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  5 Tips for Successful Offshore Development
by Brian M. McCutcheon

Offshore Development can provide excellent value for the money, because highly qualified software engineers are available in more economical parts of the world. But how do you know what you're getting when you contract for services provided halfway around the world? Will you get what you're paying for, and how will you integrate offshore development capabilities into your overall system development strategy?

While each situation is unique, you can apply some common strategic guidelines as you consider an offshore development initiative.
  1. Choose the Right Work for Offshore Development
    When contracting offshore work, the work should be well defined, with a distinctly separable scope. Offshore work be conducted in a different place and time zone. The more interdependent the work is with your other efforts, the more you will need to invest in coordination logistics, to ensure that the result meets your business needs.
  2. Find the Right Skills
    Be as specific as possible when defining software tools and technology requirements. Ensure that qualified engineers will be assigned to your project. Understand the level of experience your offshore development partner brings to this type of work.
  3. Bridge the Right Gaps in Understanding
    Your in-county and offshore team members will live in two very different worlds, and will often have completely different perceptions of their contribution to your success. While different perspectives are common in engineering circles, they are further exaggerated by cultural and linguistic differences. Your opportunity to resolve potential misunderstandings will be challenged by different time zones and, at times, by limitations in communications facilities. To be successful, you will need to carefully “choose your battles,” to determine which understandings must be kept in sync, as well as areas in which to live with multiple realities.
  4. Channel Communications
    Normal day-to-day coordination should be channeled through appropriate individuals both in-country and offshore. The logistics of coordination often require off-hour, and occasionally unconventional, work patterns. They also require sensitivity to the different cultures in which your in-county and offshore teams live.
  5. Reserve Judgments and Get to the Real Issues
    In coordinating offshore development, one of the biggest pitfalls lies in jumping to conclusions. Communication entropy often reigns, with all communications tending toward misunderstanding. It is important to reserve judgment and work at understanding what it actually happening. As a counterbalance, you should also satisfy yourself that a possible misunderstanding is exactly that. Even with the best of software engineers assigned to your offshore development team, there will still be real issues to resolve.

To learn more about how our international business services can help you tap the benefits of offshore development, contact SoftReach Services in the U.S. at (408) 846-8184 or e-mail brian.mccutcheon@SoftReachServices.com.


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