Gareth looks at how you can make working with an outsourced team a success, after his recent visit to our development team in Lithuania.

Top Tips for Using an Outsourced Team

I’m writing this blog on the way back to the UK after a successful week with YellowDog’s Development Team in Lithuania.

It’s not easy working with any team when they’re in a different time zone, from a different culture and when you’re operating a software development methodology where collaboration is key to its success (in our case, we use Scrum). But we’re making it work.

Some of the things I think we do well are:

  • Constant and open communication through whatever mechanism the team picks. We use Slack more than anything else; Skype is our method of choice for conference calls and screen shares (which we do a lot!).
  • Ensuring we see each other face-to-face every six to eight weeks. The amount we cover, the problems we solve, (and the beer we drink) when we have a focussed week together always impresses me. This time in person also helps build and solidify those personal relationships.
  • Pick the right development partner. We made the decision to work with a development partner because we were able to get the team together more quickly and at a lower cost than if we had done it ourselves in the UK. One of the main reasons for choosing TeleSoftas is their ethos of collaboration and openness. This is driven from their CEO and consequently everyone embodies it.
  • Give them ownership. Ask them to solve problems, to take accountability for what they’re doing, to contribute to the choice of tools and technologies we use and it’s amazing the way the team starts to feel like a part of your team.
  • Treat them as if they are a part of your business.
  • Provide constructive feedback. Things go wrong, there are misunderstandings – it happens in any project and with any team. It’s important that any personal or technical problems are addressed quickly and constructively.
  • Get them involved with customers. We do this when there’s a particularly meaty customer problem, or a complex customer requirement. And both customers and the team love it!
  • Carry out regular retrospectives. We do this every time we meet in person and the scope is anything to do with the project since the last time we met. It’s wonderful to see the team put more and more items in the ‘Things that went well’ and ‘Things we could do better’ categories as time goes on.

Of course, there are loads of areas where we need to improve, and there’s a big long list of ‘Things We Need to Do Better from our retrospective yesterday. That said it makes me so pleased when I hear any one of the Dev Team talk about ‘our’ product.