Working with Offshore Software Developers – 6 Best Practices
Offshore software development yields many benefits for companies looking to quickly increase capabilities while also maintaining a lean budget. Sometimes companies considering working with offshore software developers are hesitant due to concerns about how things will be working with an offshore IT team.
Given the close communication that agile software teams tend to have, it might seem especially difficult to include offshore software developers into the mix. While it is true that there may be challenges to working with team members that are not onsite, if you use some of the best practices for working with offshore software developers, you minimize the risks while maximizing the benefits.
6 Best Practices for Software Teams Working with Offshore Software Developers
Whether your product development team is located physically in the same location, or you have some team member that work off-site, there are certain best practices many companies use to help a team to function as effectively as possible. Based on our experience supporting companies working with offshore software developers, we have identified certain best practices to make the offshore software development process as smooth and easy as possible.
Depending on many different factors including project complexity, leadership, budget, time limitations, stakeholder engagement, and technical talent, each software project has its own unique challenges. Adding physical distance between team members into the mix may seem like an added complexity, yet there are many ways to effectively address this and to even make it a positive benefit.
Whether you are thinking about working with offshore software developers, or you currently have an offshore team, here are some of the best practices we recommend to work effectively with offshore software developers:
- Leverage technology to maximize regular communication – Nowadays all you need is good internet access and you can have excellent communication with people around the world. Our offshore software developers regularly take advantage of various services including Skype and Google Hangouts for video conferencing, online chatting, texting, and phone calls. Recognizing the importance of daily communication in an agile environment for successful product development, and making this a priority for the team, is definitely important. Choosing a nearshore location that is in a similar U.S. time zone makes this type of frequent communication possible.
- Build the team to encourage bonding – Working shoulder to shoulder is one thing, but building a strong team bond with people working off-site is equally important. Regular communication is a key part of cultivating a strong team bond. It can also be beneficial to make time for some face-to-face interactions. It is not uncommon for the offshore software developers with number8 to visit their U.S. team members for special meetings or project kick-off sessions. Similarly, Costa Rica is a beautiful and convenient place to visit, offering U.S.-based product development teams an excellent opportunity to have a working vacation during a visit with offshore software developers in Costa Rica.
- Use clear and detailed project documentation – While clear and detailed documentation may be beneficial to most product development projects, it may be especially important when you are working with team members that are offshore or off-site. On an agile development team, it is important for everyone to understand what has been accomplished during iterations. Detailed documentation keeps everyone on the same page so that a project is completed more efficiently and effectively.
- Provide realistic time estimates – Providing realistic time estimates is an important facet to the successful management of any project, but it might be even more important if the members of a product development team is situated in multiple locations. Providing accurate time estimates encourages team members to provide the highest quality work, staying focused and energized to respond quickly and creatively.
- Recognize all team members including offshore software developers – Regardless of whether a team member is at the main office or located somewhere offshore like Costa Rica, it is important to make the effort to offer people adequate recognition. Every team member enjoys being recognized for their accomplishments. Further, when projects are completed, it is also important to celebrate these significant team successes with everyone involved. Complimenting an offshore team member personally and publicly when they do great work is an excellent way to cultivate a stronger relationship while motivating people to do their best work.
- Cultivate long term business relationships – When it comes to offshore software development, number8 partners with clients who are looking for long term business engagements. While our software developers do a great job at project work, they are best suited for opportunities where they can become a long term part of an agile development team. After an offshore software developer has the chance to learn about your company’s products, style and work environment, they are better able to deliver exactly what you need. When it comes to offshore software development, best practices include long term partnerships with high quality software developers.
Offshoring IT resources including QA testing and custom software development may pose certain challenges, especially if some team members are resistant and skeptical. In order to help minimize concerns, engaging in best practices for working with offshore software developers is advisable. Overcoming distance between team members is not as difficult as it may seem once you have efficient processes in place to help your entire team function as effectively as possible.