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8 tips for managing outsourced projects

Jennifer Lonoff Schiff | Sept. 1, 2015
Project management and outsourcing experts share their advice on how to effectively manage far-flung or internationally outsourced projects.

Make sure everyone’s working off the same files
“Enable globally distributed teams to collaborate as if in the same office by ensuring that there is a single authoritative version of a file,” suggests Randy Chou, CEO, Panzura, a global cloud storage provider.  “This allows teams to work on the same file at the same time without overwriting work of others. This is especially important for applications like design, software development, architectural, and engineering where document integrity issues can cause major delays [and] incur significant additional expense.”

Have good project management software – and make sure all parties use it
"Provide your team with a collaborative software solution that allows them to work together,” says Bassem Handy, vice president of Enterprise Strategy, Procore, a provider of construction project management software. “With immediate access to project data, team members can spend less time tracking down information and more time being productive. Project team members and stakeholders alike will have visibility into the project, keeping everyone on the same page.” 

“We have a team of 20 developers overseas, and all of our development work is conducted from this office,” explains Mark Tuchscherer, cofounder and president, Geeks Chicago. “The primary piece of advice I would offer [in regard to managing outsourced or far-flung projects] is to have excellent management software,” he says. “We use JIRA because we are an agile company, but something like Asana would work as well. Everything should run through the software; never use email to manage projects.”

Sync up regularly
“Agree in advance to be kept updated on a fixed schedule,” says Chok Leang Ooi, CEO, AgilityIO, a global consulting firm helping entrepreneurs. “Sync ups can be done on a daily or weekly basis, but be disciplined about keeping to the agreed upon timing, especially if your outsourced team is in another time zone.”

“Effective communication, especially with new or off-site employees, is key to creating a more efficient, productive and profitable project,” says Handy. “Whether you are using Google Chat or Slack, keeping all project communication in one central location will increase accountability and allow all team members to communicate in real time.”

Hold regular video chats
“Face-to-face interaction (even if done electronically) is vitally important to developing a solid relationship and rapport with your team that ensures alignment on objectives and milestones,” says Patrick Rice, CEO, Lumidatum, a predictive analytics company. “Tools like Skype, Slack, WhatsApp and Google Hangouts make it so easy to stay connected and interact with teammates,” wherever they are.

Treat outsourced member of your team with respect
“Take some time to get to [know] the members of [the] team,” advises Fountain. “Whether through a video conference or other means, put faces to names and get to know what makes them tick. Bottom line: treat your outsourced team like the partner you expect them to be” and they will be.


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