How to Manage Offshore Teams: Different Challenges in Collaboration

Software Outsourcing

When businesses want to take on a new project or task but don’t have the right resources, they often turn to adopting an outsourcing model. Today, there are several different models of outsourcing, each with its own benefits and challenges. Offshoring is one of them and is fast becoming one of the most popular methods for businesses to effectively get access to resources. 

So, what exactly is the difference between offshoring vs outsourcing? While outsourcing is seen as the umbrella term for contracting an outside provider to perform certain tasks, the offshoring definition is seen as the practice of hiring an external organization to perform some business functions in a different country. Some of the benefits of offshoring for businesses include:

  • Lower prices 

A lot of services become substantially cheaper when outsourced, often due to the salary differences in other countries. Another paramount reason why businesses choose to offshore is the big difference in taxes and tariff relieves businesses can benefit from.

  • Access to more skills and experience 

Offshore development services can give businesses direct access to specialists in expert fields such as software development, with vast skills and knowledge of the required area.

  • Flexibility 

Offshoring simply allows businesses to pay for exactly what they need. They don’t need to hire new employees or a whole new team and have to spend time training them. 

The Challenges of Managing Offshore Teams

 

While investing in offshoring services can help businesses reach their goals, it also comes with its own set of challenges. If the right steps are not put in place to avoid these issues, then the offshore strategy can result in significant business failures.

  • Managing progress 

Measuring progress can be challenging with the rise of inconsistencies in both schedules and evaluation standards. If left unmanaged, obstacles to team integration and projects can pile up. This may cause more serious problems in the future instead of supporting development. 

  • Cultural differences

Although the age of globalization has brought many cultures closer together, there are still communicational and cultural mismatches. From small misunderstandings, a major problem can arise at a moment least expected.

  • Output may be lacking 

An offshore team’s work output cannot always be exactly what a business is looking for. Several different factors may contribute to this. The team could still be adjusting to working with a business, or its internal structure may be changing too often.

 

  • No presence of leadership

In a traditional work setting, there’s usually a team manager or team leader who keeps teams motivated and makes sure that deadlines are reached and quality is maintained. But when it comes to offshore teams, there’s seldom a presence of leadership. So, it becomes easy for offshore teams to feel detached from the rest of the business. 

  • Time zones

While time zone differences can work for businesses when it comes to working longer hours, it can become problematic when trying to establish a meeting. When there are major differences in time, there is no easy way to contact teams to provide them with details regarding a project or task.

How to Overcome the Difficulties of an Offshore Collaboration

 

tips to work with offshore teams

Finding the right offshore software development team is only half of the problem. The bigger challenge is often how to manage it. Let’s look at some of the tips on how to successfully manage an offshore team to get the best results.

  • Make time for proper onboarding 

It is essential for offshore teams to feel part of the company. So, businesses have to make onboarding a priority. During this stage, remote workers should be introduced to the rest of the team and any cultural differences should be identified and acknowledged. 

  • Set clear goals 

It is important to get remote workers not only to understand what a business wants to be done but also to motivate them. Therefore, businesses must be as specific as possible about what their future project should look like, what their company does in general and how the offshore team will add value to it.

  • Encourage open lines of communication

It is essential to encourage an open-door policy when it comes to communication. This is important to bridge the physical distance between the business, its in-house team and the offshore team. Businesses must encourage team members to speak up if they have concerns or questions and make sure to acknowledge their feedback.

  • Provide training and development

One way to build a high performing team is to encourage employee growth. Invest in your team and equip them with the skills and knowledge to become high performers. Enrol them in training programs to help further their education and learn new skills.

  • Assign a leader

Offshore teams should not be left ‘hanging’ without supervision. Businesses must assign a local manager who can send reports regarding the team’s performance. It is important to pick someone who has strong leadership traits and has authority within the team.

  • Request regular check-ins

Keeping track of a team’s daily tasks keeps them focused on completing tasks. The more involved a business is in the day-to-day operations of the team, the better the chance of expectations being met. Businesses can conduct a daily stand-up to ensure everyone knows what they need to do and request an update at the end of the working day to report on what was achieved.

  • Give feedback and recognize achievements 

Giving feedback to a team ensures the quality of the result and ensures workers can quickly fix any problems. Businesses must also pay attention to offshore workers’ achievements within a project. Showing appreciation will greatly boost their motivation and performance.

The Bottom Line 

Today, many businesses outsource their operations or at least some part of their workflow. For this, they often make use of offshoring and nearshoring models. This allows them to essentially save on costs and accelerate their time to market.

However, managing an offshore team can present several challenges. Communication and collaboration can become difficult when employees are physically separated from the business. Luckily, there are many ways to overcome these issues. With careful planning, businesses can build a strong team culture with open communication lines. Successfully managing an offshore team can result in highly productive employees.

Photo credits: Mobilunity, Blog Snook

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