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Ten Tips for Managing Offshore Employees

managing offshore employeesBecause of today’s global business market, many companies have stretched their departments to other cities, states or even countries. It has become normal to have several business partners or employees that make up a remote team, hundreds or even thousands of miles away from the corporate location.

There are many reasons cited for this trend including the ability to gain access to professionals with hard-to-find skills, the opportunity to lower costs, increase efficiency and bandwidth. Given this growing trend towards a global workforce, the ability to manage these offshore employees has become an increasingly important task for many business leaders.

When just beginning to work with an offshore employee or team, it is important to start from a place of trust and confidence.  Teams that approach this new work relationship favorably often have the best experience and outcomes.

Getting the Most from Offshore Employees – 10 Tips to Try

Along with a positive attitude, there are several other things you can do to get the most from your offshore employees. Here are 10 tips to help you successfully manage offshore employees.

  1. Schedule predictable team meetings that everyone can count on. It is very important to engage your offshore workers in regular meetings in order to create the trust and productivity that develops from good team work. Using all of the different technologies available, including Skype, it is easier than ever to have great team meetings with onshore and offshore workers.
  2. Don’t flake out on scheduled meetings. Everyone gets busy and it’s easy to get into a habit of rescheduling meetings when you are in a crunch. When you are working with offshore employees, this is particularly damaging. It is very important to stick to your meeting schedule. Regular communication is at the heart of a successful onshore offshore business partnership.
  3. Get to know offshore workers as “real people.” Even though you aren’t sharing office space together, make the time to get to know your offshore software developers as “real people.” Not only does this help create trust, but it also improves teamwork and overall employee satisfaction for everyone.
  4. Emphasize the big picture. Whether located at the office, at home nearby, or in an offshore location, all team members have the ultimate goal – to make sure a given project is successful. Remind the team regularly of this larger goal in order to create a shared vision.
  5. Communicate in several ways. Make sure that your team meetings and ongoing communications with offshore workers are done in a variety of ways. This means that you may use email, texting and telephone to discuss project goals and details. Remember that visual and auditory contact are both great ways to improve communication between team members.
  6. Clearly document goals, expectations and objectives in writing. Even though you should have regular meetings and plenty of verbal communication, it is also helpful to have project goals and objectives documented in writing, especially when working with offshore team members. This helps to minimize the risk of any confusion about expectations, deadlines and more.
  7. Give offshore employees important responsibilities. In the beginning it can be tempting to keep the most important tasks for onshore workers, but it is important to give offshore employees the chance to use their skills and to make important contributions to the team. This helps to create a spirit of mutual dependency which is important for cultivating a highly productive team environment.
  8. Cultivate an environment of mutual respect. It is important that offshore workers feel like a respected and important part of the team. This helps to build trust quickly, and to increase overall productivity.
  9. Express satisfaction and reward good work. Whether in the office, working from home, or developing software offshore, employees of every type like to be recognized for their hard work. When a job is done well, take the time to show your satisfaction. For work that goes over and beyond, consider additional rewards like branded company attire. This makes people feel more engaged and proud to be associated with your business.
  10. Make An Effort To Meet Up In Person From Time To Time. Even though the productivity of offshore development teams is higher than ever, it is always good to meet in person from time to time. Whether you go to your offshore team, or you have them come to you, scheduling time for this is an important part of the team building process.

Managing offshore employees may take some time to get used to at first, but in many ways it is very similar to managing people at the office. Good communication and a positive attitude are a critical part of the process. But it’s also important to choose an offshore company that provides high quality employees with the talents and skills that you need. If you’re seeking offshore software developers, number8 is here to help. Give us a call for more information and a free estimate.

6 Red Flags to Watch for with Software Outsourcing

Red Flags with Software outsourcingSoftware development and web design have become popular for business outsourcing in the past decade. Outsourcing these services often saves companies time and money, and it also provides access to hard-to-find technical and creative talent.

With all of this software development and information technology business abroad, what could possibly go wrong? Apparently, a lot of things.

As a software development company specializing in software development in Costa Rica, we’ve heard many different stories from clients who have experience trying a wide variety of offshore services.

Risks of Offshore Software Development – Look Out for 6 Red Flags

Whether you are new to software outsourcing overseas, or are a seasoned veteran, here are six red flags for you to pay attention to when deciding to outsource your software development abroad.

  1. Cultural Issues: Cultural gaps are an obvious potential challenge when it comes to any type of overseas business. This often starts at the level of communication. When building an outsourcing relationship, it’s very important to understand another culture’s values and ideals, including typical work patterns, major holidays, and more. Gaps in communication and understanding can make this particularly difficult. When outsourcing, make sure that you are working closely with someone who shares a common language, or make the effort to hire a dependable interpreter. It may take time to understand another person’s culture, but it is well worth the effort, especially if you are hoping for a long term business partnership.
  2. Managerial Styles: When selecting an outsourcing development firm, it is best to look for a company that shares similar values and styles of management. While you may not be working in the same physical proximity as your offshore employees, chances are you will expect a certain style of project management to maintain project velocity and keep everyone on the same page. Make sure your offshore partner understands and respects the goals and style of your organization. Having a parallel vision for your onshore and offshore team members is very important to the overall success of any project.
  3. Weak Skills: Many outsourcing companies will do whatever it takes to get your business. This includes claiming to have senior or more advanced employees with specific technical skillsets that may in fact be much less experienced. Be wary of companies that claim to excel in every technical area under the sun. Most offshore technology companies do specialize in certain technologies, skillsets, and approaches to software development. If something sounds too good to be true, it probably is!
  4. Large Discounts: Sometimes companies offering offshore software development will try to draw you in with deep discounts. While potentially appealing on the outset, especially to new businesses with lean budgets, these “unbelievable” discounts can be a slippery slope. If the work you receive is not high quality, you end up paying as much or more debugging and fixing the errors.
  5. No “Point Person”: Even the most experienced and professional software development teams need good leadership. If you are thinking about working with an offshore software development company, make sure you have a clear understanding of the people that will serve as your major points of contact. How long have they been with the company? Working with an offshore partner that has good employee retention is highly desirable since turnover in the middle of a project can really slow down momentum and decrease efficiency. How interested are they in your business? Is their communication timely, effective and easy to understand? If this information is vague or simply unavailable, take notice!
  6. Travel Costs: Lastly, since you are looking into a company overseas, it is important to research the travel costs included in the likely event that you might want to visit your offshore partners. Depending on the location, traveling overseas may be quite costly and time consuming. For example, a flight from the U.S. to India will likely cost you over $1,000 USD and may involve multiple days of travel in each direction. In contrast, you can easily visit a nearshore location like Costa Rica in just a few hours’ time from the U.S. for under $500 USD round trip.

Not all outsourcing software companies are alike. Some may never raise any of the red flags listed above, while others will raise most if not all. Starting out in a strong position with your outsourcing partner is essential to the overall success of this business endeavor. Doing your research in advance will help you reduce your risks and increase the likelihood of a positive experience with software outsourcing.

A Better You

prosoft nearshore helps companies get leanThere are quite literally thousands of diet and exercise plans populating the internet.  Entire books can be found in libraries and bookstores that contain the perfect plan for getting the perfect body.  Perhaps these plans are the ideal secret to crafting the healthy version of yourself that you’ve always been seeking.  Perhaps.  

But it seems clear that getting in shape is really just a matter of three simple steps:

1. Eat a little less.

2.  Eat a little healthier.

3.  Exercise a little more.

It’s not a complicated formula.  There doesn’t seem to be a better way of accomplishing your goals.  Every diet fad and every workout plan is some variation of that system.  Whatever shape you’re in, whether you are looking to lose fifty pounds or tack on that extra inch on your bicep, the results you seek can be found through hard work and eating discipline.

Everyone wants the magic bullet.  They want the pill or the one workout or the one diet plan that can let them suddenly look and feel healthier.  But it doesn’t work that way.  The same can be said in business.

There is no magical solution to the problems that your business faces.  But following a few simple and time-tested truths will always help.

1.  Work harder.

2.  Save money.

3.  Communicate better.

Just like earning the perfect body, it won’t happen overnight.  Thankfully, Prosoft Nearshore can help.  We can’t give your company six pack abs or multi-million dollar bottom lines in a day.  But we can help you work harder, save money, and communicate better.

By outsourcing your software development needs to Costa Rica, Prosoft Nearshore offers a nearshore solution that allows your company to meet all three of those goals.  Because Costa Rica is located in the Central Time Zone, your project leaders can save you time and money by working on YOUR schedule, unlike offshore partners in India, Japan, or other East Asian nations.

You can also work harder, as Prosoft Nearshore can free up your creative employees by providing great software developers who don’t have to work in-house.  Our developers can work in agile, C++, java, ruby on rails, and many other platforms which will make your company look great.

Just like getting the perfect body, trimming the fat in your company can take time and effort.  Just think of Prosoft Nearshore as a personal trainer.

Big Cat Fancy

Big CatsCats are some of the most interesting animals on the planet. They have nine lives. They always land on their feet. They can see in the dark. They have fascinated mankind for literally thousands of years. Some of the stories that have surrounded this predatory mammal are true, some are completely ridiculous, and some are subject to blind faith.

Maybe the Egyptians were right and cats should be worshiped above all creatures. It’s hard to know for sure. But it’s not hard to know a few facts. They come in all sizes, from the mighty tigers down to the tiniest house cats. Their diet can range from insects and fish to huge mammals like wildebeests and even elephants. They can be found on every continent save for Antarctica.

The fact that they are so widespread is evidence of their evolutionary capabilities. Cats have evolved to fit into every type of environment. Some are agile tree climbers, others have blinding speed. Some have immense jaw power, others have incredible dexterity.

Businesses need to evolve in the same way. Understanding and reacting to the marketplace is vital to any successful enterprise. Market trends can change with cat-like quickness, and the wise business owners are prepared to deal with anything that comes their way. Being able to utilize new techniques and take advantage of growing resources is a key to taking down the competition the way a cheetah wrestles down a gazelle.

Nearshore software development outsourcing is one of these up and coming methodologies. Gone are the days when outsourcing meant exclusively dealing with offshore companies in India or other portions of Asia. Companies such as Prosoft Nearshore have evolved to fill the needs of companies that need high-quality software development that works on the same clock they do. Being located in Costa Rica (home of majestic jaguars and ocelots), Prosoft Nearshore is like catnip to those seeking a partner in the Central Time Zone.

When one is putting together a business plan, they should consider the lessons of our fair feline friends. Evolve. Adapt. Expand. Getting into business with organizations that make the most of modern technology and convenience might be what keeps your businesses from being run out of town on rails.

High Hoops Hopes

High Hoop HopesToday marks the beginning of a national tradition that has no equal. The (arguably) best sixty-eight division one men’s college basketball teams in the country will be competing to be crowned champion of the hoops world. Baskets will be scored. Brackets will be busted. Hearts will be broken. And in the end, one team will reign supreme, winning the nation’s highest prize.

The competition is fierce. Student athletes who have been preparing their whole lives will fight for every loose ball and every point. Coaches who have dedicated their careers to the study of basketball will put their wits and strategies up against their opponents. Students, alumni, and casual fans will turn in to rabid supporters of their respective universities, urging their teams to victory.

The team that will come out on top is the team that makes the best use of its assets. No right-thinking coach would have their bruising power forward shooting threes or allow a tiny point guard to cover a giant center on the defensive end. Planning and execution are what will rule the day.

The same is true in business. A company that puts its money, resources, and employees in the best places for success will be the most profitable. Leading executives don’t send their janitors on business trips and they don’t have their marketing team waste time running human resources. They also recognize the benefits of software development outsourcing. Particularly nearshore outsourcing. Nearshoring your software development with a company like Prosoft Nearshore allows your creative team to stay focused on growing your business. Nearshore software development outsourcing frees up time, capital, resources, and employees to go where they can be most productive. Think about Prosoft Nearshore like a great zone defense.

Prosoft Nearshore works from Costa Rica. Costa Rica operates in the Central Time Zone, maximizing their availability and communication. This prevents some of the lapses in direct contact that can occur with an offshore outsourcing company. Japan, India, Singapore, Malaysia, and Vietnam are all literally half a world away. But having your developers in Costa Rica is as easy to stay in contact with as a give-and-go pass.

Whiskey, Straight

WhiskeyWhiskey has long been the drink of choice for a large segment of the world. From Scotch to Bourbon, Irish Whiskey to Canadian Rye, people everywhere love “the water of life.” And while the mixtures of spirit may change from brand to brand and variety to variety, the core principles behind whiskey have remained the same. Grains, yeast, and water have been the basic ingredients for centuries.

But now, the world of whiskey has begun to see evolution. Like any business, the people who run distilleries have noticed momentous changes in the market, and are responding to meet those desires. Flavored whiskies have begun to creep into the public awareness. Red Stag, Fireball, Honey, and others have been produced by some of the biggest and oldest whiskey companies in the world.

Some purists may think that flavoring whiskey is blasphemous. But really, it’s just doing what is necessary to stay competitive. Software development outsourcing is the same concept. It may seem like a tough decision to send your work to another country and trust the work to get done right. But for efficiency, cost, and convenience, nearshore outsourcing with a company like Prosoft Nearshore is just putting a little cinnamon in your whiskey. A way to stay ahead of the competition.

Plus, Prosoft Nearshore is located in Costa Rica. This way, your software developers won’t be too far from home, working on the same schedule that you do. Offshore outsourcing is a little more foreign, often being located hemispheres away and living on a different time schedule. Costa Rica is in the Central Time Zone, a convenient nearshore solution for any company wanting to stay relevant.

Any industry has to adapt. Whiskey producers realized there were untapped markets and produced a product to fill that need. Prosoft Nearshore recognized that companies want software development outsourcing options that operate on the same clock. And forward-thinking companies everywhere can be competitive by taking advantage of those services.

Dinosaurs

Dinosaurs and TechnologySteven Spielberg’s colossal blockbuster hit movie Jurassic Park is set on an island paradise that becomes a playground for prehistoric beasts that eventually terrorize the scientists and accidental tourists in the park. When Michael Crichton was writing the book, when he thought of an island paradise, he thought of Costa Rica. The movie took place was on a fictional island just off the Costa Rican coast.

The tale of Jurassic Park is well known. Brilliant engineers, technicians, developers, and scientists perform genetic miracles to bring dinosaurs back to life. They take giant leaps forward in the field of genetics and bio-engineering. And then, the technology outpaces the humans and everyone gets eaten or chased offshore.

Jurassic Park is a fantastic book and an even better movie. The story is visually compelling, intense, and fun. But it’s so much more. It’s also a cautionary tale. When we develop things faster than we understand them, when we do things just because we can, human beings often fail. Catastrophically.

The business world is the same way. A new trend or idea will catch fire and suddenly everyone wants a piece of the action. Then everyone is pushing that trend as far and as fast as it can go. And who can blame them? The history of American capitalism can be written in stories of pushing ideas as far and as fast as they can go. But the history of American capitalism contains a lot of stories about companies falling hard and fast. Or being eaten by dinosaurs.

The most successful companies know that a marriage between classic practices and new technologies is the way to thrive.  Stick to the basic principles of business and occasionally roll the dice on a hot new idea. Perfection and innovation working together.

Prosoft Nearshore works hard to keep our partners moving forward. We won’t let our clients become dinosaurs, but we won’t let them be eaten either. Using nearshore software development outsourcing is a great way to get great project managers who are at the forefront of software development, while also gaining all the modern advantages of nearshoring. The fact that our corporate offices are in Costa Rica is just a happy coincidence.