The most important challenge faced by all outsourcers whenever they begin an offshore project is the time zone difference.
It’s particularly hasslesome for maintaining proper communication between two teams when they’re as much as 13 hours apart, the average time gap between USA and India, the two main participants of the outsourcing industry.
Other locations may not experience such extreme time differences but even so, a minute worth of time is critical when it comes to business, and must not be wasted.
Thankfully, the challenge can be overcome with the help of tech innovations and smart planning. At Dikonia, we have been dealing with this challenge for the past 5 years, and we’d like to share how we do it.
This will make sure that the difference of time doesn’t become the difference in quality for your business!
Work Out the Mutually Active Hours
The communication regarding progress reports, clarification of doubts, future plans, need both the teams to be active at the same hours of the day. Even with vast time differences, there is always a window of 2-4 hours that can be utilized for time-intensive tasks.
The table below shows the time differences between USA and most outsourced countries around the globe.
You need to figure out this time window and appoint these hours of the day towards project related discussions. These hours would also serve as the reporting time for the progress of the project, hence, the daily work schedule must sit in conjugation with them.
Time And Date is a fine tool to figure out the available time slots for the coming days of the week and to manage project activities accordingly.
Use Google Calendar Invites
Google Calendar is another great tool to keep things synchronised. All you need is a google account which is free, and let everyone with a google account, access the calendar.
The Calendar acts as a common plan for everyone to look at. You can invite other people for individual meetings well in time and give them a leeway towards the topics for discussion. This helps you make the communication process streamlined.
Another great benefit is that you can know what the other team’s schedule looks like and what will be the best time to collaborate with them, avoiding deadlocks and confusions.
Agree upon a Limited Meeting Schedule
Once you have Google Calendar figured out, you can decide upon a constant yet limited meeting schedule. If the project demands you to talk to each other frequently, a daily short catch-up accompanied by a weekly round-up would be the best.
But wasting time on meetings more than twice a day won’t make sense. It will slow down the development cycle and bar you from making any real progress.
In one of our client testimonials, David Lee, the owner of a UK based electrical company commented on project management challenges faced while working with us, by saying,
“The only problems just come down to geography. Sometimes it’s difficult to have a Skype meeting because of the time difference. Other than that, there are no real issues.”
The statement goes on to tell the importance of constant communication for overseas projects and why they should keep taking place in a structured timetable.
Use Unified Project Management Platforms
Unification is very important to avoid confusions in outsourced projects. The client needs regular updates on the project and you need client’s feedback on each stage, in order to keep it going.
If these two things take place on separate platforms, things are definitie to go awry. Therefore, we suggest you use the same platform for all of your project revisions and make sure that it sticks properly on both ends.
Basecamp is our go-to platform for doing this as it provides a rather rich interface and several collaboration options for managing projects. You can post regular updates, chose data access and receive client comments directly.
Understand the Schedule of your Offshore Partner
After understanding the time differences and figuring out the vacant slots, there will still always be scope for human error and uncertainty. This can only be reduced by understanding the cultural differences between the two geographies.
About 49% of People in the USA wake up between 6:30 and 7:30 AM as depicted by a study, whereas in India, the time is well beyond 7:30 in most metropolitans.
Also, the holiday season in both locations affects the work timings a lot and understanding this simple fact can help you achieve better productivity at work.
If the other person needs your help late at night or way too early in the morning, it is appreciable that you ascertain them availability for such occasions. Although, it is a great gesture, it shouldn’t be encouraged on a regular basis. Because the other party also needs to adjust to your specifics.
This is how you can cooperate, manage and throw-down the challenge of time differences between continents. Once this is done, there’s nothing that can stop your team from meeting deadlines, showing availability and perform beyond expectations. Look at our portfolio if you don’t believe us!
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