If you’re thinking of hiring offshore developers, the very first thing you need to do is take a good look at your current company structure, then establish which skills required for the development of your product are missing. While it’s perfectly fine to go through this stage on your own, an outsider’s perspective can be a very valuable addition. Consider engaging a technical consultant who will run an independent assessment of your organizational structure, letting you know what type of tech professionals you require.
Once you’ve hired the right offshore developers, there are a number of preparatory steps you’ll need to take in order to make the most out of working with a remote team. These steps are listed below, and a more detailed offshore developer onboarding checklist is available in our guide to working with distributed teams, which you can download using the form on the right.
1. Try Working Away From the Rest of Your Team
If you’ve never worked with a remote team, or have never been a remote employee yourself, try working out of office for a week or two. You could work from home, a coworking space, or even set up shop at the nearest hipster cafe if you’re so inclined. This experience (which, by the way, was suggested by a client of ours in a recent interview) should give you a pretty good idea of what your communication with the offshore team is going to be like.
If you’ve never worked with a remote team, or have never been a remote employee yourself, try working out of office for a week or two.
If it isn’t already your corporate language, we’d also recommend getting used to communicating in English with your in-house team first, as English will most likely be the language you’ll use to talk to your offshore developers.
2. Prepare Your Requirements for the First Month
Starting a new job is always stressful. Don’t make your offshore developers feel even more disoriented than necessary by not being able to explain what you want from them.
Before their first day at work, make sure to clearly lay out the tasks that your remote team will be working on during their first month. Two weeks is the very minimum, but aim for more.
Before their first day at work, make sure to clearly lay out the tasks that your offshore team will be working on during their first month. Two weeks is the very minimum, but aim for more.
Don’t forget: nothing is as vital to success as explicit requirements and expectations. Make sure to clearly set out the expectations you have from the role and agree upon working hours and a schedule.
3. Assign an In-House Mentor/Team Lead
It’s crucial that you choose an in-house team member who will take good care of your remote developers. Depending on your company structure, this could be a project manager, a team lead, a senior developer, the company owner, or someone else entirely. This person will be responsible for setting and prioritizing tasks for the offshore team members, communicating with them on a daily basis, and answering all the countless questions that will inevitably pop up during their first few weeks of employment.
4. Get the Right Collaboration Tools
You may already have a list of favorite tools that your in-house team swears by. However, because of how heavily remote work depends on collaboration software, double-check that all the following tools are in place:
- A source code repository (GitLab, Github, or Bitbucket)
- A continuous integration tool (Jenkins, CircleCI, TeamCity, TravisCI — optional if your team is small)
- A task management tool (Trello, Jira, Asana, Redmine, Visual Studio Online)
- A video conferencing tool (Skype, GoToMeeting, Zoom, Hangouts, Slack, appear.in)
- A messenger application (Slack, Skype, HipChat, Telegram)
(More tools are listed in our offshore developer onboarding checklist. Below you will find the link)
To save the offshore team some time on their first workday, email your list of tools to them in advance so that they have enough time to install everything onto their workstations.
5. Update Documentation
You can obviously skip this step if you’ve been taking good care of your product documentation. But if you haven’t, now is the time to get it back on track. Your offshore developers will transition into their new roles much faster if they can consult up-to-date documentation at any time.
6. Develop a Communication Strategy
A well-planned and well-documented communication strategy is of paramount importance when it comes to the success of remote collaboration. If you don’t have one yet, make sure you’ve developed it by the time your offshore team joins you.
A well-planned communication strategy is of paramount importance when it comes to the success of remote collaboration.
Your communication strategy should incorporate a meeting schedule and the organizational structure of the whole company, or at least the department to which they will belong.
If you stick to Scrum, your meeting schedule will include daily, planning, backlog refinement, sprint review, and retrospective meetings.
If you follow a different process, you’ll still need to schedule meetings for planning and reviewing work, as well as for daily communication.
There are no universal solutions because each case is unique. If you have a large in-house development department that is already subdivided into smaller teams, it may be better to keep your offshore development team as an independent unit and then to sync their work with the other teams at a higher level. The Large Scale Scrum Framework (LeSS) or the Scaled Agile Framework (SAFe) are great options for teams with 30 members or more.
However, if you’re planning to hire just one offshore developer, you’ll want to integrate them into your core team as much as possible.
7. Change the Way You Think About Offshore Developers
It’s not uncommon to see offshore developers as some people from a faraway land who do menial tasks and fix minor bugs. But if you choose to stick to this way of thinking, you’ll rob yourself of all the creativity and innovation your remote engineers can bring to the table.
To make the most of offshore development, think of it as team extension rather than outsourcing. This mindset change is as important — if not more important — than all the steps mentioned above.
To make the most of offshore development, think of it as team extension rather than outsourcing.
Trust your remote team with real business problems — there’s nothing more motivating than feeling that what you do matters. If your offshore developers know that they’re as important for the success of your product as your in-house employees, the quality of their work will soar, and you’ll only benefit from that.
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