Anyone with the perception of outsourcing being summed up as a means of “cheap labor” for simple tasks is far off the mark. The large amount of highly skilled, smart, experienced resources living and working overseas has nearly limitless potential to help expand and grow organizations.
We’re a fan of team building at Diabsolut, and three of us from the Montreal office flew out to spend some time in our Bangalore office in early February, before taking the team to Goa for some R&R. As a result of this trip I’ve developed some tips for anyone else working with or curious about working with offshore development teams.
We took this trip before we had any idea of what would be happening in the world the very next month. While none of us know exactly where everything going on right now will take us, a lot of these tips can be applied not only to working with offshore teams, but to engaging with our employees and coworkers who are now working remotely as well.
The Bigger Picture
It’s often said that Canadians are some of the nicest people in the world, and a lot of us are, but the people in India really do go the extra mile. I’m not sure many of us, regardless of where we’re from, will happily insist on traveling to the airport at five o’clock in the morning to pick up visiting coworkers.
I’ve always had great respect for our offshore team, but seeing them in action made me realize the impression I’d formed of them from remote collaboration didn’t begin to describe them. On the phone, they are all business. In person, straight forward and hardworking absolutely, but moreover they are some of the most gregarious and kind people I’ve ever met. Equally important, they have a passion for the job and skills to match any of our North American resources I’ve had the pleasure of working with.
The office environment was vibrant, collaborative and productive, in the midst of bustling Bangalore. Goa was all sand and sea, and relaxing. Laughs, collaboration, and dynamic conversation were abundant the entire trip. The big picture here is, for those of us with offshore teams, or even remote workers:
- How many of us don’t connect the work with the people doing it?
- How much potential are we missing because of this?
We’ve always had such exceptional work from our Team India members, but it was important to push past that to make sure they’re engaged, happy, and delivering on their potential, just like our team members closer to home.
Better Enable Your Offshore or Remote Team
I realize not everyone can go flying around the world to meet their offshore teams, and it’s certainly not advised with current isolation protocols, but connecting with them like any other team member is both important and rewarding. They know what they’re doing and are able to do the “heavy lifting.” Give them the right tools for the job and you’ll get great results.
- Get to know them!
- Being able to see how things work for our overseas team gave me more insight into how our virtual meetings fit into their day.
- Talking with them about their past job experiences, their local work environment, and how they appreciate the ability to express themselves in their work gave me more context on how to give better feedback.
- It also let me know they were ready to meet more challenges.
- Knowing your team lets you see where their maximum potential lies.
They are your team members and not robots. Give them the respect they deserve and the tools they need to get the job done and you won’t be disappointed.
- Communication is key.
From my experience, struggles with offshore teams are not because of a lack of capabilities. On the contrary, they’re due to a lack of clear communication. Work will only be as good as the information provided:
- Use user stories to help communicate.
- Share the business and technical side of things.
- Who, what, and why is still important; work should still be connected to the clients’ needs.
- Be diligent with staying transparent.
- Keep communicating, keep passing on information, keep a two-way dialog flowing.
If there are gaps between what you expected and what was delivered, you need to ask yourself: did I give them enough information to be successful? Thorough and frequent communication with context will cut through the confusion, as well as save you time and money.
- Be the Culture.
Work with your local and remote HR teams to ensure that the core spirit of your brand and culture is exposed to your offshore team. They need to be and they want to be integrated into your corporate culture, as they still reflect your product, to your customers.
Team India is Team Diabsolut
This trip meant we got to see in person the amount of dedication and commitment our India team has to our clients and the work they do. I realize not everyone can see their offshore teams first hand, particularly with what’s going on right now, but don’t hold them at arm’s length. The future is more connected, embrace it and you’ll find limitless potential.