Managing any software development project is a challenge, ensuring the delivery of a quality end product that reflects the standards of your business, requires a well-structured multi-faceted approach. An offshore development team is viewed by many as a cheap alternative in software development that only adds to the challenges of the project. Considering the advancements in communications tools in recent years and the onset of the information age, is this really a true reflection of an offshore development team today?
With the technology available today, there is simply no excuse for poor communication, if it is an issue it is a reflection of the vendor, client or both parties. Clear communication channels that make sense for everyone should be established at the outset of your project.
It is not possible to offer a generalized answer about what these should be, as the needs of each project are different and require varying degrees of communication. How much back and forth does the project need? Is the offshore team an extension of your IT team or are they working on something entirely separate from your in-house activities?
There is an abundance of communication tools being widely used by professional vendors that can cultivate respect, ideas sharing and understanding between distributed teams. From video calls and instant messaging software to integration tools for task management and code repositories. It is up to the parties involved to establish a system that satisfies their own set of needs, the tools are available.
Many vendors in offshoring hotspots have teams of talented developers that are fluent in English and are supported by an international managerial team. Daily planning, sprint reviews, and retrospective meetings are all part and parcel of the development process, there is no reason why all this cannot be implemented with your offshore team.
If clear and open communication channels have been established, it is the client that sets the standards that they expect. If the project is using Agile development, it is a transparent approach with measurable milestones every step of the way, stakeholders can be as closely involved in the process as they desire. This extends to the hiring process for a new team that is being custom built for the project, clients can oversee the selection criteria and conduct their own interviews via Skype. The closer the collaboration, the closer the final product will be to the customer’s expectations.
An easy way to gain an idea of a vendor’s competency is by looking at its track record with previous clients. Were they satisfied? What was the lifecycle of the software produced? Are they a company similar to or greater in size and stature to your own? These records should speak for themselves, if something seems like a cheap, quick, shoddy option, it probably is. But the right offshore development team can provide an opportunity to build an entire team of specialists dedicated to your project. The cost of such a custom-built team may be prohibitive onshore.
If you treat your remote team as a lesser entity that is only up to the job for trivial tasks, that is all you will get in return. By being involved in the recruitment process and establishing the standards for the project, clients can gain an understanding of who their remote team is and what creativity and experience they are bringing with them. A well-organized vendor will be adept at helping manage offshore development team members and onboarding them into a cohesive unit.
The job of an offshore software development team does not end at the launch of the product, it often requires the ongoing maintenance and updating of the software. By reframing your relationship with your vendor as a partnership rather than simply a one-off service contract, a greater understanding can be developed between the parties involved. Given time, the vendors can attain a deep understanding of the technology and your business needs and have this reflected in the culture of your standing team, regardless if there are personnel changes during the project’s life-cycle.
By sharing ownership and responsibility of the project, you are motivating and challenging the remote team. Their future success is tied to your own. The offshore development team will need clear requirements and team priorities set in order to deliver technology that fulfills the project’s aim. When a business is looking for offshore software development team vendors, it is crucial to find one that they can collaborate with long-term and has the soft skills for managing offshore development team members, while also liaising effectively with the client themselves.
We have looked at a few common myths perpetuated about offshore development teams and how the relationship should work in the reality of today’s world. The fact remains that there are risks with remote teams that cannot be ignored, but the biggest risk seems to be choosing the wrong vendor, one that is ill-equipped to handle your project or one that is un-invested in its sustainability for the longer term.
Identify what you want and need from your offshore software development team and make a checklist to assess each potential software house you consider. What is their infrastructure like? What methodology do they favor? What is their attitude and approach to communication? Does their ethos reflect your own company’s? Where does their expertise lie?
In order to get the most out of your remote team, make sure you know exactly what it is that you want from them and assess if the vendor you are dealing with is fit for purpose. To find out more about custom built offshore software development teams or what a long term offshore partnership can do for your business, contact fram^ today for a free consultation.