Effective intercultural communication in Software Development Outsourcing

The business world is changing rapidly with more advanced technologies evolving. Thus, human factors may still present the greatest challenge to outsourced engagements.

We, at Kutia worked with international clients for more than seven years. Different experiences have allowed us to become acquainted with the many complexities of communication that occur while interacting with various cultures. To gather tips for overcoming cultural differences and maintaining smooth communication in outsourced commitments in software development.

Through this blog post we seek to provide the right information and analyze the top key points everyone needs to keep in mind while struggling with communication.

Intercultural communication

Intercultural communication is the effective sharing of information between cultural and social groups. Taking into account the different ethnic, social, religious, educational, and socio-economic background of the individuals in such groups.

It is sometimes also known as cross-cultural communication or global communication. Since offices are filled with a diverse range of people, from all backgrounds and walks of life, this form of communication is of vital importance and is necessary for the smooth running of any modern business.

A reason that people might overlook the cultural differences in outsourced IT projects is the fact that the host’s culture is so familiar and sensible that companies might not realize differences while outsourcing.

How to create lasting business relationships with people from around the world?

  • Do your research first
  • Find a way of communicating that works for both teams
  • Keep an eye on the relationship between teams
  • Agree on processes and methodology
  • Align expectations
  • Keep an open mind

1. Do your research first

There are multiple tools and frameworks that we can use in order to help us understand attitudes and behaviors influenced by different cultures.

The most basic tool, introduced by Edward T. Hall in his 1976 book Beyond Culture, is a distinction between high and low context cultures. The scale is a measure of the explicit nature of the messages exchanged in a society, and the significance of the meaning in that communication. Successful outsourcing companies take these lessons to heart and integrate them in our everyday work.

2. Find a way of communicating that works for both teams

The next step to achieving fruitful cooperation in outsourcing is getting to know the personal style of your counterpart. Communication can be difficult even within in-house teams and miscommunication can, to say the least, be costly in software development.

Things such as movements or a certain way of speaking can influence how one team views the other. This can either help or hinder cooperation. So, minor things like email greetings or misconceived definitions of deadlines may lead to awkwardness or discomfort.

To ensure that decisions are made together so that both sides will benefit, develop a set of ground rules. Each team member—deployed or in-house—can speak up, ask questions, and take part in a constructive discussion.

3. Keep an eye on the relationship between teams

When the relationship between a company and an outsourced software team is focused on confidence, successful cooperation can be accomplished. In software development, confidence is expressed when one side trusts in the skills, experience and the professionalism of the other.

One way teams can build stronger bonds is to encourage them to build relationships and learn about one another. In-person visits that allow team members to meet face-to – face and get to know each other better can support this.

At Kutia, customers often meet their outsourced team or have certain team members join them on site for a kickoff. Everyone works face to face, creating a good partnership from the beginning.

4. Agree on processes and methodology

Misunderstandings can be easily avoided. Sharing a way of doing things puts us on the same page. Providing a blueprint for priorities and objectives and setting down the ground rules.

It is very important that organizations first understand the culture of their deployed team. Thus, use this knowledge to better manage their team.

5. Align expectations

Valuing the health and well-being of your outsourced staff, as well as honoring their religious and national holidays, would in the long run result in improved profitability. Make a plan that includes schedules, product complexity and functionality. Set the team size and capacity, and consider any challenges that may arise.

Consider the time that workers can take from the start and prepare accordingly for special holidays, vacations and religious events. Both of these aspects ensure production dates are met, and teams reach their targets.

6. Keep an open mind

Working with different cultural backgrounds can sometimes be a great challenge.

Discover ways to inspire people based on their shared values, to promote both person and team success.

Forming a high-performance software development team is a matter for both parties to make clear their priorities, objectives and principles, as well as decide on procedures that will allow smooth development practices.