You decided to build your outsourcing team offshore. You calculated your costs and setup your budget. Make sure you account for an adequate amount of travel between you and your team. Yes travel is expensive and it takes time, but that the secret sauce to make it work.
I am going to address separately travel by you or your leadership team to visit your offshore team and their trips to visit your office. You need to plan on interacting with your teams every 2-3 months. Yes you heard it right ‘two to three months’.
When you first establish your team it’s important for you to establish expectation and set culture. You have to get it right from day one or it will be much harder to change later. Unfortunately emails, phone calls, and even video conferencing doesn’t get you there. You need to set a right form of communication between onshore and offshore team. For that your new employees need to know that you are approachable that it’s ok for them to contact your. They have to know that they can interact with you. You can’t get there without getting on a plane and flying half way across the world.
The second reason which is as important is that they have to know that they matter. They are part of your team. You need to demonstrate to them that they are an equal part of your team. This alone would make it necessary for you to travel. You are trying to build a team you can’t do it without inperson interactions.
Now that we’ve covered why you need to visit your team lets talk about bring them here. Doing so is as important as going their.
First of all they need to know how your team operates. They need to experience first hand how they communicate and operate. Also it lets them to be introduced to a larger part of your local team. This will go a very long way in bringing down walls between them and allowing for better communications.
Another reason why it’s important is because this is the BIGGEST incentive you give to your offshore teams. Most of them dream of coming to US even for 1-2 weeks. You make their dreams come true. What better incentive can you come up for someone to perform at an expected level so this actually happens.
If you setup your team right you should have enough savings to make this travel possible. This needs to be an expected part of your budget, something that you plan for just like you do for computers and salaries.
whether a software project is outsourced to a 3rd Party Services Company or work is outsourced from an MNC HQ to a captive R&D center in another country/location, it is important that the general travels to meet, interact and work with the soldiers. The soldiers like to hear from the horse’s mouth and not the usual “I don’t know, but I will check with XXX and get back to you”. This type of short-term co-location creates a feeling of belonging in the minds & hearts of the soldiers to the large end goal (or vision) of the project, apart from ironing out operational issues. The typical employee in outsourcing companies always looks for “leaders” …
However one thing that is rapidly changing (at least in the Indian Context and for established big service companies) is that no longer the average indian software professional dreams of getting to US or other western country as the Top-Priority in his career. Market research by reputed consultancies like Zinnov (which specializes in outsourcing), show that Quality of work and work environment is valued more than the compensation. Travel opportunity is nowhere in the list and especially the short-term travel which has no financial gains for the employee (cost of living in India is already very high).