Launching a software development project in an offshore location like Vietnam is a strategic alternative to in-house development in terms of reducing time-to-market, readily available tech talent and lower costs.
Offshoring your IT needs is beneficial in many ways, but there are a number of challenges 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 possible to leverage this to benefit your operations. Partnering 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 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 unclear, you can go through a discovery phase alongside your outsourcing partner.
During this phase you get to take your collaboration for its first “trial run”. The dev team will do the footwork to setup the project. At this time both you and the team will discover what is crucial for your project. Then, together you can develop overall technical and business goals as well as set milestones.
When you build your goals together your offshore team will not only become more familiar with the project, but 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 truly one team working towards the same goal.
Being highly involved in your project keeps not only your team informed, but you as well. Working directly with your developers enables you to identify risks that you might otherwise miss.
Communication is not just about status updates, it also includes things like congratulating the team when they reach a milestone, which boosts morale.
Vietnamese workers value loyalty and a sense of belonging to a local community. This is why communication is especially important when working with teams there. 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.
Read more: How to manage a remote team
4. IMPLEMENT AGILE METHODOLOGIES
Agile methodologies promote stakeholder engagement, transparency, early & predictable deliveries, predictable costs & deadlines, adaptability, and continuous improvement.
If you want a fluid, responsive team that can easily react to a changing project environment, Agility is the choice for you. Traditional Waterfall methods are too static for both offshore projects and IT projects in general.
Agile methodologies not only reduce costs, they help you manage risks involved with offshore projects.
Vietnam has a growing community of Agile practitioners involved in organizing training sessions and events aimed at building skills and spreading the adoption of Agile methods.
At Pentalog, all our projects follow Agile best practices and our clients recognize 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 way to build trust.
Spending a few days working with your team, especially in the early stages of an offshore software development project can provide significant insight. It will give you a first-hand view of how the team operates and 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 a part of. Demonstrating how important your project is to you by working closely with your offshore team gives them extra motivation to build outstanding products.
Spending time to build a relationship with your team also fosters the sense of community especially important to Vietnamese teams.
6. COMMUNICATE EFFECTIVELY
Communication plays a key role in the success of any project and is especially important in offshore software development 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 communication strategy.
Keep these principles in mind to establish successful relationships when communicating with Vietnamese software engineers:
When meeting for the first time, Vietnamese people tend to be shy. Say “Hello” to a Vietnamese man with a handshake, but when it comes to women, 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 might embarass them.
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.
But, remember that cultural sensitivity is still important and you will win your team’s trust more easily by respecting their culture and keeping 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 is 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’re happy to help you discover the advantages of a dedicated team in Vietnam.