Finding a common language with foreign developers
By understanding and adopting some key communication steps, companies can enjoy enormous benefits from outsourcing IT.
As the costs for hiring software developers in the west continues to balloon – while their availability remains relatively static – businesses around the world are increasingly opting to outsource their IT needs, whether it is for creating new websites or mobile apps, implementing new IT security, or undergoing a full, long-term digital transformation.
The many benefits of opting to outsource these projects are clear, which is why companies ranging from small startups to global giants such as Amazon and Ebay even use the practice to optimize their costs and operations – and respond to market demand and grow.
That being said, for companies that have never used outsourcing to realize an IT project, the prospect of collaborating with a foreign developer team can often seem daunting.
This is understandable. Communication with developers from your own country can often be difficult enough! However, as we shall see in this article, with a little bit of pre-planning and precaution, working with a team of developers found outside your borders can be highly efficient – and extremely rewarding.
Let’s take a look at some of the key elements that will go into having a successful and rewarding relationship with an external development team – even if they are found on the other side of the world!
1. Make sure you choose a professional Digital Service Provider (DSP)
Ultimately, the success of your IT outsourcing endeavor will be highly dependent on the professionalism, transparency and flexibility of the outsourcing company or organization you choose to partner with.
Even if the developers you are tasked to work with are highly capable and agreeable people with great communication themselves, if the company they work for is disorganized or not capable of collaborating in a professional way, then your project will be doomed from the start.
There are hundreds of companies now offering IT outsourcing services around the world. Many are highly professional and experienced businesses that have been operating in the space for years, and have highly-developed protocols for how to turn a client’s ideas, vision or objectives into tangible and successful reality.
However, there unfortunately also exists numerous unscrupulous companies, or simply some that are not suited to a given company’s specific needs. When working with teams of developers in third countries, it is important that the parent company has a strong relationship with their foreign offices. Their developers should work for them, and not simply be part of yet another development company that the ‘head office’ outsources work to themselves.
Along with other factors and elements of transparency, the company you deal with should be directly responsible and accountable for the developers that will be working on your project.
We’ve previously written on article on how to choose an IT outsourcing partner, including the types of questions you should ask if you are a ‘non-technical’ business owner, or if it is your first time enlisting the services of such a company.
We suggest you read the article before embarking on the selection of the company you will partner with, as this is a key – if not the key – to the chance of your IT/software project being a success – or not.
2. Take time in the beginning of the relationship
Once you have established that the DSP you have selected for your project is the right fit, and will offer you a flexible, responsive and professional working relationship, it will be time to begin building your relationship with the developers that will be actually working on your project.
This step is important regardless of the type of contract that you opt for – whether it is a fixed package or time-based contract – and whether you will use an organizational structure such as the highly-effective Scrum Team to actually realize your project.
Once your company/project has been delegated a team of developers that will be working on your project, it is important to first establish a rapport with them.
The early stages of this relationship are the time to set the relationship on a friendly and respectful footing, and to demonstrate to each other that behind our computer screens, we are all people that want to get the job done in the most optimum way possible.
Some people may think that it will be hard to build personal relationships with people you have never met, working in places like Vietnam or Madagascar. However, by taking a little time to discuss the project in a friendly, patient and constructive atmosphere, you will soon realize that developers in foreign countries can be very well attuned to the nuances of life – and a company’s business objectives – in the west.
After all, if you have picked a professional company, dealing with projects and challenges like your own will be their bread and butter.
So, take some time in the beginning of the project to really discuss it in a detailed, friendly and constructive conversation. Don’t rush it – these discussions can take place over a few days to really make sure everyone is on the same page when it comes to business objectives.
3. Establish protocols
Once your developer team has been organized – and potentially paired with a Product Owner from your own organization who will be responsible for representing the project’s vision and ensuring that development work is always oriented towards it – it will be important to set up some protocols for how they will be working together.
Regular, scheduled meetings are always a good idea. However, a balance needs to be found, so that meetings do not become repetitive and redundant, but at the same time are regular enough to ensure the project keeps rolling forward, and mistakes and miscommunications are detected and corrected quickly.
When working with foreign developers whose first language is probably not the same as yours, it is important to ensure that all communication on feedback, corrections and guidance for project tasks is formulated, considered, and leaves little room for interpretation or error.
This can be achieved by creating feedback templates that break down feedback into clear sections of, for example: what the problem is, what the correction should be, and what the important notes or considerations are for the given task are.
Communication channels should always remain open beyond just email – establishing regular discourse through collaborative software and video calls can ensure that feedback is properly understood and implemented.
4. Understand (and appreciate) cultural differences
Working with people from different cultures can be a highly rewarding and exciting experience that can also show you how similar people are across the world. It can also provide you with new knowledge, experiences and ideas that you wouldn’t have had access to previously.
We’ve previously written an article on Business Culture in Vietnam and how there are certain unique aspects to how company culture works there – which can often be very welcome to Product Owners from outside the country – as long as they understand some key ideas, such as the power of seniority, the best ways to approach mistakes, and how important being friendly is.
Regardless of where your foreign developer team is located, it will be very rewarding to take some time to understand the culture of the people you are working with. If you don’t have easy access to any insider resources to the culture, then always choose to err on the side of simplicity – after all, no matter where you go, a smile, understanding and respect are universal human values, and will be reciprocated by your external team.
Are you looking for a professional IT/software development company to outsource your digital project to? Bocasay has years of experience serving global clients through our advanced IT development centers in Vietnam, Madagascar and Mauritius, where we have worked hard to foster a dynamic and above-all positive atmosphere for our developer teams to serve our clients from. Get in touch and we’ll be happy to discuss how we can collaborate more.