It’s normal to feel a bit hesitant about collaborating with outsourcing partners.
Although you know you are getting the most cost-efficient deal possible, you still have to make sure that you are organized and that lines of communication are open between you and your future partner.
Once you have decided that collaborating with freelancers or project outsourcing companies represents the best value for taking on your extra work and meeting deadlines, it’s time to position yourself for success.
To do this, you need to pay attention to the five biggest obstacles in managing an outsourced team:
- Time Zone Differences
- Culture Differences
- Work Ethics
- Language Barriers
All of these potential obstacles are related to one another – and all of them can be resolved if you plan ahead for them.
Dealing with Project Management and Collaboration Obstacles
Importantly, the obstacles listed above can get in the way of successfully completing projects even when dealing with highly professional project outsourcing companies. You may be working with the best WordPress or Ruby on Rails developers on the planet, but if communication breaks down, they will be unable to do their job to your satisfaction. This requires a deep level of organization, as BPO consultant Patrick Keegan points out.
Let’s run through some of these elements and identify the best way to prepare for them so that your outsourcing team has the best chance to exceed your expectations every time you need it.
1. Location, Location, Location:
The realtor’s famous mantra applies to work with outsourcing companies just as much as it does to real estate. In fact, many of the other problems of outsourcing can be drawn back to this one issue – where is your outsourcing partner located?
For American companies, project outsourcing companies based in the US represent a clear advantage. However, these companies tend to be expensive and may already have a full plate of work on their table when you contact them.
Outsourcing to companies in another Anglophone country (Australia, the United Kingdom, South Africa, or Nigeria, among others) is an option but generally leads to the same situation.
In looking for better rates and more availability, you will quickly find yourself led to countries like India, where outsourcing opportunities are plentiful but need to undergo greater scrutiny.
2. Time Zone Differences:
If you’re working with an agency in another time zone, you need to be sure that you set specific workday hours for communication, and agree on them beforehand.
Working with an agency halfway across the world means that your workday ends as soon as theirs starts. You won’t find anyone willing to work 24/7 for you, so you’ll need to make sure your hours align somehow or risk meeting your deadlines simply due to a communication backlog.
One way companies overcome this issue is by having a trusted senior-level employee work alongside the outsource team – perhaps even visiting them in their country on a regular basis to keep work moving along at a steady pace.
3. Culture Differences:
Unlike time zone differences, cultural differences can be subtler. You may not be aware that your outsource partner is working along the wrong lines until you have a (semi-) finished deliverable that needs extensive revisions to actually pass your quality expectations.
Take, for instance, a typical e-commerce store – an Indian web developer may assume that e-commerce customers pay Cash on Delivery (C.O.D) for goods purchased online because that is common in India. That developer wouldn’t know that nobody uses C.O.D in the United States – and you wouldn’t expect to have to say so, since American consumer culture moved on from C.O.D decades ago.
4. Varying Work Ethics:
Tying together time zone and cultural differences, work ethics change from place to place. You may ask for revisions on a particular piece of work and be surprised by how long it takes. You expect small revisions to be completed in less than a day, but your outsourcing partner may put revisions on the backburner in order to complete other tasks, leaving your project in limbo for up to a week.
Again, clear and concise communication can prevent this problem, but you have to know what to ask for and preemptively express your expectations.
5. Language Barriers:
Language barriers exist even when working between countries that share an official language. Even different American dialects can be difficult to discern from one another when you’re dealing with business-critical terminology. This multiplies when dealing with partners for whom English is a second language.
The main issue with language barriers is that you may believe you are being perfectly understood and then find out later that in fact, your partner had a completely different idea in mind.
How to Resolve the Problems of Outsourcing
Since all of these issues are interrelated, solving them is surprisingly simple.
What you need to do is find an outsourcing partner that offers the service of a US-based decision-making platform with a remote team that performs the work at competitive rates. You should favor outsourcing agencies over individual freelancers, since agencies offer better assurance that the work will get done even despite unexpected circumstances, such as sick leave or personal issues.
This is the way UnlimitedWP operates – the “combo shore model” wherein our US-based headquarters communicates with you from our Boston, Massachusetts office and gets your work finished by a world-class team of Indian developers.
This bypasses the five above mentioned outsourcing challenges because your project manager takes on the responsibility of communicating your project’s details to the team.
As an added bonus, with UnlimitedWP you enjoy direct access to our project management platform, allowing for 24/7 monitoring of team performance. You can always find out exactly how your project is going – just log into the web portal and watch our team building each component of your complete web experience from the ground up.
UnlimitedWP is a web development agency that specializes in Comboshore outsourcing. Our Boston-based office takes the lead in managing your project with a remote team of highly skilled Indian developers, passing the savings on to you.