Why do companies invest in an offshore software development team? Does it go deeper than simply being kinder on business finances? Whilst it is great that businesses want to make that local investment with jobs, economic prosperity, community morale etc., sometimes the overheads by themselves are enough to sink most businesses.
However, there are businesses operating in this COVID climate who believe that local investment is the way forward for them and there are plenty of others who are prepared to look overseas to not only survive but thrive. Benefits and drawbacks of operating software developer teams should be weighed on what the right fit is for the individual business.
Here at VUSE even with most staff US-based we do fall into the latter category with our second office in Europe. Irrespective of where we operate, the high-quality work that our software developers produce is the same wherever they are in the world. How do we make it work? Clear communication on strategy, project aims, processes and deadlines as well as trust like most long-distance relationships are key between offices and across time-zones. Multiple factors also play their part in the success of an effectively managed offshore software developer team.
This article will go into depth about 4 categories in detail: Physical, Psychological, Social and Practical with the intention of giving you an overview about the best practices of an effective managed offshore development team.
When it comes to working overseas we apply a principle called ‘Golden hours’ which is a reference to when everyone is up and working. We work 8 hour days with a 9am start with NYC 6 hours behind Macedonia the best time for us to hold meetings is in the middle of the afternoon in central European time. A 9am start in the US is a 3pm start in Europe giving plenty of leeway to get on with projects and other tasks either side. This is the time when we can talk about problems in video calls and discuss next steps in the project. For our offshore team to be available to us and vice versa is critical to the whole company’s success.
The industry itself has been around since the mid-50’s from quiet beginnings to now being at the forefront of businesses, the most profitable, competitive and thrilling department. If you have assembled the right team who know they can take on every challenge and push each other to be better every day no matter how demanding the project it will pay off or how far apart you are. Just because they are working in a different part of the world does not mean that this makes them any less a part of the entire team.
When the COVID pandemic is resolved and restrictions are lifted our software developers will be able to meet up with ourselves and our clients as we work on projects together. Meeting in person once or twice a year for all team members to become acquainted and get to know each other beyond colleagues.
Is everybody suitable for a role that demands self-organization, self-motivated and dedicated to the role? This is the question on everybody’s lips and in an ideal world we would love to say yes. Some argue that companies ought to look deeper into their employees soft skills in communication; organization; reliability; independence; self-motivation and honesty. We can guarantee that our entire team is full of these skills and their ability to slot into your own in-house team will make you feel like they have always been there!
How do go about finding out that our team have these skills? Asking intrinsic behavioral questions will help you to gain insight into why remote employees do the work that they do. Software developers value the importance of the work they do over the salaries they are paid. This is mostly because they are a part of a growing industry that runs on creativity and the love of good project. The job doesn’t feel like a job when there is unlimited scope for possibilities in every industry. Look at the case studies our software developer team have done before for our other clients and see whether it matches up to standards. You can trust that they will do as good a job if not better for your business and your clients as they have done in the past. It’s a bonus if you can find a group who have worked remotely before as they will know what you are looking for in such a team. Our developers can do this and so much more.
With our remote-scaled working premises there is a lot of trust and accountability in delivering work that is demanded of our team and given our own high standards we expect work delivered before or on the deadline. With trust comes freedom which means steering clear of everything resembling professional handholding as we think it’s detrimental to team morale. There is a freedom in being allowed to get on with the current task at hand unperturbed. Instead, the way we bring our team together is by focusing on what the main goals of the project are. We encourage brainstorming solutions and organize who takes on responsibility of an area of the project between themselves, define priorities and weekly/monthly goals instead of daily goals. We’re always aiming for the big picture.
When it comes to communicating with our whole team we need the best tools around us to get the job done. A lot of these tools are familiar throughout the industry and trusted. We have Slack which is a cross between LinkedIn and WhatsApp but with a whole lot more extras. At VUSE we use it to share messages, documents, ideas and we have our own little note section which is always helpful when you might have had an idea jotted down the day before in the event it might be forgotten. If there needs to be a discussion with another member of the team you can enjoy it’s private rooms and it’s compatible with Google suite facilities, assign tasks and facilitate team management easily.
For video communications across time zones we use Google Meet. These are usually quite short and focused meetings primarily to discuss next steps, ensure clarity on tasks, overall direction and progress. If there are challenges this is a regular safe place where any member can raise them. Are they satisfied with the working environment and what they are doing? What can be done to resolve current issues they have?
To get the most of each other we recommend building rapport between developers and management will ensure both parties stay motivated and creates trust and feeling valued. Small talk is a good place to start, get to know who they are, where they’ve come from, challenges they’ve faced to get where they are right now.
Just like everyone else in the team software developers love praise especially when they have really worked hard on a project. Reward them for doing more than their duty especially when they stay to face challenges, glitches or solving other project roadblocks. At the end of the day such a team with high morale means improved development and if they’ve impressed you you’ll want to work with them again in the future.
Nothing kills creativity than dull work so make it fun and enjoyable. Leave every boring admin task that can be automated by the computer to be carried out by said computer. It’s a job for a creative.
As the software development industry is a modern one it requires a new and modernized leadership. When 21st century life is all go-go-go 24/7 software developers require patience, understanding and buckets of empathy. There is healthy stress that cajoles a team of competitive software developers into “work mode” but what they do not require is harmful stress. They need the project leader to set an example, who is the best they can be and is on hand to de-escalate conflicts and encourage collaboration. Ask probing questions instead.
When you sit down with a group of driven, high-morale and excitable software developers, do take the time to listen to them as they will have a lot to contribute to discussions and they will appreciate the opportunity to be heard. They will be more willing to do their best and watch them thrive in real-time.
Whilst we have already touched on a few skills required in the above section we feel that this requires a whole section of its own. Whilst it’s all great that you communicate well, treat the staff well and make them a part of the team we also recommend you think about the processes and the systems you want to put in place to make sure the project you undertake is nothing short of successful.
Any company will tell you that processes are the foundation of a successful remote team. The Agile Manifesto, one notable example, favors the following: change over rigid plans; software instead of files and forms; sharing knowledge, information and communication over tools.
To give you a general cohesive overview of the transparent process, our software developers will give you access to tracking tools to ensure that the team stays on task and delivers the product to the client on time.
In the grand scheme of things, not much might deviate you from the project direction from its initial conception but it is always good to inform the team of software developers of any potential changes ahead of time. This might include company goals, decisions, company strategy changes etc to spell out how the company is aiming for future successes and detail how each team member fits into this as well as recommending how they should go about it. This will give them a clear sense of the big picture, company direction, improving productivity and high motivation to keep doing their best.
One way to measure the team’s progress throughout a project is by using metrics. These give an overall un-biased profile of each employee with what they can and what areas they need to make improvements on. This information also contributes towards the performance review.
Jira is the industry standard in software development teams. Developers only need to use a Kanban board is the go-to agile project management tool where work is visualized before it’s created, shows work-in-progress and manages maximum efficiency which is simple and straightforward to use and best of all it’s compatible with Slack. A cheaper alternative which does not compromise on quality is Asana and reportedly has better user experience. There is a trial version available for a team of 15 people or less.
Our team of software developers are incredible at what they do. We can tailor a team extension to suit your project needs including upscaling or descaling and smash your targets ahead of schedule. Our North Macedonia office is bursting with engineering talent of all varieties to join your own in-house team preventing all disruption to your project. Whilst you tinker away with our software developer team we can handle all your administrative tasks.
Are you ready to manage an effective team of brilliant software developer minds and allow them to work wonders for your business? Contact the VUSE team who stand ready to build your team.