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12 Tips for working with Offshore Teams

People from developed countries have formed a habit of getting their things done by people from developing countries.

It is a both-way win-win proposition. People from developed countries get their projects developed at a fraction of the costs and people from developing countries can make more money compared with if they work for people in the same country because of the exchange difference.

So a lot of work is carried out in the offshore model.

However, when the work is done in an offshore model, it comes with its own set of challenges and opportunities.

Here are the 12 tips that will help you get your work done effectively from your offshore teams:

  1. A picture is worth the 1000 words: Exchange your photos with the team members. Use any of the social tools depending on your workplace policies and culture. When people see your pics, they connect with you at a personal level. Personal connect = ease of working!
  2. No BS Virtual Meetings: Let us accept it. Most meetings are BS. Don’t have a meeting unless you really need to. But there are a few meetings that are important. In such cases, send meeting agenda in advance, set specific times and conclude the meetings with specific action items.
  3. Leverage the power of stories: In meetings, chat or email conversations,  tell stories. We are humans and humans love to connect with other humans through stories. Stories build interest. Stories keep the boring away.
  4. Cultural sharing: Get to know about different team’s culture. Regional festivals, other cultural events and more. Celebrate those differences and make your work-life interesting. For an offshore developer, Suresh, who lives in India, Dussehra is an important festival. Respect that (i.e. Celebrate that) and Suresh will give his best work to you on other days.
  5. Respect time zones: Do not arrange a meeting which is midnight for a team member. Instead, take confirmation in advance about a suitable time for the meeting. Once in a while, that might be okay, but if it happens regularly, team members cannot give their best.
  6. Working in offshore mode is a risk. If anything goes wrong in the other country, your project may suffer. Make sure that it is a part of Project Risks Worksheet which is touched upon frequently.
  7. Offshore projects need effective Project Communication Plan. If the communication is personalized and context-serving then a lot of issues can be prevented in the project execution.
  8. Being on the same page (obviously, of the same book and of the same edition!) is critical, however, anticipate and plan for delays caused by miscommunications as they are bound to happen.
  9. Make sure that everyone in the team understands Work Breakdown Sheet (WBS) and looks at it from the same point of view – any doubts or questions should be answered via online brainstorming sessions prior to beginning the work.
  10. Onshore visits. It would be great if the important team members can go on site to the other party’s place. This would generate more confidence and would reduce communication delays.
  11. Video conferencing is the ideal choice for the meetings – this would enable you to interpret facial expressions.
  12. 3 R: Respect, Recognition, and Rewards: Give respect, recognition, and rewards to the team members who have done good work. People who feel appreciated do their best.

I’m sure there is more to this subject than the above tips but I am hoping that it will give you an idea about how to collaborate with offshore teams.

When it comes to working with offshore teams, there are countless number of challenges and possibilities to deal with. These were just twelve tips. There are other areas such as hiring for technical expertise and not just for cost-savings and more which may also be looked into deeply while opting for getting your work done in offshore mode.