottlenecks caused due to misunderstandings, miscommunications, unclear expectations, etc.

However, you can easily avert these and handle such teams effortlessly by following a few vital pointers. These include clearly defining and communicating your product’s vision and roadmap, overlapping work schedules for seamless collaboration, and using video conferencing for transparent communication. More importantly, you must treat your offshore members as your team to ensure they are comfortable with your company and work to their full potential.

Some of the best tools to collaborate with your offshore teams are Trello, Slack, GitHub, GitLab, Zoom, and Jira are some of the best tools to collaborate with your offshore teams. These are ideal for offshore team collaboration, be it just to discuss tasks, software project management, or development.

Hiring an offshore team offers multiple benefits and enhanced flexibility in business scaling. You can scout global talent with offshore teams instead of only searching within local markets. You can avoid the hassles of full-time hiring by simply sourcing the required talent for a project and steering clear of capacity issues that occur with a sudden influx of new work. Moreover, working with offshore teams will also help you address and focus on overlooked projects or areas.

The best time to hire an offshore team is when you not only need to quickly outsource your projects but also have the required budget and an ideal vendor at your disposal. If you don’t have a proper budget or vendor to outsource your work, you may hire unsuitable developers who stretch out delivery timelines and churn out work that cannot yield the desired results.

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