How to Manage an Offshore Software Development Team Effectively in 2023
11 min.

Pandemic 2020 provided a mandatory object lesson on the viability of having employees in multiple, distributed locations and not just in one office. But it didn’t take lockdowns for the world to appreciate the enormous cost-cutting and timesaving benefits of looking outside their borders for development help. According to the latest figures from ResearchandMarkets.com, more companies than ever are taking offshore development management on, with the global IT outsourcing market expected to hit $397.6 billion by 2025, growing at an estimated rate of 4.5 percent annually.

chart companies are taking offshore development management on

Numbers like that don’t lie: IT offshoring is hot and not slowing down. Want to catch the trend? We can show you how to manage an offshore software development team and use it to build your business.

There are many “whys,” “whats” and “hows” you need to consider when it comes to managing an offshore software development team effectively. Come along with ProCoders as we walk you through our favorite tricks for managing offshore development teams.

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Challenges of Managing Offshore Development Teams

Managing offshore development teams is becoming increasingly common for companies looking to leverage the cost advantages and talent pool available in countries with lower labor costs. However, this practice also presents a unique set of challenges that must be addressed to ensure the success of the project. 

Time-zone Differences

The time-zone difference can make it difficult to coordinate schedules and can result in delays and miscommunications. Both product owner and product manager must be mindful of the time difference when scheduling meetings and setting deadlines, as well as ensuring that there is always someone available to address urgent issues. 

Language Barrier

Communication can be more difficult when team members speak different languages or have different levels of fluency in the common language. This can lead to misunderstandings, errors, and delays in project delivery. 

Culture differences

Cultural differences can manifest in many ways, including differences in work styles, attitudes towards authority, and communication styles. These differences can impact the team’s ability to work effectively together. Navigating cultural differences requires a proactive and culturally-sensitive approach to team management.

Top 5 Tips For Managing Offshore Development Teams

The secret of managing a remote team is in setting the right parameters for the project, before you start. Here’s what to think about before you sign that outsourcing contract.

"How things were" and "How things are" plan about offshore development management

1. Set clear milestones to avoid an overflowing budget.

Expenses can get out of hand quickly without daily oversight. To know how to manage an offshore development team, start with an agreement on billing. Are your programmers paid on retainer? Or will they be charging by the hour? If there is overworking, how is that typically handled? It’s important that you understand the estimate you get, as well as the amount of hours estimated. How did they arrive at the figures? Do their output expectations match yours?

If it’s possible, ask your developers if they have a platform that will allow you to see the hours expended on your behalf on a daily basis. Seeing the hours as they go may help curb any impulses to ask for extra revisions or rebuilds, and ensure you’re managing offshore teams effectively.

2. Determine the right tools to communicate.

With the right tool permissions, you’ll quickly learn how offshore software developers can effectively double your output. So take a moment to consider exactly how you expect to manage coders that aren’t within your arm’s reach.

Will they log directly into your backend data systems? Or will they do their work separately, only attaching their work to your site at the last possible moment? How quickly can you get their security clearance established? What do they need to see, or not see? Answer these questions early, and you’ll find offshoring isn’t nearly as hard as you think.

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3. Boost efficiency with Agile

Agile methodology covers the project process. It’s the gold-standard for programming project flow and using its best practices it is possible to significantly improve the development process. While most coders will be well versed in its workflows, you should always specify how Agile development will play out in your organization. Align your processes, and you’ll find managing offshore teams can double your productivity.

say one more time pulp fiction joke about agile methology in managing offshore teams

4. Make sure to onboard your new members and tell them about your processes.

Agile on its own is not enough. What internal protocols and processes will impact your consulting programmers? What about your security? Will they need access to your front or backend systems? Is there an approval process or an established development chain they need to work within? Whenever you can, try to give them written documentation of your processes. It could not only help your new team members figure out the details of work, but also make you reconsider all the work processes.

5. Schedule with time differences in mind.

With a global setup, you may have concerns about how to manage an offshore software development team. But global programmers can actually be a huge asset, if you plan correctly. After all, while you’re sleeping, your offshore development team might be clocking in. True 24/7 programming is not only possible, it is affordable, often creating a 50 percent discount while you speed up your development cycles. Think through how work will transfer back and forth between your teams, from shift to shift. Keep managing offshore developers to your benefit, and keep your development juggernaut running strong.

How Do You Maximize Your Offshore Team’s Productivity?

Management begins with one simple idea: collaboration. And that begins with a solid work plan. Your success will depend on the team dynamic that springs from that.

If outsourced developers are expected to deliver while they are cut off from the core development team or the product department, they’re doomed to fail. Therefore, you should link an outsourcing partner with the departments their work depends on. With access, transparency, and the right collaborative platforms, you’ll manage your offshored software development teams effectively.

how agile work in managing offshore development teams

Luckily, many tools and processes exist that facilitate communication in real-time between teams and keep job materials and status reporting combined in one place. Most are free and easy to use. Here are some of our favorites.

Technical Stack for Remote Collaboration

The key to offshore development management is creating a culture of collaboration, so every team member feels valued for their expertise, is part of a team, and understands the project’s key points. Along with that, it’s very important to have a few convenient ways of communication to discuss the tasks’ details, provide credentials, and just always be online. We’ve generally found that to do that company must have:

1. Email

Yes, it’s basic. We know. But sometimes, only an email will do. Use emails sparingly for direct communication that will require more than just a quick chat. To preserve security, be sure to set up all the members of your outsourced team with company email addresses

2. Chat Tools

Systems like Skype, Zoom, Slack, or Google Meet can be fantastic for not only creating access and transparency but for providing the “always-on” connectivity to manage offshore developers and promote teamwork without imposing total control.

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3. Productivity Tools

If you want to know how to manage an offshore software development team, start with the productivity tools like Trello, Asana, Jira, and Basecamp to put all your project materials in one place. No dropped instructions, no resources hiding in random emails. Everything is at the team’s fingertips, all the time.

How Do We Manage Offshore Software Development Teams at ProCoders and Avoid Pitfalls?

If you’re wondering how to hire offshore developers, manage them and coordinate them with your own team, ProCoders can offer our best practices. Over the years we have discovered certain strategies that work for our global outsourcing clients. Effective management, after all, is how you can ensure the success of your offshore software development team.

1. Set milestones and deliverables

It’s the foundation of offshore development management, of course. Expect to have a hand in the schedule, especially where it impacts your internal teams. Ideally, you should have enough research so the schedule is set with clear milestones and deliverables before work begins. At ProCoders, we often have clients who have all this worked out when they come to us. Clients without internal IT staff can hire ProCoders for the research and planning phase. Under this arrangement, the senior developer takes over the management of the schedule, project gates, and key performance indicators. Master communication around scheduling, and you will have mastered how to manage an offshore development team effectively.

2. Direct Management

Many offshore consulting firms operate using an account executive to handle client communications. At ProCoders, we don’t. Why? Because our experience has taught us that the best, most effective way for managing your offshore software development team is direct. Clients manage ProCoders developers as if they are their own staff and speak to them usually daily. You won’t have to wade through layers of bureaucracy to get the answers you need. This direct access between internal and external teams has enormous benefits, easing the integration between new systems and old ones. In our opinion, it’s the key to managing offshore programmers.

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3. Total Transparency

This is a management philosophy and daily directive for us. It’s our belief that working with offshore development teams requires communication and trust. That means there should never be any pockets of information that are restricted. We often use Trello or other project management systems to ensure documentation is in place. We also attend your project management team meetings with the rest of your internal staff.

Transparency is very important in 'how to manage an offshore development team'

4. Synchronize Work Hours

Establishing a common daily work schedule is an important part of how to manage an offshore development team. We at ProCoders easily shift our working hours. With every new client, we agree on co-working hours — to ensure there’s always a portion of the day we can be reached immediately. Accessibility, after all, can only help you manage offshore development teams.

5. Clear Billing

Offshore development management begins with a critical agreement on billing. At ProCoders, we like to keep this as transparent as possible. A documented directive and schedule is required, whether the client comes to us with that information, or we conduct a paid research phase. That allows us to craft a rock-solid estimate for a monthly retainer, or if the client prefers, a project price. We track our hours daily and provide the client with visibility to our work. We promise, no nasty billing surprises — ever.

6. Mark Your Milestones

Quantifying your expectations is a crucial part of how to manage an offshore development team effectively. We’ve made clear, written expectations at the bedrock of our client relations strategy at ProCoders. That means understanding a client’s schedule, project gates, milestones, and key performance indicators.

7. Plan for transfer back to your internal staff

While we have many ongoing, open-ended relationships with our clients, at some point, most projects will be migrated back to our client’s internal staff for maintenance when development is successfully over. Perhaps a key lesson in how to manage an offshore development team is knowing how to unwind a consulting relationship. At ProCoders, we tend to talk about the handoff process at the beginning of a project, because often it will influence how we build a website or app and make it manageable to upkeep for the client’s existing IT staff.

Offshore Development Team’s Integration

Integrating an offshore team with other employees can be a challenging task, but with proper planning and execution, it can be achieved successfully.

With an In-house Team

Successful integration with an in-house team requires careful planning, clear communication, and a commitment to teamwork and collaboration. When you manage your remote development team it is important to foster a positive company culture that includes both remote and in-house employees. This can be achieved through regular team-building activities, open communication channels, and recognizing team members’ achievements.

Provide the remote team with the necessary support and resources they need to do their job effectively. This may include training, access to equipment and software, and access to HR support.

Other Remote Teams

Some things are common: establishing clear communication channels is essential, as well as providing training and support. But with two offshore teams, you can encourage cultural exchange between them through team-building activities, sharing information about each team’s culture and customs, and establishing mentorship or buddy programs.

You can also establish common goals and ensure that everyone is aligned with the company’s mission and vision. This will help to build a sense of unity and collaboration between the two teams. While the in-house team already knows your values and standards, your remote employees do not, so pay extra attention to that.

F. A. Q.
Why is it more difficult to manage an offshore team than it is to manage an in-house team?

Managing an offshore team can be more challenging than managing an in-house team due to the distance, time zone differences, cultural differences, language barriers, and lack of face-to-face communication.

What are the main pros of offshoring?

Offshoring offers several advantages, including cost savings due to lower labor costs, access to a wider talent pool, increased flexibility, and the ability to operate 24/7 due to time zone differences. Additionally, offshoring can provide businesses with a competitive advantage by allowing them to focus on core activities and allocate resources more efficiently.

How ProCoders bypass the problem of different time zones for our clients?

Because our developers work from different countries and different time zones, they can work around the clock and provide 24/7 support to our clients. Here at ProCoders we also make sure that the team members working on a project are available during the client’s working hours and communicate with them regularly via various communication channels to ensure smooth collaboration.

Conclusion

So, now that you’ve seen our advice on how to manage an offshore development team and maximize offshore software development benefits have you noticed there’s a common theme? It’s communication. And that, perhaps, is the greatest challenge of outsourcing. It can seem daunting, to be sure, to be effectively managing offshore development teams that live in a world outside your language, culture, and time zone.

But remember — technology is the great equalizer. And most IT offshoring development shops, like ProCoders, only hire employees who can fluently read, speak and write English. Our team, for instance, operates in a business culture that’s very similar to Europe and North America. If you are looking for a dedicated development team for hire the only challenge that remains, then, is organization. As we’ve shown here, working with offshore teams can be an easy way to boost your productivity while reducing your budget.

Contact us, and we’ll show you how managing offshore development teams can work for you, planning everything through our Discovery Phase!

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