IT offshoring and the establishment of your own development team abroad has gained significantly in popularity in recent years. And for a good reason. By setting up one or more foreign branches, you get access to a virtually infinite pool of talented and motivated developers. In the right countries, you can drive growth and innovation for your company at a fraction of the cost that would be charged in the domestic market.
If you’ve already recognized the chances of IT offshoring, but are still weighing whether this option is an option for your company, then read on. In this post we offer you a checklist with all the essential factors that you should have checked off before you make a final decision.
1. Try to manage your current team remotely
If you’ve never worked with your team from home or some other remote location, this is definitely a place to try. Set up the necessary infrastructure for communication and data exchange, let all employees know about your project and just stay at home for a week or two.
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This is of the utmost importance for the decision to operate IT offshoring, as it gives you a realistic picture of what is in store for you. For the simple reason that your new development team won’t be within shouting range, this experience can help you make a judgment as to whether the model is within the realms of possibility for you.
2. Draw up a detailed list of all required requirements
Sometimes companies are 100 percent sure that they want to invest in IT offshoring, but don’t even have a clear idea of their goals and the resulting requirements. However, they usually only realize this when talks with an offshore software development company are already in full swing.
In order not to have to create these requirements under pressure and quickly, you should take sufficient time in advance. A division into short-term and long-term goals makes sense here. This helps the company on site immensely to plan a strategy and to explain the further procedure in detail. This makes it possible to convey transparently why individual steps are necessary. As you can see, the definition of explicit requirements and expectations is crucial for the success of such undertakings.
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This information is also of great importance in the recruiting process. In order to find exactly the developers who are suitable for your projects, you have to be able to assess their skills. Important questions to ask yourself in this process:
- Are the candidates experienced enough to complete the tasks assigned to them?
- Do you work independently and self-taught or are you constantly dependent on help from your local team?
If you can answer these questions in your favor, you can tick off one more point on the checklist.
3. Promote cultural diversity
If you’re already taking a look at IT offshoring in countries like India or the Philippines, you are probably aware that you will be interviewing developers whose culture may be very foreign to you. They may have a completely different approach to tackling tasks and problems. So this shouldn’t come as a surprise to you, nor should you be trying to compulsively change their approach. Instead, try to understand their way of thinking and give them enough time to give you their perspective on things.
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Before you make up your mind, ask yourself whether the entire company will be able to cope with these conditions. Do you prefer and do you even encourage developers from all over the world with different cultural backgrounds to work on your team? Or is an approximately similar mentality in the team particularly important to you? This should be clear to you in advance, as the acceptance of the differences is the basis for how smoothly the cooperation will run.
4. Implement the right infrastructure for collaboration
Your company probably already uses a selection of programs that your home team organizes with to track progress and to keep track of all activities. When you’re working with a team that is far away, these programs become especially important. Employees should therefore have enough time to learn how to deal with these, so that they can adequately document their work and the exchange about it is a matter of course. This is particularly relevant for the project manager, who has to answer questions either from the customer or from management.
It should be possible for everyone to see the status of the project at any time.
Make sure the team has a source code directory. You can use GitHub or GitLab for this, for example. All teams can easily and securely store all of the code here, and it is accessible to everyone at all times. If the development teams are very large, investing in continuous integration tools such as Jenkins, TeamCity or CircleCL could have a positive effect on efficiency.
Popular task management programs include Trello, Jira, and Asana. A free variant would be to simply use Excel spreadsheets. The individual tasks and progress can then be documented in the tables. If you also keep the tables on a cloud platform, everyone has real-time access to these documents.
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In addition, video telephony programs such as Skype, Zoom or GoToMeeting help to keep in touch with employees abroad on a more personal level. Entire conferences are also possible with this. Instant messaging services such as Slack, HipChat or Telegram are recommended for fast communication. Both private and group conversations can be held here.
5. Document your results
If your product documentation is not up to date, it is imperative that it is updated before making the decision to offshore IT. The reason for this is obvious. The new developers abroad will not have any prior knowledge of the current products. So that they can start their work smoothly and familiarize themselves with all processes and product components, they must be able to access the current status.
Only if this is possible for them can the distant team gain insight into which rules and standards exist, which databases, server environments and formats are being used and how far projects have already progressed. This helps them understand how the development processes work and ultimately results in their work being of a higher quality.