I recently completed a two-week trip to Mumbai to meet with our off-shore partners, and it got me to thinking a lot of about the practice of how we interact and work with the off-shore model. Here are a few key points that I think could really help the community as a whole when dealing with off-shore vendors and partners
1. Communicate, Communicate, Communicate
If there was one issue that I kept hearing repeatedly, it was that communication need to be better. There are times when we make decisions and changes in the local office, but we do a very poor job of looping in our off-shore teams. Whether by not telling them, explaining it poorly or by not taking feedback, it puts us in a bad place when we then go back at some point down the road and try and figure out why things are not working well.
2. Ensure Processes are Understood
Along the same lines as communication, we need to make sure that we do a good job of letting them know what our processes are. This goes beyond merely slapping a document or wiki page together, but rather we should take the time to make sure they also truly understand the process, and why we are using it. Specific examples are always a good thing in this regard, and more you can give, the better you will be able to explain your direction and vision.
3. Understand The Culture
The last part is one that to me is sometimes the hardest. Until you go over to an off-shore office, you will struggle to understand the local culture. It is always an eye-opening experience the first time you spend a week or two in a foreign country working the same way your team does. You should absolutely take the time to understand the local culture, and all of the things that make that team unique and different than your in house teams. As you start to see the way life operates for them, it will make it easier for you to do both of the points mentioned above.
Working with an off-shore team isn’t a mystical thing, and nor should it be treated as negative thing. Off-shore teams provide many advantages and bring a wealth of skills to the table that just need to be recognized. If you are working in an off-shore model, and are struggling to make it work, you should try taking a look at the points I mentioned above, and see if they can’t maybe help you improve the relationship.
For those of you that are working in an off-shore model, I would be really interested in getting your feedback on both what is and isn’t going well for you, either in the comments below, or via email.