How do you start a project from scratch with an offshore team of developers?

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How to start a project from scratch with an offshore web agency?
How to start a project from scratch with an offshore web agency?

In 2024, offshore software development has become a key strategy for companies looking to launch web applications or software without the constraints of high costs and availability of local skills. This detailed guide explores how to start a web development project from scratch with an offshore development team.

Understanding the Fundamentals of Offshore Development

It can be said that companies succeeding with offshoring share a clear understanding of the benefits beyond simple cost savings, including access to rare skills and the ability to operate almost continuously through teams spread across different time zones (Madagascar, Vietnam, Mauritius). These companies excel in implementing management practices adapted to the cultural and operational complexity of their offshore teams.

Project Preparation and Planning

An article from Harvard Business Review highlights the importance of defining clear and measurable goals at the beginning of collaboration with an offshore web agency. The authors emphasize that goal precision facilitates better alignment between remote teams and their clients, thus reducing misunderstandings and disappointments.

Choosing the Right Offshore Team

Selecting an offshore development partner should not only be based on costs but also on quality and strategic alignment. The authors recommend evaluating potential providers based on:

  • their references,
  • their specific technical expertise,
  • their ability to integrate culturally and operationally.

Establishing Effective Communication

Tools and Practices

According to a Forrester report, modern collaboration tools such as Slack, JIRA, and Confluence have become essential for overcoming communication barriers in offshore development. Implementing regular communication routines, such as daily stand-up meetings and retrospective meetings, is crucial for maintaining team alignment and cohesion.

Project Management and Agile Methods

Agile Methodologies

A publication from the Project Management Institute called “Practical Agile Guide” illustrates how adapting agile methodologies to distributed teams significantly improves project responsiveness and flexibility. The study highlights the importance of clearly defined roles (agile roles) and the empowerment of each team member for the overall project success.

Among the agile roles, we find:

  • The Product Owner
  • The Scrum Master
  • The development team

It is noted in this report that for agile teams, multidisciplinarity is key, although members do not always start with a wide range of skills. Over time, they often evolve into specialist-generalists, or “T-shaped individuals,” possessing both deep expertise in a specific domain and broad knowledge in several others.

This versatility is developed through close collaboration and self-organization, allowing the team to support each other and progress rapidly on projects.

The focus is on collective efficiency rather than individual performance, thus avoiding bottlenecks and promoting optimal delivery of finished work to gather feedback.

The aim is to maximize the efficiency of the entire team’s workflow, rather than focusing solely on optimizing individual skills.

The product owner plays a crucial role in ensuring that the team focuses on the most valuable tasks, thereby facilitating rapid and quality delivery.

Project Launch and Adjustments

Iteration and Feedback

The concept of rapid iteration (or incremental delivery), supported by continuous feedback, demonstrates how this approach allows a software company to overcome initial communication and coordination challenges with its offshore team, ultimately leading to a significant increase in productivity and deliverable quality.

Adopting a web development strategy with an offshore web agency is a decision that requires thorough preparation, effective communication, and flexible management. By relying on proven management practices, companies maximize the benefits of offshoring while successfully navigating its challenges. These efforts lead not only to cost savings but also to improved access to talent.

Finally, here is a model project brief covering essential aspects to consider. You can prepare now to launch your software project with all the information at hand.

Project Launch Brief for Offshore Web and Software Development

General Information

1. Project Title:

2. Expected Start Date:

3. Expected End Date:

4. Project Manager:

  •    Name:
  •    Contact:

5. Project Objectives:

Describe specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, and time-bound (SMART) objectives.

Project Scope

6. Project Description:

A general description of the project, including the context and justification for choosing offshoring.

7. Expected Deliverables:

List key deliverables, including main features, documentation, and test reports.

Technical Requirements

8. Technologies Used/Desired:

Details of technologies, frameworks, and tools planned for the project.

9. System Architecture:

Description of the envisaged software architecture, including integrations with other systems.

10. Security Requirements:

Specifications for data security standards and confidentiality to be met.

Planning and Methodology

11. Project Milestones:

Define the main steps and their expected schedule.

12. Project Management Methodology:

Description of the management methodology (e.g., agile, Scrum) and frequency of follow-up meetings.

Communication and Reporting

13. Communication Plan:

Communication tools and platforms (e.g., Slack, email, JIRA).

Frequency of updates and project meetings.

14. Project Reports:

Format and frequency of progress reports.

Project Team

15. Team Structure:

Roles and responsibilities of offshore team members and client team.

16. Required Skills and Expertise:

Details of technical and project management skills required.

Budget and Financing

17. Budget Estimate:

Budget forecasts, including development costs, software licenses, and miscellaneous expenses.

Success and Acceptance Criteria

19. Deliverable Acceptance Criteria:

Specific criteria that deliverables must meet to be accepted.

20. Key Performance Indicators (KPIs):

Definition of KPIs to measure project success.


21. Additional Documentation:

Any reference documentation, case studies, or relevant examples.

This project brief serves as a guide to structure the planning and execution of a web development project offshore, ensuring that all stakeholders have a clear understanding of expectations, responsibilities and processes involved. It is important to note that this document should be adapted to the specifics of each project and reviewed regularly to incorporate necessary adjustments as the project progresses.

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