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BlogSpot: Tips for Collaborating with Overseas Software Development Teams

Dawood Fard

About the author

Dawood Fard Dawood Fard is managing director of Centurus, a Lancashire based international student services company that provides overseas student admissions software for Universities, Colleges and Language Schools.

With almost three million people employed in India's technology industry alone, software development as an export is becoming increasingly popular. In this month's blog, Dawood Fard of Centurus shares his experiences and advice for working with overseas development teams.

UK companies looking for software development skills can often see outsourcing to countries such as India as an attractive alternative to using domestic teams largely due to the potential cost savings derived from lower wage costs. This perception of outsourcing as a 'low cost' option is commonly perceived as the single driver for opting to outsource overseas, however there is much more to benefit from.

  • Project costs could be as low as 10% of that in the UK.
  • There is a well defined and strong work ethic in India
  • Often there are dedicated office support staff allowing developers to focus on projects without distraction.
  • Developers are typically educated to degree or postgraduate level often in focussed subjects.

At Centurus, we adopted a development methodology in two sections: 'Creative Development' and 'Technical Development'. We ensure that the creative element remains based in the UK as it is believed that those closest to the customers should drive the end product design. This allows the skills and competencies of the Indian outsourcing partners to focus accomplishing the technical development.

As with any large scale software development, it is essential that development staff clearly understand project requirements and that operational efficiency is maintained. There are inevitable and often significant differences between the UK Company and overseas outsourcing partner in terms of culture, language and time of day. These differences need to be recognised and processes adopted to ensure clear two way communication in relation to specifications and project requirements.

Our top tips for outsourcing technical development include:

  • Research, review and appraise companies. - There are a significant amount of companies to choose between so seek recommendations, review portfolio and negotiate all terms prior to deployment.
  • Build trust and rapport. - Spend time getting to know your developers and share your vision, you'll be spending a lot of time working together!
  • Establish a solid communication platform. - Consider off-the-shelf project management systems and use of Skype. Stay in touch throughout and be available to respond to any queries.
  • Be clear in your communication. - Beware of any cultural misunderstanding, write very specific project requirements and annotate as much as possible. Online wireframe software can be very useful.
  • Share responsibility, have clear accountability and embrace team celebration. - Although they may not be based at your headquarters, your developers should still share the same pride and passion as all your staff. Discuss challenges together and celebrate achievements together.

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Wed 31 October 2012