For more than 15 years I’ve had the pleasure of building fantastic relationships with some amazing offshore resources. And, for the most part, the end results have been pretty good. Together we’ve built some amazing web systems for clients big and small and our clients have benefited from that savings which comes with offshore billing rates.
For almost 30 years I’ve had the pleasure of building some fantastic relationships with onshore resources as well. And those end results have been equally pretty good.
We thought we’d share some of the lessons learned.
- Communicate daily. It’s important to communicate with your offshore resource using video conferencing tools. Nuance is lost in text and voice combined with facial expressions can help convey the right message. fourmangos is a big fan of using Zoom, WhatsApp, Microsoft Teams and Azure DevOps. Email is okay, but the communication should be facilitated and managed with other tools.
- Quality project specifications are paramount. You or your architect must provide detailed drawings, project specifications, database schematics, browser requirements and business logic to the end developers. A quality engineer is going to request them. Ask for progress reports daily and make certain the progress is in line with what’s in the project specifications.
- Quality assurance protocols are paramount as well. You must see the system working in your environment and to your project specifications. This should be done on a routine basis, not at the end of the project, or even at the completion of one aspect of the larger project. Catching issues before they become bigger problems will save you time and money in the long run.
- Anticipate language barriers. Always expect them. This is why documentation and daily check-ins are critical.
- Ask about their technical setup. Make sure they have sufficient network speeds and all the software tools necessary to work on the project. Walk them through code check-ins and the like so that everyone on the team is operating in the same way.
- Pay attention to holidays. If you are working with a Muslim development firm, pay close attention to Ramadan.
- Pay attention to the news! I had a developer a few years ago contending with severe flooding in northern Pakistan and I had another developer who had to escape a bombing. These are crisis situations for your extended team and will impact your project.
- As strange as it may sound, pay attention to the weather as well. Infrastructure is not the same throughout the world. While most professional operations will have heating and cooling systems in their office spaces, some do not. Heat exhaustion is not uncommon. Expect super-hot days to be problematic with an offshore development team.
- You do not need their project manager. Project management is critical to large and small projects alike. In most cases, one resource will suffice and having them in your time zone(ish) ensures compatible work schedules.
- Get cell phone numbers from your offshore resources. We use WhatsApp often.
- There are MANY offshore resources who are willing to take on your project for considerably less than an onshore project might cost. There are reasons for this. Hire people through references or work with a firm like fourmangos who has offshore resources they have experience with and can manage for you. We have more than a dozen folks with whom we’ve been working for these past few years and they are fantastic. By working with a consulting firm with offshore resources, you have an on-shore team who can help translate your challenges and help build your end solution.
Rather than debate the pros and cons of on vs offshore development, our experience shows that a blended model is really what works best. At fourmangos, this model has allowed us to provide our clients with a great product at a lower price than you might get from an entirely onshore team.