Offshore visits

“Why do you have to go to Romania?” one of my Scouts asked me.
“For work.” I responded.

And that was about the entire talk on that subject. But there is more to that subject than such a simple response.

At Componence we are working with offshore units for most of our product and project development. We have our own units in Kiev (Ukraine), Lviv (Ukraine) and Jaipur (India). Besides that we work with people from PGS in Poland and from Netrom in Romania, where I happen to be now (that’s why the question in my intro was asked). These countries have lower wages than we are used to in the Netherlands, making our development hours cheaper for us and our customers. Besides that we can be more scalable. But this was not about the advantages of offshoring.

So we offshore. People in other countries are delivering parts for projects I do. The question remains… why do you go there? A lot of communication can be done online via e-mail, skype, jira (our issues tracking system) and wiki. But meeting face-to-face is very important.

You can see how people react on what you tell. How irritating can it be if somebody says yes, or you think he does, but actual he says “yes, well uhm…”. When you meet each other you can see understanding, confusion, irriation, approval, confidence, etc. Some times to subtile for online communication, but triggered by face-to-face contact. So you can interpret each others responses better.

Show commitment. The commitment is there, but it can appear otherwise. From a lot of distance it can appear really easy that you don’t care. People that ask questions and have to wait because you are in a meeting can think you are not caring enough, have a day off or have other priorities. By taking the time to meet the offshore team you show you really care and you are just as eager to finish the project successfull as the offshore project team.

You can get to know each other better. If you met somebody you have a better picture of how somebody reacts, what’s normal and what not. You know the environment, better understand the culture, which can make a reaction more logical (or not). Besides that…. why not have a beer with the people you work with.

Talk more. Of course we are extremely used to communicate online, but then most of the times communication is efficient. Let’s be honest… during company dinners most people are still talking about work. At these moments a lot of information is exchanged which is left our during normal (online) communication.

Create a team spirit. The most efficient teams are teams that enjoy working together. It’s much easier enjoying teamwork with people you know.

Of course this is not an complete list and it’s (mainly) focused on working with an offshore team, not finding one.