It’s a people business. Your key concern should be to get the right people on board – and to keep them. This applies regardless of whether you look at IT Offshoring to India, Vietnam or Indonesia. However, as India is the most attractive IT offshore location for IT services and software development, I will specifically take into consideration the characteristics of the Indian job market and business culture. These recommendations and considerations, however, can be applied to other offshore locations, too.

Before we take a closer look at the process of teambuilding, it’s worthwhile spending a few thoughts on site selection. Different locations have different characteristics: Both in terms of the quality of education, the size of the talent pool and the maturity of the IT industry. Your total costs are largely determined by the location of your IT Offshore location. The world’s largest offshore location, Bangalore / Southern India, has a significantly higher salary level than second-tier cities such as Kochin or Poona. At the same time, attrition rate in Bangalore is generally higher when compared with second-tier cities. And it may come as no surprise, that the talent pool in Bangalore is many times larger than in Ahmedabad, Gurgaon or Poona.

Once you have taken a decision on the location, the next step is to set up your “Dream Team”. You have to take care about a couple of aspects: Make sure the work contracts have a notice period that is in sync with the importance of a team member: If a software developer has a pivotal role in the team and has key knowledge on your software applications, the notice period should be generous. If such team member quits the company, you will have sufficient time for the knowledge transfer. As per my expertise it is crucial to have excellent team managers on-site, who are quality-focused, who can establish a good working relationship with their teams and who have excellent communication skills. Whether you Offshore Team meets your expectations depends 100% on the qualities of these on-site team managers.

I would always recommend to involve the IT department of headquarters (e.g. in Germany) in recruitment of the team members (at least for the team managers): Share the CV of each candidate with the people involved in recruitment, then conduct (Skype) interviews. It is advisable not only to check a CV for professional qualifications, but also to assess the “loyalty profile” of an IT professional. For this purpose, experienced recruitment specialists should be involved who have an eye for “indicators” in the CV and the behavior, that qualify a candidate as a “job hopper”. It’s easy to identify a candidate as “job hopper”, if he didn’t stay with any previous company for more than two years. There is, however, more subtle indicators that you won’t perceive at first glance. As a rule of thumb: IT Professionals at the start of their career are prepared to change jobs quickly for higher salary offers, as compared to IT professionals with families; the latter ones have generally achieved a quite satisfying salary level, they may find it more important to work in a good team atmosphere and to work with state-of-the-art technology. Experience also shows that developers get also under financial pressure shortly after marriage (purchase of a car, possibly investment in an apartment); this increases the likelihood to change jobs for a higher salary.

Regarding professional qualifications: You can go by the reputation of an educational institution. You should also go by the field of study. I know recruiters who prefer graduates of electrical engineering (compared to graduates of BCA/MCA = Bachelor/Master of Computer Application), because the electrical engineering degree is more demanding than the BCA/MCA degree. And the curriculum of electrical engineering studies comprises programming and database technology to a sufficient extent. Most companies offer a trainee program anyway for freshers from university, this is common in the Indian IT industry. Depending on the bargaining power (attractivity) of the employer at the offshore location, it may also be possible to do a sample project in an assessment center; This allows you to assess a candidate on-the-job, you will be able to evaluate the code quality.

Last but not least: Anyone who has ever done a project with a Vietnamese offshore team knows that communicating in English is quite a challenge (even more so than in India, for example). The oral and written English (of the project manager) should therefore be made a criterion in the selection process, too.

Sebastian Zang
Author

The author is a manager in the software industry with international expertise: Authorized officer at one of the large consulting firms - Responsible for setting up an IT development center at the Bangalore offshore location - Director M&A at a software company in Berlin.