How To Handle the Time Zone Problem When Working with Outsourcing Software Development Teams
The time when the physical presence of all team members to effectively perform a common task has become stone age productivity. In this digital era, the Internet and other virtual means are gradually reducing the importance of real-time personal connections within a company. This is especially true in the case of modern work models like offshoring with a company scattering from ten to several thousand employees all over the world. Although these remote types of cooperation have gained extensive popularity, there are some crucial issues hindering maximum performance of joint work. One of the most widespread problems familiar to almost all offshore organizations is different the time zones when working with remote software development teams. In this article, we have collected a few valuable ideas regarding how to deal with these tricks of time and manage your strewn-around-the-world, in-house developers as if they work in a single office.
The Mastery Of Unity Even At A Distance
It is interesting to note global giants like IBM, Microsoft, Google have been practicing the offshoring model for a long time. How did they managed to unite their global teams in spite of the various time zones and become the world leaders? Here are some very effective methods proven by the big names in the offshore market:
Create A Time Zones Visual
First, you should have a clear image of who you cooperate with. Of course, you are not required to know the names and faces of all employees, but at least be aware of their geography. Even living on one continent, time zones can drastically vary. Your primary task is to remember this difference. It is better to keep this information in a visual form with amap on the wall showing specified time zones, a picture on your smartphone or another visual reminder. In addition, it is great to design an electronic version of map with time zones to share it with all employees. When time zones are visualized, you need to сhoose the main time zone determining deadlines, calls, reports, and other corporate events for keeping things coherent and in order.
Join Workers From Nearby Time Zones
When you know where your workers live, you can competently compose teams and assign tasks. It would be super to create a (dream) team consisting of members who live in one time zone or with minimum deviations like 1-2 hours. This way, teammates would be able to solve actual working issues together, distribute daily tasks, and most importantly, not cause delays or downtime.
For example, if a developer with UTC+06:00 finishes a task and passes it to a tester in the same time zone, he expects to receive a bug list in a short time. Otherwise, if the tester is in the time zone UTC−01:00, it causes serious downtime for the developer. The logic is clear: Unite the workers depending on each other in the approximate time zones.
Invest In In-Person Meetings
Large offshoring companies when looking for remote developers for a new project often organize an initial meeting with the hired candidates in their city or an agreed upon site. This is a brilliant opportunity for both employer and employees to establish positive communication, get acquainted with each other, learn various useful things about each other, and naturally, discuss the project in detail. During this meeting, all participants are able to create a roadmap of the project, think over its important features, brainstorm and share insights. Finally, they foster a sense of unity and belongingness to the company’s project.
Periodic meetings are recommended organized for your permanent workers, especially if you haven’t done this before.. Despite the fact these activities can be expensive, they can become one of the best investments in your corporate culture you make. In addition to joint fun, bi-annual events allow employees and employers to discuss the company’s strategy, goals, milestones, and other important topics. In this example, the work takes no more than 25% of the whole trip, while the rest of time is spent on entertainment and team games, walks and tasty food. As a result, all members get an intangible connection which is incredibly valuable, and is not easy to establish through the digital communication.
Visit Your Team Or Invite Them To Your Main Business Office
If your offshoring company works with employees from appropriate countries (two or three, or more bordering each other), it is a first-rate idea to visit your teams separately or arrange a meeting in a neutral territory near them. This business trip involves only the cost of your transportation and accommodation. Knowing you are going to visit their countries, your software development teams feel their importance, and your leadership becomes stronger.
However, if your company cooperates with thousands of workers globally, it is more economical and convenient to invite the top representatives to your main business office instead of visiting hundreds of cities yourself. Organize regular meetings with leaders (PMs, Tech Leads, other managers) of each teaml where you are able to discuss specific topics like the status of projects, the atmosphere in teams, and the relations with customers and global issues like quarterly results, immediate goals, the difficulties and obstacles encountered. This method helps you keep abreast of the latest news and give further instructions to your executives.
The power of daily calls is inestimable, especially for offshoring organizations with different time zones. Regular communications help people feel solidarity and establish the relationship, “I =Company.” Consequently, you maintain the spirit of camaraderie strengthening teamwork and the pursuit of common goals.
The calls allow compliance with manager reports who send them to other teammates. In this way, they avoid the loss of time and money due to misunderstandings. All you need is to create a universal schedule of calls with managers according to their time zones. If there is a difference of 12 hours, you can find at least one hour during the work day to conduct a short call. This is an old school method,but it still works and proves highly effective.
You Are The One Team
It is of no consequence where your software development teams are located if they show excellent results and high performance. Working in the office is not a guarantee of teamwork success. There is something more important determining how effective your efforts are called unity. One who has mastered unity is not concerned about time or distance. Foster a strong team spirit and make every worker a valued, appreciated part of the aggregate. That is how offshoring magic works!