Outsourcing is a great thing for your company if you need help, can’t afford IT experts to work full time, or can’t afford developers in your country. But what happens when time zone differences come between you and your outsourcing partner? Is the time zone necessarily a bad thing? Or could it contribute to continuity of your business and increase its productivity?
If your outsourcing partner company is located in a country on the other side of the planet, continuity in your work could increase. US and Indian companies, being the most common outsourcing partners, have a significant advantage over the time zone difference. When the workday in the US is done, it is about to begin in India. This follow-the-sun model can contribute to you and your company.
Round-the-clock work is excellent, but how to keep a quality communication and manage a business in two or more different time zones? Real-time dialog is possible, but also rather complicated. Working in teams spread around different time zones adds up complexity and complications to necessary information. If an offshore company needs feedback from the partner to pursue its work, a lot of time could be wasted here. Otherwise, if the offshore company continues working on their own, and in the end doesn’t satisfy the partner, rework must happen. Both wasted time and rework cost money.
The key for productive collaboration with the offshore partners is communication.
Good organization and team management skills are required to deal with this problem. Making sure that your team and the offshore team are collaborative, have a good connection and are both engaged in work can help you overcome the time zone obstacle.
Deadlines should always be respected, carefully thought and managed with availability. Make sure to be aware of your team’s competencies and their work pace. For example, if the offshore team finishes faster than expected, always be ready to give them further instructions and not waste time.
Make sure to respect the time of your offshore partner. If they send you an email, try to respond as soon as possible. Only then you can expect them to do the same, and therefore keep up. Try to address every possible detail you think would be important. This can prevent further questioning and emails and therefore, save time. But also try to be concise while doing so; writing too much information can be confusing and lead to misunderstandings.
Communication should always be done through established channels. Even though you and your offshore partners are in different time zones, there will always be some overlapping timings. In the world connected by the Internet, communication could be implemented in various ways.
Programs like Slack, Skype, and Google+ have been made to help us “shrink the globe” and keep the international communication as fluid as possible. Online video meetings with your development team and your offshore partners are highly recommended. Try not to make these meetings boring or have them too often, since then they won’t be as effective, and you will waste time. Depending on the project and projects current status, you should organize how often should the meetings be held.
The software we used to communicate through the relatively great distances is TeamSpeak. The program is very easy to use, has high security standards, excellent voice quality, and low system and bandwidth usage. You can divide it into different chat-rooms and, therefore, have several meetings at the same time in the same place without interruptions in between.
Depending on how large your team is, or how large the team of your offshore partner is, everyone should always be aware of whom to contact in which situation. Having a single point of contact in your group and expecting that from your offshore squad can lead to gaps and complications. Have one person in charge of leading the communication, not doing it directly between two teams. Knowing each other‘s teams well, who is in charge of what and who can give you the information you need can save up time and bypass misunderstandings. You can achieve this through proper online meetups and team building.
With different time zones come different countries, and with different countries come different cultures. Cultural barrier between the teams should be overcome, and both teams should be on the same page. Tolerance, understanding and respect of both teams can put cultural differences to the minimum. Integration of the offshore members to the team is crucial. Setting the right environment and conditions for all of your workers as a team can help increase productivity.
When availability, respect, good communications, and management are put together, only then your work cycle with the offshore partner can be productive.