Many clients consider language and communication issues the main barriers to outsourcing. This concern is linked to two fears: a vendor’s ability to communicate in the client’s native language and the absence of face-to-face communication.
First, every good IT professional nowadays reads, writes, and speaks English, the lingua franca of the IT field. Even if they are not fluent in subjects outside the IT sphere, their English is wholly sufficient for work tasks, meetings, emails, and other activities required to succeed in software projects.
Things become more complex if a client uses a language other than English for its daily project communications or its documentation. Such a situation significantly complicates the selection of an outsourcing partner and often leads to staying with an in-house team or a local outsourcing partner. This language barrier can be resolved by adding a bilingual liaison(s) to act as a bridge between the client’s own in-house and the vendor’s remote teams. Alternatively, the client may consider migrating all its internal business communications to English to increase the company’s openness for outsourcing and its relevance in the global economy.
As for face-to-face communication, yes, it is always more efficient than a teleconference. However, in the new COVID reality, employees have embraced remote communication and most companies have found that this works well enough for business-related purposes. From this perspective, communication with your own employee, working at home across the street, is no different from communication with a vendor’s team across the ocean.
In pre-COVID times, face-to-face communication in outsourcing was achieved through business trips. New projects, especially large ones with an already existing codebase, usually started with a trip of the key engineers to the client’s location to meet the team in person, understand the client's business processes, and complete the initial knowledge transfer. Subsequent periodic visits were helpful for maintaining good personal relations between the engineers and improving the overall collaboration between the teams. Nowadays, however, onsite trips are not feasible until after the travel restrictions are lifted.
At Solead, we mitigate language and communication problems mentioned above by implementing several practices:
In our next post, we will review concern #2: lack of control over team and work.