Working with an offshore team requires good managements of human resources involved in the project. There has been a rapid increase in IT outsourcing in the recent past and this is a wakeup call for businesses to have robust skills on how to manage outsourced teams. An effective process makes the team realize cost benefit to their project.
Project Planning and Delivery
Project planning forms an essential part of managing an offshore development team. This process normally involves use of project management software. The most common software development methodologies are:
- Agile development approach
- Scrum approach
- Waterfall approach
- Lean approach
- Spiral approach
The common approach of these five method are:
- Splitting project into modules
- Scheduling meeting
- Project tracking
- Adjusting deadlines when possible
For instance with agile based methodology it involves splitting the project into modules and building iterations. Each iteration involve micro tasks that are involved in the buildup of a module. These micro tasks involve; planning, meeting, design, testing and evaluation. Normally the team meets before meeting starts and at the end of the meeting.
In scrum based methodology managing offshore teams involve routine daily meetings which is held offshore and weekly meetings with onsite teams. Scrum masters normally attend the weekly meetings.
Management of these tasks normally require project management software such as Atlassian, Jira and Microsoft project.
Communication is key for managing an offshore development team. Working with an offshore team you may sometimes face differences in time zones and therefore you need an effective communication method. It is preferable to use common and effective communication tools such as Skype, slack, Zoom Conferencing solution and others. This will make the team members have no difficulty trying to understand a new communication method. A communication tool that has video chats are sometimes preferable for knowledge transfer that may require person to person demonstration. Once an effective communication tool has been adopted it will be easier to communicate project updates to team members, circulars will also be spread across the various communication tools. Collaboration of team members working within a similar module/ project it will be easier to communicate among themselves.
Beneath are important points to note when dealing with communication with an outsourced development team:
Avoid important undocumented communication. While you may hold calls or video conferencing. It is important to note down minutes or key points that will be distributed to the team members. This is important especially when communicating important update to the team.
Avoid micromanagement. Some leaders are fond of mismanaging offshore resources and manage them with an iron fist. Sending mails every now and then requiring updates and proving your superiority may work against you. Maintain a high level of professionalism.
Set Mutual Expectations
Mutual expectations are a good measure to put in place especially when giving the team a focus of your project. Mutual expectations are part of KPIs that business and the vendor are aligned to. In defining mutual expectations you should include things like: work hours, reporting frequency and others.
Having mutual expectations helps business reduce confrontation with vendors on what was expected of the vendor and other nitty gritty that might arise due to inconsistencies and assumptions held by each party. If need be share your business profile with the team to even understand to a deeper level the nature of your business, customers’ expectations from you and other aspects of your business. This for example reduces laxity in doing work and accuracy of handling your business.
Motivation is an important part of managing an offshore development team. Motivation builds teamwork and makes sure that all parties that are working for the project have a common direction. Motivation doesn’t always be monetary rewarded but congratulatory messages to offshore staff and on spot recognition would still work well. Such acts of motivation builds confidence in the offshore staff and marks a good yardstick for their performance reviews, bonuses and promotions.
It is a good practice to conduct a regular review of the work which has been done. Regular reviews help vendor solution meet the business requirements. In the process of peer review, it becomes easy to identify bugs and track development codes that weren’t complete as a result there are throwing errors. Peer review help the development team to grasp fully the code since their work will be reviewed. Peer reviews boosts knowledge transfer whenever the reviewing is going on and suggestions of running the code on other ways might arise which might even be better and cost beneficial. Part of the peer review include running a friendly competition on identifying bugs. Identifying and getting a solution to the bugs helps to bring out a better code and a proper solution to the business.
Use of the aforementioned tips is a great way in which business can leverage on common methodologies to manage an offshore team.