Rule #1 – full transparency on both sides
If you want your people to deliver what you need, you should make sure that they understand your goals as well as you do. In Lama Media, we rely on the agile project management framework – Scrum – which forces full transparency on both sides. Our clients have access to Jira, a great project management tool where you can easily check the tasks assigned to team members. They can judge the progress and get prepared for the next Sprint Review.
Rule #2 – one decision maker on your side. With time to contribute.
Yeah, sprint reviews. In our opinion rule #2 actually applies to all projects, not only to those which have offshore development teams involved. You can bet your sweet new Mac that if you don’t obey this rule while working with a remote team, things will get messy sooner that you can spell “We’re going to be the next Facebook”. Your offshore dev team needs to have very clear communication on your side. Don’t trick yourself into thinking that you can let your 4-people startup team to decide on which colour this button should have or – even worse – what we actually want the poor user to do on the app main page. You can and you should have discussions internally with the rest of your team, but in the end there should be one person whose final word means that decision has been made so your developers know what to do next. Being involved in such a project at this level requires time, so make sure that your decision maker (you, your project manager, whoever) has enough of it. Otherwise, you’ll be wasting money for your already hired team who will be waiting on hold.
Rule #3 – find the right time slots when working in different time zones.
This one actually looks easy but there’s a tricky part that you should think about it before you choose your offshore development team. In Lama Media, we work mostly with clients from Western Europe, USA and Australia. Western Europe is easy, since our HQ are based in the Polish city of Wroclaw, close to the German border. As for the East Coast, we have US-based employees to help with communication but when it comes to Australia, the real fun begins. You have to choose wisely when choosing your offshore partner. If the company you’re interested in is based overseas, it doesn’t mean that working with them will be a misery but you definitely have to set time slots. For us, when we work with Sydney based companies, it’s from 6AM to 8AM and from 5PM to 9PM our time which is okay for some Australian clients.
Rule #4 – choose the right software and have a project repository
Skype or Hangouts conference calls are great and are always the first form of contact but when the project lasts 6 months or longer, you can easily forget about some important decisions that have been made early on. It’s because you make them in the early beginnings. Even if you work in Agile methodology which embraces changes and focuses on prototyping and optimization, it’s still good to have some repository over the major communication matters. It can be having notes which summarize calls in our mailbox or a project hub application – whatever, but you need it to be written. An experienced IT offshore development company should introduce you to their communication software stack which will also help. In Lama Media we use Slack, Jira and we also have our project hubs application to make sure that nothing has been lost in translation.
Well, that’s it. These four rules should help you to communicate with your offshore development partner and if you’re a fresh startup founder, we recommend that you follow them. Don’t forget that even when you’re offshore dev company is far away, meet with them at the beginning of the project for a short workshop if you only can afford it. It’ll pay off in the future, trust us.