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Author: Sujata Dhauskar

When most of us hear “offshore”, we raise an eyebrow and rattle off the cons associated with a team being offshore. The perception that has been built over time about offshore team management is that it can be extremely challenging.

These challenges are derived from teams who separated into different locations, the testers at one location and the business owner, architect, designers and developers seated at another location. In a standard meeting, with mostly one-way communication, we expect delivery that day. It’s easy for us to judge sitting thousands of miles away assuming ‘this person just doesn’t get it’.

With extensive experience managing offshore testing teams (and some stressful assignments), here are 7 tips to avoid failure when managing an offshore testing team.

  1. Know the members and their work experience. Introduce them and their contribution to the wider local team.
  2. Be aware and considerate of the cultural, time and especially language differences. On the telephone without the non-verbal cues such as facial expressions, body positioning or hand gestures try to read between the lines; also using short and clear sentences and slowing down the pace of the conversation.
  3. Remember that communication is key. Hold a daily catch-up and include all participants in the conversation by asking them to talk about what they’ve understood and confirm their approach to the task.
  4. Provide system training by creating and sharing documentation. Involve the offshore team members in email conversations, ensuring they are included in the flow of information across the entire team.
  5. Identify team members’ strengths and assign relevant work that will keep them interested, also providing them with a chance to contribute, develop and succeed.
  6. Have total transparency about work, evaluate the deliverable, set realistic expectations and draw the true project picture to avoid disappointment later.
  7. Gather feedback, resolve concerns and appreciate all contributions.

Managing and setting offshore teams without any local representative in the offshore office is an evolving process and a long term goal. One in which I hope to achieve by following these key seven steps.

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