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Offshore Outsourcing: How to Handle Time Zone Differences

Offshore Outsourcing: How to Handle Time Zone Differences

Table of Contents

Time Zone Differences have been shown to be a substantial impediment to the growth and productivity of any industry, including Offshore Outsourcing or Business Process Outsourcing (BPO). However, with the growth and progress of Internet technology, regional distribution is no longer an impediment to companies’ business.

What is Offshore Outsourcing

Offshore Outsourcing: How to Handle Time Zone Differences

When a business hires a third-party supplier to handle operations from a different nation, this is known as Offshore Outsourcing. Offshore outsourcing firms deliver services from low-cost locations throughout the world in order to minimize expenses and access seasoned CX professionals.

Business process outsourcing (BPO) has a rich history dating back to the 1970s when it initially served as a means for companies to enhance call operations. Over time, it has evolved into a multi-billion dollar industry encompassing various sectors, including IT, manufacturing, and back-office processes like human resources, payroll, and accounting.

While there is some debate about the exact origins of offshore outsourcing in the United States, it is commonly believed to have gained traction towards the end of the twentieth century. During this era, manufacturers started outsourcing non-core business tasks to external firms, aiming to optimize process efficiency.

Madhavan Narayanan sparked a Twitter argument with this witty tweet about the history of offshore outsourcing in the United States, although the general opinion is that it began near the end of the twentieth century.

Offshore Outsourcing: How to Handle Time Zone Differences

The Offshore Outsourcing market is currently worth about $232.32 billion and is predicted to develop at an 8.5% compound annual growth rate in the near future. One reason for the projection is the financial impact of the COVID-19 epidemic, as corporations will continue to outsource non-essential work to reduce overhead. However, it does not account for the shifting attitudes of business owners about outsourcing and virtual assistant services.

Offshore Outsourcing is no longer just a tool for increasing organizational efficiency. Instead, it’s a “competitive, strategic marketplace tool” that enables businesses to improve response times and rapidly develop new products and services.

Several countries, including India, Israel, Ukraine, the Philippines, China, Ireland, Malaysia, Singapore, Russia, and others, have succeeded in information technology, outsourcing software development, and other industries in the previous decade or so. Highly-Skilled specialists from low-cost economies are eager to take on Offshore Outsourcing projects at a lower cost.

Offshore Outsourcing is advantageous not only for software engineers but also for businesses, as acquiring skilled staff from the same geographical location can be costly. Furthermore, the expense of hiring people from other regions and nations and housing them in adjacent locations is significant.

However, Offshore Outsourcing projects and dealing with professionals from foreign countries present their own set of obstacles, with Time Zone Differences being one of the most significant.

Benefits of Working across Time Zone Differences

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Offshore Outsourcing programs are extremely advantageous to enterprises in some form. This fact is reinforced by studies that show that firms who focus on smart outsourcing obtain major benefits such as high quality, cost-efficiency, innovation, shorter cycle times, and so on. Businesses benefit significantly when they utilize an efficient method when outsourcing tasks across time zones. Let’s take a look at a couple of them.

Working around The Clock

Time Zone Differences may initially seem like obstacles in Offshore Outsourcing, but organizations are increasingly leveraging this disparity to establish a 24-hour development cycle. By embracing Outsourcing Offshoring, firms can tap into multiple time zones, effectively reducing project development time.

Consider a scenario where a US-based corporation collaborates with an offshore software company in India, resulting in a 12-hour time difference. This time gap creates the perception for corporate clients that the project is being worked on continuously. The advantage lies in the ability of Indian developers to progress on tasks during the night in the US, ensuring completion by the morning. This 24/7 availability not only enhances business agility but also provides a competitive edge.

To cater to developers and clients across different continents, large corporations adopt the “follow the sun model.” This strategy facilitates greater responsiveness, a round-the-clock development cycle, and continuous customer service. Similarly, “hands-on and shake-off sessions” are employed as a comparable approach in outsourcing. This process aligns with the sun model by transitioning tasks from one team to another an hour before the former’s working day ends. During this overlapping hour, the previous team hands over their tasks, allowing for a seamless continuation of work. This pattern repeats with other teams operating in varying Time Zone Differences.

In summary, organizations are capitalizing on Time Zone Differences to create a 24-hour development cycle in Offshore Outsourcing. By embracing this approach, firms can utilize multiple time zones, reduce project development time, enhance business agility, and gain a competitive advantage. The “follow the sun model” and “hands-on and shake-off sessions” are strategies employed to ensure continuous productivity and task transfer across teams operating in different time zones.

Working with Highly-Skilled Specialists

Not all businesses possess comprehensive in-house services to cater to their client’s needs. In situations where a client requires an eCommerce web application based on WooCommerce, but the company lacks in-house WooCommerce experts or their existing experts are occupied with other projects, a dilemma arises. Should the company reject the client or accept the job and endure the challenges of finding a new Offshore Outsourcing team? Both options prove impractical. The most straightforward solution is to outsource the project to a skilled e-commerce software developer.

Collaborating with a reputable Offshore Outsourcing team enhances a company’s capabilities and enables them to embrace a wider range of projects. It expands the organization’s horizons and empowers them to offer new services to their clientele, thanks to the support of dependable offshore professionals.

Cultural Consideration

A benefit of Offshore Outsourcing is the distinct culture of workforce from many nations. Unlike employees from the same region, workers from Time Zone Differences add rawness and freshness to the task; their unique perspectives on life, job-related elements, and new ideas are often useful to the firm.

Affordable

One of the most significant benefits of Offshore Outsourcing from places of Time Zone Differences is its low cost. For difficult projects, experienced and qualified specialists who can handle the project competently are required, yet those senior professionals come at a high cost. Though hiring in-house specialists is necessary, it is not always a financially viable alternative. In such cases, outsourcing is an excellent way to save money while utilizing top talent from around the world. Highly-Skilled Specialists in underdeveloped countries are willing to work for a lower wage and provide high-level expertise to deal with development initiatives.

Problems of Working across Time Zone Differences

Offshore Outsourcing: How to Handle Time Zone Differences

Even while there are numerous advantages to working with software developers in Time Zone Differences, there are always bad sides to every great circumstance that cannot be overlooked, as is the case with internationally distributed Offshore Outsourcing methods. Though these downsides aren’t horrifying and can be handled properly, it’s preferable to be aware of them, so read on:

Communication Gaps

Effective communication presents a significant challenge in Offshore Outsourcing projects across different time zones. The individuals involved may come from different cultures, locations, and time zones, often spanning continents. This disparity underscores the importance of productive communication to the success of such projects, as asynchronous communication directly impacts workflow.

Moreover, when specialists reside in disparate time zones, the overlap in working hours decreases, resulting in reduced contact. This limitation can give rise to undesirable consequences, including project delays, miscommunication, and unnecessary overhead. Offshore Outsourcing projects require continuous interaction among workers, often involving numerous emails that may introduce miscommunication or cause delays.

Communication encompasses language, behavior, signs, symbols, gestures, tone, and mannerisms, all of which are heavily influenced by culture. For instance, one person’s professional or introverted demeanor may be interpreted as harsh or impolite by another due to differing communication norms. While English serves as a global communication language, variations in accents and UK/US English can create unnecessary communication barriers.

Unintentionally, these communication barriers impede the pace of globally distributed Offshore Outsourcing initiatives.

The risk of disclosing Intellectual Property

While the Data Protection Act may be applicable in various outsourcing destinations, security risks persist when operating in Time Zone Differences areas. Even with robust IT network protocols, the potential for disclosing Intellectual Property to malicious entities remains. If a company handles customer personal data and relies on a third party to manage its software, the risks of security breaches and data leaks increase.

Profiles that are not genuine

Companies must exercise extreme caution when engaging freelancers to outsource jobs since freelancers frequently exaggerate their talents and abilities in their profiles, which can be misleading. And if they are given the project, they may fail to meet the client’s expectations, causing the project to fail or overspend.

Differences in Work Culture

Culture defines an individual’s pattern of information, beliefs, attitude, language, and behaviors; they can occasionally impede project completion. Occasionally, severe contrasts in cultures and languages or Time Zone Differences, such as Western vs. Eastern culture, impede Offshore Outsourcing until the two sides become used to each other’s cultures, conventions, and social behaviors.

Scheduling Meetings and Appointments

When managing teams with Time Zone Differences, it is crucial to respect cultural variations and be mindful of work-life balance. Scheduling meetings or assigning tasks outside of regular work hours can lead to issues and create a sense of unfairness among team members.

Additionally, it is important to avoid burdening members with excessive and unnecessary meetings, as this can have a negative impact on their productivity.

How to Deal with Time Zone Differences Problems

In Offshore Outsourcing, tight collaboration and effective communication take precedence over technology concerns.

To begin, conduct thorough research and perform background checks on the available options. Scrutinize all the pertinent details and eliminate candidates that do not align with your company’s objectives. Seek a partner with deep industry expertise and a robust portfolio. Follow these recommendations:

Offshore Outsourcing: How to Handle Time Zone Differences

Be Time Considerate

Accept that there are Time Zone Differences a significant between you and your outsourced team. Be mindful of the workers’ team’s output requirements in terms of time. Plan meetings, calls, and project management at times that are not just convenient for you, but also for the workers.

Avoid micromanagement

When working in Different Time Zones, the client should set aside the desire to manage the project’s minute aspects and put their trust in the offshore team. Hire a skilled team of specialists and delegate decision-making and management to the team.

Utilize Communication and Management Tools

Create an online collaborative workspace for the team

When dealing with Time Zone Differences, it is essential for teams to have convenient cloud-based platforms for communication and discussion. Several whiteboard options, like Jamboard and Microsoft Whiteboard, provide effective collaboration tools. Additionally, having an online document repository, such as Google Drive or Atlassian Confluence, is crucial.

Teams can foster collaboration by leaving comments and notes within the same shared documents they are working on. This allows for synchronous and asynchronous editing of papers and diagrams, reducing reliance on external communication channels like emails.

Create and agree on an online calendar tool

Various leading technology companies, along with numerous small startups, offer online calendar solutions that cater to Time Zone Differences. Microsoft Outlook, Google Calendar, and Zoho are just a few examples of platforms that enable teams to schedule online meetings with awareness of time zone variations.

Establishing meeting best practices is recommended. For instance, a team could decide on a default meeting duration of 45 minutes instead of an hour. They could also agree to avoid scheduling meetings at the start or end of the other team’s workday (or vice versa).

Using the right tools makes it easier to find time slots where everyone is available. Web and mobile applications notify participants in advance about scheduled meetings, while also facilitating online calls through platforms like Google Meet or Zoom.

Configuring a suitable profile on Slack or another online chat tool is crucial for efficient online planning. Including time zone information and availability in the profile helps streamline coordination efforts.

Use online meetings with caution

Effective communication does not entail an endless stream of meetings. On the contrary, it is considered unfavorable to burden an offshore team with constant (sometimes unnecessary) meetings.

Teams should determine which subjects and ceremonies necessitate online meetings and which can be addressed asynchronously through chat or email. For instance, they may choose to use Slack for daily progress updates and discuss obstacles, while conducting sprint demos online. It is advisable to establish the purpose and frequency of meetings at the outset of a project.

Provide Visual Aids for Time Zone Differences

Create Time Zone Policies

Companies should establish some time zone standards before beginning to work with offshore teams, such as whose local time will be considered standard time, and once determined, arrange meetings and set deadlines accordingly. To provide relief to the partner, set the offshore team’s local time as the standard time.

Make some online time zone visualizations available

A two-hour time zone difference creates a situation where one team starts their workday at 9 a.m. while the other is just waking up or having breakfast at 7 a.m. At the end of the day, when the first team finishes their workday around 6 p.m. (depending on the country), their counterparts still have two more hours.

Due to the Time Zone Difference, their overlapping working hours are reduced. Instead of having a 9-hour window (from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.), these teams can collaborate in real-time for 7 hours. In the case of a 5-hour time difference, the team gets 4 hours of online cooperation.

To facilitate coordination, it is important to have a centralized location, such as an online world clock tool, a Confluence page, or Google Sheets, where the team can easily visualize the different time windows available for online or asynchronous collaboration. This helps streamline planning and ensure effective communication despite the time zone differences.

Clearly Define Requirements

When defining requirements, aim for thoroughness to minimize the need for clarification. This doesn’t mean following a waterfall approach. Agile methodology, instead, helps teams quickly define user stories while avoiding excessive upfront analysis.

Product owners should prioritize the quality of user stories. A good user story should provide developers with the necessary autonomy, including elements like screen mockups, user scenarios, FAQs, and more. By including such details, the offshoring process can proceed smoothly and efficiently.

Beware of Holidays

Although it may appear apparent, firms with teams working have Time Zone Differences should maintain a public list of local holidays for each country involved.

To effectively manage teams with Time Zone Differences, it is important for companies to maintain a public list of local holidays for each country involved. This enables teams to plan vacations, meetings, and days off while considering their capacity. Often overlooked, this aspect can lead to unexpected challenges.

 

Offshore Outsourcing, whether nearshore or offshore, often requires managing Time Zone Differences between organizations and within teams. While companies are aware of these differences, many lack formal best practices to effectively address them. An essential aspect of success for remote teams is identifying and communicating work time overlap, and holidays, and establishing agreed-upon communication channels and technologies.

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