Are you interested in managing foreign teams?
Whether you have a startup or an established company, hiring an offshore team can help you achieve your organizational goals and expand your business.
However, managing an offshore team is not as easy as managing an in-house team.
You can’t walk up to them to check on their progress like you would in the office.
That’s why you’ll need the right strategies to help your offshore teams operate effectively.
In this article, we will explain what an offshore team is and some of the challenges you may encounter when working with them. We will also highlight some strategies
This article contains:
(Click on the links below to go to a specific section)
- Offshore (Overseas) Team?
- 5 useful tips for managing an Offshore team
- The challenges of managing overseas teams
- 3 main benefits of overseas groups
What is Team Offshore ?
An offshore team is a workforce that operates from outside the country where your business is located. Typically, offshore teams receive the same benefits as internal teams—the only difference is their geographic location.
For example, let’s say you manage a technology company in Israel.
You can hire a foreign software development team based in Vietnam instead of recruiting a local software developer. This offshore development team is part of your organization, working under your payroll system.
Now, the term “offshore team” (foreign team) is sometimes confused with “outsourced ” (outsourced team).
Outsourcing involves the procurement of temporary services, often on the payroll of a third-party organization. For example, a company may agree with a service provider for software professionals to form a separate development team.
It’s also important to note that an offshore team is not the same as a distributed team.
A distributed team includes employees in multiple locations — domestically and internationally. Foreign teams work exclusively in another country.
5 useful tips for managing an Offshore team
1. Hire the right team members
You can hire team members from an overseas partner such as Global Citizens Technologies, this company specializes in building offshore teams.
Before you can manage your offshore team, you need to have the right team in place.
Here are some tips to make team building easier:
A. Always keep in mind the company’s long-term goals
clear offshoring goals .
For example, if you are planning to hire a dedicated team in another country, the first hire should be a project manager who can handle overseas resource gathering and office setup.
B. Conduct performance-based appraisals
Performance-based assessments will give you a better idea of the strengths and weaknesses of each candidate, rather than a resume.
Consider preparing a list of inspection tasks. This will help you determine the skill level required to work on specific projects and products.
C. Be patient
Recruiting the most qualified and suitable foreign employees may take more time, effort and money, but it is vital to future management success.
2. Prioritize communication
You should be specific about your goals at the beginning of your project.
Clearly define project milestones, priorities, goals and timelines. Also, consider scheduling check-ins or daily Scrum meetings to stay updated on your project’s progress.
Here are some ways you can communicate with your overseas team:
- Instant messaging and email.
- Audio or video call.
- TV affair.
3. Establish an organized workflow
Managers should establish step-by-step operating procedures for projects. This will help streamline the workflow and development process.
Consider writing company procedures in your employee handbook so your team knows the standards they need to maintain.
Project managers and team leaders should provide clear direction to employees and be available to answer questions if needed.
If your company uses Agile methodology — adequate planning and communication are even more important. This is because Agile development largely depends on successful collaboration.
4. Avoid micromanagement
Successful expatriate teams are often good at self-management. You will find that employees are willing to give their best when they feel you trust and value them.
Instead of micromanaging every detail of their work, you can empower each offshore team member to be self-sufficient. This will boost your team’s individual performance and the company’s overall productivity.
You can do this by:
- Ensure full integration training.
- Communicate company goals effectively.
- Apply the right online tools to make working and collaborating remotely easier.
You can also consider hiring overseas team leaders to oversee daily operations.
This will involve a location-specific team leader overseeing the day-to-day activities of each overseas employee.
5. Encourage social interaction
Due to the recent COVID-19 pandemic and restrictions in many countries, your overseas team may have to work remotely. You may also have internal employees transitioning to remote work for the first time.
For those working remotely, isolation can affect mental health and overall productivity. Managers should encourage social interaction between offshore team members and onshore teams.
Consider hosting a regular Scrum meeting, online parties, and team building activities via Zoom, Skype, or a similar video conferencing app.
You can even create a small chat channel or chat room on Slack.
The challenges of managing overseas teams
While overseas teams have their benefits, there are obstacles to overcome.
Here is a list of challenges you may encounter when managing teams abroad:
1. Data security
When you transfer your company’s data to employees abroad, the security of that data may be at risk.
To keep your data safe, you can create a local database and have your entire team access it. This way, you have control over your database, including backups, software protection, etc.
You might consider adopting software like Teramind to monitor remote employee compliance with company security protocols.
2. Time zone difference
Being in different time zones can cause communication delays, which can ultimately affect the project schedule. You can hire expatriate employees with similar time zones, such as those with a maximum time difference of 4-5 hours with your local team.
This way, you can have a few overlapping work hours — making correspondence a lot easier.
3. Cultural differences and communication gaps
It is essential to ensure your onshore team knows that they will be working with a multicultural offshore team. People in other countries may have different opinions about what constitutes professional communication and work. You should ensure that everyone in your organization is sensitive to any cultural differences.
The different languages, dialects and accents of your overseas team can disrupt smooth and effective communication. To avoid this communication gap, make sure your teams have at least one common language.
4. Performance management
A major concern related to offshore team management is performance management. How will you track their hours and monitor productivity?
Measuring team performance is an essential factor that contributes to business profitability.
Thankfully, a variety of time-tracking software is available to help you keep track of your team’s time and productivity abroad.
3 great tools for successful offshore team management
Choosing the right online solutions is essential to managing overseas teams effectively
3 main benefits of overseas groups
Outsourcing teams abroad has become popular as it benefits all stakeholders — business owners, local teams, and overseas employees.
Take a look at some of the benefits of an effective offshore team:
1. Increase capacity
During peak periods (when you are faced with a large amount of business), an increased workforce will allow you to take on more work.
Instead of turning down jobs, you can access the skills you need to keep your business running without having to hire well-paid domestic employees.
2. Focus on your core business
By letting your offshore team handle non-core activities, you’ll have more time and resources to focus on your most important business activities.
For example, your offshore team might handle customer queries while your local team handles core business activities like sales and marketing.
3. Improved profitability
One of the main reasons why companies choose foreign teams is because you can save money.
When working with a limited budget, you can hire quality staff from abroad at affordable rates.
If your offshore team works from home, you will be able to save on overhead costs, such as:
- Renting office.
- Equipment such as desks, chairs, laptops, printers, etc.
- Consumables such as stationery, printer ink, coffee maker, etc.
Hiring offshore teams can help you achieve your most ambitious goals. You can also save costs and gain quick access to an international talent pool.
However, despite all the benefits, it has its challenges.
We’ve given you a good idea of what’s involved in managing offshore teams and how you can excel at it.
By following the tips and using the tools mentioned in this guide, you should have no trouble managing your offshore teams successfully!
Nissim de Babani
Nissim is the VP of Marketing and Co-Founder of Global Citizens Technologies, an outsourcing company based in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam. He believes in connecting cultures and technologies and spent most of his adult life in Canada, Israel and Vietnam to realize this vision. He has more than 15 years of business experience in these areas. He is an entrepreneur and investor, and his passion is business development in the technology startup environment . He can’t start his day without a cup of mint tea and he loves spending time traveling with his kids.