Communication is one of the reasons why some companies prefer in-house development and tend to avoid outsourcing. But why do people consider communication a challenge when it comes to engaging with an outside vendor?
Almost 20% of responders in this ChainLink Survey identify language, cultural barriers, and time zone differences as key challenges to face when outsourcing.
Other factors include inadequate technical capabilities and a lack of transparency. Having a communication barrier can be managed easily through different approaches.
To someone who’s never outsourced any business process before lack of constant communication might feel like a lack of control. It’s really not the case at all.
When it comes to limited communication, there are challenges, but it’s important to have the steps in place in order to overcome them.
The idea of an uninterrupted workflow might sound unrealistic if you’ve never outsourced before. There’s also a chance that your previous experience wasn’t the greatest so now you’re having second thoughts. It’s exactly why you need to read this article and implement these ten tips to your daily routine.
They will change your perspective and maybe even opinion on outsourcing and dealing with time zone differences.
How to Facilitate Communication While Outsourcing
- Use overlapping hours for communication
- Take the same days off
- Minimize the hassle with project management tools
- Schedule video conferences
- Limit the number of communication channels
- Write detailed notes
- Avoid one on one communication
- Share files on Cloud
- Stick to executing your communication rules
- Refrain from over-communicating
1. Use Overlapping Hours to Communication
Even when dealing with time zone differences, there are usually a few hours when both sides can easily talk while they’re still at work.
If your company’s headquarters in New York, but you’re outsourcing work to a development team in Poland, then there is a six-hour time difference. That gives their teams a few hours to talk during working hours.
Counting hours every single day isn’t the most effective process. There is a great tool called Timeanddate.com, which is a website where you can easily check if your time matches the time of your vendor. You can also easily create a table like that yourself and keep it in handy.
Having a limited gap when you can talk to your vendor has actually a lot of advantages. Firstly, having to plan a meeting in advance creates an opportunity to schedule it only when there’s a need for with a focus on the meeting aims.
Moreover, it gives everyone more time to focus on the main tasks and maintain a better work-life balance. The vendor and client can find to talk without disruption.
2. Take the Same Days Off
In order to manage outsourcing software development efficiently, we need to remember a few extremely important elements.
Every now and then, there’s a national holiday or a day off for some other reason. While those days are meant for celebration, keep in mind that not everyone does.
For example, there’s no Thanksgiving in Europe so everyone has a regular workday on that day. It goes both ways. Sometimes your vendor might have a holiday you’ve never heard of before.
To respect both sides and the cultural differences, include these types of days in your schedule. Remember to mention when you’re about to have a day off and make sure the other side does the same.
3. Minimize the Hassle With Project Management Tools
Communication tools can make discussions with vendors easy and successful. It would be a real struggle having to explain the whole progress that has been made every other day. That’s why software development no matter if developed in-house or outsourced is most often based on the product backlog, where it shifts into sprint backlog over time.
Software development teams are used to using these tools so you can see what they’ve been working on, how much time it’s been taking, and what’s to be done next. Users can have access to various different reports and the progress of the project without having to contact the vendor.
4. Schedule Video Conferences
Because of the distance, most sprint reviews and business meetings can’t take place by sitting at one table. That’s why it’s so important to maintain good relations in some other ways. Scheduling a video conference, instead of a phone call or a number of messages, can benefit your connection with your vendor.
It’s actually very important to be one team with a lot of respect towards each other. Seeing each other on a video conference helps to make it feel like a real team.
5. Limit the Number of Communication Channels
There’s nothing worse than looking for something in hundreds of different places, especially when it comes to documents, files and other information about the project.
The best solution to avoid this type of situation is to choose one communication channel for each type of conversation and stick to it.
You can use Skype for video conferences, Slack for everyday communication and Jira for project management.
If there are more channels than necessary, information starts to get lost along the way. For example, some decisions are being made via emails that aren’t available to the whole team. It creates a communication barrier and can cause some issues in information flow.
6. Write Detailed Notes
A lot of strategic decisions and changes can be made during a sprint planning or another video conference. Because it’s a form of verbal communication, it’s important to write down the main decisions.
The best way to stay transparent is to prepare an agenda for a meeting and fill up key outcomes under each point as the meeting progresses.
7. Avoid 1-on-1 Communication
Transparency is key when managing communication in an outsourcing team. That’s why we need to avoid 1-on-1 communication.
As a team, there’s little room for misunderstandings and understatements. Everyone needs to be on the same page. That’s why try to avoid sharing information with just one person unless it’s necessary.
8. Share Files on Cloud
Technology makes everything a lot easier when it comes to outsourcing and its effectiveness.
Thanks to available cloud solutions, we can share documents with everyone in a matter of a few clicks. Moreover, we can update these documents while everyone can instantly access real-time changes. It prevents the team from following outdated scenarios.
Users can differentiate their files through different folders that are based on category, division or project. Different team members can easily access relevant documents. Users can also give access to certain files to your vendor so you can work from the same cloud space.
9. Stick to Executing Your Communication Rules
It’s easy to make rules, but more difficult to stick to them. However, it’s important to remember that your outsourcing experience might be a lot more stressful if you don’t put enough focus on making communication as good as it can be.
That’s why you should make it your priority to teach the team how information flow should look like during the project development.
10. Refrain From Over Communicating
Remember that you don’t need to be in constant communication with your vendor. Over communicating can be just as harmful as a lack of communication. A certain level of trust is needed to create a successful product in a healthy environment.
That’s why there’s no need to call when you can simply leave a message on Slack. One of the key benefits of outsourcing is actually an opportunity to focus on other tasks and find work-life balance even when developing a new project.
Effective Team Management is Key to Seamless Communication
Each of these tips can be crucial to learning effective communication skills in various areas. Through having seamless communication with your outsourcing team, there is the opportunity for improvement.
Product quality and business relations are just a few of the areas that will benefit from effective communication.
While there are challenges when working with an outsourced business and vendor, time and distance won’t be a factor once an appropriate communication system is implemented.