When faced with a need for additional development resources, companies have several options at their disposal. Yet increasingly, many are turning to offshore software development to source high quality technical talent that can help fulfil their objectives - and many are seeing fantastic results. In fact, over 35% of companies currently using offshore software development teams are planning to scale further in the next 12 months (Computer Economics). This is evidence of just how successful such a relationship can be, when managed properly.
With this in mind, it’s important companies consider how they prepare their internal teams before engaging with an offshore software development partner. This preparation is often critical, and plays a major role in making such engagements a success. It’s no secret projects typically go much more smoothly when teams on both sides are fully aligned.
In this blog we take a look at the steps companies should take to prepare their internal teams and how the integration of an offshore software development partner can be simplified.
Ensure a Project Management System Is in Place and Internal Staff Know How to Use It
With an offshore software development team working alongside internal staff, it’s important to have a project management system that both sides can use to coordinate their efforts. Everything from progress reports to challenges and communication should run through this platform.
The aim of this approach is simple, to standardise elements of the working relationship that could create inefficiencies or confusion. For a truly productive partnership, internal teams need to dictate how the system will work and why, this helps ensure the fundamentals align with their preferences.
Beyond just having the system in place, it’s also essential the right people are trained to use it in the way it was intended and there is a mutual understanding of the role it will play in both sides of the partnership.
Develop Communication Standards and Processes
To simplify communication between internal teams and the offshore software development partner, communication processes need to be developed early on in the relationship. This should detail how communication works, the cadence that can be expected, who is in charge of each communication channel and the rules/limitations of using the channel. These processes are particularly important for companies operating on different time zones or those that struggle to offer face-to-face time during traditional working hours.
Outline Internal Responsibilities and Ownership
For a successful relationship, both sides need to understand what elements of delivery they’re responsible for. This allocation of ownership ensures all parties understand what is expected of them and offers clarity on how the working relationship is designed to function.
By identifying these details up-front, it will be clear for all involved how the offshore software development team will be integrated and this helps internal teams understand the dynamic of the relationship. In addition, this will also help inform the external partner of who they need to contact for different types of queries. This is important when trying to find the information they need to maintain progress in the engagement.
Ensure Regular Face-To-Face Time Is Scheduled to Build the Relationship
Familiarity is often the key to a harmonious working relationship, and so developing close ties between the offshore software development partner and internal teams is often highly beneficial to engagement success. This can take the form of on-site meetings, or employee exchanges to encourage further integration throughout the project. Helping internal teams build bridges with an external partner can make all the difference when it comes to effective cooperation and delivery.
Audit Internal and External Capabilities and Weaknesses
In some partnerships, it’s not always clear up-front what work the external partner will take on, and in these situations internal teams need to evaluate their own capabilities and identify what should be outsourced. Often the best way to do this objectively is to self-evaluate internal capabilities and recognise weaknesses that the external team can cover.
Ideally in these situations the external partner would take on work that doesn’t align with the internal team’s strengths. Whatever the case, it’s important to communicate why work is being handed over to the external team, particularly as they may be able to help fill knowledge gaps over time through knowledge sharing and advice.
To protect the relationship, it’s also important that the external partner feels valued and doesn't perceive the work they’re handed as unwanted lower tier tasks or projects. This needs to be managed carefully to ensure they feel like a valued and respected part of the organisation.
Identify and Communicate What Success Looks Like
The most successful partnerships with offshore software development teams are built on a common understanding of the objective and what success actually is. This helps guide internal and external efforts and ensures everyone is on the same page. Knowing what good looks like is key to achieving it. This objective should be clear and easily measurable, with both sides contributing to relative success or failure.
Put Processes in Place That Guide the External Partner
Before starting work with the offshore software development partner, it’s integral internal teams have identified and defined the processes that will dictate how the relationship will work. This guidance will ensure the external partner operates exactly as the internal team needs them to. With a client-led approach, the external partner will have a clear understanding of the expectations on them and be able to follow through accordingly.
Why Preparation Is Key to a Successful Offshore Software Development Project
Preparation plays a major role in the long-term success of an offshore software development project and is key to effective integration between internal teams and external partners.
Without the right processes, systems and agreements in place, it’s likely the addition of an offshore software development partner will create challenges, that left unchecked, could threaten a project’s success.
Laying the foundation for offshore software development by preparing internal teams will ensure everyone involved understands the nature of the relationship that’s being built, how it works and the role it will play. This is all essential to helping the offshore software development partner hit the ground running and ensure they fully contribute to the company capabilities and success.