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Maciej Szymczuk
Regional Director
USA

(+1) 929 262 9149

maciej.szymczuk@softwarehut.com


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Let's talk

You signed the deal with an IT company and have commenced your agreement with a set of positive and enthusiastic expectations. Now, the challenge is maintaining optimal IT project quality throughout the development.

From your perspective, things are already going well from the ground up. The terms have been ironed out and ready to get into action. But expectations change. Realities also change.

In fact, it’s safe to assume that things just don’t stay the same.

However, you want to ensure that your initial decision remains a fantastic decision. And by paying attention to some little-known problem areas – you can maintain a positive, transparent, and cooperative relationship with a remote team software developers.

What many project managers fail to understand, are how to keep this contact and communication smooth and as effective as possible.

Maintaining that celebratory atmosphere is a simple scenario – and keeping that positive dynamic rolling is a simple matter of preventative measures. At this point, you will be facing the realities of communication regarding your IT project.

Remember one golden rule, don’t go looking for results immediately. Seeking early progress is a fool’s errand – as micromanaging would impend the overall process of creating the project. Maintaining contact throughout the project, and over the longer term may be the far healthier option.

The love will remain. However, you need to maintain contact as well as possible, as the best interaction means open lines of communication on both sides.

Getting Started

I want to lay the groundwork for the agreement, and for what is about to happen when signing the deal. Hiring an outsourced development team by your company means a unique approach must be taken to ensure smooth cooperation.

It’ll look great at the start, but to keep it going, you’ll need consistency, in even the tiniest, most mundane aspects of your cooperation. Keep meetings and catch-ups at regular times, ensuring a mutually respectful environment. Conference regularity is among the items within your control. Most other issues, however, are not.

Business objectives may change over time, which, for whichever reason, could have an impact on the priorities within your project. Events at your company or other external factors can also cause an ill effect. Be sure to keep contingencies in mind.

With that, awareness is a valuable starting-off point to commence the project.

Communication

Blurred lines within the relationship can derail phases, cause sparring outcomes, and even a delayed or incomplete project.

So if you opt for merely ‘maintaining the course’ without consistent contact, sooner or later, things may take a bumpy turn. Be sure to keep abreast of any issues and comprehend all underlying situations crystal clear.

The means of achieving this communication is everywhere, and in many forms. Whichever your preferred mode of interacting, there will be an option to suit.

  1. For simple chats, the likes of Slack, Skype, Wrike, and Stride are optimal ways to go.
  2. Catch-up calls are just as important – as there are few things as practical like voice communication.
  3. Scrums, on the other hand, would be particularly important in the case of Agile workflow methodologies. Be sure to join Sprint Review meetings and keep up to speed on the following items:
    • Refining product backlog
    • Requirements clarification
    • Estimates
    • Blockers
  4. Above all else, subject to availability, be sure to set face-to-face meetings. Most crucial to this process are personal visits. In-spite of technology improving our means of communication, the most basic form of gathering, remains the most impressionable.

Language

English is universal. However, in many cases, it is still a second language for one or even both parties. Be sure to use unambiguous words and expressions that cannot be easily misinterpreted. Cultural differences affect even the simplest phrasings.

Words such as ‘soon’ may mean a completely different thing in Germany than, for instance, Colombia. Jokes can throw conversations off just as well. Excessive humour, whether blunt or sarcastic is also at risk of misinterpretation. Be sure to pay close attention to this as well.

For peace-of-mind, make sure to attain feedback after issuing instructions. This is the most sure-fire way to verify understanding of your messages.

A textbook scenario of misunderstandings can be seen here:

Customer: I need to have a different colour on the second page.

Developer: When do you need it?

Customer: As soon as possible.

Developer: Great. I’ll take care of it.

The problem is, ‘As soon as possible’ has many meanings. A developer should have asked the customer to define ‘ASAP’, but a customer should also be more specific regarding the deadline.

Making requests with measurable objectives, such as a defined time or result, is a simple way to make sure of this.

Clarity

Is everybody ‘on the same page’?

That is, does everybody understand one another? A lack thereof can mean a significant fault line in the middle of a project. Fuelled by misunderstandings and mistakes, this is the epicentre that could bring it all down.

Wasted time rectifying mistakes is among several potential problems. To avoid this, please consider:

Defining objectives

When assigning these goals and targets, have you received feedback or follow-ups from your development team?

Timelines

Keeping things on-track needs to be defined by intro, and outro meetings during crucial stages of the projects. Have you set meetings and milestones accordingly?

Outstanding Concerns

Voicing any grievances is essential at the earliest possible stage of the project. Have you made clear any reservations, and are you confident that these have been addressed?

Events Happen

External factors, like a significant event, or even internal factors within your company, could have unintended consequences. Any of these can override priorities and force alterations. The question is, are you ready for it?

Preparing contingencies is vital to ensuring a project remains on good-footing in the event of sudden change. Depending on the severities of potentially relevant issues – you may need to prepare emergency budgets, or allocate additional time for project phases.

Respective of severities of issues, you must be prepared to establish a potential margin of change for your project. I advise doing this at the earliest possible stage, to maintain a rigorous framework on which your project can fall later.

When preparing for these events, be sure to keep a close eye on the performance of your teams. Are they performing in the same manner, and to the same standard as had been outlined in the initial meetings?

Furthermore, as regularity in communication is essential, are your outsourced IT team remaining transparent and staying in contact? If not, consider reaching out, and insist on a conversation.

Manage Expectations

Of course, self-awareness is decisive when setting your objectives with your team.

Have you established trust with them, and do you understand them? Some teams may be prone to saying yes to even some unattainable requests. Therefore, it is important to consider how realistic your expectations are in the first place.

When setting goals and objectives, have you established clear deliverables with realistic deadlines for each item? Additionally, have you personally acquainted with this team, and is there a general sense of honesty and transparency amongst its members?

I understand this aspect is considerably immeasurable, however, if you feel confident in the outcomes of these questions, then you may proceed. Otherwise, remain cautious.

Always Keep This in-Mind

Remember why you felt confident in the first place. Your expectations vs realisations in the working of your team may have caused momentary disillusionment, though, do keep in mind that in most planned operations, things do tend to change. As they say, trees are majestic, but even they are guided by the gentlest of winds.

As a rule, think back to your original objectives. Are they being followed, and if not, are there adjustments being made to satisfy these objectives? A company with a good track record in achieving projects should be able to provide this kind of information.

In all, your instincts and attentiveness are critical to your success. Excellent company credentials are vital too. But above all, your awareness will guide your efforts to a deserved project victory.

Know the signs and succeed.

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International Sales Director

A successful, experienced senior manager and business professional with a track record of growing both revenues and margins. He has over 30 years of managerial experience in the fields of strategic, operational and sales in leading local and international companies operating in Sweden and Poland. Specialties: Business Development, Sales management, Start-ups.

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