In my last blog post I discussed why hiring an off-shore firm to build your software, mobile app, or website will not save you money.  However, there are ways to make it work.  These tips are not suited for every organization, but they may be suited to yours…

1)      Start small. Don’t make your first project with an off-shore firm a large one.  Do something relatively inexpensive and safe such as quality assurance testing to be sure there are no bugs in a new software update you had built.  Learn how the firm works, how the project is managed, and whether the fit is good.

2)      Make sure the firm uses tools such as Skype and Go To Meeting to ease communications, provide demonstrations, and ask questions. Interacting in real time with all parties looking at the same thing can make a big difference.  However, balance this with #3.

3)      Hire a firm that has a local representative who is from the country where the off-shore firm is based. Being able to have someone serve as “engagement manager” from the firm who can come in, talk to your people, talk to your customers, and get fully immersed in the objectives of both the project and the organization will help considerably.  This person can ease communication and project management strains while being better prepared to guide the project in a way that best addresses your needs.  Plus, should the project start to go awry you want to have someone you can call into your office.

4)      Know the reliability of the firm’s Internet access and electricity. Even the best communication technology is useless when it can’t be accessed.

5)      Send your project manager to work at the off-shore firm’s site. Obviously this only makes sense for very important or very expensive projects, but it is critical to ensuring that the development team understands the organizational objectives underlying the functional requirements.  You need someone onsite who can answer small, though essential, questions that pop up about the project while the developer is writing code.

6)      Be willing to make an investment in a relationship. Finding the right off-shore firm, working out communication kinks, resolving project management issues takes time.  But if you start small and are committed to building a relationship with the right firm, then you’ll have greater project success.