Did you know that 70% of software development is outsourced? That’s a significant number of companies that favor offsite programmers over in-house ones.
Can you really blame them? Outsourcing significantly reduces costs and makes operations highly profitable. Data from MarketSplash suggests that companies can save up to 90% by outsourcing. Thus, the temptations to go this route are high, but there are concerns as well.
Quality of work is one commonly reported issue that can affect the product development process. If you are in a niche where well-written programs are critical, outsourcing can feel like a risky prospect.
However, what if we told you that you could mitigate many of the risks while still enjoying the cost savings? Sounds too good to be true? Well, it isn’t. The secret lies in communication and working around the cultural differences that often create problems.
So, without further delay, let’s dive in and understand how you can harness the full potential of outsourcing.
1. Provide Clear and Specific Instructions
Speak to anyone with experience in handling local and overseas development teams, and they’ll likely agree on one thing. There is a noticeable difference in how offsite programmers work.
When working with in-house teams, coders will fill in the gaps and handle things organically. If you forget to mention a minor aspect, they are more likely to understand what you meant and work accordingly.
On the contrary, offsite coders tend to treat your instructions like gospel. They rarely deviate or make assumptions about what you intended, which can be a double-edged sword.
You have a situation where you constantly need to keep doing code reviews and requesting changes. This can become frustrating for people who just want the job done and wish programmers would handle everything.
Thankfully, there’s a simple solution. When choosing to outsource product development, you will need to drastically adjust your communication style. Think of it as a small price to pay for the financial costs you are saving by outsourcing.
Thus, the first aspect of making the best of outsourced teams is revisiting how you provide instructions. Make them specific, and do not leave anything up for interpretation. If you feel there is even one aspect that may cause confusion, clarify and provide instructions in detail.
You may need to delegate this responsibility to someone with a combination of technical knowledge and patience in your team.
2. Ensure A Dedicated Delivery Manager Role Exists
A lot of clients feel like offsite teams don’t keep their promises when it comes to product development. CodeStringers states that any client looking to develop software needs to receive satisfactory answers to four concerns. These relate to cost, time, whether the product meets expectations, and if the end product is high-quality.
Ensuring these criteria are met can be challenging when outsourcing. Thus, it becomes essential that you have someone responsible for ensuring deadlines are met.
It can be a nightmare to play this role in your own because it’s not just language that’s a problem. The time differences and cultural factors can make correspondence a full-time job.
What do we mean by cultural factors? Well, in some cultures, there is a hesitation to deliver bad news. If there’s a problem, the team might not inform you until the last minute. This can be extremely frustrating when until then, you have been getting project updates that state everything is going fine.
A delivery manager can eliminate this clunkiness and ensure you have a clear picture of how work is progressing. They may use incentives, penalties, and other methods to ensure that work meets quality and deadline requirements. Ideally, you want the delivery managers to be familiar with the local culture and communication style.
3. Work Around Time Differences
Even if you manage to secure a great offsite team, time differences can come into play and make things challenging. Clients in the U.S. that outsource to countries like India may find there to only be three or four hours of overlap.
This often means that one side is working early mornings while the other needs to work into the evenings. Communication and coordination become frustrating when people are still waking up or exhausted from a hard day’s work.
A common solution is to leapfrog each other. This means that the offsite team ensures work is complete before the onsite team wakes up.
The onsite team then reviews and evaluates the work. If there are changes to be made, they ensure instructions are sent before the offsite team wakes up.
In this manner, there’s no wasted time. Yes, you will still have occasions where mutual meetings are required, but leapfrogging can help make teamwork far more effective.
Admittedly, quality concerns are a legitimate issue. Some might claim that with outsourcing, you get what you pay for. While that is true, times are changing, and the quality of offsite coders has gotten better. Besides, as we have learned today, there are always ways to mitigate downsides.
Choosing to outsource will naturally be a more complex situation than having a culturally similar onsite team. That said, cost savings can sometimes be a priority above other aspects. In such cases, nothing things beats the convenience of outsourced product development.