Communication plays a critical role in the success of offshore teams that work as extended IT partners. The lack of proper communication channels and tools leads to disastrous consequences. Especially when teams are working across time zones. There is a multitude of reasons that can be attributed to this communication gap. The end results are always – poor quality of work, missed deadlines and unhappy clients.
Let us look at a few common pitfalls while working with offshore teams and how to address them effectively.
Working with an offshore development team is never going to be seamless given the differences in times and the cultures. You need to understand the challenges of working with cross-cultural teams. You need to accept the challenges and work toward overcoming them. Once you have identified the root cause of the problem, you will be in a better position to find solutions. Much to your delight, solutions do exist and they are surprisingly simple to implement.
Get Past the Buffer
When you work with an Indian Offshore team, in all likelihood your single point of contact will be a Project Manager. This person is generally good at communication and hence eases some the challenges. However, a different set of problems come into play due to information loss. Your requirements may not be gathered and relayed effectively. And the technical team gets only a partial brief. The inputs from the development team are also lost in transit. You need to get past this buffer and build a direct communication channel with the software development team.
Like Rudyard Kipling said, East is East and West is West. But the two are meeting increasingly for work and otherwise. However one cannot expect the cultural differences to disappear completely. Watch this video from a TED conference that drives the point home humorously. You can’t expect an Indian developer to work the American way or vice versa.
If you embrace the culture, you could possibly get the best of both worlds. The ideal scenario would be to plan like an American Executive and dream like an Indian techie. Similarly, if you are offshoring to other countries you need leverage their culture to derive the best business outcomes.
Set The Right Expectations
You need to set the milestones for the team and the expectations in terms of the quality and speed. If you expect the team to deliver quality code you need to give them sufficient time. Remember, Rome wasn’t built in a day. But if you demand something delivered on the double, the developers tend to take short cuts. And it may impact the work quality. If you want the team to focus on quality, tell them so. And then if you need things done faster you may explore the option of deploying additional developers. Whatever the case, setting the right expectations at the beginning is important.
Employ Simple Processes
KISS -Keep It Simple Stupid, a wise guy once said. Indian developers aren’t the best when it comes to following complex processes. Even with their solid mathematics skills, they are not very good at book-keeping. Logging in time, maintaining time-sheets are seen as meaningless activities. So keep such mundane tasks minimal and simple. They love what they do best – coding. So keep the process simple and follow them to the T.
Now that’s a quick summary on Communicating effectively with your offshore team. For a deep dive and some in depth insights, you may download the eBook on Communication – The Key to a Successful Offshoring Engagement.
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