Offshore Team Management Guide for Startups

In recent years, globalization has reached further heights through leaps and bounds in technological developments. With online communication and cloud-based storage and services, collaboration within a company can go beyond the four walls of an office. Working with an offshore team is one such example.

Choosing to hire an offshore team has several advantages. Not only are offshore teams more cost-effective, but they are also able to handle non-core business tasks reliably and professionally. For startup businesses, working with an offshore team can make all the difference in accommodating higher workloads and increasing profitability.

This article will provide you with the right strategies and tools needed to manage an offshore team effectively.

Offshore Teams vs. Outsourced Teams

The terms “offshore team” and “outsourced team” can sound deceptively similar, but they refer to two different workforce setups.

An offshore team is a group of employees that operate outside of the country a business is based in. This team is treated as part of your staff, meaning that they receive the same benefits as your internal teams and are paid under the same payroll system.

Meanwhile, an outsourced team is a team that works under a third-party organization that provides certain services to businesses. These services are agreed upon and paid for in a contract between the business and the service provider. Thus, the service provider covers the wages and benefits of the outsourced team.

The benefits of outsourcing versus utilizing an offshore team will depend on the kind of business you run, the tasks that need to be assigned to a team, and other factors that affect your operations and management.

Best Strategies for Offshore Team Management

Working with an offshore team has its own set of challenges. Knowing the right strategies is essential for ensuring smooth communication and an efficient workflow overall. Below are some of the best practices in managing an offshore team:

  • Keep business objectives in mind

Every decision for your startup business—including hiring an offshore team—should align with your business objectives. The goals and milestones for your offshore team should be clear and well-communicated before embarking on the hiring process.

Any progress for these goals should be dutifully monitored and evaluated to ensure that they are still aligned with the growth of your business.

  • Focus on performance, not experience

Every business needs employees who are reliable and can deliver on assigned tasks. This applies to your potential offshore teams as well.

Depending on your business’ industry and your chosen offshore location, some candidates may not have enough experience to support their applications. Consider creating a skill test or trial run to gauge their fit for your business, rather than solely rely on previous work experience for their qualifications.

  • Encourage good working relations

One of the biggest challenges with having both local and offshore teams is creating a sense of unity and good working relations between either side. These connections are essential to supporting collaboration, company culture, and overall performance.

Additionally, you may need to familiarize your clients with your offshore team. Despite their distance, they still represent a vital part of your business. Facilitating these interactions allows clients to recognize the talent behind exceptional work and have a clearer line of accountability for projects.

  • Keep constant communication

Good communication is always a top priority regardless of company structure or business size. From setting expectations, plotting timelines and milestones, to tracking progress and deliverables—constant communication with your offshore team can make all the difference.

You can leverage various communication channels such as email, audio and video calls, and instant messaging to support your team efforts. Meetings and progress check-ins can be scheduled regularly to ensure all updates and issues are communicated in a timely manner.

  • Streamline your workflow

A well-organized workflow with clear procedures at every step is essential for keeping projects efficient and on track. Whether your company uses a pre-existing methodology or one created to suit your specific business needs, your teams should be made familiar with all the steps and processes involved.

Each step of the workflow and overall methodology should be documented for future reference. These resources can make onboarding your offshore team faster and provide them with clear and exact standards to work within for every project.

Project heads and other managers should also be available to clarify any issue and provide clear directions to your teams.

  • Use digital tools to manage your team

Much of everyday tasks within the business are powered or supported by digital tools and software. Having an offshore team for your business will rely on these applications to collaborate on tasks, brainstorm solutions, and monitor overall progress throughout each project.

There are a wide variety of digital tools—both paid and free-for-use—that facilitate these tasks and more. It is a matter of finding which ones best suit the needs of your teams and are compatible with your existing workflow. From there, you can gather feedback from your teams on newly-implemented tools and adjust accordingly.

  • Trust your offshore team

Having a team operating in another country will inevitably create a divide—not just physically but also culturally. These differences may lead to miscommunication, differences in approach, or even workplace behaviors.

As a result, some managers tend to micromanage to see their desired results. Unfortunately, this may have the opposite effect and create greater conflict between employees and managers. Instead, allow your team to be self-sufficient through comprehensive onboarding, clear and regular communication, and easily-accessible resources for referencing.

Tools and Applications for Managing Offshore Teams

Digital tools and applications are necessary for supporting your management strategies for your offshore teams. These programs cover various aspects of the overall workflow—from project management, time and task tracking, and communication. 

  • Time Doctor

A common challenge to working with an offshore team is monitoring and managing work performance. Time Doctor is an app that tracks hours on selected tasks and projects, creating records of billable hours and accomplishments. These features also make performance evaluation streamlined by generating reports on employee productivity.

On top of this, the application also provides direct monitoring through idle time pop-ups or screen captures at set intervals.

  • Microsoft Teams

Having a reliable central hub for communications facilitates smoother collaboration. Microsoft Teams is a communication tool for instant messaging, meetings, audio, and video calls. It also has file-sharing functionalities, reducing friction amidst collaboration.

Microsoft Teams also supports overall project management by integrating third-party project management apps.

  • Jira

Jira is a tracking tool developed to work with the Agile methodology for programming-oriented projects. Aside from real-time work progress tracking, it also offers convenient management of more complex projects through customizable or templated workflows and project boards. 

  • Trello

If you are testing a new type of workflow or unsure if project management apps can work with your tailored methodology, Trello provides a low-cost solution. This online tool works for basic project management, letting managers organize projects into various Kanban boards. From there, tasks can be assigned to different users and monitored.

Paid accounts can integrate with third-party apps for file sharing, communications, and more. 

  • Asana

Asana is a project management tool that shows an overview of project timelines, work progress, and other third-party integrations that allow for a streamlined and fuss-free workflow.

Projects can be grouped into portfolios for long-term monitoring, and the built-in calendar function displays ongoing projects and tasks to maximize scheduling and time allotment within your team. 

  • Slack

Slack is primarily a messaging platform with multiple role assignments and channels, audio and video call capabilities, as well as robust search options. The platform also uses Slackbot and other bots to automate reminders and other customizable functions.

These key features make communication between teams and other groups more organized to support your overall workflow.

  • Zoom

Zoom is one of the most popular audio and video call tools available. Its easy-to-use features and ability to accommodate large amounts of users in one call make it an ideal option for large team meetings, knowledge transfers, and even webinar setups.

The application also supports screen sharing, whiteboard, and recording options for enhancing interactions on-call.

Wrapping Up

offshore team management

offshore team management

Hiring an offshore team can provide businesses—especially startups—with a skilled workforce without going over budget. However, this type of setup comes with its own set of unique challenges. The key to finding success with an offshore team is to keep in mind that they are still a key part of the company despite their physical separation.

With the support of digital tools and software, the right strategies can help businesses adapt to these differences and cultivate a workforce that cooperates and gets the job done.