10 Tips for Building a Successful Team

Offshoring: 10 Tips for Building a Successful Team

This episode started with the developer shortage in the US issue that has really been a challenge for many industries needing software developers. This often leads businesses to fail in building a successful team. Offshoring has become a solution for many businesses to aid the shortage problem.

What is Offshoring?

The Matts explained that, basically, offshoring means that you are working with people non-domestically. Unlike outsourcing, which is passing a portion of your operations to a third-party organization, offshoring is doing parts of your operations on another territory whilst still being involved in it.

With this in mind, building a team can be challenging since they are located half-way across the globe. For this episode, Watson and DeCoursey gave us some pointers on building a successful team offshore.

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These are the 10 shared tips in building a successful offshore team:

  • Share the vision of the product. It is a common mistake that people make when they randomly assign tasks to an offshore team member. Watson says that developers need a sense of understanding of why the company exists. They need to understand what the company does and why they do it. Aside from this, they need to have a sense of security in having a job, so it is important that they know the direction of the project.
  • Overcommunicate. When working with remote teams, communication may be left in the dark a lot of times. In an office setup, roaming around for updates can be easy, but in offshoring, it requires a bit more effort. It is not enough to just have weekly and daily meetings. One-on-one engagement with developers can be very helpful in making sure they’re getting the work done and helping them out when possible.
  • Overlap work schedules. Building rapport and chemistry in the workplace is integral to build a productive working dynamic. Overlapping work schedules provide optimal advantages such as support for local downtime and making time for daily scrum meetings from both ends.
  • Communicate simply. Keep the communication simple. In a setup where part of a team is from another country and language could pose a challenge. However, keeping the vocabulary simple and precise can help aid this problem. DeCoursey and Watson also point out that choosing a country with high English proficiency, such as the Philippines, helped them avoid this problem.
  • Keep a prioritized work queue. There may be times when developers encounter blockers on their priority tasks and become dependent on someone for help. Plan Bs, Cs, and so on should be available so they continue being productive without halting the process of development.
  • Make use of video conferencing. Another key communication method is video conferencing. This gives team members an image of what the entire team looks like behind all the structured tasks. Sometimes, it’s better to communicate with a visual interface rather than “just receiving instructions.”
  • Give them real work to do. Just because the hourly rate of developers from other territories is lower compared to the domestic rate doesn’t mean that the quality is also low. The low rate is based on the difference in the economy. However, work is work and they have to have outputs that are of high standard, quality, and complex.
  • Don’t micromanage developers. Good people do good work. Developers also need their space to be productive. To do this, they should be trusted and empowered. Another tip that they gave is to have the right mix of senior developers and, potentially, a project manager to distribute the appropriate amount of management that goes into development.
  • Get your points across with visual aids. Software development is all about communication. In visualizing processes, people can already have an idea of what is being communicated or discussed. Visuals always help in making a point.
  • Treat them as part of the team, not just an offshore team. Ultimately, the goal of an offshore team is to have other members of the team in another territory and not particularly another team/project. Avoid an “us-and-them” mentality and include your offshore team in all communication channels and company meetings.

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Listen to Episode 47 of the Startup Hustle podcast – Offshoring

Here’s the transcript of Episode 47 of the Startup Hustle podcast – Offshoring

Matt DeCoursey:Hello and welcome back to another episode of Startup Hustle. Matt DeCoursey here with Matt Watson. Hi Matt.
Matt Watson:Hey. How’s it going?
Matt DeCoursey:Just kind of getting through another day. I was at the Full Scale website and I saw a pretty interesting article that I think is kind of topical right now.
Matt Watson:I’m trying to figure out how to manage all these new people I have.
Matt DeCoursey:Yeah, I know. It’s a pretty big team. So we’re in the Philippines right now, and with that, I think that … Well, I’ve done this for a little bit. I think you’re kind of good the software thing, too. So we can probably share a couple tips, whether our listeners are utilizing the services that Full Scale offers or they are dealing with their own offshore teams.
I think the one thing that is really apparent right now is there’s a shortage of web developers and with that, we’ve got to find some different solutions. The offshore employee, and I’m not a huge fan of that word, but the non-domestic employee … It’s a globalized world now.
Matt Watson:There’s talented people everywhere.
Matt DeCoursey:Yeah, I agree. I mean, code’s code.
Matt Watson:I mean, we’ve had, between the two of us, we’ve had developers in Russia, Ukraine, Belarus, Poland, South America.
Matt DeCoursey:China, India.
Matt Watson:Yeah. Kansas.
Matt DeCoursey:Kansas.
Matt Watson:Missouri.
Matt DeCoursey:Ohio, Indiana, California. Oh man.
Matt Watson:All over the place, right?
Matt DeCoursey:Yeah. I think there’s even more. It’s almost as many countries as the show has been listened to in.
Matt Watson:I always like to remind people, Stackify’s blog is for IT developers, software developers, right? We get people from every single country every single week on our blog. There are software developers everywhere.
Matt DeCoursey:Once again, I’ll reiterate, I didn’t realize there was 120 countries until I saw this show. Who are you people, by the way? Who is our listener in Zimbabwe?
Matt Watson:Join us on the Facebook Startup Hustle chat.
Matt DeCoursey:I really do. If you are the listener from Zimbabwe, I want to give you something for free. I’m not even sure yet.
Matt Watson:So we have a unique situation here. So you and I have been dealing with working with offshore remote teams for a long time, but we also employ a remote team. So we see both sides of it, right? We want our employees in the Philippines to be successful, to be successful for our clients. We want it to work.
Matt DeCoursey:And our own companies.
Matt Watson:Right, and we want it to be successful for our own companies. So we have mutual interests on both sides of this, obviously. So I came up with a little list about different tips, about how to manage and work with an offshore development team.
Matt DeCoursey:Well, first, let’s actually define offshore because there’s this whole offshore versus outsource thing. So offshore is typically defined as, like I said, non-domestic. These aren’t developers or employees that live in the same country as you. Outsourced is finding a contractor within your own market or within your own country.
Matt Watson:Somebody outside your own company. Somebody outside your company do the work. You could outsource the trash pickup.
Matt DeCoursey:Sure.
Matt Watson:You could outsource anything, right?
Matt DeCoursey:I mean, outsourcing’s still a very common thing to do, but overall, there seems to be what’s commonly referred to as a talent shortage right now. It’s not really just affecting North America. I mean, it’s all over the place.
Matt Watson:What I always say is you don’t want to outsource your talent or your intellectual property, but that’s not the same as offshoring it, where there’s still work for you. They’re your contractors. They’re your employees. You still have that talent, but they work for you, versus if you’re outsourcing it, you’re handing over the keys to somebody else.
Matt DeCoursey:Right. Now, with the whole topic of offshoring, there’s a lot of common misperceptions that seem to exist that I’ve spent a lot of time trying to strike down. If you’re a regular listener of the show, you’ve heard me talk about a lot of them.
Some of that, I mean, it really just starts with how do you find and communicate and then become productive, as well as create something that’s lasting with this new team of people that are oftentimes thousands of miles away. How far away is our office in Sabu? It’s like-
Matt Watson:It was like 3000 miles, or no, 8000.
Matt DeCoursey:No, it’s more than that. I think it’s like 8000 miles.
Matt Watson:Yeah, because remember, we were flying into Japan. Maybe that was kilometers. I don’t know.
Matt DeCoursey:You didn’t learn the metric system?
Matt Watson:No. But no, to your point, I had someone ask me today. He was like, “How did you find your first developer in the Philippines? How did you guys get started with this?”
Matt DeCoursey:Did you raise my hand?
Matt Watson:I said, “I partnered with this great guy, Matt DeCoursey. We’ve been doing it for 10 years.”
Matt DeCoursey:No, don’t church it up, Watson. You didn’t say that.
Matt Watson:I said this old man. It was an old man.
Matt DeCoursey:Oh my god. We’re back to the old man thing. Well, let’s get into some of this, because I think if you guys want to read the article that Matt Watson published today about this, you can find it at FullScale.io.
Some of this stuff is stuff that it’s meant to really help you. I think a common misperception is that you can’t be successful with people that work in an offshore environment. It’s not that. You have to pick winners, people. That’s it. You have to find people that are good at what they do and you have to be good at what you do.
There’s a few things that are really going to help you do that. I think the very first starts with sharing the vision of the product or the platform that you’re trying to build.
Matt Watson:It’s all about giving them the roadmap, right, and not leaving them in the dark. We had a little bit of that with one of our first clients.
Matt DeCoursey:Right.
Matt Watson:Right? They were in the Philippines and worked for one of our Full Scale clients, and the developers told us, “Hey, we love the project we’re working on, but it seems like every day at the last minute, they come and assign us work to do. We don’t really know where this is going, and we’re kind of worried that we’re going to run out of work to do. Should we be looking for a job? We’re in the dark. We’re just kind of nervous.”
Matt DeCoursey:They were chomping at the bit. They wanted to-
Matt Watson:They wanted to do more.
Matt DeCoursey:They wanted to tear into the projects and provide value and exist for the purpose of helping the whole project and the business be successful. I mean, that was really what it came down to.
Matt Watson:Yeah. So we went back to the client and said, “Hey, lay it all on them. They want to know everything. Don’t leave them at arm’s length.”
Matt DeCoursey:Yep, and that turned into an immediate change that clearly defined that relationship. I’m looking forward to checking up on that, because I have a feeling it’s probably resulting in a pretty productive output.
Matt Watson:Yeah, absolutely.
Matt DeCoursey:So what are some of the key components to sharing your product vision?
Matt Watson:Well, I think part of it’s understanding why the company exists, what the company does, the goal of the product, some of that kind of less technical stuff, right? Just understanding the big picture of what we do and why we do it.
That was one of the things I tried to do with my team when we were in Sabu together is I sat down for a couple hours with them and just told them, “This is why we’re in business. This is what we do. This is why we do it,” and just the product and where the product is trying to go.
Matt DeCoursey:I’m already realizing that these tips are good for your domestic employees, too.
Matt Watson:Yeah, absolutely. Some of these things are. Yeah. Some of these things are. The difference is, some of these conversations naturally happen around the water cooler, right, where when part of your team is remote, even if they’re in California and your office is in Kansas City, whatever, you just don’t meet at the water cooler, right?
Matt DeCoursey:Sure.
Matt Watson:So no matter where your employees are, be them remote or in the office, this stuff is important.
Matt DeCoursey:Okay. So I think an important thing to remember, as well, is if you’re going to program a machine to perform a task, it sure does help if that’s pretty clearly defined exactly what that is.
Matt Watson:Well, with software development, sometimes you need to understand where you’re going because the decisions you make about how you write the code or architect the code will change based on … It’s like, “Oh, we’re building a plane.” Are we building a little plane or a big plane? Because some of the code might want to be a little different, right?
Matt DeCoursey:Sure. The why.
Matt Watson:Yeah.
Matt DeCoursey:Always talking about why.
Matt Watson:Yep.
Matt DeCoursey:Well, what’s the next tip? What do you got next?
Matt Watson:Well, again, it’s all about over-communication. For example, I’ll give you a great example. My wife sent me a message actually this weekend while she was out of town. She said, “Matt, can you pay the lawn guy?” I said, “Okay, sure,” and I didn’t pay him. You know why? I didn’t know if I was supposed to write him a check and he was going to come by and pick up the check, or if I was supposed to mail the check and I could just pay it online.
Matt DeCoursey:So that lack of over-communication just-
Matt Watson:If she would’ve sent me just one or two more words, I would’ve known what to do, right, but instead I stalled. I didn’t know what to do.
Matt DeCoursey:I think it’s easy to over-communicate if you want to. I mean, look at all the ways you can communicate. Slack. You have video, audio. You pick up a phone, email. There’s just so many ways to communicate.
You talk about over-communication, I actually record videos a lot for my team, and you’ve seen these that I do. They’re as long as they need to be, but they’re short and precise for the most part. I make notes and then I just on my Mac just using QuickTime record a quick video that has the instructions if I feel that that’s the best way to get it across.
Now, why do I do that? Because when I send that, it can be watched again and again and again, and if that’s what it takes to understand it or go back and make sure that everything … and then also, I think that sometimes, just the best way to communicate is to see and hear what I’m saying, how I’m saying. That’s the one thing with written text that doesn’t always … The context doesn’t always-
Matt Watson:Well, and one of the items on my list here was specifically about using screenshots and working up screenshots and recording videos.
Matt DeCoursey:Oh man, I’ll tell you what. I look back at the first two or three years that I was acting as the product owner, and then the project manager, certain things, when I discovered the annotated screenshot, oh my god.
Matt Watson:Yeah. They fixed this thing.
Matt DeCoursey:That was like that moment where you look back and you go, “Oh my god, if I could only have these last two years back,” because one of the things that I found difficult early, I hired my first employee in Sabu in 2009, and I found it to be really difficult at the time. Technology and bandwidth wasn’t what it is now, and that made it a little more difficult then, trying to communicate through Skype, but I wasn’t able to just point at something.
I found that to be really frustrating, so once I really got in tune with the screenshot, use that to your advantage. That’s one of the things I really like about Mac is that it makes it really easy to do screenshots and even faster to annotate. I’d have little screen bubbles and squares. They don’t have to be fancy. I mean, they can really in many ways just be crude and just point at something, like a red X or something that just shows exactly what it is you’re talking about.
Matt Watson:Well, and taking this to the next level, we had our morning standup. Our team in Sabu overlaps with us in the morning for like three or four hours, so we have our morning standup. And then one of the guys had a question about something. He wasn’t quite sure what to do. So afterwards, I jumped on and did a Zoom meeting and did a screen share. I did a screen share. He walked me through the code, showed me what he was working on and the question he had and I helped him figure it out.
Matt DeCoursey:Bam. Problem solved.
Matt Watson:Away he goes, right?
Matt DeCoursey:Well, you kind of hit on one of the next things. I think the most common places for offshoring right now are the Philippines and India, both of which represent a move forward on the clock compared to where we’re at. Our office in Cebu’s a 13 hour difference, so we want to overlap a little bit, and what’s the main reason for that?
Matt Watson:For those standup meetings, the communication. Again, they’re all about communication, right? How can we build a rapport and chemistry with our team if we’re never on the same work schedule? So all of my team, most of them anyways, shift their schedule to our time.
Matt DeCoursey:You’re talking about your team in Sabu.
Matt Watson:Our team in Sabu, yeah. They work about-
Matt DeCoursey:3PM.
Matt Watson:3PM to midnight in Cebu, which overlaps until about 11AM in the morning here, Kansas City time. And then we have some other people that work even later hours that overlap full-time, and then I’ve got people that don’t overlap with us because I actually want them to handle our on-call and stuff like that.
Matt DeCoursey:That’s actually a specific advantage that certain offshore arrangements can create for your company. So here at 5PM Central Time, you’ll actually have someone that’s coming online over there. The purpose for that is site reliability, right?
Matt Watson:Yeah. We’re working on getting the team in Sabu to handle all of our production server mongering and all that sort of stuff. A lot of people also like to do this where they do QA at night. The developers do a bunch of work and then QA can QA it at night and then they come the next morning and they know if everything passed or didn’t pass.
Matt DeCoursey:I’ve always enjoyed … It might not be a true 24 hour development cycle, but I like having different teams working on things.
Matt Watson:You get up in the morning and you have little Christmas presents.
Matt DeCoursey:Yeah, yeah, or sometimes it’s a good opportunity to get something back on track, because that does happen. That can happen locally or it can happen halfway around the world. Sometimes that little bit of feedback that you can spend five minutes giving can put something back to where it needs to be or possibly fix a problem that was uncovered overnight.
Matt Watson:I think no matter what, if you’re working with an offshore team, one of the managers, be it the development manager or whoever it is, is probably going to want to ping those people early in the morning, late in the evening if they’re working different schedules, just check in them. If it’s 10:00 Kansas City time, ping them and say, “Hey guys, how it’s going? Is there anything I can help with before I go to bed?”
Matt DeCoursey:So even though we’ve suggested to over-communicate, at the same time, it’s important to keep that communicate simplistic along the ways.
Matt Watson:It is.
Matt DeCoursey:The reason for that is … All right, if you don’t speak English as your first language, you may still fluently communicate, but at the same time, I’m not going to use words like intrinsic or stuff like that. It’s just certain types of communication are a little harder to understand.
Matt Watson:Keep the vocabulary simple.
Matt DeCoursey:Right, and then also things like little metaphors or phrases or cultural references.
Matt Watson:They’re not going to get Donald Trump jokes, are they?
Matt DeCoursey:Well, maybe.
Matt Watson:Maybe.
Matt DeCoursey:Maybe. I think those are worldwide. They might be, but there are certain things. I’ve found just by simplifying things … One of the examples is when we were first building GigaBook, in Sabu, they have VAT, value-added tax, which is like consumption tax. They don’t have income tax, so they charge you 12% on everything that’s bought. That kind of helps collect tax from those that don’t report their income.
Well, when we built a tax function into the service option, they wanted to build that in, and there wasn’t an understanding that we typically don’t tax services here in the United States. So you just look at little simplifications of things, like simplification and clarification.
This next one on the list is one I hold near and dear to my heart. Keep a prioritized work queue. You’ve heard me refer to the B task. That’s that task that if for some reason, you get stuck, if for some reason, your prioritized task is not going the way that it needs to go, here’s a fallback.
It took me a little bit to kind of get into that, because that’s one thing, when you have opposing work schedules, that can be challenging is that person gets stuck or has a question and it’s 3AM in your local time and you’re not getting that question until it’s too late.
So by defining, first off, it is important to define which tasks are the most important, and then if that doesn’t work, you can fall back. I mean, that term, B task, was really kind of taken more so from that old Franklin Covey, like prioritizing your tasks, like, “Here’s my A things,” and you never work on a B task unless all of the A tasks are done.
I think having a fallback is really important, and it just kind of keeps things moving. Think about how many things probably need to be done at your business. Would you rather settle for a check mark or none?
Matt Watson:Yeah. It’s like at Stackify, we always have 100 items in our backlog. There’s always lots of things to do. The good thing is, we have a whole team over there, too, so if someone gets stuck, the other people on the team, or we have some senior people over there that can help figure it out.
Matt DeCoursey:Well, actually, that’s-
Matt Watson:They’re not all dependent on the people here in Kansas City.
Matt DeCoursey:Well, I think you made a really good point, and that’s actually something that I don’t think is on our list is the value of having people that exist in the same room. That’s one of the things-
Matt Watson:It’s not just having one remote person to.
Matt DeCoursey:Yeah. I think a lot of people want to offshore and they want to find someone that … They find all these individuals. They’ve got like four different people that are sometimes in four different cities and in four different timezones, and there’s a lot of variables.
I think here in North America, we take a lot of things for granted, especially when it comes to infrastructure. If the power goes out here at the office, we’re all going to bitch and complain like it’s the worst thing that’s ever happened to us, because typically the power doesn’t go off here unless there’s a huge storm. Well, in a lot of these countries, that’s not the case. They have rolling blackouts. Their infrastructure isn’t really as strong.
Now, it is when it comes to the professional offices and workspaces. For example, in Sabu, our office is right on the edge of an IT park. There’s fiber internet that comes in and the building has backup generators.
Matt Watson:Well, and we’re downtown. That’s different than somebody that lives in a village on the other side of mountains.
Matt DeCoursey:Well, that’s another thing, too. For example, it’s kind of rainforesty there. It’s like the idea that everything’s wired in the same way that it would be here isn’t really the case.
One of the things that that can affect is, you were talking about this earlier, is video conferencing technology. That was a lot harder a decade ago just because of general bandwidth, but now it’s not. I mean, I think it’s like 16 bucks a month I pay for Zoom, and I run it right through Slack.
Matt Watson:Our office in Sabu has fiber … It’s like a 50 meg connection or something like that.
Matt DeCoursey:Yeah. Did you ever have any issues? Because this morning I walked by an office here at Stackify and there was, it looked like five or six people at our office there just talking to two or three different people here. So, I mean-
Matt Watson:Yeah, our daily standup. We were doing video conferencing.
Matt DeCoursey:And they were all rolling through the same connection there, so it wasn’t just supporting one video connection, but several. I think the important part of that is … I think there’s a lot of reasons that the video conferencing component is really important. I mean, this is your team. This is your crew. It’s good to let them see and hear you, and they should know that you’re there to see and hear them. I think that that goes over a lot better than just constantly receiving instructions. Do you have any issues with the video conferencing or any tips? How long is your meeting each day?
Matt Watson:We try and keep our standups to 15 minutes. We’re actually trying out a little bot in Slack that might simplify and automate some of our standups. So we might actually lean on that a little more.
Matt DeCoursey:What does it do?
Matt Watson:It basically asks everybody what they did that day, and it actually integrates with Jira, so it’s pretty cool. It’ll give them their Jira ticket numbers even, and say, “Hey, did you work on this? What progress did you make? Did you get it done? Did you not get it done?”
Matt DeCoursey:We have a similar one at GigaBook that we’ve used that actually is more like a daily report.
Matt Watson:Yeah, and [crosstalk].
Matt DeCoursey:It kind of asks … Is it called Sutna? Are we using the same one?
Matt Watson:No, this is called Stan Bot or something.
Matt DeCoursey:I might have to check that. But yeah. You go back to looking at the use of communication technology. I’m a big fan of the daily report and having that distributed to everyone, because it makes it really easy, especially if it’s all in one collective report.
Matt Watson:Yes.
Matt DeCoursey:You can very easily skim down, see what your entire team did, and another thing, too, is it just kind of keeps some people honest. I mean, if you feel like you have to sign your name to your tasks, you really want to make sure that you did something. No one wants to put, “I didn’t do anything today.”
Matt Watson:Well, and then ask them if they have any blockers that are holding them up, and then that’s one of the key things that’s highlighted in the final report of who had a blocker and what the blockers are.
Matt DeCoursey:I’ve got so many of those, I don’t even know where to start.
Matt Watson:You’re my blocker.
Matt DeCoursey:In more ways than you want to know. So how do you feel about giving people real work or a challenging task?
Matt Watson:Well, so I think that’s one thing we see all the time. I think so many people when they do offshore, they’re doing cheap shoring. They’re like, “Oh, we’re going to hire these developers in India for $12 an hour,” or whatever. And they give them just crap work to do, right? Just like the developers here in the United States, they don’t want to do crap work, either, right, like data entry or really rudimentary, stupid programming tasks. We hire really highly talented people in the Philippines, just like we do here, and they want to do interesting, cool, challenging work. They don’t want to do shit work. Even though you might only have to pay them 25, $30 an hour or whatever-
Matt DeCoursey:Or even ones that work for less, it doesn’t mean they’re not capable.
Matt Watson:Or even less. Yeah. It doesn’t mean they’re not capable of doing real work. They just live in a different economy. They don’t live in Silicon Valley and pay $4000 a month for rent.
Matt DeCoursey:I think that’s been one of the things, and you’ve heard me talk about this just over and over and over again, is it really is just that. It’s economic differences.
Matt Watson:Yeah. They pay $100 a month for rent instead of $4000 in rent.
Matt DeCoursey:Well, I mean, you can buy a house in Sabu for like 30, 40 grand, a pretty nice one, or less. That’s a big difference, but I mean, having gone over there, how much were our cab rides all the way to downtown? Like a dollar? A dollar 20?
Matt Watson:Whenever we went right around downtown, it was never more than $2. When we went to the airport, which was like over a 30 minute cab ride, I think it was $3.
Matt DeCoursey:Yeah, yeah, yeah.
Matt Watson:It’s just a different economy.
Matt DeCoursey:It really is. That contributes to everything, but I mean, I know the folks that we hire at the Full Scale office, sometimes they just dazzle me. If these were people that were here, they would be the top people on your team.
Matt Watson:They would be.
Matt DeCoursey:But you have to let go of that mentality that for some reason … I think this is … and don’t think I’m not patriotic here the week after 4th of July, but I think it’s just a little bit of our own arrogance.
Matt Watson:Well, and it’s because you pay them less, you just assume that you’re going to get less out of them, but that’s not necessarily the case at all.
Matt DeCoursey:Yeah.
Matt Watson:You’ve got to push them and you can get a lot more value out of them than you think.
Matt DeCoursey:I mean, the same way, just treat it like it’s an employee that’s working from home that day. When you say give them real work, I mean, well, my whole team’s over there, so I got to give them real work. I don’t have much choice in that, but one of the things you could probably do to really kind of stick a knife in your productivity is being a micromanager, like asking every 20 minutes, “Are you done? Are you done? Are you done?”
Let people do the job that you hired them to do. If you hire good people, they’re going to probably do good work. Nothing is cutting into your own productivity more than distracting and overwhelming someone with too many questions.
Matt Watson:Well, like we mentioned earlier, I think it’s important to hire senior developers, too, that can help be a leader. If you’re going to hire five people on an offshore team, one of them should be a more senior person, like an IT manager or lead developer or senior developer.
Matt DeCoursey:Well, actually, we require that.
Matt Watson:Yeah. You don’t want five entry-level developers over there working that somebody has to manage that need a whole lot of help and assistance.
Matt DeCoursey:Well, it’s the same way that you would want to build a team here. Find the right foundation and then you can start stacking things on top of it. If you don’t do that, you should be surprised when it falls over or when it just feels loose or not really.
Another thing, too, is from the long-term perspective, keep in mind, and I know we’ve been talking about what we do in Sabu and what we do at Full Scale a lot because I think this is really relevant. I think that what we’re doing there is there are companies that do things similar to us, but we take a mentality of we’re helping to build a team. We’re not a project shop. We want to help you build a team that lasts, and the best way to build some of your own talent is to grow it.
Matt Watson:And the way you treat them is important to retain them.
Matt DeCoursey:Yeah. Oh man. I’ll tell you what. Every week that goes by, I want to go just work at our Sabu office more and more. They’ve got a massage therapist.
Matt Watson:And they have windows.
Matt DeCoursey:Yeah, that part. Yeah. Oh man.
Matt Watson:And there’s a view of the mountains and the ocean.
Matt DeCoursey:I know. It’s like the best of both worlds.
Matt Watson:It is kind of hot and humid, though.
Matt DeCoursey:Yeah. I do start sweating when I get up there and then stop. I feel like I lose a lot of weight when I’m there. I think I just sweat it off. Either that, or it’s because I’m afraid to eat some of the things that I saw you eat.
This next one we have on the list here is something we did already talk about, and it’s kind of improving your communication with pictures and video. I think we hit on a lot of that. But I think it’s worth saying over and over and over again.
Matt Watson:So there’s a lot of ways to record videos on your computer. I don’t know about on the Mac, but on Windows now, you can do it with Windows command G. Actually opens up the game center, and you can record audio and your desktop. But I also like a little app called VidYard, which is a free Google Chrome extension that I mentioned in the article. Makes it real easy to record from Google Chrome.
Matt DeCoursey:Yeah. In Mac, you can just open QuickTime and do a screen recording. [crosstalk] If you’re working on mobile stuff, you can do that on your iPhone, as well. Actually just plug your iPhone into your Mac and then you can use the same outputs.
Matt Watson:That’s cool.
Matt DeCoursey:Yeah. It’s pretty helpful. The final note that we’ve got here is talking about … Remember, you’re building a team. It doesn’t matter where it is. If you want your company to be big, you’re probably going to have to be global. You’re going to have people working all over the place. One of the reasons that you found our office in Sabu to be pretty helpful was you have users in 60 different countries.
Matt Watson:We do.
Matt DeCoursey:That means that there’s people on the other side of the world that during their day, they don’t want to find out that you don’t have support. That’s not a balanced company and that’s not a balanced service offering.
Matt Watson:I mean, it’s a global economy. For Stackify, like you said, we have customers all over the world, and we have some employees all over the world. So yeah.
Matt DeCoursey:Right. Remember, you want to try to avoid an us and them mentality. It’s the same team. Don’t build dividers and walls down the middle of your own company. I’ve actually worked for businesses that did that. First off, once they’re there, they’re really hard to tear down, and it’s really frustrating.
Literally, at one company that I won’t name, it was like they had two different divisions and if you wanted something from the other one, it was almost like you had to … I mean, they were in the same building, but it was almost like two companies operating inside the same building. It was just really frustrating because one side was so uninformed about what the other was doing, but they were so tied together. It all required the same stuff to be successful.
I think that that kind of goes back to what we were saying earlier. Define what you want to do. Don’t leave them in the dark. I’m sitting here and I’m kind of shaking my head because I don’t understand why so many of these issues and problems exist. I think that over this next 10 years or so, I think we’re going to see a pretty huge change in the mentality of the way the offshore workers embrace and treat it.
Matt Watson:Well, I think I know why there’s a lot of this problem, because people are doing offshore work in let’s say, India, and the team in India doesn’t speak English very well. They’re hard to communicate with. It’s a little harder to build a team with them if you have huge cultural differences, English language barriers, right? That’s one of the things we like about the Philippines. They’re a lot like Americans. They’re not really that much different.
Matt DeCoursey:Yeah, I don’t have a problem talking to anybody on the team.
Matt Watson:No.
Matt DeCoursey:I mean, no, that’s one of the things that’s question number two in the interview is like, how comfortable are you-
Matt Watson:Would I go have beers with this guy or girl?
Matt DeCoursey:Right, right.
Matt Watson:The answer almost always is yes.
Matt DeCoursey:That’s question number three. It actually is. It’s not phrased quite like that, but it’s, “Is this someone that I would like to work with every day?” That translates well to the teams and the clients that they end up working with.
I think really in the end, all these tips are great but the most important thing is to hire the right team. Not trying to make this episode an entire infomercial about this, but I mean, that’s kind of what we’re doing, isn’t it?
Matt Watson:Well, sometimes, like we said, if you struggle with your team in India because of communication problems and they won’t work your hours and you’re not getting what you want out of them, you got the wrong team. I mean, there’s a better way. There are other options, right?
Matt DeCoursey:We actually take a little different approach to that in regards that we want to find the right match. It’s probably fair to say, we’ve turned down more clients than we’ve accepted.
Matt Watson:We have turned down a few.
Matt DeCoursey:That has a lot to do with it not being the right fit. Sometimes that’s due to the stage that the company might be in, but sometimes it’s about timing or mentality. We don’t just assign people to a team. We talk to our team and we say, “Is this a project that you think you might be interested in?” Because if they’re not interested in it, they don’t like it. The clock’s ticking.
Matt Watson:A big part of our job and the service we provide is the retainment of the talent in Cebu, right? So we want the developers to be happy with the project they’re working on, the company they’re working for, it’s interesting work, all of those things.
Matt DeCoursey:It sure does seem like it’s a problem right now, the whole retention of anybody.
Matt Watson:Yeah. There’s high turnover. I mean, we don’t want turnover.
Matt DeCoursey:I haven’t had a problem with that at all.
Matt Watson:Yeah.
Matt DeCoursey:I think that it’s a different outlook. The Jobs Report for, I don’t know, what, May, came out, and a record number, 3.4 million Americans, switched jobs-
Matt Watson:In one month.
Matt DeCoursey:In one month.
Matt Watson:That’s crazy.
Matt DeCoursey:Or they either switched or were in the process of doing that, and there was some paper chasing involved. I can’t fault people for wanting to do better for themselves. I mean, it is what it is.
Matt Watson:Didn’t you say that year-over-year turnover in IT was like 13% or something like that?
Matt DeCoursey:It was higher.
Matt Watson:Higher than that?
Matt DeCoursey:Yeah. I can’t remember the exact numbers, and I don’t want to get too far into guessing, but I mean, overall, it’s getting worse. In Kansas City right now, there’s a negative 5% unemployment rate.
We’ve had a lot of interesting and spirited debates with some. I’m not trying to solve the problem of why we have a talent shortage. I’m working on trying to figure out how to make my business grow and help other people’s do the same.
Matt Watson:That’s what a friend of mine told me today. He’s like, “We have open positions and we are struggling to fill any of them for the last several months.”
Matt DeCoursey:Yeah.
Matt Watson:Their business can’t grow because they don’t have the people they need.
Matt DeCoursey:Right, and that’s frustrating. Another thing, too, is when people are leaving every year, you’re just in this constant state of replacement.
Matt Watson:Well, best case scenario is I hire a developer and steal them away from somebody else.
Matt DeCoursey:Yeah. I’m hearing some really interesting recruiting stories, like the recruiters that are placing people and your business, wait until pretty much the day that that person is now out of whatever that two year is and they’re calling, “It looks like it’s time to do this again.”
Matt Watson:Let’s make $20000 again and place you somewhere else.
Matt DeCoursey:It’s unbelievable to think that … I don’t know if I could pay 30 grand to place an employee. I’ve never done that.
Matt Watson:It’s expensive.
Matt DeCoursey:Yeah. I mean, that’s crazy.
Matt Watson:If you’re looking for an executive position that’s really critical to your business-
Matt DeCoursey:I mean, like a CEO or something.
Matt Watson:I could see it, but-
Matt DeCoursey:Yeah. For developers, one of the things is I like to think we can accurate numbers on what the average developer costs right now because it’s changing. It’s not a sustainable thing. It’s got to cap out at some point, but really in the end, regardless of what your position is, if there aren’t people to fill the jobs, what are you going to do? I mean, what do you do? So there is probably a better way to go about that. Like I said, I hope that some of the advice that we gave here helps some of you with getting more productivity out of folks that aren’t necessarily working right there in your home office.
If you’re interested in learning a little bit more about what we do, you can go to FullScale.io. We help rapidly growing businesses build teams, build them fast, try to do what we can to help this team work with you for years to come.
Matt Watson:Yeah, and just be successful.
Matt DeCoursey:Yeah. Well, I’ll tell you what, based on everybody that I’m talking to around here, it seems like the struggle is real.
Matt Watson:It is.
Matt DeCoursey:All right. Well, I’m going to get back to work.
Matt Watson:All right.
Matt DeCoursey:See you next time, Matt.
Matt Watson:See you guys.