5 Practical Steps to Successful Partnerships with Offshore Software Development Teams

Offshore software development can be a great solution when you need to expand your resources. Follow these tips to make it a win for your ISV business.

In this industry, talent can be hard to find. Forrester released the results of a study that found you may have to pay 20% above market salary rates this year when you’re looking for particular skills.  When your ISV company needs to expand its resources, partnering with an offshore software development team can be a great, cost-effective solution—if you lay the groundwork for a successful partnership. Follow these five steps to ensure you get the best results.

1. Treat Choosing an Offshore Software Development Team Like Hiring an Employee

Don’t just click a box on a website or respond to an ad. You need to conduct an interview to confirm that the developers you are considering have the technical skills and experience you need. Confirm they have successfully completed projects in the past that are similar to yours to help minimize the learning curve.

It may not be practical for you to travel to conduct this interview in person, but consider still having a “face-to-face” interview via video conference, Google Hangouts, or Skype. Enabling the team or team leader to virtually meet you will help both parties in deciding whether to partner.

2. Set Expectations for the Project

Resist the impulse to treat your offshore application development team like a black box that you feed information into to get your product. They are people. So just like any other people you work with, you will get better results if you let them understand the objectives of the project and why it’s essential. Let them know what a successful result will look like and be very detailed when explaining project specs.

Don’t forget a partnership is a two-way street, so ask them what they will need from you to stay on track. Also, have them explain their process at the outset, so you aren’t wondering later why something occurred.

3. Foster Effective, Open Communication

In any partnership your company forms, effective communication is vital, but it may take extra effort to achieve when partnering with an offshore software development team effort to achieve. Although application development teams in Southeast Asia, India, South America, Eastern Europe, and Africa often speak English, that doesn’t mean you are successfully communicating. English can be difficult to understand, especially when using acronyms or idioms, or if you talk with an accent the developers aren’t familiar with.

Moreover, if a developer indicates your message is received, you can’t take for granted that it really is.  In their culture, it may be an insult to say you didn’t get your point across, so they will just say they understand.

A way around this is to provide a summary after each call and ask them to confirm the specs and requirements of the job as they understand them—put the details in writing and correct any misconceptions. Videoconferencing or screen sharing during calls may also bridge any communication gap.

Also, remember to respect the time difference between where you and your team are located. You may not get a response until the next day when you are looking for information, and that if the team needs information from you, you could be delaying them by a day or two if you don’t answer promptly.

4. Monitor progress

If you hire an offshore software development team for a six-month project, don’t wait six months to check in. Set milestones and touch base at each one. Before the project begins, identify your primary point of contact with the team for quick updates or to respond to with requests for information. Productivity tools, including project management software, collaboration solutions, and time trackers can also help monitor progress and keep the project on track to meet your deadline.

5. Pay Fairly

Yes, working with an offshore software development team can be less expensive than hiring domestic developers. But that doesn’t mean it will be to your benefit to try to pay less than they are worth. Investigate rates for software developers in various countries and offer a fair price for the value they are providing your business. Software developer consultant Daxx provides a guide in its blog that lists rates for software developers in different regions of the world, as well as some useful information about the market for developers in each area.

These steps can lay the groundwork for a great partnership with an offshore software development team that, when you need to expand your resources and capabilities, can help you meet demand more quickly, cost-effectively, and with the quality you need.

Bernadette Wilson

Bernadette Wilson, a DevPro Journal contributor, has 19 years of experience as a journalist, writer, editor, and B2B marketer.

Bernadette Wilson

Bernadette Wilson, a DevPro Journal contributor, has 19 years of experience as a journalist, writer, editor, and B2B marketer.