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The Anxieties of Working with Offshore Teams and Resources

Published on
June 17, 2024

This month, we dive into the anxieties of working with offshore resources and teams. Our founders  Doug Loyo and Emilio Baez, explore this topic comprehensively, examining the challenges and solutions faced by companies opting for this form of software development. Join us as we navigate through these anxieties and shed light on strategies for overcoming them.

But first, let's talk about a few concepts that we will be using throughout this article:

Offshore: refers to outsourcing business processes or services to a company or team located in a different country that is on another continent, often to reduce costs.

Nearshore: refers to outsourcing business processes or services to a company or team located in a nearby country, often to facilitate easier communication, time zone alignment, availability, collaboration and to reduce costs.

1. Communication and Language Barriers

Research shows that when people have trouble understanding each other because of language differences, it can really mess up how well a project turns out. A study from Harvard Business Review found that language problems were the main reason projects failed 44% of the time with teams from different countries. Another study in the International Journal of Intercultural Relations said that 21% of the time, communication problems happen because of cultural differences.

When communication breaks down, it's not just a small issue; it can seriously affect when projects get done and how well they turn out. Differences in language, time zones, and culture can lead to communication challenges. Misunderstandings or delays in communication can affect project timelines and outcomes, creating friction in the day to day workflow. Language barriers can lead to mistakes in project work, which means extra time and money fixing things. Plus, if the people working together can't understand each other well, it can make teamwork harder, which slows down progress and makes it tough to come up with new ideas.

To deal with these problems, it's important to try different things:

1. Clarification Sessions:

Organizing regular sessions to address questions and align team objectives can foster deeper understanding and stronger commitment. When developing software, adhering to industry-standard best practices is crucial. We prefer to use the Agile methodology. One key aspect of Agile is the 'Backlog Refinement' meeting. During these sessions, our team collaboratively reviews the User Stories to ensure that everyone has a clear understanding. Team members are encouraged to ask for clarifications, and any additional details are promptly captured directly in the User Story. This process helps maintain a well-defined and agreed-upon backlog, streamlining our development efforts.  

 2. Fostering Team Bonding:

Promoting bonding activities, such as virtual team-building sessions or informal meetings, can strengthen the connections among geographically dispersed team members. Here are a couple of strategies we use to enhance cohesion:

  • Organize virtual team building activities that are not work-related, such as online games, virtual escape rooms, or fun challenges. These activities can be great icebreakers and help in reducing feelings of isolation.
  • Since offshore teams often involve diverse cultures, organize cultural exchange sessions where team members can share something about their culture, be it a short presentation about local customs, a virtual tour of their city, or even a cooking session. This not only celebrates diversity but also builds a deeper level of personal connection.


3. Utilizing Visual Tools:

Employing visual resources like diagrams, charts, mockups and interactive presentations can facilitate the understanding of complex concepts, client requests or features and enhance communication among remote teams. Some of the tools we utilize are:

  • For online diagramming, we utilize a few different tools:, PowerPoint, and Google Slides. Yup, that's correct. We use a lot of Google Sheets and PowerPoint to convey simple diagrams. Just ask about his mad Google Slides or PowerPoint Foo.
  • For mockups: Balsamiq mockups and Figma
  • For presentations, we use PowerPoint and Google Slides.


4. Prioritizing Questions and Open Communication:

Establishing an environment that encourages active participation and provides space for asking questions can improve collaboration and effective problem-solving.

By trying these things, teams can work together better, even if they're from different places or speak different languages, and get projects done more successfully.

Nevertheless, offshore outsourcing can serve its purpose, and with diligent effort, improvements can be made. However, it's important to acknowledge that it may not always be the optimal choice.

2. Quality Concerns 

“I feel like I’m paying my offshore team to put bugs in the system and then fix them.” Does that sound familiar?

One of our potential clients felt this way, frustrated with the quality of work delivered by his offshore team. It was costing them more than just money.

Research shows that quality remains a significant concern in offshore software development. A survey by the International Data Corporation found that 65% of businesses struggle with quality when working with offshore teams. Meanwhile, McKinsey & Company reported that poor software quality costs the global economy around $1.7 trillion annually.

Low-quality software doesn’t just mean technical issues. It can lead to dissatisfied customers, tarnish a company’s reputation, and cause missed business opportunities. Furthermore, it erodes trust between companies and offshore partners, complicating long-term collaboration.

Strategies and Tactics to Improve Quality

Addressing quality issues requires a comprehensive approach throughout the development process. Here are some tactics we recommend:

1. Due Diligence:

When picking offshore partners, do thorough research to make sure they're reliable and follow industry standards. 

  • Ask them for references located in the US. Call them and ask about their experience in execution, coding, support and quality.
  • Ask the offshore partner the following questions:some text
    • What industry standards they follow to ensure quality is met and ensure bug count is low. We are looking for them to reply with specific testing frameworks that cover the software development lifecycle. 
    • What do they use for unit testing the UI/UX? 
    • How about the middle tier / backend code? 
    • Any automated and performance tests for APIs?
    • Do they do any end to end integration testing? 
    • How do you track bugs and their resolution?

2. Implement a Quality Assurance Plan:

Set up a strong plan and processes to check and test your software regularly. This helps make sure it's reliable and meets the right standards.

Everytime we start a new project or we are brought into an existing one we implement what we call Iteration zero. This is like building a sound foundation so that we can build a beautiful and functional house right on top of it. Your plan should include but not be limited to:

  • Implementing Continuous Integration/Continuous Deployment (CI/CD): Set up a CI/CD pipeline to automatically build, test, and deploy code changes. Integrate tests within the pipeline to prevent defective code from moving forward. Setup your CI/CD so that with every commit developers do to the codebase tests are executed and fail the build is some dependency breaks. We also set up coverage metrics. Let's say that a dev forgets to add unit tests. Well when he commits the code it will automatically fail as that code has no testing harness coverage.
  • Testing Strategy: Implement automated testing where possible to expedite the testing process and reduce manual effort. Automated tests can run frequently to catch issues early.some text
    • Unit Testing: Developers should write and maintain unit tests to verify the correctness of individual components.
    • Integration Testing: Ensure different software modules work together as expected by testing their integration.
    • System Testing: Validate the complete and integrated software product to ensure it meets the specified requirements.
    • User Acceptance Testing (UAT): Test the software with real-world use cases to confirm it fulfills end-users' needs.
  • Code Reviews: Enforce a practice of peer code reviews to catch issues early and encourage knowledge sharing among developers. This is easy if you are using any of the source code cloud providers as you could implement a Pull Request (PR) process where code does not get accepted into the main branch unless someone else reviews and approves it. This creates a sense of ownership and responsibility.
  • Performance Testing: Conduct load and performance testing to ensure the software can handle expected usage levels efficiently.
  • Security Testing: Perform security testing, such as vulnerability assessments and penetration testing, to identify and address security risks.Utilize static code analysis tools to automatically identify potential code issues, security vulnerabilities, or non-standard practices.
  • Bug Tracking & Feedback: Use a centralized bug tracking tool to manage defects and prioritize their resolution based on severity and impact. Collect and analyze feedback from end users and stakeholders to continuously refine the quality assurance process.

3. Encourage Continuous Improvement:

Support offshore teams in learning and getting better over time. Offer training, share knowledge, and give feedback to help them improve their skills and work better. Do weekly “lunch and learn“ sessions and talk about the strategies for having an error free product. Use the above tactics to have team members present on how they do it so that we can spread the knowledge.

Addressing quality concerns with offshore teams requires effort, but by following these guidelines, you’ll be closer to a cohesive team delivering high-quality, low-bug software.


3. Time Zone Anxieties when working with Offshore Resources or Teams

Working with teams in different time zones can be challenging in software development projects. Handling meetings, coordinating tasks, and staying in touch with offshore teams and resources can be tough. The difference in working hours not only slows down decision-making but also hampers the ability to respond quickly to client needs and disrupts teamwork. Additionally, the concept of a "four-hour overlap," where there's only a limited window each day for synchronous communication, further complicates matters and can hinder productivity.

According to the research article Requirement Change Management in Global Software Development: A Systematic Review, communication problems are the main issue in Global Software Development, accounting for 53% of reported problems. Language barriers and time zone differences make the problem even more difficult to resolve. 

Differences in time zones can significantly disrupt projects. Delays in communication and decision-making can cause projects to run late, resulting in missed deadlines and increased costs. Additionally, mismatched schedules can create issues between teams in different locations, making collaboration and productivity more challenging.

As noted in the article Global Software Development: Where are the Benefits? Instead of a potential benefit, time zone differences have a negative impact on global software development, causing reduced collaboration windows and unusual working hours. It has been found that having less than 3-4 hours of synchronous communication during a working day often makes communication difficult and unnatural.

Working across different time zones can be tricky, and that's why businesses often think about trying nearshoring instead. Nearshoring means giving tasks to countries nearby with similar time zones, so it's easier to work together. This way, schedules can line up better, communication gets better, and teams can work together more closely.

4. Data Security and Privacy Anxieties

Keeping data safe is really important for businesses, especially when they work with offshore partners. Offshore projects bring their own set of challenges and risks that can make it hard to protect data and privacy. Businesses worry about keeping sensitive information, like trade secrets and customer data, safe, and following the rules about data privacy.

Understanding the Issue: Many studies and reports show how important data security is in offshore development. According to the  Global Outsourcing Survey, 95% of companies reported having cybersecurity risk measures in place, but only 52% of executives believe they are prepared to meet their current cybersecurity challenges. By 2025, 60% of organizations will consider cybersecurity risk their primary determinant when conducting third-party and business engagements.

Understanding the Issue. Many studies and reports show how important data security is in offshore development. According to the, 95% of companies reported cybersecurity risk measures in place, but only 52% of executives believe they are prepared to meet their current cybersecurity challenges. By 2025, 60% of organizations will consider cybersecurity risk their primary determinant when conducting third-party and business engagements. 

Another report indicates that the global average cost of a data breach increased by 15% over three years, reaching $4.45 million in 2023.

The implications for businesses when there's a data breach in offshore development go beyond financial loss. It can also damage a company's reputation, cause customers to lose trust, and lead to legal trouble for not following data protection rules like GDPR or CCPA.

Additionally, because businesses worldwide are connected, a breach in one part of the network can cause problems for many different people and companies.

63% of cybersecurity professionals believe cybersecurity roles have become harder over the past two years, and 71% of organizations claim to be affected by a shortage of cybersecurity skills.

Dealing with data security concerns means being proactive and taking many different steps. Here are some ideas:

  1. Use Strong Data Security Measures:
    • Implement encryption to protect sensitive data.
    • Use access controls to limit who can view or modify data.
    • Employ multi-factor authentication to add an extra layer of security against unauthorized access.
  2. Make Clear Contracts:
    • Create detailed contracts that outline each party's responsibilities for maintaining data security.
    • Ensure that contracts include specific measures and protocols for data protection.
    • Hold all parties accountable to the terms outlined in the contracts.
    • Request for the parties to carry sufficient liability and cyber security insurance.
  3. Do Regular Checks:
    • Conduct regular security audits to identify vulnerabilities and weaknesses in data protection.
    • Address any issues discovered promptly to enhance security measures.
    • Continuously improve data security practices based on audit findings and evolving threats.

How do you ensure data security in your offshore collaborations? What strategies have you found most effective in safeguarding sensitive information? Your insights could be invaluable in fostering a more secure and collaborative business environment. 


5. Project Management and Oversight

Managing control and oversight in offshore projects is a major business concern. Lack of sufficient control can lead to delays, budget overruns, and unsatisfactory results. Additionally, the distance and different time zones can create communication barriers, making it challenging to ensure everyone is on the same page.

Challenges and Anxieties: 

Working with offshore teams introduces a range of challenges and anxieties. Time zone differences can lead to delayed responses and misalignment in work schedules, causing potential project delays. Cultural differences might affect communication styles and expectations, sometimes leading to misunderstandings. Furthermore, the physical distance can make it difficult to monitor progress and maintain the level of oversight typically available with on-site teams. These factors can heighten the anxiety of project managers who need to ensure projects stay on track, within budget, and meet the desired quality standards.

Strategies for Effective Management:

Regular Reporting:Regular updates help track project progress, identify issues, and facilitate informed decision making.  As much as 90% of a project manager’s time is spent communicating, underscoring the importance of effective communication to avoid cost increases and time delays.

For software development projects, we prefer the Agile methodology and conduct daily scrums. During these scrums, team members report on their work and any blockers. Daily meetings allow us to identify patterns and issues quickly, enabling the entire team to assist in resolving obstacles.

Tracking Goals:

Setting clear goals and milestones allows for effective monitoring and quick problem resolution. As noted by Gallup study, half of employees worldwide strongly agree that they know what is expected of them at work, but organizations could increase their productivity by 10% if they worked to increase this number. 

We use Agile or Kanban boards to share goals and deadlines with our teams, displaying the expected release date and feature set. Each task on the board explains the feature to be developed and its relevance to the end user. We use a burndown chart to track progress and ensure goals are met.

Effective Communication:

Ensuring seamless communication among team members is crucial for collaboration, mutual understanding, and alignment towards common goals. In fact, poor communication could costs US businesses a staggering $1.2 trillion annually, or $12,506 per employee per year. 

At Developers.Net, we implement daily scrums for status updates and address complex issues or blockers in sidebars. We designate official communication channels such as email and instant messaging platforms like Slack or Teams, actively promoting open communication for discussions, clarifications, and support.

According to McKinsey & Company using social technologies to improve communication and collaboration could increase the productivity by 20% to 25% percent.

By addressing these challenges head-on and implementing these strategies, we can alleviate many of the common anxieties associated with offshore project management. Through consistent updates, clear goal setting, and fostering open communication, we enhance our ability to manage projects effectively and deliver successful outcomes.

6. The Cultural Fit 

Let's explore how cultural differences can impact the dynamics and success of working with offshore and nearshore teams.

Cultural differences can affect how well projects turn out. When multinational teams don't share the same culture, it often leads to project failures. Also, workplace problems often happen because of these cultural differences, making it harder for teams to work together and get things done.

Nearshore teams offer several advantages over offshored teams, particularly in terms of cultural fit and management of software projects. Here's how nearshore teams can help mitigate some common challenges associated with offshored teams:

1. Cultural Affinity

Nearshore: Cultural similarities due to geographical proximity can enhance understanding and reduce miscommunications. Teams are more likely to have similar business practices, social norms, and languages, which can lead to a smoother integration with the core team.

Offshore: Cultural differences can be more pronounced, potentially leading to misunderstandings and conflicts. These can affect everything from work style and communication to expectations and interpretations of professionalism.

2. Ease of Travel and Face-to-Face Interaction

Nearshore: Travel between the primary business location and the nearshore team is generally easier and less costly. This accessibility allows for more frequent face-to-face meetings, which can strengthen team bonds and alignment.

Offshore: Physical meetings are less frequent due to longer, more expensive travel. This can limit opportunities for building strong personal connections and directly engaging with the team.

3. Regulatory and Legal Compliance

Nearshore: Teams in nearby countries might share similar legal frameworks or be part of regional agreements that simplify business operations and compliance.

Offshore: Navigating different legal systems and standards can be more complex and may require additional resources to ensure compliance, adding to project costs and timelines.

4. Communication and Language

Nearshore: There is often a higher likelihood that nearshore team members share a common language or have higher proficiency in the language used by the main office, reducing barriers to communication.

Offshore: Language barriers can be more significant, potentially affecting clarity and speed of communication, as well as the accuracy of completed tasks.

Nearshore outsourcing provides a better balance between cost savings and ease of management compared to offshore teams, especially when cultural fit and seamless collaboration are critical to project success. Organizations may find that nearshore teams, due to their geographic and cultural proximity, offer a more integrated approach to expanding capacity while maintaining high levels of control and interaction.

7.  Legal and Compliance Issues

In the complex landscape of global business, legal and compliance issues are crucial considerations when choosing an outsourcing partner. When considering Nearshore versus Offshore, understanding the differences can save companies from potential pitfalls.

Here's why Nearshoring is often a smarter choice compared to Offshoring:

Legal and Regulatory Alignment:

Nearshore partners typically operate within similar legal frameworks and regulatory environments, making it easier to comply with industry standards and government regulations. This alignment helps avoid potential legal disputes and ensures smoother operations.  

Stronger Data Protection:

Nearshore providers frequently offer stronger data protection and privacy standards, which are crucial when dealing with sensitive information. Countries within close geographical proximity often have similar data protection laws, reducing the risk of data breaches and enhancing client trust. 

Cultural and Business Understanding:

Nearshore teams usually share closer cultural and business practices, aiding in clear communication and mutual understanding. This alignment minimizes miscommunications that can lead to legal or compliance issues down the line. 

Faster Issue Resolution:

Working within similar time zones means quicker response times, which is vital for addressing legal or compliance issues swiftly. Nearshoring allows for real-time collaboration, reducing delays and fostering effective problem-solving. 

Choosing a nearshore outsourcing partner not only mitigates risks but also aligns more closely with legal and compliance needs, creating a safer and more efficient outsourcing experience. 

8. Challenges of Offshoring Dependency and Scalability


In today's globalized economy, offshoring has become a go-to strategy for many businesses seeking cost reduction and access to diverse talent pools. However, this approach often comes with its own set of challenges, particularly in terms of dependency and scalability.

Challenges of Offshoring

Time Zone Differences: Coordinating across time zones can lead to significant delays in communication and project timelines.

Cultural Barriers: Misunderstandings arising from cultural differences can impact team dynamics and work outcomes.

Quality Control: Maintaining high standards of quality and consistency across borders can be challenging.

Dependency: Over-reliance on offshore teams can create bottlenecks and dependency issues, especially if the offshore location faces economic or political instability.

These challenges can complicate the scaling of operations and limit a company's agility and responsiveness to market changes.

The Nearshore Advantage

In contrast, nearshoring offers a compelling alternative, aligning more closely with the business climates and work cultures of the contracting company. Here’s why nearshoring might just be the better option for your business:

Similar Time Zones: Nearshore partners operate in similar time zones, facilitating real-time communication and faster decision-making.

Cultural Affinity: Shared cultural traits and business practices ease interactions and integration between teams.

Improved Collaboration: Proximity allows for regular in-person meetings, strengthening team cohesion and project alignment.

Scalability and Flexibility: Nearshore locations often offer scalable and flexible outsourcing solutions that adapt more easily to the needs of the business.

At Developers.Net, we believe in building partnerships that support not only growth but also strategic flexibility. Opting for nearshore solutions has allowed us to offer our clients the responsiveness they need to thrive in a competitive landscape, without compromising on quality or operational efficiency.

9. The Impact of Stress on Productivity


What happens when stress and anxiety start to overpower productivity? Why should we pay attention to the impact of stress in project management? Isn't project management simply about getting the job done?

While completing projects is indeed the goal, it's essential to consider the effects of stress on cognitive performance. Research by Staal, who investigated stress and performance in a research effort sponsored by NASA’s Ames Research Center, has shown that significant stress can lead to a temporary decrease in cognitive function, even dropping your IQ points. This decline in mental sharpness is significant and underscores the importance of managing stress levels effectively.

For those of us in project management, this means more than just feeling good; it's about ensuring we can perform at our best when faced with challenging situations.

When we encounter stressors, our body's natural response is the "fight or flight" reaction, triggering increased activity in the sympathetic nervous system and the release of adrenaline. This stress response can negatively impact our ability to process information effectively.

According to Staal’s research:

  • We initially perceive a situation as stressful and continually reassess the level of threat.
  • Emotions surface, diverting our focus away from our goals.
  • Our attention span narrows, making it difficult to manage multiple tasks simultaneously.

As stress persists, it leads to:

  • Poor decision-making and difficulty encoding new information.
  • Changes in project strategy or shedding of essential tasks.
  • Decreased prosocial behavior, such as team-building and nurturing.

One effective way to alleviate the stress associated with software development is by choosing nearshore software developers over offshoring. Here’s why:

1. Proximity and Time Zones: Nearshore developers are located in nearby countries, often sharing similar time zones. This proximity allows for better communication and collaboration, reducing the stress of coordinating across different time zones.

2. Cultural Compatibility: Working with nearshore teams often means fewer cultural barriers, leading to smoother interactions and a better understanding of project requirements. This compatibility helps in reducing misunderstandings and the stress they can cause.

3. Cost Efficiency: While offshoring can sometimes offer lower costs, nearshoring provides a balance of cost efficiency and quality. The slight premium paid for nearshore developers is often offset by the increased productivity and reduced stress levels due to easier collaboration and higher quality work.

4. Flexibility and Control: Nearshore teams offer greater flexibility and control over projects. Companies can manage projects more effectively, ensuring timely updates and quick adjustments, which can significantly reduce stress for both management and developers.

By opting for nearshore software developers, companies can create a more efficient, less stressful working environment, leading to higher productivity and better project outcomes. The benefits of nearshoring go beyond just cost savings; they encompass improved communication, cultural alignment, and overall project success.

10. The Bright Side of Managing Stress

Embracing Remote Work for Stress Management

We’ve discussed how stress can disrupt our productivity and how nearshoring development can help alleviate it. Now, let’s explore how remote work can be a powerful tool for enhancing efficiency and combating burnout.

Here are five effective remote work strategies that project managers and developers can use to maintain well-being and improve project performance:

1. Maintain Balance with Structured Work Hours:

Remote work provides the flexibility to establish a schedule that suits your needs. Set consistent work hours to maintain a healthy work-life balance and avoid overworking.

2. Practice Disconnecting:

Remote work allows you to step away from your workspace and disconnect from work-related stressors. Designate specific times to unplug from work, whether at the end of the day or during designated breaks, to recharge.

3. Avoid the Workaholic Trap:

Working from home can tempt us to work more than we should. Learning to set boundaries between work and home can help avoid burnout and maintain overall well-being.

4. Enhance Happiness to Increase Productivity:

One of the advantages of remote work is the ability to spend more quality time with family, which increases happiness. Take breaks throughout the day to engage with your loved ones, fostering a supportive and fulfilling environment that can alleviate stress and improve productivity by 13%.

5. Incorporate Exercise into Your Routine:

Remote work offers the flexibility to include physical activity in your daily schedule. Incorporating regular exercise sessions can improve mood, reduce stress, and provide many other benefits that make you more effective at work.

By establishing structured work hours, practicing disconnection, avoiding workaholic tendencies, prioritizing family time, and incorporating exercise into our routines, we can leverage the benefits of remote work to maintain a healthy work-life balance and thrive professionally.

As we conclude our exploration of working with offshore teams, it’s clear that while challenges exist, there are effective solutions. From overcoming communication barriers with structured meetings and tools to improving quality control with robust testing and oversight, the way forward involves a strategic mix of technology, management practices, and team engagement.

By adopting these approaches, companies can mitigate the risks associated with offshore collaboration and unlock the full potential of global talent to drive innovation and growth. Our goal is to demystify the complexities and provide you with the knowledge to make informed decisions about software development outsourcing. Whether you choose offshoring or nearshoring, the aim is to ensure seamless, productive, and secure collaboration.

If you’re interested in learning more about tailoring these strategies to your organization’s specific needs or navigating the intricacies of offshore outsourcing, we’re here to help. Contact us for an in-depth consultation and take the first step towards turning your offshore engagements into successful global ventures.

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