Launching a software project in an offshore location like Vietnam is a strategic alternative to in-house development in terms of reducing time-to-market, more readily available tech talent and lower costs. Offshoring your IT projects is beneficial in many ways, but there are a number of challenges that you should be prepared for when working with an offshore team.
Vietnam is full of highly-skilled engineers and has a lot of potential as an offshore partner. Here I will present a simple, six-step guide that will help you overcome the challenges and get the most out of an offshore collaboration in Vietnam.
1. TAKE ADVANTAGE OF THE TIME-ZONE DIFFERENCE
Time differences are usually seen as an inconvenience, but it is also possible to leverage this difference to benefit your operations. Teaming up with a team in Vietnam allows you to use a “follow the sun” model where the offshore team carries out their development tasks while you are sound asleep. By the time you wake up and get to the office your Vietnam team will have sent a status report. You can review their progress with your morning coffee as they are sound asleep and send updates and instructions that will be waiting for the offshore team at the beginning of their day. This model helps a company stay productive all around the clock.
2. ESTABLISH A CLEAR PRODUCT VISION WITH MILESTONES
Having a clear product vision with a defined scope and set of specifications gives offshore teams direction and helps them avoid confusion during the development process. An overall product vision provides long term direction and milestones give shorter term guidance and motivation.
If your product vision is not very clear, it is possible to go through a discovery phase with the help of your outsourcing partner. During the discovery phase you get to take your collaboration for its first trial run. The dev team will do the footwork to setup the project and during this time both you and the team will be able to discover what is important for your project and together you can develop overall technical and business goals as well as milestones. When you build your goals together your offshore team will become not just more familiar with the project but more personally invested and motivated.
3. STAY INVOLVED IN YOUR PROJECT
At least one person (ideally more) should keep themselves readily available when it comes to communicating and working with the offshore team. Keeping strong lines of communication reinforces the notion that you are really one team working towards the same goal. In addition to this you will not just keep the offshore team informed but you will stay informed as well, talking to developers can help you identify risks that you might normally miss. Communication is not just about status updates, it also includes things like encouraging the team when they reach a milestone, which helps with motivation.
Vietnamese workers value loyalty and the sense of belonging to a local community is very important. This is why communication is especially important when working with Vietnamese teams. If they are not able to interact with your in-house team you will fail to establish this sense of community which can be demotivating. They are attracted to active internal company cultures that give them the possibility to be a real part of their employer’s global team.
4. IMPLEMENT AGILE METHODOLOGIES
Agile methodologies promote stakeholder engagement, transparency, early and predictable deliveries, predictable costs and deadlines, adaptability, and continuous improvement. If you want a fluid and responsive team that can easily react to a changing project environment, Agility is the choice for you. Traditional Waterfall methods are too static not just for offshore projects but for IT projects in general.
Agile methodologies not only reduce costs, they will help you manage the risks involved with offshore projects. Vietnam has a growing community of Agile practitioners that are involved in organizing training sessions and events aimed at building skills and spreading the adoption of Agile methods. At Pentalog, all of our projects follow Agile best practices and our clients have recognized the value that Agile thinking has contributed to their projects and overall offshore experience.
Read more about the Agile Transformation and its impact on project success.
5. VISIT YOUR OFFSHORE TEAM
Although on-site visits can be time consuming and costly with offshore teams, face-to-face meetings are the best and the most effective way of building trust. Spending a few days working with the team, especially in the early stages of an offshore software development project, is important because it gives you a first-person view of how the team will operate. It also gives you the chance to help implement the processes you agreed upon at the beginning of the project.
Vietnamese people tend to value passion over pay. They enjoy working on challenging projects, that add value to the company they are part of. Showing them that your project is important to you by working closely with your offshore team gives them extra motivation to build outstanding products. Spending time to build up a relationship with your team also builds a sense of community which is especially important for Vietnamese teams.
6. COMMUNICATE EFFECTIVELY
Communication plays a key role in the success of any project and is especially important in offshore collaborations. A regular rhythm of daily and weekly meetings paired with an instant messaging tool are a good start but you also need to keep cultural differences in mind when shaping your communications strategy.
When communicating with Vietnamese software engineers, you should keep these principles in mind if you want to establish successful relationships:
When meeting for the first time, Vietnamese people tend to be shy. You should say “Hello” to a Vietnamese man with a handshake, but when it comes to women, you should wait for them to extend their hand first.
Politeness and mutual respect are fundamental when communicating with Vietnamese people. They tend to avoid conflict and saving face is an important concept in their culture. They often avoid pointing out someone else’s mistakes because it could make that person lose face.
However, these types of cultural behaviors are not prominent in highly skilled workers, especially if they have experience collaborating with international companies. International software companies have developed a corporate environment based on transparency and mutual respect where different cultures can blend in easily. However, cultural sensitivity is still important and you will win your team’s trust easier if you respect their culture and keep open lines of communication.
Overall, close collaboration and involvement paired with Agile methods will help make an offshore collaboration a success not just in Vietnam but in any country. Building a strong team from the beginning can be the first step in creating a fruitful long-term relationship.
Whether you are in the product discovery phase or are looking for a partner to launch your offshore software development project, contact us! We would be happy to help you discover the advantages of a dedicated team in Vietnam.
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