Simple Guide to Managing Time Zone Differences in Offshore Software Development
Time is everything when it comes to business trade, especially when you’re offshoring to a location with a huge time zone difference. Intimidating? Yes, it can be, but Full Scale has a lot of experience in this area and we know how to manage time zone differences.
Offshoring is a business process that worked like magic to a lot of startup businesses. But akin to magic tricks, offshoring is successful only if executed properly. One intimidating factor that businesses find in offshoring is the difference between time zones. They often ask “How do I manage my offshore team when they’re countries away?” “Can I handle them with more than ten-hour difference between us?” These questions pop up persistently on the Internet. The time zone difference can be challenging, however, it is much more beneficial than one can ever think.
Disadvantages that may arise due to geographical distance and time conflict
Being an offshore outsourcing company, we know and acknowledge the challenges that accompany time zone difference. Even the time difference in the various states in the U.S. can already be troublesome, and how much more if you are working with a team halfway around the world with more or else ten-hour difference?
To prepare you on your offshoring journey, here are a couple of challenges that may be encountered due to time zone difference:
Meetings and time management
Communication is vital when working with an offshore team. Ideas should be conveyed properly and comprehensively to swiftly and efficiently deliver the output. However, communication seems to be a lot harder than you think when your team is countries away and a few hours ahead. Some business owners find it hard to keep up with the time difference. Some even stay late at night just to set a meeting for the offshore team. Tiresome, isn’t it?
Language and cultural barrier
Different time zones, different location, and so is the practice of different cultures. Let’s say, for example, an American company hired an offshore team from Asia. American culture is quite different from Asian culture. There may be some aspect that one nationality would find the actions of the other quite offensive and vice versa. This kind of misunderstanding, cultural barrier, is one of the reasons that offshore outsourcing fails. The difference of Western culture from Eastern culture is quite far-fetched that is why some businesses are having so many second thoughts and doubts when offshoring.
Offshoring from a different country also means different calendar holidays and weekends. There are countries in which their weekends are not aligned with your country’s weekends. Holidays also differ depending on which country you are doing business with, which may cause a problem. Delays, miscommunication, and poor quality are some of the consequences of time zone difference.
Advantages gained from different time zones
Though there are challenges encountered due to this difference, its benefits outweigh the risks. These are actually just some of the advantages of the difference in time zones with regards to offshoring.
Work round the clock
They say that time is gold in business. If possible, businesses would want to work twenty-four hours a day just to compete in the wider market. Guess what, this is quite possible with offshoring. Since time zones differ in offshoring, around-the-clock production can be achieved. A normal work day would only consist of eight hours a day, after that you need to let your employees go home and rest. But if you have an offshore team, they can continue work even if your in-house team is comfortably resting in their beds. The time zone difference also gives more coverage in giving quality service to clients. Imagine if your system fails during midnight with your in-house team snoring their night away. Yes, customer service centers are there for that purpose but some customers need to talk to an employee who has the knowledge of the system. Then, you can call your offshore team to help with the situation. This way, issues can be resolved spot on before it gets out of hand.
When your team coordinates accordingly and efficiently, you get better and faster results. The output is twice than just your in-house team. Since your production runs more hours than usual, your team’s productivity is doubled. You have less time catching up deadlines in production and use more time for planning innovations or a new business.
Deepen thought pool
As mentioned before, different nations hold various cultures. What works in the West may not work in the East and what works best in the East may not be compatible in the West. Though cultural difference can be a challenge, it could also work at your advantage. If both cultures compromise and see things objectively, ideas can be shared and a common ground can be achieved. With thorough communication, an innovative concept can be conceived from the shared ideas that may help with the team’s productivity and efficiency.
Stay ahead of new development
Clairvoyance would’ve been an awesome gift for businesses; you get a glimpse of what the future would be for the global market. An offshore team may not have clairvoyance but it is as near as a gift. Working in multiple time zones would mean that businesses plant their eyes and ears on the development of other nations. News and information are received first-hand even before they hit the global business news.
Tips and guides on managing time zone difference
Full Scale has worked with a lot of clients that happily took a step towards their goals. Our experience in offshoring gained us a bunch of lessons and wisdom on how to manage an offshore team especially with working across time zones.
Communication has been a highlight in every offshoring business so it is fair to keep this one in mind at all times. When you communicate with your offshore development team, it is not enough to just schedule a fifteen-minute meeting and tell them what to do and have them carry on whatever they are doing. We encourage our clients to constantly communicate with their offshore team. It isn’t necessary to purely talk about updates and the software. Take this time to know your offshore team and share your ideas and goals so you can convey your desired outcome of the project. This will minimize misunderstanding and delays.
Overlap your schedules
One of the most effective strategies is making sure that you overlap your schedule with your offshore team. It can be a few hours in the morning or in the evening. This strategy ensures that your offshore team recognizes your presence even though you aren’t with them physically. This also ensures that you can ask for updates and work with them for a few hours to smoothly produce the project.
Make use of video conferencing
With the various latest technology makes communication so much easier for businesses. Distance and time zone difference is no longer seen as a terrible hindrance compared to earlier years. With the use of applications and the internet, you can simply contact your offshore team for a video conference. Make sure that you constantly ask for updates and ask your team if there are problems or difficulties to ensure that communication is open.
Listen to Episode 47 of the Startup Hustle Podcast – Offshoring, 10 Tips
Treat them like your own team
One thing not to forget is that your offshore team is part of your team. Though they are located halfway around the world, they work on your project and are aiming the same goals. Your offshore team is not an outsider, rather they are an extension of your team.
Working across multiple time zone can be very tricky but very beneficial once you properly execute this strategy. Matt DeCoursey and Matt Watson, founders of Full Scale, have encountered the challenges in working across time zones. Since 2009, they have recruited developers from the Philippines to work on projects of their respective companies and they successfully overcame that challenge. Now, they are sharing this strategy to other startups who wish to scale up their businesses. Full Scale makes sure that the time zone difference does not create chaos while working on a project thus the creation of our development process, Guided Development.
At Full Scale, your ideas are valued more than anything else. You are in control of your project, on how it should be produced. We take the burden of finding suitable developers off your plate. We do recruitment, assessment, and hiring. During the production, we also have project managers that can help manage your offshore team. Pair our development process with the tips and guides above, your business will scale up the just like how you want it.
Don’t let the time zones stop you from achieving your business goals. Be wise in handling your time and your team. Choose the right offshore development center.