How to optimise communication when nearshoring or outsourcing software

The most immeasurable factor into the success of any team or collaboration is also the most important — communication. How well you communicate is key to the success of any software project. After all, the Agile Manifesto said it best — it’s people before processes.

Communication is also what makes teams most suspicious of hiring outside agents to work on your tooling. After all, it’s truly personal and good product teams have a sense of true ownership of their code. That’s why, before looking to start a nearshoring or software outsourcing relationship, there are certain ways to optimise communication to foster a true partnership that benefits everyone.

Nearshoring? Get over it.

Nearshoring is different from traditional software outsourcing because it’s outsourcing to an organisation like ours which shares similar values and communication styles. In proficient English. With cultural proximity. And when outsourcing to Romania, it comes with the trust and laws governed by the European Union.

Nearshoring also overcomes the first challenge of typical software outsourcing or offshoring situations — the dreaded time difference. With most of our clients there a one to two-hour time difference, that isn’t an issue. It’s more like the common software development and operations arrangement of a distributed team or one with one or more remote employees.

Once you acknowledge the similarity between nearshoring and working on a distributed team — or with any sort of IT contractors you hire temporarily — you can treat optimise communication for a better working relationship. And it’s simply likely you will at some point need some help, as IT remains one of the biggest skills gap and talent gap sectors in the world. But don’t worry, there are excited nearshoring and software outsourcing teams ready to help!

Onboarding an external staffer

When you’re working with software outsourcing, you don’t have to deal with the legal and process-filled rigamarole of traditional HR onboarding. But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t consider doing a proper introduction. Whether via a Zoom conference call (if your nearshoring teammate is joining remotely) or on-site, it’s important to gather the whole team — preferably over yummy treats — and take time to introduce everyone.

Talk about who does what and talk about the project expectations. And make sure you onboard with the tools everyone is using for code, project management and communication. Especially that last one. It streamlines collaboration and it facilitates working toward one goal. Plus, since you’re using SaaS tooling for all of this, it’s easy to give and later remove access.

Use an exercise like Personal Maps or play 2 Truths, 1 Lie as a quick exercise to build empathy and have a quick laugh.

Scope of Work is Life.

And then take the time to set objectives together. Expectations are always better when they are met by being set. A clear scope of work should be provided up front. But don’t be afraid to ask for your software outsourcing partner’s input. While everything should start with an in-person or video conversation, this is definitely something to put in writing as well.

Especially in an outsourcing situation, setting what Netflix calls guard rails as to what that new teammate should do. It’s important to then review those objectives as you continue in the project to see if they pivot. Be ready to change the terms if the project needs it and both sides agree.

Make sure you set up a process for measuring and reporting milestones and updates. Even if something isn’t due, you should check in with your outsourcing partner regularly.

An ideal software outsourcing situation is making them part of your team.

Note that word I used in the last sentence: teammate. Everything works better when a nearshoring relationship is based on trust and collaboration. This means treating that staffer like a teammate. Is there a staff birthday? Invite to cake! Show where the coffee maker is — let them know they are free to use your kitchen and let them know about any house rules. When at Code4Nord we work with a contractor, we always invite them to play a few video games — because that’s what we love to do at our office. During the summer they’re welcome to use our grill or shoot some hoops.

Again, whether remote or IRL, make sure your nearshoring partner is a part of the essential team rituals. Even if remote, they should join your daily standup — via video and should really stand. And having that outsider perspective during retrospectives at the end of a sprint can be really valuable.

Allow them ownership of any project management tooling you’re using. Encourage their feedback. After all, IT consulting can drive innovation no matter what the size of your business is.

At Code4Nord, we look at four ways we can add unique value over typical software outsourcing relationships:

  • Asking the right questions
  • Mapping requirements for visual clarification
  • Decades of experience in high-quality development
  • Creating the best solution

Each nearshoring and software outsourcing agency has its own value-added. It’s what helps us distinguish from the rest.

We’re looking for partners.

At Code4Nord, we look at nearshoring the way a lot of tech companies look at integration partners. We are looking for partners with certain shared values like trust and a desire to keep learning. We don’t want to just build on top of existing code, we want to make sure we follow the Boy Scout Rule to continue improving. We love to work with new tools and to find innovation solutions to your problems. And we want to work with exciting teams that share these values.

Once you’ve built this trust, you’re more able to understand your needs for the future. This increases the potential of building a long-term relationship instead of ad-hoc software outsourcing. And it allows for the flexibility and scalability many organizations need in their contractor work.

Let’s be an “us” instead of a “them”. Let us know if you want to work together.

Are you already a software contractor or outsourcing agency? Share in the comments your own tips to smooth onboarding and build a long-term, successful relationship.

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