Booking & Management

How to Manage Offshore Development Teams

March 15, 2023 • 214 Views • 16 min read

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Bohdan Vasylkiv

CEO & Co-Founder

When it comes to software development outsourcing, the question of how to manage offshore software development teams arises. Frankly speaking, management and communication within offshore software development may become a real deal-breaker.

To make it simple, finding software engineers is just s small and probably the easiest step. For instance, it is much easier to hire a python developer, than to correctly integrate this team extension specialist into an already formed team. Not even mention the scenario, when you have an offshore team, which members are all located around the globe.

In other words, despite the importance of finding the right specialists, you, as a product owner, will also have to know how to deal with such multinational teams and have a working plan in advance.

What is Offshore Software Development Team?

Frankly speaking, offshore software development teams are another way to name outsourced developers, i.e. a group of software development specialists, who are hired as a whole dedicated team to create a specific software product or perform predefined tasks on an ongoing software development project. Nevertheless, even these entire teams can be divided into different subcategories, each of which will have its own working specifics with different project management strategies. There are three main types of such approaches:

  • Combination of in-house developers with the hired dedicated team, to develop or update some features or perform other agreed assignments.
  • Full-fledged remote team, gathered by an offshore software development company. In this case, offshore developers are usually gathered together in a specific region and are working on the project from the very beginning.
  • Offshore Software Development Team, which consists of different individual specialists all over the world. It can be hired directly by the product owner or proposed by some offshore software development companies. It is probably the hardest working scenario, which is worth considering only in very specific cases.

No matter what type you are considering, you have to understand, that most likely these developers will be out of your reach. This is why it may be a real challenge for some software product owners to manage a development team. Besides, it is clear, that no matter which case you are dealing with, communication within a team will be one of the most important aspects to take care of. Still, it is not the only concern when it comes to software development outsourcing, even if it is one of the most crucial ones. For instance, the destination for outsourcing is also a debatable decision.

Where to Look For an Offshore Software Development Company?

It is not a secret, that there are at least a few main outsourcing hubs. Besides, let’s skip the most obvious fact of outsourcing partners in the same country, which is a possible solution, yet might be not the best one.

Among the most popular outsourcing destinations are Easter Europe, India, and Asia. As a matter of fact, even choosing the location of an offshore software development company to work with, directly impacts the project management strategy and the overall working process. The reason for this is obvious: your software developers will have to somehow cooperate and communicate with each other.

Clearly, Eastern Europe, Asia, and India are located in different time zones. So, the possible meeting time will differ, depending on your choice. Additionally, the cultures of these three hubs are very diverse from each other. In other words, this is the second aspect to take into account.

What is the best choice between them, you ask? Frankly, this is not an easy question. Each of the options has its own pros and cons. Additionally, no matter whom you chose, they will most probably differ from the software development in your country.

Eventually, if you are thinking of Asia or Europe as outsourcing destinations, you will have to understand, that within these areas, there are also different countries with their own reasons why to outsource to. The only advice we can give you - is to choose the offshore software development company and country, which is the most suited for your project and meets your requirements. So, what are the other aspects to take into account?

Pros and Cons of Offshore Software Development Teams

Obviously, it is hard to talk about the offshore software development teams, not knowing all the specifics, benefits, and drawbacks they are bringing.

Benefits of Outsourced Teams

Niche-experienced developers are probably one of the most sufficient features of outsourcing services. Obviously, outsourcing is not limited to a specific location, meaning that product owners can hire software engineers globally. As a result, it becomes possible to hire developers, who have more experience in a specific industry like Blockchain, eCommerce, etc. As a result, you can additionally strengthen the app development team, using the knowledge of such specialists.

Moreover, the global hiring approach allows for cooperation with any offshore software development company you want. To rephrase it, offshore software development gives a chance for employees to get access to a bigger market of software engineers and allows them to choose among more experienced developers, as well as experts in different spheres and technologies.

Finally, outsourcing, no matter whether we are talking about dedicated development teams or team extensions, allows product owners to find required specialists faster and hire them cheaper than in other countries. Once again, it is a global market, meaning that there are more options to choose from and the developers’ salary differs from region to region. For example, instead of looking for a Python developer in the United States, a development company can find a skilled specialist from Ukraine or Poland, whose salary will be much lower.

Offshore Development Drawbacks

Nevertheless, working with an offshore software development company has not only advantages but also is partly more challenging.

The main drawback lies in the differences between your core team and the potential outsourcers. One of the most obvious differences, which can and will impact your working schedule is the difference between the time zones. For instance, if you will hire a development team from Ukraine, while you are based in Washington DC, your Ukrainian coworkers will be 6 hours ahead. So, when your team will be starting their work at 10 AM, your Ukrainian team will be already ending their working day at 4 PM. This is why setting a common schedule, which will allow developers to better communicate during the work.

Another important factor to take into account is the possible difference in cultural and ethnic specifics of various nationalities. Clearly, in the modern world, we have an additional corporate culture, which allows for avoiding unwanted awkwardness. Nonetheless, it is still preferable to learn these national specifics in order to avoid possible conflicts or misunderstandings.

Finally, internal communication will also be a challenge. All the foregoing facts, combined with language differences and preferred communicational and management platforms may require some changes in IT infrastructure. Despite the fact, that developers are familiar with the English language, they may not be the best English speakers, so be ready to face the language barrier.

How to Manage Offshore Software Development Team?

Judging from all the above, we can say that one of the main goals on how to manage a development team is to deal with the foregoing challenges, especially the communicational issues, and the time zone difference.

Start With the Hiring Approach

First of all, it is better to take into account the previously mentioned specifics and challenges of hiring an offshore software development team. So, at the very beginning of looking for required specialists, consider the cultural differences as well as time differences, in order to narrow down the area, you are hiring from. This will help you to kill two birds with one stone.

Yet, if you are going to work with an international team of experts due to some specifics of your project, most likely, you will have to ignore this advice and look for consensus instead.

Standardize Working Environment

After you have found an offshore software development company, that meets all your requirements, it is time to set up the working environment. Truth be told, this is not as hard as it may seem, because most development teams are familiar with agile project management strategy and have previously worked with similar platforms, so it won’t be hard to create a common working space, that will suit everyone.

Set Up a Common Schedule

What will require some effort, though, is the need to create a common schedule, so that development teams were able to communicate during the working process and resolve possible issues faster and on-the-go, instead of waiting for the next day for a solution.

Honestly, a common schedule does not mean that both of your teams should work simultaneously during the whole day, even if it is preferred. Still, we all understand, that it is not always possible to get such results. This is why, you need to build their working hours in a way, so that they had as many common hours as possible, in order to be able to contact each other as soon as possible.

In other cases, when it is totally impossible to synchronize both teams, you can use DevOps or other mediators between the teams, who will be able to contact each other and talk over the recent progress and problems to solve. Optionally, this role can be delegated to Team leads or Project Managers.

Invest in Project Management

Finally, do not forget about Project Management. The main goal of PMs is to make your life easier. As a matter of fact, they are called managers for a reason. These specialists are the ones, who are dealing with internal team communication, as well as contacting product owners, or their representatives, summing up the whole working progress and stating the main issues or points of the recent work.

To make it simple, project managers can improve your software project development and are playing an important role in it. Thus, do not underestimate the importance of such team members and what is more important, you have to do your best to find a great and skilled professional. The logic is clear: the more experienced PM is, the better outcome can be. So, it is recommended to spend some more resources on getting a skilled specialist, especially when it comes to cooperation between two different standalone development teams.

Summary

To sum up, it may be a tricky task to manage a development team. However, most possible project management strategies were already created. Frankly, despite that, there is a wide variety of various possible scenarios, most of which can be summarized and divided into a few main case studies.

As a result, it is possible to deal with all possible “traditional” challenges, related to offshore software development team management. Apparently, it is impossible to say, that no other extra issues may appear during the working process. Still, they are hard to predict and to be dealt with during development. On the flip side, we can easily define and resolve “baby” problems of any outsourcing project, some of which can be fixed already at the planning stage.

Hence, before looking for an offshore software development company, examine some of the case studies and various articles on this topic, in order to better understand how to deal with possible challenges and how to improve your project management strategy or how to choose the outstaff development specialists.

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