How to find and manage a software development team in the time of lockdown

How to find and manage a software development team in the time of lockdown
N-iX
2020-05-04T18:39:22+00:00

All businesses have found themselves tested by the virus outbreak. Many companies are forced to put their activity on hold or reduce costs substantially, whilst some are struggling to satisfy the growing demand. To survive the crisis, companies are looking for solutions that offer&nbsp...

How to find and manage a software development team in the time of lockdown
By Khrystyna Zabor May 04, 2020

All businesses have found themselves tested by the virus outbreak. Many companies are forced to put their activity on hold or reduce costs substantially, whilst some are struggling to satisfy the growing demand. To survive the crisis, companies are looking for solutions that offer cost-effectiveness, increased scalability, flexibility, and agility.

Offshore development is now seen as one of such solutions. McKinsey states that main concerns of the CIOs are high demand for communication tools, increased cybersecurity threats, and financial strain. So, companies look for a flexible partner that can deliver timely and quality solutions for a reasonable price.

The outsourcing market, however, also experiences adjustments. Remote software development is a challenging task, especially in the work from home mode. The level of digital adoption, the Internet speed, communication and management issues, the increased number of cybersecurity threats - these are issues that may affect the cooperation with your outsourced development team. Therefore, the selection criteria for a reliable vendor during the lockdown have changed as well.  

How to find a trusted outsourced development partner that can address these challenges and understand your business needs? And how to hire and manage a remote development team in this new reality? Let’s find out.

Where to find an outsourced development team?

Eastern Europe and India have been the main outsourcing destinations for many years. However, the COVID crisis has made significant adjustments to the established order of things. 

Unfortunately, India was not ready for such a jolt. For now, up to 50% of work is not being done on some projects there. The state of logistics, Internet speed, and other factors hamper the quality of delivered services in this country. 

At the same time, Eastern Europe keeps the lights on and delivers cost-effective solutions without compromising quality. In the current situation, IT outsourcing providers offer even more attractive conditions of cooperation both to their existing and potential customers.

Why hire an outsourced development team in Eastern Europe?

According to the Kearney Global Services Location Index 2019, nine countries of the region have made it to the most alluring outsourcing destinations, primarily due to their financial attractiveness.

Eastern Europe houses the combined talent pool of over 1M professional developers. Ukraine, Poland, and Romania are leading countries in the Eastern European software development market. These countries are home to over 100,000 tech specialists that can help businesses in a wide range of industries, including healthcare and telecom. 

Hire outsourcing team in Eastern Europe

What’s more, the region boasts excellent STEM and computer science education. For instance, Ukraine has one of the largest shares of STEM and computer science graduates in Europe. The figure reaches 9.8% out of all graduates in the country. 

According to the Times Higher Education World University ranking, Eastern Europe has the most considerable number of excellent universities (compared to Asia and Latin America). 

Education of outsourced developer team in Eastern Europe

Also, the region has a high level of digital adoption, which is essential for outsourcing in time of the lockdown. Ukraine, Belarus, Poland, Romania have made it to the A.T Kearney digital resonance ranking.

The countries of the region take serious measures to withstand the crisis with minimal losses. For instance, Ukrainian IT companies started preparing their processes long before the quarantine started in Ukraine. To keep their clients and employees safe, many Ukrainian vendors, including N-iX, have developed business continuity plans and ensured a smooth switch to remote work mode

So hiring an outsourced software development team from a reliable outsourcing company is one of the ways to survive the crisis. But how to choose and hire the best team?

How to choose and hire an outsourced development team?

You should find a trustworthy vendor that will assist you in this turbulent time. The requirements for an outsourcing vendor have changed as security, flexibility, and effective management are critical now. So, what makes a reliable partner in a time of remote? Let’s view it in more detail.

Established security policy

We face even more cybersecurity threats in a time of remote work, as the employees are no longer connected to the secure corporate network. Infrastructure vulnerabilities, phishing attacks, let alone data losses and high loads on IT systems - all these perils are our new reality. So, to eliminate these risks you need to find a vendor with established security policy. Make sure that the provider you choose to hire an outsourcing team from, complies with international security standards such as ISO, PCI, HIPAA. These compliances ensure the safety and security of your confidential data.  

Streamlined agile processes

Agile practices such as sprint plannings, daily stand-ups, creating task backlog, demo sessions, retrospectives, make managing a team way easier and its work more efficient. Thus, choosing a vendor with streamlined Agile processes ensures high work productivity that results in reducing working hours and cost reduction respectively. 

Also, Agile approach ensures flexibility, crucial in this unstable time. Indeed, with help of Agile methodology you can create smaller agile teams of around five people for maximum efficiency; give even more attention to prioritizing than before; delegate decisions; extend the use of technology that promotes effective collaboration, etc. 

Solid project management skills

Setting clear goals, running effective meetings, leveraging team members’ strengths are the major tasks of the good manager. 

Lack of an office atmosphere and routines may result in lower productivity of an outsourced software development team. However, experienced project managers can tackle this issue by setting or updating ground rules as well as communicating them with a team. Here are some examples of what these rules can be: 

  • time reporting in BPM in a more detailed manner and on a daily basis; 

  • keeping communication about changes and decisions under the Jira tickets; 

  • clearly identifying communication channels as well as work hours, etc. 

Powerful employer brand

vendor with a strong employer brand is able to find experts for the project promptly and scale up teams efficiently. Poor employer brand is one of the main reasons why employees jump ship. Thus, before partnering with an IT outsourcing company, check whether it provides employees with comfortable working conditions, professional growth, training opportunities, fair compensation, etc. If your vendor’s turnover rate correlates with the percentage of employees who don’t meet expectations, this is a good indicator of business success. But if there is a high turnover rate among top performers, it means that the company doesn’t offer enough benefits and loses out to its competitors on the market.

Clients’ reviews and testimonials

Client reviews are something you can rely on during your search for the outsourcing services provider. So, research vendors’ websites, LinkedIn accounts, and Clutch.co profiles for clients’ feedback and testimonials.

For instance, on Clutch.co you can find out how successful the cooperation with this vendor was for other companies, what difficulties other clients were facing, etc. 

offshore development company ukraine clutch profile

Advanced communication skills, enthusiasm and transparency

Evaluate the effectiveness of communication of your potential vendor. Choose the partner that takes effort to understand your business needs, sets up extra calls with you and sends you follow-ups. These aspects mean that the vendor is eager to clarify all the details and nuances with you, thus preventing misunderstandings. This ability is vital in a time of remote.

The robust knowledge transfer plan

There are two main ways of knowledge transfer flows: from a client to a vendor, or from a previous vendor to a new vendor. A knowledge transfer plan should cover aspects such as people, processes, and a product for a profitable outcome. Yes, the vendor has to understand what the product does, how it operates, and what people are responsible for specific tasks to deliver quality solutions. 

Knowledge transfer from a previous vendor to a new vendor is more challenging without a robust knowledge transfer plan. So, if you switch from on-site development to outsourcing - you definitely need a provider with a proven track record of delivering projects acquired both from clients and their previous vendors. Learn more about the steps of successful knowledge transfer here

Requirements for the vendor to hire outsourced dev team from

Apart from these requirements, your vendor in time of crisis should be able to adjust to the constant changes. So, a reliable service provider has to offer different pricing and cooperation models for maximum flexibility. So, what legal aspects are of great importance now?

Legal aspects you need to pay attention to:

Types of contracts

Look for a vendor that offers different types of contracts, such as fixed price, T&M, and dedicated development team. Thus you will be able to choose the one that suits your business requirements and to benefit from collaboration with an outsourcing team the most. 

Types of contracts in IT outsourcing

Cooperation models

There are three main cooperation models for setting up a team: an extended team, a managed team, and an outsourced team. Each of these models has its characteristics and work for different purposes, which should be considered. Learn more about the cooperation models here. 

Also, as McKinsey recommends, it is a good idea to diversify your vendors and have several outsourcing partners in different countries. . 

Established security policy, streamlined agile processes, powerful employer brand, good clients’ reviews, advanced communication skills, robust knowledge transfer plan, as well as offering different cooperation and pricing models make a trustworthy vendor you can hire an outsourcing team from.

How to manage an outsourced development team?

Here are the aspects our project managers pay special attention to in the time of remote.

  1. Communication

Both lack and overload of communication can complicate the working process. So, make sure that the number of calls, e-mails, etc. is adequate for your project and your software development team. 

You should be as responsive and available to your outsourcing team as possible. That does not, however, mean that you need to be online 24/7. Communicate your response time with your outsourced developer team and monitor the channels where employees can contact you throughout these hours. It is also a good idea if your employees also identify their schedule clearly so that you all know when to address whom if needed.

Also, choose the right communication and collaboration tools for your team. Here are some examples:

collaboration tools with outsourced development team

  1. Productivity

The trick is to keep high work productivity and not to micromanage at the same time. There are some key points that will help you keep the balance in managing the outsourced development team. Here are the rules our projects managers follow in the time of remote:

  • Clarifying as much as possible: what is to be done, what result is expected, tasks, priorities, etc.;

  • Setting metrics to evaluate the success of your remote development team (e.g. CSAT score);

  • Tracking implemented tasks: estimates, plans - this has to be set out clearly;

  • Performing a regular review and give regular feedback on how your team is coping;

  • Making your expectations clear and realistic;

  • Using time tracking apps; 

time tracking tools for outsourced development team

  • Socializing with teammates: peoples’ morale is of great importance these days, as it can influence the work result. To keep a positive attitude among the colleagues, our project managers establish daily morning routines; 

  •  Promoting and organizing online workshops, meetups, etc, to keep employees motivated and engaged.

  1. Project management:

Agile is the new black in project management, especially if you work with an outsourced development team. It changes the ways you treat simple and common work aspects. 

For instance, Agile presupposes:

  • adjusting scope of tasks, rather than changing a deadline:

This helps to monitor the working process better as you have strict milestones to stick to. Also, your outsourced software development team can adjust to the current situation at the same time.

  • keeping  fewer documents, but extending each of them:

In the time of remote, documentation has to be as precise as ever as the lack of communication may hamper the information access, which can be challenging, especially for newcomers.

  • regular refinement sessions:

They are of high priority as you have to make sure that product management and engineering management are on the same page.

  • application of Scrum/Kanban frameworks:

Our Scrum managers teach the engineering teams to apply these principles properly to avoid miscommunication. 

  • conducting retrospectives:

Feedback sessions are also of great importance for everyone to understand areas of improvement of an outsource software team. Also, there are some tools that can help you conduct such an activity, such as Linoit, Miro, Ideabordz, FunRetro, TeamRetro.

Why choose N-iX as your outsourced development partner

  1. N-iX has over 18 years of experience in the global IT market. We are skilled in managing outsourced development teams by using Agile methodologies and practices;

  2. N-iX Information security management system is certified to meet ISO 27001:2013;

  3. Our professionals have experience working with various collaboration and communication tools to ensure maximum productivity;

  4. N-iX is well-recognised in the IT market and was recognized GSA UK 2019 Awards as a finalist in three categories, Global Outsourcing 100 by IAOP, and many others. 

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By Khrystyna Zabor May 04, 2020

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About N-iX

N-iX is an Eastern European provider of software development services with 1000+ expert software engineers onboard that power innovative technology businesses. Since 2002 we have formed strategic partnerships with a variety of global industry leaders including OpenText, Novell, Lebara, Currencycloud and over 50 other medium and large-scale businesses. With delivery centers in Ukraine, Poland, Bulgaria, and Belarus, we deliver excellence in software engineering and deep expertise in a range of verticals including finance, healthcare, hospitality, telecom, energy and enterprise content management helping our clients to innovate and implement technology transformations.

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