The foundation of a good and efficient collaboration between team members
Best practice n°1 : A good relationship and suitable means of communication.
The way we conduct relationships with others varies across cultures. It’s important to keep that in mind when working with a team in a different country to yours. In Asia, for example, non-body language plays an essential role in the perception of messages. The quality of the relationship between individuals may sometimes be more important than the project itself.
Take another example: In Vietnam, if you cross your arms in front of your interlocutor, it’s considered a sign of respect. Contrast that with France, where it can be taken to mean that the person doesn’t have an open attitude, or is defiant.
In Madagascar, the Malagasy have a very strong respect for their elders. This mindset is reflected in professional relationships.
Best practice n°2: be interested in others and their differences.
During a remote meeting with your offshore team, ask questions, and start conversations anytime you feel it’s appropriate. When you have a video conference with you remote team, take some time to engage in casual conversation before jumping into the agenda and serious business. Show interest in them, and in this way get them interested in you before you start the meeting.
The most important task is to be able to manage cultural differences without affecting the quality of work.
Best practice n°3: Understanding time.
Perception of time can also differ across cultures.
In Asia and Africa, time can be “spatial”, in contrast to the “linear time” you may be used to in western countries, where time is more “planned” and by extension can be “wasted”.
Tips and tools for managing cultural differences with your remote= offshore IT team
Remote meetings and punctuality
In Northern Europe and North America, when a meeting is planned at 2pm, it is strongly recommended to arrive in advance, to settle down and prepare the material in order to be ready when the meeting is set to begin.
When communicating with a team from a different culture, be clear and precise: avoid saying “this functionality should be delivered during the following weeks”, and instead say something like “it should be delivered for the 8th of January” (a precise date).
Chats and instant messaging system
It’s important to choose the most relevant tools to allow your team and your remote team to communicate well. Nowadays, a lot of platforms that are very ergonomic and free are available for working efficiently purely over the internet.
Example of chats and instant messaging systems: Skype, Slack, Telegram, Appear.in and so on.
Use an interactive dashboard to organize the work of each team member and to view your project’s progress: “Kanban” dashboards such as Trello are particularly useful for creating task lists that can be assigned to people over the world.
For versioning, Git is an essential tool that allows several developers to work simultaneously on the same source code.
Continuous Integration (CI)
For Continuous Integration, you can opt for the free server Jenkins. Other online platforms exist such as GitLab-CI or CircleCI for launching your builds and your test phases.
Continuous Deployment (CD)
Continuous deployment is an additional step of Continuous Integration, and allows you to deploy your projects automatically.
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