An increasing number of businesses from all over the world work with offshore teams for building their software. The number of outsourcing teams grows every year. By 2021, the outsourcing market is going to reach about 413.7 billion dollars.
Offshore development is a common thing in the modern IT market but still remains a challenge to manage a team that is thousands of miles from you.
In this article, we will share several efficient tips on managing offshore teams. It is based on our experience of making projects for customers from all over the world as an offshore team.
The challenges of agile offshore development
The businesses are developing, the number of offshore partnerships is growing as well. The offshore model is quite beneficial for the client:
- They outsource the work to the programmers from countries with lower development rates
- They don’t spend resources on recruiting and hiring the necessary specialist
- They don’t need to worry about setting up the office infrastructure
- The offshore company takes over legal, taxing, and HR-related issues
At the same time, offshore team management is associated with some challenges. We have outlined some of them, and give brief instructions on how to build and manage the e-commerce team.
Cultural & language differences
Your colleagues grew in a different society and speak different languages. The working habits differ as well.
All SOFTLOFT employees have a good level of spoken English. So, there are no difficulties in handling the meetings with our partners from the Western countries. We also organize our work according to Agile standards. This helps us to avoid contradictions between the Ukrainian and Western working cultures.
It can be challenging to manage the communication between the offshore and onshore teams. Time zone differences, lack of personal interaction with colleagues may cause desynchronization and delays in the working process.
Here at SOFTLOFT, we have a tuned everyday communication routine. We handle daily and weekly sync meetings and give regular feedback to the work of our e-commerce developers.
Time zone & scheduling
A common challenge in offshore cooperation is time differences, delaying the working with offshore teams. Clear and regular communication plays a key role in the success of any project. It is particularly important when it comes to offshore collaboration.
The SOFTLOFT team has an established system of asynchronous communication with our customers. We adjust our working hours to the time zones of our clients, conduct regular live meetings and use digital tools for managing our workflow.
What is most important for multiple development teams?
Although there are some challenges in setting up offshore cooperation, the benefits prevail:
- Hiring top-notch experts at a reasonable price
- Saving on such expenses as taxes, health insurance, bonuses, etc
- There is no need to spend resources on office infrastructure
- The offshore company takes over the recruiting & hiring process.
Our experts will tell you, how the SOFTLOFT team organizes the cooperation on e-commerce development with our customers from different countries. These principles work well in our company, and probably you will find them useful.
Define clear product vision
Define the product goal and vision at the earliest stage of development. This will help everyone to work towards a common goal, improve the workflow and ease decision-making.
A clear vision will also help to be aware of the to prepare the resources for the future working processes. It will help to structure and predict the work, engage all team members and create a feeling that everyone is working on a common goal.
To make this possible, start the product development with a discovery phase. Here the stakeholders and managers will agree on the main strategic points and product vision.
Create a product roadmap
Once you are aware of the basic product visions and approximate scope of work, it’s time to organize it into a development roadmap. It comprises the requirements, goals that are important for achieving the final goal. Here you also assign the deadlines to the major and minor tasks.
A roadmap is a flexible instrument that allows to vary the tasks and deadlines. It allows illustrating the development both for the stakeholders and the development team.
The roadmap divides the development process into short time intervals called sprints. They unite lists of particular tasks with the exact time estimates.
Automate your communication
In remote software development, it is impossible to work without the tools for remote working communication. They help to distinguish the communication channels, structure the team’s work, securely exchange the files, etc.
Make use of video calling
Video adds a real human element to offshore communication. It helps to establish contact, identify emotions, and facilitates knowledge exchange.
It becomes particularly important during the Covid-19 pandemic, with its distancing and lack of human communication. Here at SOFTLOFT, we appreciate the opportunity to personally communicate with our clients and colleagues, and Zoom daily meetings help us in team building.
Set clear development standards
All programmers have different levels of experience and different coding habits. To avoid the mess, the offshore company should adopt and follow the common coding standards.
They define the rules of development, coding style and methods for a certain programming language. Their role in the project is as follows:
- Facilitating the integration of new team members
- Improving code quality, simplifying the maintenance
- Reducing code complexity
- Reducing development cost and time-to-market
The SOFTLOFT team pays high attention to the code quality in our projects. We provide regular code reviews to make sure that our code is structured and well-documented. We also cover it with tests, starting with the earliest stage of development.
Take advantage of Agile methodology
Everything that we said earlier is an example of using the Agile system for software development. This is a development methodology that is based on sprints — short repeated cycles of operations.
The success of Agile cooperation heavily depends on the following things:
- Establishing technical standards of software development
- Setting clear and efficient communication inside the team. This will help to maintain productivity regardless of locations
Here at SOFTLOFT, we handle the strategic sessions at the very beginning of each sprint. When it comes to the end, we sum up the work performed and set the goals for the next sprint. We have high development standards and a tuned communication system that helps us to maintain a high quality of work.
Pay attention to project documentation
Software is a complex system consisting of thousands of code lines. With the appearance of new features, changing of team members, the code gradually becomes messy and hard to maintain. This is technical debt.
It appears when the team develops the software without paying proper attention to the code quality. All software products have technical debt, but it becomes a problem once you fail to manage it. Technical debt not only affects the software performance but also causes financial losses to the company — the research demonstrates that it costs about$3.61 per line of code.
You can hardly avoid technical debt at all, but it is critical to have informative software documentation explaining what this code is to do. Documentation is vital for the following reasons:
- Assists in the communication between the offshore and onshore teams
- Saves development time and reduces time-to-market
- Facilitates code review and project audit
- Makes the project easier to maintain in the future
In SOFTLOFT, we start documenting the project from the very beginning. We have internal regulations according to which every team member should document their code and contribute to the documentation.
We have shared with you our best practices on managing offshore resources. Now you know the important lifehacks that will assist you in establishing a successful collaboration with your offshore development team.
If you have any questions or ideas for a new e-commerce project, please contact us for a free consultation. Our specialists will gladly offer you the options for your project implementation