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Saturday, January 17, 2009

Managing Offshore Projects, How Not to Sink in Unfamiliar Waters

Posted by Jessica Madrazo on March 31, 2008

Handling new projects are difficult enough for managers, but a walk in offshore outsourcing is more of a trudge than a stroll for those who are new in the business, and in fact, at times it just gets downright overwhelming. Apart from the typical considerations, cultural barrier and the absence of physical presence, there are more factors to take into account such as different time zones, and the complexity of the project itself.

There are several points that may guide one to get the best out of their outsourcing teams.

1. Create a merger

A delivery team is a single cooperative unit working on a single goal, and this is exactly as it should be established between onsite and offshore personnel. As an onsite project manager, it should be stressed that there is no onsite-offshore division, and your people are a single project team.

2. No role playing

Avoid playing the role of another. Function as the liaison and eliminate any barriers of communication between stakeholders and the offshore team. Playing the role of a customer will not help with the accuracy of the product, and instead, might create setbacks that could have been avoided.

3. Information Excess

Educate your personnel, not only onsite teams, but offshore as well. Inform them of the client, the organization, the business, and the benefits. Team members can never have too much information and each piece will be put to good use.

4. Over-communicate

There is no such thing as obvious. The general rule is its okay to repeat yourself, and never leave out any detail you deem as understood. Leaving those things out may provide the loophole on forgetting to mention important details.

5. Q and A portion

Question, and answer. It is most likely that offshore teams will not be very aggressive with voicing out concerns. There are some critical matters that may not be brought up and settled before it is repairable. It is important that questions, no matter how basic, are addressed to offshore teams, specifically problems they are facing, or concerns they would like to tackle

6. Listen and Talk

Because of the lack of physical presence, relationships are only formed through interaction with your offshore team. An individual e-mail here and there to follow-up on the project, or for a job well done humanizes you and shows your interest in their work. It works both ways with personal knowledge on projects, as well as establishing your role in large teams.

7. What’s happening?

Interest should be shown in the day-to-day processes of your offshore team. This does not necessarily mean trying to offer solutions to their problems, but just awareness and sympathy. It is after all your project. Even if you are not the answer to their troubles, understanding can go a long way for work relations.

8. Interconnect with managers

With offshore outsourcing, it is impossible to micro-manage. The closest, and best solution for this, is to work with offshore leadership. Build a strong relationship with the head, and managers, and allow them to implement your ideas and requests to the team. Their support is imperative for you to succeed.

9. Break the ice

Cultural barriers are expected in offshore outsourcing, but cultural familiarization is an occurrence that is most appreciated. A little research on popular sports, food, or places your team is interested in will break the ice, and bridge a rewarding experience with open communication, which is one of the biggest problems in outsourcing.

10. Celebrate

Recognition equates significance. When a team does good in a project, never fail to recognize them and their achievements. As much as possible, try to criticize in private, and praise in public, with the notification for offshore leaders when called for. Relationships are not only limited to managers, or individual staffs, but for the entire team.

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