How to manage offshore development team? What kind of solutions do I need? How much money should I spend? How much time do I have to make final decision? Can I write a comprehensive and detailed list of requirements and control the code quality? How do feedback and cooperation influence my projects? Answering these questions will allow you to choose the best way of working with the developers which will be highly beneficial for your business, either in-house or outsourcing. Both of them have pros and cons, and it’s up to you what to select. But it’s always about the money, and this choice is not an exception.
You’ll have to pay over 40% more in case you hire in-house professionals. This includes insurance contributions, high salary of local developers, rental fee, hardware, and software. Managing offshore teams isn’t easy, however, they possess their own surge protectors, hard- and software; they rent offices or work from home, so they can provide services for a much lower price. Anyway, the money comes first, but it is not the only motivational factor for offshore professionals.
At first, you may think that the work quality of in-house developers is much better because of good salary, high motivation, the ability to stay focused on a single project, so such team is relatively easy to manage. On the contrary, offshore team from another part of the world is not that easy to control from the USA. It doesn’t probably have the same high motivation as your in-house developers.
There is one trick, however – it is you who can actually motivate or demotivate the outsourcing team you’ve hired. It can become a full-fledged loyal and productive part of your company. Just hire dedicated professionals from overseas who have good skills and extensive experience in your industry. Such employees usually apply their own well-honed custom methods to do the job faster and keep the same level of quality as their in-house counterparts, or perform even better. Therefore, motivation is the only thing you need to bridge the quality gap, increase the loyalty of your offshore team and, consequently, improve its productivity.
Motivation – what is it all about?
What is the main problem connected with motivation? Is it really that important? The answer is “yes”! Would you do your job the best way you can, having zero interest and encouragement? I’m sure, you wouldn’t. Software development best practices have shown that you have to be ready to spend some time on learning what makes people tick.
It is in people’s nature to lose passion with the course of time. They can keep their noses to the grindstone for the first 3–4 months, but, sooner or later, you might find out that one of your best employees doesn’t show excellence any more. An important thing which you should keep in mind is that motivation is like fire, and it’s up to you whether to keep it alive or let it die out.
Offshore team challenges
We carried out an investigation which lasted 1 year. Over 200 offshore developers working for different companies and projects were interviewed and their answers were estimated. This investigation concerns regular employees who work at the same project for a long time and don’t have special tasks within its framework. I’ve shared some of our results below – a diagram showing the decrease of motivation among offshore professionals who were working without motivation for 1 one year.
As you can see, motivation remains on a quite high level during the first 3–4 months of employment, when the developer wants to gain reputation. But when he or she gets acquainted with all tasks, when there is nothing new at work, the scale drops from 75% to 50% and then decreases slowly, reaching 26%. The productivity of the developer is low and gradually becomes 0%. This diagram doesn’t take into account demotivating factors which scale down motivation level much faster. So what has to be done to improve the situation? Let me tell you.
How to get maximum productivity from offshore team
There are two types of motivation, material and social. Somebody might say, “Hey, what is social? Money is all employees need!” However, they will be mistaken.
Money is the keystone, the reason and the purpose of work. Some people often associate material motivation only with money, but it’s wrong. Sooner or later the demand for money decreases and it stops being the main goal of work. Satisfaction is another rewarding factor people consider important. Speaking about rewarding, not only money can motivate people, but also personal gifts which can be used for the benefit of the company in the long run. For instance, those can be new comfortable armchairs or laptops. Team building sponsored by the company can also be a part of material motivation.
Such approach may be applied not only to in-house developers, but also to outsourcers. It’s not a huge investment, but it will pay off later, increasing the loyalty of highly-motivated and passionate developers, and, consequently, improving the quality of the project.
And that’s where we turn to social motivation.
What does it mean? Is it really important? Outsourcers already have their payment and benefits, what else do they need? Let me answer: if you really want to know how to engage remote employees, make them feel a part of the team and the company they work for. Only in this case they will do their best. Social motivation is very important during the first stages of the project, while the teamwork basis is being built.
◦ Material motivation
Competitive salary, bonuses, valuable presents, team building activities.
◦ Social motivation
Feeling an integral part of the team.
Best practices for managing offshore resources
Imagine that you are a football team coach motivating the team before the game. You have to encourage and instill confidence during a kick-off meeting in the very beginning of the match. In the end of each game you have to commend the team, which is (you have to remember it!) the best of the best. Simple clapping on the shoulder (not always literally) can make your employee’s day.
During the “match” you have to show outsourcers that they are an integral part of the team. Ask their opinion, consult with them and follow their advice. It is a good way to make developers feel they belong to the company.
Another good idea will be to visit your offshore team or to offer some developers a paid business trip. Such practice is highly efficient and allows to perform successful offshore team management.
Below you can see a diagram of motivation level, if you follow my advice.
As you can see, it is impossible to maintain a 100% motivation level. However, keeping it at 80% is quite possible, but it is essential not to miss the moment when the situation goes out of your control.
Among the best motivation practices there exist many activities that can engage your staff and make every single employee feel committed to meeting the challenges of the project.
How to lead offshore team
To get the best results from motivating your staff, you should combine both material and social methods. Only in this case you will be able to build highly motivated and dedicated offshore development team that will become an integral part of your company. Read this article to learn more tips on how to set up remote workers for success and properly lead your offshore team!