How to Ensure Effective Outsourcing Communication?

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How to Ensure Effective Outsourcing Communication?

And Stay Happy With Cooperation

Written by:

YanContent Marketing Lead

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14 min read

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Foreword

When you research IT outsourcing, you will definitely have a question on how to establish proper communication with a vendor. This is of no surprise, you worry about your project outcomes and don’t want to waste money on something that will turn disastrous (So don’t we).

We perfectly understand your concern. You are not alone with it as 21% of the Upcity 2022 survey respondents named communication the biggest challenge in working with an outsourced team.

For this reason, we’re here today. Exactly to dispel your doubts and demonstrate how to establish solid and transparent outsourcing communication with your chosen vendor to get exactly what you want from your collaboration. Intrigued? Great, read on.

First to mention, reputable vendors take this burden off your shoulders. They cherish their reputation and thus make it their responsibility to provide you with a flawless experience. So, it’s safe to say that the best and most cost-effective way to establish great communication is to choose a trusted provider.

Using our example, we will introduce you to the backstage of outsourcing from a provider’s viewpoint and tell what’s important for us in the relationship with Clients and the work of the teams. This will help you figure out the process and establish solid communication faster.

13 Best Practices for Building Effective Outsourcing Communication

1. Ensuring everyone’s clear about expectations

For successful outsourcing communication (and collaboration), it’s vital to shape clear and realistic expectations and ensure the outsourced team members understand them correctly.

The more specific and clear they are at the beginning, the lower the chances of dealing with misunderstandings later.

A reliable outsourcing partner realizes that it takes two to tango, and thoroughly participates in working out realistic and measurable expectations based on their experience and practice.

Here’s how we start cooperation with our Clients

1. First our business development team contacts you for a quick introductory call to understand the project needs better.

2. Upon your request, we sign an NDA to ensure an exceptional privacy standard.

3. We thoroughly evaluate your requirements and offer a preliminary solution (estimates, CVs, timelines, etc.)

4. It’s only after you approve it that we start delivering.

This way as you can see, we give the highest importance to developing clear expectations and start discussing your requirements right from the start (and proceed only after it satisfies both parties).

2. Making sure that the team members have sufficient language skills

By default, outsourcing communication is carried out in English, making its fluent command a must for your outsourced team members. Theoretically, this could be any other language you and your software development vendor agree on, but it doesn’t change things a lot.

A reliable outsourcing provider will ensure that their team members speak intermediate to proficient English, any additional language being a plus.

How We Do It

All our staff throughout the offices speak English, some natively. Besides, we have a lot of teachers to constantly maintain and improve our employees’ language skills. All of this creates a culture with a very high English command at SENLA.

3. Establishing communication channels early

Once the contract is signed, responsible providers discuss with their clients how they will keep in touch.

Another great benefit of choosing such a company is that it already has an established and proven communication algorithm that you can put in action right away. However, reputable vendors always ask their clients about their preferable communication channels. If there is such, they will utilize it to, again, present their clients with exceptional service and keep them satisfied.

How We Do It

At the very beginning of our cooperation with Clients, we develop a negotiation plan that is laid out in an SLA. There we unambiguously lay out communication channels for development projects and communication channels with response time for maintenance projects.

4. Setting different channels for different needs

Once you’ve decided on your outsourcing communication channels, a good practice is to assign one channel for each type of information exchange and follow this rule.

For instance, you may agree to use email for sending/receiving reports, Google Meet for video conferences, and Slack for quick questions.

This will allow both teams to avoid getting unnecessarily distracted from work — for instance, when they get an email they needn’t answer immediately — and, therefore, be more productive.

How We Do It

As for SENLA, we don’t limit ourselves with only digital channels for ensuring the success of a project. If there’s a need, our experts visit Clients’ locations. For instance, when we were developing a hardware and software complex for one of our Clients — one of the largest oilfield service companies — the team visited their office to study the nuances and peculiarities of each part.

5. Sharing access to project management tools

Emails, reports, and online meetings are great, yet top outsourcing vendors also give their clients access to their project management tools.

These tools provide them with extra peace of mind — greatly simplifying tracking progress — and help them feel in control over the processes.

Moreover, the tools save a lot of time — checking the platform out can answer the client’s question, removing the need to arrange a call or write another email, effectively improving outsourcing communication.

How We Do It

We give high value to solid project management and for this reason, we’ve accumulated more than 5000 mandays of development in different project management methodologies and tools including but not limited to Jira, Confluence, Trello, MS Project and others. If you want to learn more about our proficiency and receive our company skills matrix, just schedule a call with our experts, and they will be happy to assist you.

6. Choosing a proper time gap management strategy

Time zone differences might seem like a challenge for effective outsourcing communication, but with a reliable provider they are absolutely not. A trusted software development company will organize work in a way to make it maximally smooth for their clients from any part of the world.

Here’s our practice.

How We Do It

We have offices in multiple geographies including Poland, Croatia, Israel, the UK and Georgia. To comfortably work with any overseas offices of our Clients — such as the ones in the USA, Australia or Japan — we have two scenarios:

1. We ask our developers to shift their working hours to fully coincide with those of our Client. It’s easily carried out given the fact that our staff has a flexible schedule. This way, there’s no gap at all and all work is carried out live.

2. We plan mandatory meetings during overlapping hours to assess the completed work, plan it further and resolve any issues if they arise.

Time zone difference has its benefits — meetings are arranged only in case there’s a real need and during them, the teams focus on meeting objectives, minimizing distractions by secondary issues.

7. Optimizing time and effort

A lot of businesses that outsource software development want to reduce micromanagement. We perfectly understand that and, throughout our practice, have developed a communication system that proved effective in this view for a lot of our Clients. Here’s how it works:

How We Do It

1. A senior developer, responsible for a team, becomes a communication hub with a Client: the person resolves all internal issues without their involvement and only reports project-critical information: sprints results, demos, planning etc.

2. For larger-scale projects, we can share these responsibilities among dedicated project, delivery and customer success managers. A PM manages all technical project aspects, a DM ensures that all deadlines are met, code commits are complete and the quality corresponds to discussed levels. A CSM intertwines the entire project to make sure everything goes as planned and solves problems of any kind if they arise both from our and a Client’s sides.

3. Developers are still present on meetings in case there’s a need to ask them directly

Such an approach allows us to fully overtake routine project ruling, significantly reducing micromanagement of our Clients and thus helping them devote more time to their business-critical tasks.

8. Determining the frequency of meet-ups

Besides agreeing on how often to provide reports, outsourcing vendors that attach high value to the relationships with their clients always discuss the frequency of online sessions at the kick-off meeting.

Besides, they assign dedicated people to participate in these meetings — usually, a delivery manager (maybe local), if not — a project manager or a team lead.

How We Do It

At SENLA, we typically work in two-week sprints and deliver demos to our Clients on Fridays to get their input and gather feedback. If there's a need for more, we willingly elaborate on that. When we partnered with Bayer, for instance, because of their project’s nature we also assembled a dedicated 24/7 support team to be live during any events and quickly provide assistance. You can learn more about that project and how we adjusted our workflow to it here.

9. Minding days off

It’s essential to remember that outsourcing involves working with people that not only speak another language and live in a different time zone but who also belong to a different culture.

Across nations, many state and religious holidays are days off, and both sides should take these into account when planning how they will communicate.

It doesn't mean that the outsourcing provider should take a day off when it’s a holiday in their client’s country — the right approach would be to plan the work so that they won’t need to talk to the client on that day.

How We Do It

Since we’re an international company with many offices, our project teams may belong to different cultures and time zones. We always notify our Clients about respective days-off among staff. And of course if there’s a need, we discuss substitutions for those times to make work seamless.

10. Choosing video conferences over phone calls

Of course, the best way to discuss business and establish relationships is sitting together in the same room; however, this is not always possible when you outsource your project.

The lack of live communication can be settled with the help of video conferencing. It’s the closest to physical presence, allowing you to make eye contact and getting to know your partners “in person,” which greatly feeds into forging a strong connection between the teams.

How We Do It

We use Teams and Zoom for video conferencing with our Clients. However, our approach is very flexible and if they need any other tools — we adapt to their requirements.

11. Utilizing cloud solutions for sharing your files

Cloud technology can significantly streamline file sharing, playing a pivotal role in effective remote collaboration.

First, they make exchange fast and secure. Even more importantly, users can make updates and access changes in real time.

As a result, the teams are protected against being misled by outdated information and can use the time allocated for communication more efficiently.

How We Do It

Understanding the competitive edge cloud proficiency gives, SENLA focused on building extensive expertise in the area. We have from 1000 to 5000 and above mandays of development in all major cloud platforms including Hybris, Azure, Google, AWS and Salesforce, with the last two solidifying our expertise by giving us Official Partner titles. If you would like to know more about our cloud proficiency and receive a breakdown of exact skills — just fill in the form and we’ll be happy to answer your questions!

12. Documenting everything

Both parties can come up with valuable ideas during a video conference, not to mention on-the-spot decisions and changes. To avoid misunderstandings in the future, it’s essential to write down the key points.

Efficient outsourcing vendors follow a routine of drawing up an agenda for each meeting and adding notes to each point as the conference progresses.

How We Do It

After each strategic meeting, we send our Clients an email with meeting notes listing everything the teams have come to. Upon a necessity, they can give feedback after which a project manager attaches the notes to project documentation.

18. Capitalizing on feedback

Feedback is the backbone of effective business communication, especially in outsourcing. Constructive feedback can save both parties plenty of misinterpreting and re-doing tasks.

In addition, relevant feedback on their work helps the team members stay motivated and be more productive.

How We Do It

To fully leverage feedback, here at SENLA we plan projects in increments (i.e. bi-weekly sprints). This way, necessary changes are communicated on time, making outsourcing communication processes way more efficient.

If there’s a Customer Success Manager assigned to the project, one of their direct responsibilities is obtaining feedback from our Clients. We understand its utmost importance and want our partnership to happen in the exact accordance with their expectations, which is simply impossible without feedback.

Wonder How to Build Solid Outsourcing Communication Fast and Easy?

Effective communication is vital if you focus on the success of your outsourcing project. It can be achieved through a set of tried-and-true practices and the proper technology.

If you are looking for a reliable software development company that has a full understanding of both the communication process and how to assemble appropriate teams — just submit the form below and we’ll gladly demonstrate to you how we do it.

Why Senla?

Extensive expertise

We have been on the market for more than a decade which allowed us to try-and-test various outsourcing communication approaches, strategies and tools, and cherry pick the most efficient ones.

Reduced micromanagement

We overtake all routine project management activities and free you to focus on your business-critical ones while still preserving the possibility of direct communication, if necessary.

Proficiency in all relevant areas

From cloud platforms to project management tools — we have more than 5000 mandays of development in the majority of platforms and software solutions.

Attitude paying off

Our commitment to forming partnerships, not projects helped us enjoy 99% of our Clients working with us on a regular basis.

Frequently Asked Questions

How do we establish communication?

Before a project starts, we thoroughly negotiate a communication plan that is then laid down in an SLA. For a development project we list communication channels that will be used whereas for a support one we also depict response time for each.

I have a proprietary communication software, will we be able to conduct work in it?

Sure! We always aim at ensuring maximal comfort for our Clients so if you need something specific — be sure we’ll have that utilized.

Can we have live meetings?

Absolutely! Not only can we have them, we highly support those! If there’s a need for an extra cooperation layer — we will willingly take it upon, be it a one-off live meeting, temporary visits or even physical presence at your space, all to guarantee satisfaction with our partnership.

Can you get live in the off hours?

Yes we can. Once we negotiate being live at a certain time (of a day/week/month, etc.) and lay it down in a communication plan — we will be to support your plans.

My development office is in the USA/Australia/Japan. Will we be able to effectively manage a time gap?

For sure. We can either shift our teams schedules to correspond to yours or capitalize on overlapping hours to conduct meetings. In any case, be sure that your plans will be covered and the project with us will be as smooth for you as it can only be.

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