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Working efficiently with offshore colleagues

by Eamonn McMahon Today I'm going to talk a little on how we manage our tech team overseas. At EquipmentConnect we arefully committed to building a British business with local resources but sometimes it proves necessary to recruit talent overseas. As you can imagine, directing a tech 'build-out' at a startup is already quite challenging, and to many, coordinating with an offshore team might seem an additional unnecessary hassle, but with the right plan this challenge becomes an asset. Below I will outline some points that helped us make this experience a success and that have enabled us to pick the best offshore people to work with.
  1. Vet for communication skills: English is quite widespread but sometimes it's hard for offshore colleagues to pick up on nuances. In my experience I notice a strong correlation between communication skills and performance. The best communicators usually do the best job.
  2. Consider cultural differences: In many countries, there does seem to be a tendency to avoid giving negative responses. It's important to understand which 'Yes' actually means Yes! and which mean a conversation in two weeks while you are communicating, for thing to go smoother. There is no clear guideline, it's a matter of understanding and experience.
  3. Prevent high turnover: Good engineers tend to rise very fast and they often get offers from other competing companies. Make sure to account for that. A strong and open relationship will help mitigate this turnover.
  4. Time difference: This can be a good thing, because there is work being done while you are sleeping, but also calls for greater planning skills, since you need to make sure that there are no 'dead times' where you are waiting on each other.
  5. Build a global infrastructure: Drop emails and Skype; they are a thing of the past. We use Slack to stay in constant communication have calls, and share screenshots or code snippets that needs review.
  6. Use solid metrics: This goes without saying but give your team access to your GitHub and review the code before merging. In this way it's quite easy to see who is doing most of the job and assess the quality of the job.
  7. Have regular meeting: Frequent meetings are vital when you are working separately, especially for your offshore colleagues. It's important to make them feel part of the team and engage them in the business.
  8. Consider how to pay them: This might seem superficial, but for a start up, sending money overseas can involve logistical headaches . Setting up a business account on a payment service can take as long as two to three weeks and often afull formal invoice for each payment is required. We recently tried several providers including TransferWise, Western Union butfound Azimo best.Great support and efficiency. Kudos to them.
To conclude, there are many factors to be consideredif you decide to work with people overseas but with the right precautions and planning, adding offshore expertise will be a worthwhile endeavour.

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