Key factors for setting up and running successful extended teams

Written by: Samantha Wolhuter

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Before we get into it let me explain what extended teams are in the context of nearshore software development for those that aren’t familiar with the term. Nearshoring is the practice of outsourcing business services to a team of professionals that operate in a different country or region to your own business. This practice is becoming more popular as technology and IT skills become more and more specialised.

Having a team of professionals on call to help you build better technology solutions tends to make a lot of sense for big enterprises that prefer to focus their expertise on what they do best and outsourcing for services that are not in their domain. Nearshoring is different to offshoring which is the practice of shifting work to a foreign, distant organization in order to reduce production costs. With Nearshoring businesses expect to benefit from one or more of the following dimensions of proximity: geographic, temporal (time zone), cultural, social and linguistic similarities.

WeAreBrain has invested over a decade in developing their experience in building effective nearshore technology teams with specific focus on product development, R&D operations and Robotic Process Automation. Having collaborated with over 30 European regional partners, agencies, startups and non-profit organisations we have noted some key learnings that have aided setting up and running successful extended nearshore teams.

So we decided we’d run a series of articles that focus on the benefits of nearshoring and how to make the most of your extended teams. In this article, we’ll be reviewing the key factors involved in successfully setting up an extended nearshore team.

The culture connection

Surprisingly this is one the elements of nearshoring that businesses underestimate. Culture fit between your business and your extended team. This entails practical things around how to communicate, when to communicate and in what language to facilitating a real connection to your company culture. It’s incredibly important for your nearshore partner to truly understand the values of your organisation and any tech agency worth its salt should make sure they get to know what really matters for your business. It’s also a little bit of a question of yours, theirs, and ours — just like any relationship finding the middle ground where everybody feels comfortable is important.

Coaching is key

In our experience a successful nearshore relationship is a direct result of consistent coaching and training. WeAreBrain have become specialists in Agile methodologies and we spend a great deal of time upskilling teams on these practices. Using Agile methods for new product development has proven to be the most efficient and effective way to make sure projects come to life as they had been envisioned and while agile methodology has become a staple for technology teams the concept is relatively new to most businesses. Upskilling our client teams and teaching them the agile way has helped promote success. A good nearshore provider will also be focussed on constant upskilling and coaching of the teams they source and build so you can expect top notch quality expertise.

Transparency and trust

If you’ve ever listened to any relationship advice you’d know that transparency and trust are two important elements in ensuring a solid relationship. The same is true for a productive one. Principally both parties in a nearshore partnership need to ensure complete transparency around the project this includes being clear on what you know and you don’t know. How long a project is estimated to take and clear communication when there are delays or misunderstandings. Being dedicated to transparency by its very nature engenders trust. It’s weird when there is a new team in town with new ways of operating. Often times teams feel intimidated and can feel unclear of where they stand. Being absolutely clear about each team’s remit and how they are supposed to participate in the project will help quieten fears and help facilitate a more productive working relationship.

What you should expect from the business managing your nearshore team

When deciding to go nearshore you should be on the lookout for a few key practices that your nearshore team providers engage in, to ensure you’ve found the kind of team you can build a long-term relationship with. They need to offer ongoing coaching for the talent they provide and should take full responsibility of talent management. Keeping your extended team in the know and ahead of the game is part of the deal.

They should also offer intensive vetting and on-boarding services. Taking time to get to know your company and finding the right match for you should be an imperative for them. In their plan for launching the extended team they should provide a solid onboarding program. The idea is that they take the pain out of adding new team members not increase it. Make sure they offer you priority access to new talent and be sure to keep them abreast of your upcoming projects so they can keep on the lookout for the right people for your projects.

Perhaps you’re not sure if choosing to work with a nearshore team would be beneficial for your organisation. You may have realised that you don’t have in-house expertise and hiring permanent staff may just not make sense. You’ll need to do a full audit of what it is you’re missing and what competency gaps you need to fill and for how long. After doing this you’ll be in better space to decide if you should be looking for some externally.

But, what are the benefits?

Deciding to pursue a nearshore strategy can be very beneficial both from a cost and output perspective.

Nearshoring became especially popular because of the cost advantages often associated with finding a well qualified team across the border. In Eastern Europe especially, there are a number of countries that have professional tech teams with exceptional skills out for hire at really great rates. Just by virtue of a different border they come in a little more cheaply than hiring a full team in your own office. To add to that, Eastern European engineering education happens to be measured as one of the best across the globe so you’re guaranteed of exceptional workmanship at a great price.

While cost advantage is important output quality is even more important. Hiring an extended team that specialises in the area you’re finding competency gaps within your own organisation means that you’re likely to have a better quality output. Creating incredible tech products is what they do and there should be some peace of mind in that you don’t need to try overextend your own team by insisting they learn to develop in areas they have no expertise in.

Added to a higher level or expertise, extended teams are focussed. Your nearshore team will be 100% focussed on the task at hand as that is what they have been hired to do. Not being in the office actually tends to mean that your team is able to keep their eyes on the prize at all times. This in turn does result in faster go-to-market for all projects.

The biggest benefits

Some of the the biggest benefits we’ve seen from successful nearshoring involve your end user or customer. Ongoing digitisation and rising customer expectations means you need to innovate to stay alive. Working with the experts means you get to deliver products to customers that surprise and delight them. Added to that, Innovation engages people, working on new projects and learning new ways of working will reinvigorate your own team. Guided by a professional team of experts your team will get to be on the forefront of your company’s growth efforts.

Setting up successful extended nearshore teams is not done easily, it requires due diligence and a core understanding of what a business truly needs in terms specialist expertise. WeAreBrain is particularly passionate about this as it has become a core focus for our business. In next week’s article we’ll be looking at why extended nearshore development teams are the future for exceptional businesses.

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Samantha Wolhuter
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Samantha Wolhuter
Sam is in charge of writing a big portion of WeAreBrain’s creative content. She is a digital nomad always on the go, inspiring us with her words from some of the world's most beautiful locations.
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