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How to deal with the time zone difference in software development offshoring

How to deal with the time zone difference in software development offshoring

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by Yuliia Illiv

Software development offshoring has become the new normal. Thousands of prosperous IT companies around the globe offer top-notch development expertise, great portfolios, and hundreds of reviews from delighted (and sometimes not) clients. And once you’ve decided to dive into this vast ocean of offshore opportunities, you must learn that the biggest advantages of outsourcing might turn into the fatal catastrophe for your product unless you are not aware of the challenges of working in different time zones.

Having been successfully cooperating with the clients from different parts of the planet, we’ve compiled a six-pointer instruction on how to overcome time zone differences with a software contractor.

#1 Visualizing the time difference

Let’s imagine, you stay in Chicago, IL and the team of developers is from Ukraine. Both of you have a 9-to-5 working day but there is 8 hours difference between you. The task gets more complicated if you have two or more teams outsourcing for you in different parts of the world. The solution is to find “a window” when you can hold regular meetings with your partners. If you don’t want to hang several clocks on your office walls and put numerous stickers with reminders about the meeting time, just visualize it entering a date and location in the World clock meeting planner, and it will mark working hours green in the chart. Also, in case of urgent issues to consult with your vendor, you can use Everytimezone and 24timezones to check what time it is in their country.

Visualizing the time difference

#2 Set specific requirements

You won’t be able to make calls ten times a day to clarify something, as you can do with your in-house team. So, it’s important to set clear requirements with the most important aspects written down at the beginning of your cooperation. This might include your vision of the end-product, responsibilities of each IT specialist, deadlines, the source code, etc.

#3 Clarify the number of meetings

An outsourced team is to work, not to talk. Despite the fact that constant communication plays a principal role in a product to meet your expectations, don’t overload developers’ time with too frequent meetings. Set a regular time for meetings upfront, preferably between 10 am and 4 pm local time, ensuring that all team members will be present and not sleepy or tired. We practice everyday meetings for a quick update but you can also opt for a longer conversation once a week. Just make it stable.

#4 Agree on communication channels

Using different communication channels among the team members not only slows down the process of development but also leads to misunderstandings that might have a fatal impact on the product. That’s why it’s vital to choose the same tools for sharing documents, communication, web conferences, project management, etc. This way you and your team will be able to track the changes and updates with no difficulty.

#5 Use the agile methodology

Effective team collaboration and communication, adaptive planning, simplified division of tasks, continuous improvements, and early delivery are inevitable parts of the Agile Manifesto. Not so long time ago, agile development was considered possible only in the means of face-to-face communication. Though, with the use of video conferences and chats the main agile principle which lies in effective communication can be easily satisfied. Take part in iterative planning, feedback sessions, consistent checkups, and so on.

#6 Avoid micromanagement

Getting into too many details of the development process may eventually hurt the product and cause a conflict with developers, no need to mention time and money loss. If you decided to outsource a certain task, probably your aim was to save money, time, concentrate on core business, and finally, hire professionals to accomplish this task. So, let them do it.

Final words

Managing a team across different time zones is not so easy, and might seem more challenging than running an in-house team. But applying these six principles will definitely ensure efficient product development and delivery process.


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