How to deal with a time zone difference in software development offshoring
Outsourcing IT projects offers cost savings and skill diversification, but challenges like time zone differences require clear requirements, communication strategies, regular meetings, and trust in the team for successful collaboration.
Companies are increasingly choosing to outsource their IT projects to different countries. It allows them to both save money since the development costs differ depending on the country and complete more projects as they can quickly gain new skills which their in-house team doesn’t possess. The list of advantages of outsourcing your IT projects is long. However, there are some disadvantages, too. One is the time zone difference when your company, the outsourced IT specialists and sometimes your clients live in three different time zones. It may often cause unwanted delays and problems with communication, which then lead to project failure. Luckily, there are ways to deal with a time zone difference in software development outsourcing and thus ensure a long-lasting partnership with the outsourced team.
1. Set clear requirements When working in different countries and time zones, it is best to write clear project management documentation to ensure all parties are on the same page and have one corresponding solution vision. The most important aspects of work that should be written down are the source codes, which should be standard for all development teams to ensure seamless cooperation and further development of the software, as well as tasks assigned to each IT specialist. Setting precise requirements speeds up the overall workflow, as everyone will know what to do.
2. Visualise overlap hours What may be difficult in software development outsourcing is remembering the time difference, especially when you need an update or advice from the other team as soon as possible while they could be sleeping. Visualising overlapped hours and using shared calendars on a day-to-day basis eases the process. You can use online tools such as World Clock meeting planner or, like us, a more traditional version, which is hanging several clocks with different hours in the office. It allows us to learn the time difference by heart in a short period. Another thing to remember is local holidays; not discussing them upfront may cause communication problems, which lead to project failure.
3. Set up communication channels All the teams which are dedicated to one project, not just when outsourcing, should establish one communication channel at an early stage of working. Sending updates via emails and then setting up a video conference on Skype while the other team uses Slack to update others on their progress is confusing and, more importantly, slows down the entire software development process. With just one communication channel on board, you can easily track changes and updates and, more importantly, sum up the whole cooperation once the software solution is released. Such an insight allows you to detect and solve communication problems and thus grow as a business.
4. Fix regular meetings upfront Because of the time difference, setting up unexpected meetings may often be difficult, so it is recommended to set regular meetings upfront. It can be a quick update once a day or a more extended conversation once a week. However, remember to choose the time wisely. When setting up a meeting too early in the morning or too late in the evening, not all IT specialists engaged in the project can participate. Perfect hours for meetings are from 10 AM to 4 PM local time. Following the Agile methodology also helps, as it assumes organising daily meetings called Scrums.
5. Use project management tools Similarly to establishing just one communication channel, choosing one project management tool can be equally beneficial. Sometimes, sending a file is necessary for everyone to track changes quickly, and when editing this file, uploading multiple versions is not only time-consuming but also causes chaos. However, if the project is not complex, robust project management software solutions are not required. Various cloud tools, including Google Disc, enable its users to work collaboratively on one file which can be easily updated. There is also no need to notify the rest of the team about the update. The introduced changes will be automatically visible in the cloud.
6. Trust your team The most important thing when outsourcing your IT project is to choose specialists wisely. Low development costs may be tempting, but they are, unfortunately, often a result of the lack of experience or necessary skills, which may easily cause a project to fail. Once you find a reliable software development company, trust them. Tracking their every step is both time-consuming and highly inefficient. Instead of fully committing to the project, developers will shift their focus to reporting progress made. To speed up the process, always provide your team with some other tasks upfront to avoid moments when they do not know what to do next. By trusting IT specialists and regularly giving them other jobs, you will increase their productivity.
Outsourcing your IT project to Poland
According to HackerRank, Poland scores as having the third most talented developers out of 50 countries across the globe. Our programmers are both skilled and experienced. However, hard skills themselves do not ensure project success. What makes Poland a great IT outsourcing partner is our soft skills, which enable smooth cooperation and our time zone. There is only a 1-hour difference between Poland and the UK, which makes setting up both regular and unexpected meetings easy.
Nowadays, software development outsourcing is becoming increasingly popular, which comes as no surprise, given the overall costs and skills of outsourced IT specialists. One of the things that might be difficult to overcome in these projects is the time difference, but trying different tools and communication channels will improve the collaboration and ensure efficient project management.
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