How to bring an Indian developer into your team
It’s probably the most common question people ask when thinking about offshore outsourcing, “How can I get developers from India on board the team?”
That’s a good question!
In the article a few information and solutions how to add the Indian IT specialist to the team.
Most of the time it starts with looking for programmers. Increasingly, these are not available on the local market. This is certainly also due to the current digitalization that is taking place.
All companies want to present themselves as Digital Companies. Be it small or large corporations.
IT specialists are therefore not only sought after by IT service providers, agencies and software manufacturers these days. But increasingly also from traditional companies that had rather less to do with software or the Web.
Bosch is a good example. Among other things, it acts as an automotive supplier, manufacturer of goods and some more. A company with more than 400,000 employees. Even this corporation sees itself more and more as a software manufacturer. Bosch’s need for developers and IT services is correspondingly high.
At the same time, the hip IT specialist would prefer to work in a metropolis (such as Munich, Berlin, Hamburg, Cologne, Stuttgart, etc.) and large corporations are particularly popular.
Companies located outside these centers already have a hard time finding suitable programmers. In some cases, attempts are being made to combat this through training measures (training of IT specialists). Or to convey a “cool” image (often in agencies) in order to find suitable employees.
Increasingly, however, one realizes that it is also worthwhile to look outside the country’s borders. And this is where the decision is often made to set up a team in India to work alongside the local development team.
The question, which is already in the title here, is then asked by managing directors, IT managers and project managers: “What is the best way to integrate the Indian colleague”.
Here are a few ways:
1) Trial and Error
This is still the royal road. You start with – one – software developer on the subcontinent and see how it goes.
With time, you will notice what works better and what does not.
For some, communication via email will suffice. Others want an intensive exchange in Skype Calls and TeamViewer connections.
Others bring the programmer to Germany for three to four weeks or even longer, so that you can get to know each other in person.
2) Communication tools
Even internal employees are not seen 8 hours a day these days. Instead, you actively exchange information with them via messenger (Skype, Trello, etc.), email or project management tools, etc. Or passively via the blog, the internet portal, via webinars, etc.
So it doesn’t really make a difference anymore whether the developer is located in the same building, in another city (Berlin, Hamburg, etc.) or in India.
So it is important to give the software developer in India, access to the same tools. Over time, this will become familiar with the correct use.
3) Employee selection decision
In already smaller agencies and especially in larger IT service providers, it is no longer the managing director or the management who will communicate with the Indian team and distribute the tasks, but a project manager or an IT manager.
These should be closely involved in the decision to engage an Indian colleague.
A best practice is for the project manager or IT director to search for the IT service provider in India themselves. This increases the commitment immensely, since it is the “own baby” and not a “brain child” from management. Bottom Up instead of Top Down!
If the decision towards offshore outsourcing has already been made. Then, at least the further decision of who will eventually be a member of the team in India should, to a large extent, be left to the project manager or IT manager (the person who will eventually be in contact with the Indian IT expert). This also helps to increase commitment.
4) Think in the long term
IT employees, all over the world, have a rather low sense of responsibility when it comes to small-scale projects where you hardly know the customer.
The thought “Oh, I won’t see the customer in a month anyway, what should I care about the output” is then obvious.
To avoid this, you should suggest to the developer that this is a long-term cooperation.
Ideally, one should have the new programmer recruited on the subcontinent, by the IT service provider exclusively. And this developer then works exclusively for the team in Germany.
5) Observe small cultural subtleties
The differences in culture are no longer so great worldwide. Basically, everyone watches the same movies, eats the same food, and uses the same media these days.
Nevertheless, there are some subtleties.
For example, here are some of them:
- In South Asia, people tend to be indirect: although you can give your feedback directly to people. However, they will be slow to share their own feedback. The Indian employee wants to save his own face, as well as keep respect for the other person high. This can lead to communication hurdles. The only thing that helps here is to ask and listen carefully. If in doubt, ask again or rephrase the question (keyword: ask open questions, i.e. questions that cannot be answered with “no” or “yes”).
- Punctuality is perceived differently: If someone in Germany says “I will be at the appointment at 3:00 p.m.”, then this person will also be at the appointment at 3:00 p.m. sharp (unless they are seasoned managers and CEOs, in which case it can sometimes be later 😊). In India, however, all these “time units” are rather fluid. 3:00 p.m. can also mean “about 3 to 4 p.m.”. This sets in relatively quickly over time, once colleagues realize that punctuality is expected.
- Family matters are important: If the uncle of a person in Germany becomes ill. Then there are no consequences. The uncle is just sick and possibly in the hospital. In South Asia, however, a sick uncle is something quite different. Here you most likely have to go visit this one in the hospital. In principle, this would not be a problem, but the Indian employee will request leave for this purpose. In Germany, this can often be misunderstood – a la “that’s just the uncle, do you have to apply for leave?”. Again, you have to understand, even more distant relatives are important.
Here are a few more points why offshore outsourcing ventures don’t work:
1. briefly in and then out again
According to an Etengo study (a larger freelance placement company based in the German-speaking world), it takes a freelancer 3 months to get up to speed on company processes and be truly effective. According to the study, this takes as long as 6 months for new hires.
All too often, however, the employee in India is expected to be highly efficient within 2 weeks (“He/she already has so much work experience, so it must be faster” is the mindset). However, you also have to give it the appropriate training time.
It also always makes sense to bring the IT specialist to Germany for three, four weeks or longer so that he can get to know the team there.
2. commitment of own employees is not there
Internal employees will reject offshore outsourcing if they were not involved in the decision-making process.
“That was another weird management decision to try something with offshore”. The frustration then usually sits deep and the whole thing rubs off over time, or it gets blocked.
So it’s important that employees are involved, in this step.
3. the first developer at the service provider is taken
Instead of finding out the skills of the individual developers, the first coder available at the IT service provider on the subcontinent is taken.
This can work for short term engagements, where the hourly rate will be correspondingly high. However, this is not recommended in the long term.
It is better to take the time to have the IT service provider hire new employees who will then work exclusively for the company.
4. the importance of transparency and honesty is underestimated
Some IT service providers are highly sales-driven. The customer’s well-being is not necessarily the primary concern here. These IT companies know what the client wants “great looking office”, “low hourly rate”, “maximum flexibility”, “minimum risk”, “complete takeover of project management”.
That this does not work has already been proven many times.
All sides should be open about their desires and goals. Often, this can already be seen in the service provider’s strong business model.
If, for example, you want maximum flexibility, a great-looking office and complete project management, then you can assume that the hourly rate must be around 35 to 50 euros, even in India.
However, this is not mentioned transparently by the service provider on the subcontinent. The service provider thinks “But the customer expects 15 to 20 US dollars per hour, so let’s call that the price. We just try to hire some beginners and implement that with them. Maybe that will work. Otherwise, our sales team is already looking for the next projects”.
Note: It’s true, you can also get an hourly rate of $15 to $20 US, or even less. But that goes hand in hand with the understanding that you’re working with the developers and the service provider here for the long term. For the benefit of all (customer, service provider, employees and last but not least the customers of the customers).
Basically, all that really matters is that you make a commitment that you’re going to build a developer team in India. This must be supported by the local team in Germany (a tip on how this can work is described in the article).
It’s not that few companies, employ developers in offshore locations. On the contrary, there are already very many. However, the successful ones have recognized that the right approaches need to be taken to achieve this (some of these are also listed in the article).
What questions do you have? Feedback requested.
Sascha Thattil ist Blogger und Geschäftsführer bei YUHIRO. Wir bauen Entwicklerteams in Indien für Agenturen, IT Dienstleister und Softwareunternehmen auf.