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How to Manage an offshore software development team


#Dedicated Development Team
Team management in software development is essential when working with offshore developers. Talent is important for managing offshore development teams.

How to Manage an offshore software development team

Effective Team management in software development is essential when working with offshore developers. Talent is important for managing offshore development teams.

One of the main reasons why companies work with outsourced and offshore teams is to reduce operational and staffing overheads. Alongside those concerns, companies that outsource don’t need to worry about where and how they’re going to find developers with the skills and experiences they need.

How to select remote workers?

When it comes to working with teams remotely, you need to remember that not everyone can work on a remote basis. Responsibility, advanced and transparent written expression, self-organization – these all play an important role when selecting outsourced staff. You have to pay special attention to the in-country HR, which is targeted to solve the day by day organization, moral, and creative tasks of team management in software development.

It makes more sense to work with outsourced providers where the teams involved all work from a dedicated office. This way, unlike when working with freelancers, your outsourced team is effectively a reduced-cost division of your own company, being managed with the same efficiency and dedication to deliver excellent results.

Communication and tools for remote worker management

Two words are key when it comes to managing offshore development teams: Communication and Documentation. Without effective communication, an outsourced team isn’t going to work well with a client. Both parties need clear, transparent and open communication. It’s always better to over-communicate, to say more than what is needed, then under-communicate.

So, whether a client is interacting directly with developers, or working through a product or project manager, the outcome should always be the same: everyone should be clear on what needs doing and who’s responsible for various tasks and deliverables, in-line with a development roadmap. Documenting everything as much as possible is crucial too, otherwise protects can get tangled up in confusion long-after the original developers have handed it over to a client.

In managing offshore development teams, a clear and transparent conducting documentation is the keystone because you are not in personal contact all the time, and this may get even worse if you are in different time-zones. Besides, documents contain many important details, which you may need to return to and clarify. Here we put together tips that we think may be useful:

  • Whenever possible, avoid using emails, the phone, VOiP (e.g. Skype), or any other messengers (e.g. Slack, Telegram) for a key feature-related conversation; it’s far more beneficial to use a special task tracking software for your team, such as TFS, JIRA, Redmine, etc. This way, feature requests and other details are documented clearly.
  • Also, ensure these conversations are recorded and registered because too many key details can fall between the cracks of memory and misunderstandings. Use chat apps that are integrated into a task tracking software and can register every single word written so you won’t waste time on meeting’s notes.
  • Use voice or video conference for contact with remote team management in software development. Establish precise milestones on the week to regular consultations with heads to be sure that everyone is fully prepared. That will help you be always up to date, save time, and avoid micro-managing.
  • When working with developers, remember that these are experienced professionals and you shouldn’t feel the need to micro-manage. Before managing offshore development teams you hired professional, highly-trained, and responsible specialists, so let them know their KPIs and benchmarks, then let them do the work unless there are serious problems that can’t be solved.

Set Clear Goals

Before embarking on a new software project, set clear and achievable requirements.

As a leader driving forward a software project, your main goal is to set real and achievable milestones base on the abilities of your team. With a considerable probability, this will lead to the fact that your team will take up the matter with great enthusiasm, knowing that it is doable. In this case, an adequately configured task manager is your perfect assistant.

Organized operations

There are three most popular methodologies in managing offshore development teams: Agile, SCRUM, KANBAN. Choose one of them, define projects and operational tasks. You should pay special attention to automate routine operations, create team rituals.

Development work is mentally intensive, so in the planning stage the golden rule is: “Don’t make me think.” Formalize and simplify any you can formalize and simplify. Always remember that the mental energy that should be spent on creating a product should not be wasted.

Timely feedback

Take time to make your schedule; thus, you’ll take into account the interests of the development teams which are involved in the process. Sounds easy, but if you include few teams from across the world, it can be a problem. Plan time for video calls, taking into account the operational hours of every team member.

Measuring KPIs

Every developer on every project should be crystal clear on the key performance indicators (KPI). It also helps to ensure that they know what is being created, why, and why it needs to work a certain way. When it comes to developing KPIs, there should always be three core objectives:

  • Stability
  • Security
  • Speed

In particular, the picture becomes a little bit complicated:

  • Define KPI for each of your employees (and remote team members)
  • Get the opinion of co-workers and colleagues
  • Consult with the relevant stakeholders
  • Select and implement KPI dashboard software
  • Gather each employee’s key data points
  • Create data visualizations for each employee
  • Schedule a feedback session for each department
  • Deploy your KPI dashboard

That’s it for the beginning. In practice, you’ll found out many more details that help you to see a general picture even from the dark side of the moon. But control and regular documentation are essential.

Team motivation

Managers know that motivating teams comes in many forms. But generally speaking, when it’s a team of professionals you should be able to trust them to get on with the work outlined. Actually, in managing offshore development teams, you may use your proven methods, but there are a few points you must consider.

Clear and achievable goals

There is nothing more motivating than feelings of delight from a job well done. And there is nothing more demotivating than a sense of powerlessness — you should demand from people only what you know they’re capable of.

Establish individual responsibility

By improving the KPI measurement system, you can define the level of involvement of each developer and set personal responsibility. Be precise in punishment. Don’t blame the team in general if one of the team members is to blame.

Support team growth

You shouldn’t be an excellent fellow to your team. You should be a wise manager who cares about the individual growth of each of your team members. Give them that incredible feeling of a well-done job as a team, and you’ll be surprised by a sharp increase in productivity.

Key takeaways

Being a company with 15 years of experience in building dedicated development teams of remote developers, we know how to arrange the most effective synergy with our offshore customer. Contact us for advice at any time & we are here to help you.

And the answer to the question of how to manage a software development team is very simple:

  • Communication – communicate wise and keep records of any dispositions you made.
  • Documentation – establish a reliable and proven documentation system, use it for any step of development.
  • Motivation – remember that your team is your greatest asset. Motivate wisely, punish individually, help your team grow and you’ll gain victory.


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