08 Aug 2019

Remote Collaboration: How to Bridge the Gap Between Your Team and External Developers.

Outsourcing has already long ago stopped being just a way of reducing company expenses. Today, it’s used in various forms to deal with a variety of business obstacles, such as long-term capacity issues, lack of talent in the local market, and the immediate or temporary need to increase the size of your team. It’s no surprise then that, according to the State of Software Development Report, 52.5% of companies have at least partially outsourced their software development [1].

In fact, if planned and executed well, your outsourcing strategy can provide you with a significant competitive advantage. But to achieve that, you need to stop treating the remote cooperation as merely outsourcing – and start thinking about it as a partnership.

 

Think about Your Needs but Let the Remote Partner Help You Out

The first step towards building mutual trust is to show your future business partner that you value their team’s expertise. And it’s not without benefits. Often, the needs cited by higher management when hiring a remote team are different than the actual most effective solutions for the project.

By staying open to the recommendations and feedback of the remote development team both in the beginning as well as during the actual work on your project, you can benefit from their experience while establishing a relationship based on trust and openness. The latter can have a huge impact on the satisfaction remote developers have working with your company.

 

Build the Right Team

Naturally, discussing your project needs is just one of the things that you can do. To ensure smooth cooperation between your in-house team and external developers, look for a company that allows you to choose the right team model right from the start. This makes managing the project and responsibilities much easier and more effective.

Even better if they can help you make the right choice – especially if it’s the first time you’re looking to extend the team. Working with an experienced software house that understands different team management needs of various businesses makes bridging the gap a lot easier, and having a suitable team model will have a positive impact on the cooperation in the long-run.

 

Be in Control but Don’t Be Afraid to Delegate the Responsibilities

Staying open to feedback and tips doesn’t mean you should transfer full control of the project over to your remote partner. But allowing an experienced team to drive the whole development can be extremely beneficial. Of course, the level of control that you give them will depend on the scope of the project and your expectations. If you choose to go the task-outsourcing route, you’ll need to do a lot more work on your end to keep the project going compared to letting the company take full responsibility for it; same goes for future development processes.

In fact, allowing the external company to run the whole project is the most effective solution if you are looking to establish a long-term partnership. This is also a time when your in-house and external teams can integrate the most. At Software Mind, we let our partners choose how deep they want us to participate in the project.

 

Based on our experience, the more both parties are engaged, the higher the quality of the outcome. Engagement connects the two teams and extends the lifespan of cooperation beyond the shrinking 5-year industry average [2].

 

Reach Out to Your Remote Partner

If you want to take your cooperation with a team of remote software developers to the next level, don’t be afraid to reach out to them first. Instead of quietly waiting for the results, ask them how your team can help them on the in-house part.

This can not only speed up the work and improve the end result, but can also help build stronger relationships between the individual employees of the two companies.

Speaking of which ….

 

Remember Your In-House Workforce

Making the most of outsourcing and effectively bridging the gap means preparing your regular employees for that cooperation too. Introduce them to the idea of cooperation, explain to them why you need a remote team, and define their responsibilities towards their external partners in a clear manner.

Similarly, address any uncertainties and fears – especially those regarding potential layoffs or reorganization. Failing to head off any negativity could make your internal employees sabotage the whole cooperation (even unwittingly) by trying to show that you don’t really need an external team.

Instead, show them that their new remote partners are no different than they are – the only difference is that they might be working in different countries and time zones.

 

And Treat Your External Team the Same Way You’d Treat Your In-House Team

Help them feel equal. Treat your external team as a direct extension and partner of your in-house team. Give them the same level of feedback you’d give to people working with you internally.

Double-check if the delegated project has clear requirements and that they’re prepared in the same way you’d prepare them for your in-house team members. Showing mutual respect and treating both teams equally is the key to integrating them and ensuring fruitful cooperation.

 

Give Them Time

Don’t expect your internal and external teams to click right away. It might take some time before the external team learns and understands the core values of your company, and before your internal team gets used to delegating part of the work, managing the project remotely, and exchanging feedback.

Other ways to speed up the integration process include holding regular meetings or videoconferences, inviting both parties to reassess project goals, commenting on cooperation, and looking for ways to improve collaboration. All these things help bridge yet another gap on the way to an effective business partnership. And by showing openness, trust, and most importantly, commitment, not only can you bring both teams closer together, but also build a solid foundation for long-term cooperation – an especially important factor to consider should the current market situation suddenly become volatile [3].

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Tomasz Misiak
General Manager
Considering a big digital transformation? Establishing a shared services center? Shoot me an email.
Tomasz Gunia
Business Development Manager
Is IT outsourcing on the horizon for you? If so, let's discuss your needs.
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