Co-founder and CMO at CodersLink, a technology solutions agency helping companies find and build elite IT nearshore teams in LATAM.
The unexpected and forced move toward remote work has quietly unlocked an opportunity for organizations that companies in tech have been taking advantage of for years: hiring international talent remotely through outsourcing.
Big-name companies like Facebook, Google, Atlassian and others have all stated their interest in having all or part of their teams working remotely. This statement has huge implications in the race for capturing the best talent, as international talent is becoming a norm instead of an outlier.
Outsourcing done right can be a catalyst for a company because it can enable you to identify specialized talent, close skill gaps and increase a team’s agility and speed to get work done. Just consider that more than 60% of executives surveyed in a study by the Society for Human Resource Management and SAP SuccessFactors said that their external workers are “as critical to operating at full capacity and meeting market demands and as important for developing and improving products and services.”
But the big question is, how do you outsource talent correctly?
I’ve worked with partners for more than five years, so I recommend your first step being to familiarize yourself with the definition of outsourcing and its variations. Then, consider the following five key areas for a successful implementation of information technology outsourcing:
1. Don’t wait until you find an outsourced developer to define expectations and procedures.
Outsourcing demands clear expectations. Without the sharing of physical space, there’s a lot of room for misinterpretation that can result in lost time and productivity.
Expectations and procedures should come as part of the overall project planning process. Here’s where understanding your core competencies helps, as it will ensure you’re focusing on building revenue-generating product features. Keep in mind that:
• Expectations are clearly defined objectives, deliverables and timeframes. For example: “Release version 1.4 of the calculator; due on October 15.”
• Procedures are clearly defined work practices you follow. For example: “Code Reviews are held every Wednesday at 8 a.m.”
When defining expectations and procedures, be sure to explicitly include those involved and what their responsibilities are. Don’t measure hours; focus on accomplishments and milestones met.
2. Start by hiring senior talent, then snowball into other seniority levels.
A big mistake small companies make when outsourcing is not having a CTO or tech lead to guide the team, define the roadmap and keep outsourced developers accountable.
Outsourcing starts a fragile engagement at first and grows into a strong one through trust. Trust is earned and given when there’s clarity on both sides and when expectations are met.
Having someone in-house who owns the area of technology can help identify technical problems before they arise and make sure the team is staying on track and avoiding technical debt.
Moving forward, I’ve seen organizations, ranging from startups to Fortune 500 companies, start their hiring processes by adding senior talent at the first level for the different work teams they’re building, then adding a mix of junior and intermediate talent below them. I believe this structure works best because:
• Senior talent is best equipped to set the foundation for a remote developer team and can become managers for that same team.
• Hiring senior talent first allows for the transfer of valuable and practical knowledge to develop new team members and reduce personnel turnover.
• It inadvertently creates a career path for all developers ranging from junior to senior levels.
3. Identify roles that are better suited for outsourcing.
Roles that are better suited for outsourcing are those that don’t require a physical presence or constant in-person back and forth. Here are the top roles I’ve identified that you might consider:
• Mobile developers
• Web developers
• Back-end, front-end and full-stack developers
• Quality assurance engineers
• Tech support specialists
• DevOps engineers
I’ve found that these roles can be top performers in remote work engagements because they can focus on building, testing or implementing code with a high degree of autonomy.
4. Empower your team.
This is a recommendation I learned from AngelList’s head of remote. He talked about how your company processes should adapt to empower your team to work autonomously.
This means implementing practices that ensure they can advance without being blocked, as well as fomenting a “find a way to success” mentality, where solutions are found when roadblocks are met that don’t have a defined way forward.
Finally, when having meetings, have clear agenda and meeting notes. Share those meeting notes publicly for everyone to stay informed.
5. Make your developers feel like part of the team.
Outsourced developers are first and foremost people. As such, they like to be part of something bigger, something that helps them grow professionally and a place where their contributions are recognized.
Spending some time thinking about ways you can engage with your outsourced talent will pay big dividends, as you’ll not only have their mind but also their hearts and inspiration. Actively recognize and provide feedback when warranted.
Finally, treat them as part of your team, include them in your rituals and weekly activities when possible, and talk to them as team members, not contractors.
Putting It All Together
Having a high-performing outsourced team is not only about hiring the best talent. The real success hinges on the company’s ability to be proactive about this strategy. That means setting the right expectations, having the right manager oversee the team, knowing what roles are best suited for success, empowering your team to be autonomous and making each hire feel part of the team. Those are the simple and true secrets to successful outsourcing.
Forbes Business Council is the foremost growth and networking organization for business owners and leaders. Do I qualify?