Although managing technology projects has always been complex, last year has certainly posed a whole set of new challenges for project managers across the world. During 2020, PMs have developed new and more complex skills to continue managing teams effectively. But when it comes to managing outsourced IT services, most PMs will probably face a few issues that they have not experienced when working only with their internal teams.
If you’re interested in improving your project management skills with outsourced teams, take into account the following list of 5 strategies you can use to this end:
1) Aim at creating a bond of trust
In a relationship with any partner, no matter what is it that we share, there is nothing more important than trust. Project management is a key role in the process of creating a trustful relationship between business partners. Aside from exchanging information and ideas about a specific project, make an effort to convey to your outsourced team what your company’s main values and goals are. Be clear about what is important for you and be available to clarify any doubts. And be mindful that trust is a two-way street, and that creating a bond of trust with your partner will not only be crucial to tackle any issues that you may find throughout a project but will also make it possible to create relationships that can evolve into long-term partnerships.
2) Keep the communication going
If you have found an experienced and skilled partner, you won’t have to worry about the technical abilities of the outsourcing team. Instead, you will be able to focus on ensuring the kind of ongoing, effective communication that allows for a smooth process. The most frequent issues of outsourcing relationships can be easily tackled if communication between partners is right.
There are more than a few tools that can help you bridge communication gaps in real-time. Some of them you have probably already used if you’ve been working remotely with your internal team for these past few months. Platforms like Slack, Google Meet, or Zoom can be used to solve issues and to hold meetings where you can review the project’s status, exchange ideas, and make sure everyone is on the same page. You can also take advantage of any of the excellent project management applications available, such as Trello, Asana, JIRA, or others. This kind of software helps everybody save time and increase productivity, by allowing the team immediate access to files and information related to the project. Leverage these tools to ensure everyone is updated and comfortable with the project’s progress.
3) Establish your requirements with clarity
Creating a remote work environment that can help everybody reach the goal of delivering quality products on-time is one of the main concerns for PMs managing outsourcing projects. To this end, clear documentation and communication of the project’s requirements are crucial to ensure everybody understands what they should deliver at each stage of the project. If any doubt should arise, clarify the team's uncertainties by expressing your ideas in a consistent and articulated manner. Whenever you find that is necessary, be open and ready to complement written and oral language with diagrams or other types of visual aids.
4) Make space for creativity
Luckily, the importance of encouraging creativity has been widely documented and recognized during recent years. Keeping an open-minded and creative approach in the course of a project tends to increase efficiency, quality of work, employee satisfaction, and productivity. As a PM managing an IT outsourced team, you can contribute to creating a work environment in which creativity is a core element of your partnership. If every party feels comfortable about expressing their ideas out loud, likely, the project will constantly benefit from fresh ideas - that ultimately lead to more efficient processes and better problem-solving skills within the team.
5) Get to know the team members
Although getting to know your partners may not be as vital if you’re looking for short-term relationships, project managers recognize the importance of establishing contact on a more personal level, especially when you’re aiming for long-term, mutually productive relationships with your outsourcing partner. Even when your contact may be exclusively remote, make sure you take some time to get to know the members of the team. Put a face to each name and try to learn more about what are their interests and what drives them. This will certainly be easier to accomplish if the team members are living in a nearshore country. Time zone coincidence, cultural similarities, and great English proficiency make interaction with the outsourced team members much easier.
As outsourcing services bloom, developing the essential abilities to manage outsourced teams has become a fundamental challenge. PMs should take into account that managing remote teams from outsourced partners will allow them to get to know talented workers from different places of the world. Learning new skills and adapting some of their working practices to effectively face the new challenges can result in significant rewards, both professionally and personally.