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Communicate with Your Outsourced Development Team for Better Results

by Ashley Zimmerman

So, you’ve finally selected your outsourced development team. That’s a great start, but now you’ve got to work with them. The hardest part with that is usually communicating. Success or failure depends on the ability to communicate effectively with your development teams. This is especially true when your dev team is located in a different location and different culture. That doesn’t mean that you made a bad choice in outsourcing. It just means that you might need to focus on some of these tips to communicate effectively. Communicating effectively means communicating with the best possible tools. It also means communicating with patience and attention.

Effective Use of Tools

Development teams can be outsourced in the first place because there are great communication tools out there. However, not enough people effectively use these tools. This has contributed greatly to the negative reputation of outsourcing as a practice and outsourced teams as people. Using these tools effectively means learning more about the tools that you use as well as looking into tools that you don’t use at the moment.

If you found your outsourced team through a platform, chances are that that platform gives you some decent communication tools like messaging and video chat. This is a good place to start but these tools are usually only effective for communicating with one person at a time. Sometimes, communicating with the leader of an outsourced development team is enough. Other times, however, you will want to communicate with the entire outsourced development team. This is especially true if you handpicked a development team rather than hiring a single team.

Slack is a tool that allows real-time messaging between a large number of people. You can also sort messages with different chatrooms and different tags and filters. You can also share files over it making them available to everyone in a method more efficient than that allowed through collaborative document services like Google Drive and Microsoft OneDrive.Managing outsourced projects

Skype is a pretty good option for video chatting, especially now that they’ve added multiple screens for video chatting with multiple people at once. However, it’s not the only video communication tool out there. Other services allow other tools like screen sharing, though sometimes more advanced services like this can cost more money. Finding the right video chatting tool may take some shopping around.

Finally, Trello is a great content management software that allows multiple users to create, label, and comment on cards that they can move from one category to another. It also allows you to share links, set deadlines, assign owners to cards, and more. This tool can be a great way of keeping track of progress, especially if you have more than one project underway at a time.

Opening Multiple Channels of Communication

Having the communication technology isn’t enough, you have to use it. Having regular meetings, at least once per month, with as many team members as possible is important. Different projects differ and progress at different paces and have different levels of specialization. As a result, you should work with your outsourced development team to determine what kind of meeting frequency is appropriate.

You should also have many potential channels of communication. A video call once a week and a tool like Trello or Slack is a good start but all communication options should be made available to everyone involved. That means communication tools like those discussed above, as well as email addresses and work phones.

Encourage Developers to Ask Questions

Communicating effectively is about more than just knowing how to communicate. You also need to know what to communicate.

Communication with an outsourced development team is a two-way street, just like with any other team. When you work with an offshore team, in addition to the role of client sometimes you take the role of a coach too, because cultural differences and power dynamics can play a huge role in your communications. That means making sure that your outsourced team knows that they are allowed and encouraged to ask questions.

There might be cultural barriers preventing developers from being willing to ask questions. Encourage them to ask questions at every opportunity. And provide good responses to those questions. After you have given your answer, make sure that your development team understands your answer and ask if they need any terms clarified. This may seem tedious, but the more terms you have in common, the more efficient your ongoing communication will become.

Many offshore developers tend not to question clients and supervisors naturally. A little nudge might be required.  This is especially true when it comes time to say no. Many developers find it hard to say No as result your expectations and deliverables may not match.

Your team may be afraid to tell you that they can’t do something that you have asked with the available time and resources. This can be frustrating, but it is best to get an honest response like this as soon as possible. It is better to hear that your outsourced development team can’t do something so that you can adjust your plan than it is to expect something that they can’t deliver and find out last minute. Explaining this to your outsourced development team early in the process can help to ensure that you get accurate information promptly.

This is where you can get your development team to ask questions. Be sure that they understand that you want them to ask questions to be sure that everyone is on the same page. Questions shouldn’t be seen as criticism or as evidence of uncertainty. They should be seen as assurances that you are getting the development team everything that they need to get you everything that you need.

Understand Language Differences

You should also be aware that if your development team was outsourced from another country, the language might be different. That’s even true if you outsourced a team from another country that shares your language. This is because expressions, slang, and syntax might be different.

Instead of insisting that your developers “speak your language” ask them to repeat or explain things that you didn’t understand. Be sure that your developers know that they are invited to do the same with you.

One thing that can help is to ask your developers to repeat what you want after you’ve told them something to be sure that they got it right. This can seem childish or aggressive so be sure that your developers understand why you are doing it. It’s not because you doubt their abilities, it’s because you want to make sure that you were communicating what you wanted to communicate. Once again, it helps if you invite your development team to do the same for you. This can be a great way for you and your team to learn about each other’s jobs as well as each other’s languages.

Don’t Assume Anything

Language is something that we’re usually very confident with. As a result, when language changes are introduced, it can be important not to assume anything. You also shouldn’t allow your development team to assume anything.

A surprisingly small amount of communication should go toward initial descriptions of what you want. Much more of your communication should go toward making sure that everyone understands what they are doing and that everything is going as planned.

Make Sure Developers Understand Requirements

You shouldn’t only be sure that the development team understands what you want, they should also understand why you want it. You don’t need to understand every aspect of development to make decisions but when developers understand virtually every aspect of your business that can make better development decisions.

This kind of relationship is important for when developers need to make executive decisions about your project.


As mentioned above, you don’t need to know every aspect of the development project, but you need to listen closely to everything that your developers say and understand it as well as possible.

Your project is like your car, and the developers are like your mechanic. The project is your project, and you need it to get to where you want to go. And it will provide that you trust the experts on how to keep it running. Your level of involvement may vary based on your background, time, and interests. Maybe you don’t even know how to change the oil. Maybe you could take the engine apart and put it back together yourself if only you had the time. Either way, keeping the project going isn’t your job – you’ve trusted it to your developers. Their word on development measures should be the last word provided they are doing everything in their power to meet your needs on your timeline with your budget. This means you’ve got to listen to them.

There can be a lot of obstacles to effectively communicating with your outsourced development team. Given the other benefits of outsourcing, however, you shouldn’t pass up on the opportunity just because of communication complications.

To make the most of your team, you will need to make the most of communication. That means understanding your business, their business, available communication tools, and appropriate communication rules of etiquette.

If you are considering outsourcing a software project get this Due Diligence List

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