It's really hard to discuss software development with your team today without the word "outsourcing" pitched in every now and then. Offshoring software development was one of the many great ideas to have been born with globalization, and it has enabled non-tech companies to sharpen their tech skills without building the entire infrastructure for it.
However, outsourcing product development does give rise to a lot of skepticism. Amidst the numerous concerns related to offshore software development (like legal extent, IP theft etc.), communication has been the persistent complain. And it seems that it is a legit concern.
So, how exactly does software development outsourcing gets hindered by poor communication? Let's take a look at few scenarios:
- It is 9am in Washington and the day has just started for you. However, the team developing your product is sitting in Bangalore, India, where it is already 6.30 - the time to wrap up for the day. A mismatch of working hours means that at least one of the parties is not communicating from the office, and thus would hold the short end of the stick in the entire conversation.
- In a global world like ours, work could be delegated to anyone and anywhere. However, language is still a barrier that needs to be crossed. For effective communication, both parties involved must speak a common language. While this is generally accepted to be English, some nations like Russia, Japan and China prefer communicating in their own language. This limits the exchange of ideas.
- Sometimes, there is no alternative to face-to-face communication. Despite numerous communication channels today, ranging from instant textual to audio/visual, some hindrances still remain. Poor network connectivity induces lags, which make the conversation less effective.
- Lastly, the two teams need to work together in order to convey the needs, aspirations and requirements precisely. More than that, a certain level of synergy needs to be developed between the two groups. In cases of teams working thousands of miles away and communicating via mails, this is a distant dream.
But, not all hope is lost. Like any problem, these issues could also be solved with the right approach. These ideas might make outsourcing software development easier for you:
- If you dread the poor network connectivity you faced during a Skype call years ago, then your fears are baseless. The global internet speed has seen a continuous growth, and internet penetration is ever increasing. In USA, the internet speed jumped from 3.67mbps in 2007 to 18.75mbps in 2017. The global internet speed in 2017 alone saw an increase of 30%. It is safe to assume that daily video call with your software team wouldn’t be an issue today.
- Ask yourself, what else do you miss from the days when software development happened within the same building? Perhaps using someone's laptop to show how certain things are done? Well, that is possible today, even with people sitting miles away. The first way to do it is via Remote Logging, which allows a person to access someone else's system remotely. The second option is Screen Sharing, wherein you can see on your screen whatever the other person is seeing on his.
- Source control or Version control is a very popular way for programmers across the world to work on the same code. The repositories are hosted on cloud and can be accessed by people with the permissions. GitHub and GitLab are two of the most popular VCS, offering both public and private repositories.
- Knowledge Transfer sessions are not a new idea in the corporate world, or even in the software development cycle. However, you can try implementing the idea in case of software development outsourcing. A few onsite meetings with the offshore team can not only help the teams effectively transfer their ideas, but also build a synergy and coordination between them.
Communication might seem like the biggest obvious hurdle on the path of outsourcing anything, but technology seems to always provide an answer. The right tricks will avail you the same coordination and efficiency that an in-house team would have. It all depends on how you play it.