Successful outsourcing requires more than finding the right partner or defining the project requirements. According to Statista, 50% of projects that are outsourced fall short of the client’s expectations. In 30% of cases, this was caused by poor communication with the outsourcing provider. In fact, the quality of your communication can make or break a project. That is why it’s one of the key factors for a successful outsourcing venture.
In this blog post, we will explore the importance of effective communication in the software development process and discuss strategies that can help facilitate communication between you and your outsourcing team. So, if you’re ready to enhance your outsourced software development and improve collaboration within your team, keep reading!
The Importance of Communication in Outsourcing Development
When you outsource software development, effective communication ensures that all stakeholders are on the same page regarding the specifications, objectives, and schedule of the project. Also, high-quality communication in outsourced software development helps:
- provide clarity as to the product requirements, features, specifications, timelines, and priorities to develop a robust solution;
- avoid minor misunderstandings that can grow into larger outsourcing communication issues leading to delays, rework, and bugs;
- quickly adapt to changes in requirements and implement them with minimal disruption;
- continuously improve development approaches and eliminate the likelihood of mistakes by arranging on-time feedback from both sides;
- catch many technical and design problems in their early stages. You can clarify uncertainties and ensure the final product meets expectations for functionality and performance.
The more open you are about your internal structure, methods, and expectations, the easier it will be for an outsourced team to integrate into your business and provide the outcomes you require.
The Negative Impact of Poor Communication
While outsourcing can bring numerous benefits to your company, poor communication can result in the whole project failing. Unclear communication management can result in misaligned expectations and other misunderstandings, leading to strained relationships between you and the outsourcing team.
The most common communication problems in software development include:
- Errors and quality issues. When you fail to explain your expectations clearly, the vendor may end up delivering a solution that doesn’t meet your goals and requirements. This leads to rework and errors that can negatively impact the quality of your application.
- Reduced productivity. Long approval processes, endless discussions, and lack of direct supervision over the outsourced processes can result in inefficiencies and delays, reducing overall productivity.
- Cost implications. The outsourcing provider may have to spend additional development time and request extra money to fix errors or rework that could have been avoided with clear communication.
- Missed deadlines and project delays. Unclear instructions and a lack of updates about project changes and shifting priorities may lead to confusion between you and your development team. This can result in rework, missed deadlines, frustration, and even termination of the outsourcing contract.
- Employee dissatisfaction and turnover. Team members may get dissatisfied when they have trouble comprehending instructions, find themselves working on the wrong tasks, or not having their issues addressed. This could negatively affect the stability of the project and raise turnover rates.
- Legal disputes. Finally, poor communication in software development can result in legal issues such as contractual disputes, compliance disagreements, and intellectual property conflicts that can be expensive to resolve.
Fortunately, you can eliminate all these negative impacts by being aware of the most typical communication challenges and ways to overcome them.
Common Outsourcing Communication Issues
Like any business, outsourcing comes with its own set of challenges and hurdles to overcome. Drawing on 22+ years of experience in software development, we can list several common communication issues we’ve faced in working with our clients:
- сultural and language barriers;
- time zone differences;
- technical jargon and domain knowledge;
- misalignment in expectations.
Cultural and language barriers
Think about the cultural gap in advance when interviewing candidates for the outsourcing position. Make sure the vendor has bilingual professionals so both of you are on the same page, communicate frequently, and feel free to ask questions.
Even if you use a common language, e.g. English, different cultures may have different communication styles. For example, some cultures may be more open in their communication, while others may use more guarded language. So, keep in mind this cultural barrier while selecting the outsourcing partner globally.
Language is never an issue for our clients at HQSoftware. All our software engineers and other experts speak English fluently, making development communication a breeze.
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Time zone differences
If you choose an outsourcing provider located in a different time zone, it can be challenging to schedule meetings and communicate in real-time. This can lead to missing timely feedback and, as a result, interfere with project delivery.
To overcome this challenge, consider flexible work arrangements such as staggered work hours or compressed workweeks to accommodate time zone differences.
When we collaborate with clients located in a different time zone, we schedule regular weekly meetings, considering our clients’ operating times. We always set the same-day response time and track all communication in a central system for accountability. All of our clients have access to HQSoftware’s Jira system to monitor the progress of development at their convenience.
Technical jargon and domain knowledge
When communicating during the software development process, it’s essential to use clear language, avoiding idioms, jargon, and complex technical terms. These may not be familiar to your vendor in the first stages of communication.
Vendors, on the other side, should use simplified explanations and analogies to describe technical concepts in a way the client can understand. At the end of technical discussions, you may ask to summarize the main points in simple, non-technical language, to ensure you fully understand the process.
To prevent misunderstandings, we at HQSoftware carefully verify that our clients are fully comprehending all the information we provide. We break down complex processes into simple steps, provide previous use cases, and re-explain concepts in multiple ways until there is a clear understanding.
Misalignment in expectations
The first step toward ensuring both parties understand each other’s expectations is to clearly define the scope of work. This should include a detailed description of the tasks to be performed, the expected deliverables, timelines, and any other relevant information. The more the team understands the “why” behind tasks, the better job they can do.
To illustrate complex ideas and establish a shared understanding of the project, implement visual aids such as flowcharts and diagrams. You can also display samples of previous work or mock-ups of the desired outcome. And to mitigate misunderstandings during development, ask your vendor for summary notes after meetings.
For example, project managers at HQSoftware prepare reports and send follow-ups to our customers after each communication, on the same day, to make sure everyone is on the same page.
It’s also easier to overcome communication issues when you use the right project management approach that can help you identify bugs in the early stage, refine requirements, and regularly review the progress. Agile methodology has proved the most satisfying for us and our clients.
Agile Communication in Software Development
Agile communication in software development emphasizes short iterations, frequent inspection, and regular feedback between you and your outsourcing provider. Here are some key aspects of Agile communication that we follow at HQSoftware:
- We typically break the projects into two-week sprints. Our regular sprint involves planning, development, and testing a defined scope of work, as well as review and retrospective meetings. At the end of each sprint, our clients get a set of shippable features to evaluate and make some changes, if needed. Using this iterative approach, our developers can make incremental modifications to the product in response to your request.
- We hold short daily meetings within the development team in which team members briefly discuss what they did the previous day, describe plans, and discuss any challenges they face. This promotes transparency and quick problem resolution.
- Our development team uses visual representations of work progress, like burndown charts, remaining in a sprint over time to see if a team is on track to complete the sprint’s goals. For remote work, we employ virtual whiteboards that are visible to everyone, where software developers can display their thoughts.
- We always prioritize lists of features and tasks. The product backlog contains all features needed for future sprints.
In summary, by following the principles of agile communication, our software development teams can quickly adapt to changing project requirements and deliver high-quality products that meet market needs.
Best Practices to Communicate Effectively with the Software Development Team
Frequent development communication helps build rapport between remote teams and establishes a climate of transparency, fostering trust in the outsourcing relationship. By following these recommendations, you can communicate more effectively with your software development team, improving collaboration and enhancing project outcome.
Establish and document communication
When you start the project, discuss the way you will communicate with your outsourcing provider. Choose the most convenient platform and schedule calls and video conferences with consideration for different time zones.
At HQsoftware, we always negotiate the method and frequency of delivering reports for our clients. If you have any prepared templates that you’d like to use, you can provide them. Also, you can choose a tool for progress tracking. It can be our internal Jira and/or your current system.
Choose the most effective communication lines and channels
The most effective way to collaborate with your vendor is to schedule face-to-face discussions for weekly or urgent conversations and set up a chat for ongoing outsourcing communication issues. In-person interactions reduce the likelihood of miscommunication and help remote teams establish trust.
Establish communication channels such as email, Slack, Google Meet, or any other project management software, and make sure that everyone on the team has access. At HQSoftware, we always consider an alternative channel to make collaborating convenient for you.
Provide your team hierarchy to the outsourcing partner
Before starting the project, you’ll need to allocate responsibility within your internal team. You should define which employee can make decisions and approve costs and bills, who will communicate with the vendor most often, and who will merely monitor the development progress.
Then set up a schedule for when your coworkers are available during working hours and notify your vendor about the time and duties in your company, so the development team can reach out to the right person with any issue that arises. You can require the same responsibility chart from your outsourcing development team as well.
Leverage meeting notes
To track progress and verify decisions made, you may use meeting notes as an ongoing record. It will be easier to prepare for future meetings by referring back to past notes linked to the corresponding agenda, to keep the original context.
As your software development provider, we follow up with you after each development communication to ensure that everyone has the same goals and that the issue is being addressed effectively. All agreements are fixed and sent to you the same day, while the details are still fresh.
Maintain frequent contact
More frequent communication allows your team to identify issues sooner, when they are smaller and easier to fix. This avoids major delays or rework later. Checking in often helps clarify if development is progressing as planned or if course corrections are needed to stay on target.
At HQSoftware, we provide weekly status checks to keep both sides focused on the goals and deadlines.
Overall, with established communication, you can quickly catch and solve development issues and enhance mutual understanding with the development team. As a software provider, we’ve listed a few tips that will help you improve your communication skills:
- Share your business concepts and work culture details with the outsourcing partner during the early discussions.
- Create and share a strategic project roadmap with specific milestones and timelines with your vendor.
- Define and communicate your process standards, key performance indicators (KPIs), and course correction plans. Ensure that all these details are well documented and accessible to the vendor.
- Make sure that the vendor provides you with feedback reports after each communication, to monitor the progress of the project.
If you need more information about our project management and communication processes with clients, please don’t hesitate to contact us. Our specialists will schedule a free consultation to provide you with all the necessary information.
Head of Production
To ensure the outstanding quality of HQSoftware’s solutions and services, I took the position of Head of Production and manager of the Quality Assurance department. Turn to me with any questions regarding our tech expertise.
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