Building a high-quality tech team has always been a challenge for businesses. Even reaching prior to the pandemic, countries like Sweden have struggled to find development talent to satisfy its robust and fast-growing startup ecosystem. It is estimated that there will be 70,000 unfilled digital roles in Sweden by 2022. As increases in investment add fuel to market growth, software developer shortages are becoming more and more visible.
To combat this shortage, more and more companies are turning to offshore options. Offshore development is enticing due to cost savings and quick turnarounds. It has seen success and failure and the failures are sometimes what stand out and lead companies to hesitate in taking that step due to fear.
But fear not. While offshoring will fail if you are working with a poor, inexperienced team, the same is true if that inexperienced team were onshore. It is therefore important that the same care and effort you would put into hiring your own team is replicated when building a successful offshore team.
In this article we will lay out 10 ways to build a successful offshore team. But first, let us consider two important points:
Outsourcing Vs. Offshoring
There is an important distinction to make here. Outsourcing means passing on the keys to someone else. If you want to complete a project and do not care about retaining any of the team members who worked on the project for later, then outsourcing may be right for you.
With offshoring, however, think of the team you are hiring just like any other remote team that could be working for your company. Building your own offshore team means they are part of your long-term objectives; they just happen to work remotely. With remote working becoming so familiar over the last one year this should not be a difficult transition.
Hiring Freelancers vs. a Reputed Tech Partner
Hiring a freelancer for specific tasks can make sense. If you have a few straightforward tasks with a well-defined scope, hiring a freelancer off a site like Upwork can be a quick, low-risk option to get those tasks out of the way.
However, if you are building a product from scratch or integrating complex features to your existing platform, you need a team. Building a team of freelancers is time-consuming and difficult to manage. A reputed company on the other hand can build a team for you very quickly, scale it up fast when you need it and will take on the responsibility of managing the team effectively. This allows you to focus 100% on building your product without distractions.
Here are 10 ways to pick your perfect Tech Partner
- Look at their portfolio When picking a Tech Partner, look at their past and ongoing projects. A company that has worked with brands you know will give you a lot of confidence. Take the next step by asking for references and make the effort to contact them to help validate your choice.
- Assess their communication skills It goes without saying that your team should be proficient in the language that you speak. But do they understand your requirements easily? Do they ask questions? Are they honest when things do not go as planned? Poor team communication can lead to major gaps between your expectations and what is actually being built.
- Ensure aligned working hours Non-overlapping schedules can be a real impediment to success. Pick a tech partner with at least 3 – 4 hours of common time to ensure enough room for stand ups, meetings and other discussions.
- Align their core strengths with your needs If you are looking to build a product from scratch then look for a company that specializes in just that. There is a big difference between a company that gives out consultants and one that has a history of building products, from ideation to market release.
- Understanding business context You don’t want a team of typists. Defining each business requirement to the dot is a waste of your time. Your team must have a strong business understanding of what they are building and be able to work with you in finding the best solutions. A team that doesn’t understand the “what’s” and “why’s” means additional work from you to explain things, which ultimately leads to poor results.
- Look for supporting competencies Pick a company that has a range of competencies in addition to development. Building a successful product is not just about developers; your team may need Business Analysts, UI/UX Designers, Project Managers and Testers at different stages in your product development journey. Having immediate access to these competencies when you need them, all under one roof, is a huge plus point.
- Scalability As your business grows, your team will need to grow as well. Waiting months to fill an important position can be very frustrating and it can lose you significant competitive advantage. The right Tech Partner will be able to quickly scale your team up when you need it, either through a strong developer bench or through a superior recruitment process.
- Look for value, not hours Many companies and service providers work on a “charge-by-the-hour” basis since they feel it is easier to understand and quantify. However, per-hour pricing sets the wrong incentives for your Tech Partner; the more hours they spend on a task, the more they get paid. This means they are not driven to be more efficient, to innovate, to take ownership and to work smart. Conversely, value-based models such as fixed monthly retainers push the value of deliveries to the forefront and aligns your incentives with your team’s.
- Don’t “cheapshore” The old adage of “you get what you pay for” stands true. Hiring a bunch of inexperienced developers does not make a successful team. Building a great product requires experience and expertise. Paying just 20% – 30% more can be the difference between poor and first-class.
- Strong process and tools Ask if the Tech Partner works in Agile and ask them what tools they use. A well-defined, consistent process with daily stand ups, sprints and retrospectives are important ceremonies to ensure clarity of goals and transparency with your team. Project Management tools like Jira or Trello will help with tracking, organizing and prioritizing tasks while communication tools like Slack ensure direct communication with your team.
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