Working and handling outsourced teams it is not just an easy task. Here we selected some of the most common mistakes businesses make when working with outsourced software teams. Take a look!
Outsourcing a software project opens the door to global talents and opportunities. You can get a whole new perspective on the project and transform it into something better than you imagined – and you can do it in a cost-effective way.
That is the best-case scenario. Unfortunately, far too many businesses make the same set of mistakes when working with an outsourced software team, hampering the team from achieving their potential.
It is time to learn from the errors of others. Thinking about that, we select six of the most common mistakes made when businesses outsource their software teams and what you should be doing instead.
1. Communication barriers
Outsourcing gives you access to a global talent pool, but it also opens you up to major communication barriers in language, culture, and time zones.
To be clear, English is just a language. Communication is a skill. There is a big difference between someone who can speak English and someone who can communicate in English. You need a communicator.
This means that you have to outsource to the right areas and you have to develop strong communication channels to maintain team communication once you add remote workers. You should have frequent calls and online tools that make it easy to stay up-to-date on the latest developments.
It is also important to know where to outsource. The best choices are those with the right confluence of language skills, time zones, and cultural affinity. Latin America is a great option for U.S. companies to outsource tech, as it is within a few hours of most U.S. time zones, has a strong English-speaking population, and good cultural crossover.
2. Failure to understand the scope
You think you have a handle on your project, and so does your remote team. So you cover requirements and send it off.
But as time goes on, it becomes increasingly clear that your project goals are misaligned and the project is ballooning. You have a bad case of scope creep, when a project’s requirements grow over the course of its life cycle. Scope creep is much harder to course-correct after the fact than it is to prevent it in the first place.
In order to prevent Scope Creep and wasted project costs, you have to clearly establish the groundwork with your remote team. Everyone involved should be clear on:
- Project specifications
Be incredibly precise in narrowing down what your project is and is not. The more you know going in, the lower the chance of scope creep.
3. Hiring a very small team for the task
Agility is valuable in a team. Like many small companies, you may think that it is more cost-effective and focused to hire a small team where each person has clearly delineated tasks. Not so fast.
The skills that make a great software engineer are vastly different than those of a designer or QA tester. You need to fill all the required software development roles in order to have a team that succeeds.
In general, you should plan on hiring:
- Front-end developers
- Back-end developers
- Software designers
- Technical leads
- UI/UX testers
- QA testers
- Business analysts
Look to hire at least one person for each role, but if the project is larger, hire the number of people you need to get the job done right.
4. Hand the project to a single person
A related issue is handing the project over to a single person, either to have that person manage every element of the project, having one team manage a joint project, or having one person manage the project alone.
Your outsourced team is your partner, not an independent team. This project is a joint effort, not a separate project being bequeathed to you after the fact. If only one team or person has responsibility for the project, both of you are affected when something goes wrong (and frustrated by lackluster communication).
Instead, you should go into the project prepared for shared responsibilities. Both sides have to be prepared to invest time and energy to see the project take shape, and you should look for a team that is ready to be a long-term project partner.
5. Ambiguity of ownership
A related mistake is the ambiguity of ownership, also known as the ambiguity of stakeholders. In other words, who is responsible for ensuring project outcomes that you and your outsourced team agreed to. Unfortunately, this can get especially dicey when you outsource to a company that uses contract programmers instead of full-time programmers.
The best option is to keep the same programmers throughout the duration of the project so that they have ownership over the results and responsibility for their own outcomes.
Failing that, you should at least have Project Managers who remain consistent throughout the project. These Managers should directly supervise the programmers at your outsourcing partner’s home base, distinct from your in-house PM.
The ambiguity problem is about a lack of close management. Then, there is the opposite end of the spectrum.
If you are hiring an outsourced team, you want to benefit from the full breadth and depth of their talents. But you also have to accept that there are going to be more variables between in-house and outsourced teams, especially when it comes to daily management.
You can be an attentive manager, but you cannot (and should not) attempt to manage every detail of their work. Gifted professionals know how to manage their own time with reduced supervision. If anything, micromanaging will handicap them even more than it handicaps in-house employees.
If you did your homework in the hiring process and you communicated the scope and expectations of the project clearly, there will be no need for micromanaging.
The smarter way to outsource
Outsourcing your software team can be one of the best decisions your company makes this year. But if you want a team that strengthens your organization, you have to set them up for success.
If you are still unsure of where to begin, start with your mindset. Remember that your outsourced team is not a footnote in your project. They are a key player in making your project possible, a partner who will help bring your project to life. And like any other hire, you have to adapt to make the most of the situation.
If you go into the project with an open mind and a willingness to keep checking in on your progress, your team will accomplish more than you could imagine.
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