“Everything now, everything fast” is the way of a startup. It’s a race against competitors, what’s still interesting and getting users to care. Offshore engineering teams has become a popular solution for large corporations as well as startups — it’s an easy, cost-efficient way to get things done, right? Not so fast! Offshoring engineering teams can be a huge asset for your startup. But it comes with a sea of entirely new challenges.
Determining a source of truth.
“you need a reliable managing software development.” Before your about build anything. A project management and tool that works for both. For us, our “single source of truth,” is Jira, a software development and project management tool. Having a single source of truth also means there’s accountability. You’ll probably cringe at saying. “The date says due here and it’s not done,” but likely as a project manager you will.
You need a counterpart to offshore.
If you decide to focus on developing an autonomous team, you’ll need to hire the right senior person up front and then grow a team of more junior engineers. This senior person needs to be your trusty counterpart. Look to hire a self-starter, who has the right instincts to make decisions. You’ll want to empower the engineering team abroad. Just like you would if they were in the same office, to make things happen. Someone who needs approval from you for every small change will not be an effective use of their or your time, especially with a time difference.
It’s not as cost-effective as it look
You trade leaning over to tell the engineer next to you for the 100th time to “please stop blasting bassnectar!” with sending GIFs on Slack, which always run the risk of not getting the intended reaction. Additionally, if you want a team that really works together. You’ll need face time with both, meaning your overseas team should definitely meet with the U.S. team and your executive team should get used to cashing in some airline miles. Without meeting face-to-face at least once, you lose the ability to ensure the intangible “vibe” is right.
Treat them like you would in the office, make sure there’s an easy way to communicate to the other location or bring them to HQ. Between real-time messaging tools and mobile tools, it’s easy to bridge the physical distance, language and cultural barrier. Integration makes everything happen!
Expect a language barrier
Does this mean you should power up Duo-lingo? Not necessarily, but you will want to make sure there’s someone in your offshore office. That is proficient in both English and the local language. This person also needs to be in a manager role; otherwise, it will be more than code that’s lost in translation. I’m working with a Ukrainian development team right now, in addition to our U.S. engineering team. Am I going to learn Ukrainian overnight? No, but I’m very grateful for the engineering team lead over there who translates (I think) most of what I’m saying.