The traditional outsourcing model uses a fixed price or SLA as a basis to manage the relationship between the people onshore and offshore. The agreement is based on result. In global staffing, the agreement is based on effort and availability. This means that the outsourcer doesn’t have a deadline, service level or fixed requirement to move a project to an end. The management methods are more similar to having internal or external staff in the local office . But the distance, culture and time differences create some challenges.
I will discuss 6 governance habits that are crucial to success when managing an offshore or nearshore team directly. The perspective here is to provide onshore managers with the right tools.
1. Assign 1 project manager
In many cases, each project has a different project manager. In a local setting, this may work well, as people know eachother and work in the same office. But with an offshore team, this is different. The offshore team empathizes with the person and his way of communicating. This creates trust and familiarity and leads to higher productivity and quality. Ideally, only one project manager is responsible for communicating with one offshore team and this relation stays.
2. Assign a process manager
The process manager looks at the cooperation with the offshore team from a ‘distance’. He is not involved in the project itself, but looks at the communication process and the development process. This person can also overlook different projects and project managers. Ideally, he talks to the offshore project and process manager every week in a fixed weekly meeting.
3. Reporting structure to top management
Last week, I discussed this with one of our customers. He had hired an operational manager who would be responsible for the cooperation with our nearshore programmers. The CEO was not involved in the cooperation for over 6 months as he had delegated the responsibility to the operational manager. The same case applied to myself. We both didn’t have the right reporting structure to stay informed and updated about the things that went well or not well. It is important that the process manager reports to top management on a weekly basis, so everybody stays informed.
4. Create support from the entire onshore team
It is important that the senior management invests time to communicate the long term benefits of offshoring and get everybody to support that strategy. If there are people that see their global colleagues as a threat or have other negative thoughts about it, they may obstruct the cooperation. By addressing this and involving people in the decision and the roadmap, everybody can get engaged.
5. Honest and open feedback in meetings
I am a big fan of organizing daily and weekly (skype) meetings on a fixed day and time. It is important that in these meetings, people feel comfortable giving honest and open feedback. Often, things that went wrong are not communicated in order not to offend each other. If the good things are celebrated and the bad things are accepted as an opportunity to learn, the team will get better every day. This is something that can be stimulated actively by the managers in the meeting.
6. Regular checkup with the initial expectations
When the honeymoon starts, it’s important to express and document all expectations. As I discussed with the same CEO mentioned above, we took the workshop that we did before the start out of our drawers. And concluded that every ingredient to make the cooperation a success was written down. But somewhere along the road, we had deviated. And we hadn’t checked up on that initial workshop document frequently enough. By reviewing the expectations and intentions on a monthly basis, there are more opportunities to apply the correct behaviors.
If these 6 habits are part of the cooperation, you can create an offshore team that acts like ‘colleagues’, becomes part of your organization and creates value on the long term.