How to Build an Effective Offshore Software Development Team with Staff Augmentation?

Software development team working in office

Let’s look behind the curtain of Qubit Labs, one of the best IT staff augmentation companies with Iva Kozlovskaya, company’s CEO.

Iva has been working in the HR industry for more than ten years, so she knows how to build a dream team. While being a recruiter and HRD in IT companies, she helped a lot of companies with setting up development teams.

Later she started her company Qubit Labs that works according to the outstaffing model. Qubit Labs build successful offshore software development teams for customer from US, UK, Sweden, Israel.

Recently Iva published a book called “Offshore Team 101. Don’t Hire a Team Until You Read This Book” We interviewed her to share her vision and experience with you in this article.

“Before launching our business, we studied of dozens of foreign and local competitors. Together with another co-founder we made market research and arrived to an astonishing conclusion.

The companies name their services, promise top quality but never reveal how they are going to achieve it. They rarely explain the process of hiring a dedicated team. How long would it take to find the right candidates? And finally, how to build an effective team for outsourcing with their help?

Showing such details help both sides to build partnership, rapport and trust. Those are our key principles of running outstaffing business.

If you want to know how we build teams – read on.”

When looking for software development company partner

The whole story with setting an offshore software development team starts with choosing an outsourcing vendor.

The market is packed with IT companies. There are plenty of other hiring models – recruitment agencies or tech talent marketplace. It might be hard to take the right decision at once.

Obviously, you study these things first:

  • local market
  • prices

but are these criteria enough to start long-term cooperation?

“There are dozens of factors that will influence your choice. But personally I emphasize three of them – location, corporate values and legislative compatibility,” – says Iva.

When choosing partner the first things you should pay attention to are:

  • Corporate values
  • Timezone/Location
  • Legislative compatibility

1 – If you appreciate corporate values,

choose a vendor that shares your vision and will be your partner. Unlike recruiting agencies, it helps to create a team spirit among remote employees and takes care of their office needs. You get full-cycle HR support from such partner, so you need to be sure that you work on the same goals.

2 – The place where your dedicated development team is located defines the work schedule.

You get almost 100% overlap in nearshore countries. If a four-five hours are enough to discuss your daily tasks, the offshore development team model will work for you too.

3 – And the third component that helps to establish a successful partnership is the legislature.

Payment systems, incompatible laws or sanctions can stand in your way to collaboration with outstaffing vendor and remote team, so better check these points before you sign any documents.

Thus, step one is to choose a vendor and to contact it to discuss the project needs and get to know each other. What happens next?

Hiring developers for the software development team

“After we get a request for staff augmentation we schedule a call with a customer.

Companies get to know each other. Our prospective clients describe their project and discuss the structure and tech stack of the team.

Also, we tell them about the average timing for building a team, our retention strategies, and team management; these are top questions of our clients.”

The basic steps of finding and hiring a candidate for client’s software development team looks like this:

  • Screening for matching candidates in our talent pool;
  • English level, soft and hard skills check;
  • Interview with a Client
  • Trial Period

Let’s get into more details and answer 3 most popular questions asked by clients:

How long it takes to hire a dedicated development team?

Recruitment timing is different for any project.

For example, hiring a Unity developer usually takes 3-4 weeks. Elixir is not that popular, so just the pre-screening stage might last for 2-3 weeks. Take into account the number of needed developers – if you want to build a dedicated team of five Unity developers, it will take a little longer.

Will you take care of all back-office processes?

Yes we do.

Clients take an interest in the conditions for their remote teams. It’s great that they care. They want to be sure that their developers is satisfied with the facilities, equipment and the general atmosphere in the company. Any client want loyal team, that’s why retention techniques for remote developers are important.

Who will manage a team?

Usually, clients want to manage their offshore software development teams on their own.

If not, there is such solution as “shared PM”. This is a part-time project manager who controls a few small teams at the same time. For a bigger team it is good to hire a project manager. He/she will be responsible for accomplishing the project objectives by the team and manage it locally.

If you want to build a complete software development team in Eastern Europe that will basically will be an offshore/nearshore software development center we will start with hiring a product manager. Product manager is responsible for orchestrating the various activities associated with ensuring that a product is delivered that meets users’ needs.

How to hire talented developers and build successful software development team

The secret is: Client and vendor should work together for achieving the best results.

You should pay attention to main main points about building an offshore development team in Ukraine:

  • Tell requirements and discuss you needs;
  • Give honest feedback;
  • Ukraine is very quick market, the quicker you give a feedback – the better;
  • Choose one vendor and work with them to keep your company authority high for candidates.

The process of building an offshore development team for a client consists of several steps:

1. Together with a Client we confirm offshore team structure and tech stack for each position.

Mutual understanding is the key to success. Thus, a provider does its best to discover the needs of a client. To start recruitment, Qubit Labs gets information about the project and the person client want to hire – tech stack, seniority level, particular soft skills. Either the client sends a job description, or he/she tells the requirements during the call.

Typically, clients know for sure which specialists they want to hire we only follow their requirements. But if a non-technical person addresses Qubit Labs, we can provide consultations on which technologies to use and how many developers to hire.

Also, we need to know an approximate budget for each developer to find the candidates within this sum.

When the information is gathered the hiring process starts.

“The first selection takes 1-2 weeks. During this time, we check our pool of developers, contact them and conduct the first interviews. To find a person with particular soft skills, we use our pool of question that consists of three parts – priorities, attitude to work and previous experience.
If a candidate matches the requirements and finds the vacancy interesting, we send his/her CV with a comment about soft skills to our client. Then, the client makes a decision – to accept or to reject a candidate.”

2. The next step is an interview.

At this stage, we play a role of a mediator. Recruiters choose a convenient time for the interview, schedules it and watches if everything goes well.

Preparing candidates for an interview is a vendor’s responsibility too. They need to know basic information about the project. Besides, developers often ask about the number of team members, the company’s goals and plans for the future.

In 1-3 days, we get feedback about candidates performance. In the case of a negative reply, recruiters pass the information and explain the client’s decision.

It is important to note that recruiters keep looking for the candidates at all stages until the clients find the right person. If candidates makes a good suit, we make an offer to a candidate and hire developer for a dedicated software development team.

The procedure will differ if a client want to give a test task for candidates to check if they are a good fit for a software team.

It can be assigned either before or after the interview – the hiring stages are not fixed, so the client is free to put them in the order that he/she prefers.

3. Hiring a developer

Finally, if a client wants to hire the person, companies set up a call and agree to the terms and the first working day of a new employee.

Onboarding and work integration is a key to effective software development team

It is important to integrate an offshore development team or a dedicated developer with customer’s team.

What is essential?

  • Cultural fit
  • Work process
  • Task management
  • Communications

“We need to establish a smooth communication process for the client and his/her software development team. Thus, we need to clarify who is responsible for managing offshore developers from their side and which devices and equipment they need.

We have to ensure successful adaptation for a newcomer. Both companies have to participate in the process. The clients prepare internal systems – accounts, emails, access to bug tracking tools, etc. Also, they need to integrate the person into their corporate culture.

It’s nice if our client spends some time to introduce a candidate to the team, explains the responsibilities and tells what to do in case of any emergency. In our turn, we are responsible for HR and administrative part at all stages.” – says Iva.

Here are the main steps of our onboarding process:

  • Pre-boarding
  • Orientation
  • Onboarding
  • Integration
  • Retention

The business model of staff augmentation companies is flexible, but the adaptation stage for software developers is a must. It boosts better understanding between parties and helps a newcomer to blend into a team faster.

When the rapport between the client and remote developer is set, it is time to think about two more things:

  • motivation
  • retention

The vendor has to:

  • create comfortable working conditions for dedicated development team
  • provide office
  • devices
  • perks
  • benefits
  • teambuildings

Meanwhile, the client should

  • Treat remote dedicated developers as a part of his/her company;
  • Employees always appreciate when their opinion is taken into account;
  • Visit a remote office or invite offshore developers to the company’s headquarters;
  • Practice pair programming draws a team together.

However, it’s both a client and vendor’s responsibility to monitor the software development team’s mood. We get in touch with the client to see if everything goes well on that side.

Communication with clients plays an important role, especially during a probation period. If there are any issues with dedicated developers, tasks or communication, it is better to find them out and fix them on the early stage.

To make it easy for clients to share their impression, they can fill in a questionnaire or schedule a call to discuss. In case of negative feedback, we define the problem and look for the possible solutions together with the client.

Does management of an offshore development team differs from in-house?

The most popular options of managing offshore development team are:

  • Client manages team independently and remotely using own workforce
  • Hires part-time Project Manager
  • Hire full time Project Manager
  • Hires Product Manager

It all depends the number of developers in a offshore development team and team structure that company needs.

Management is a specific distinction of a IT augmentation. Usually, the client manages dedicated developers and the vendor supports the client-developer communication constantly.

Remote team management has some peculiarities which you need to take into account. In the case of the offshore development team model, you may work in different time zones.

Client should schedule the meetings during the overlap and use this time for communication/meetings with an offshore development team. Also, get ready for lots of written communication or short calls to discuss tasks.

There are various types of support for the client’s offshore team in terms of management. The first is hiring a project manager. But what if you don’t have enough workload to get a full-time PM?

Iva comments on this issue:

“We made it a rule not to impose our opinion. We hire only the staff that the client wants. If they ask us for a consultation, we can only suggest whom to hire or not. We think it is a fair business model.

If a client needs a project manager, we will fill this vacancy.

We offer a “shared PM” service. If you have a small team, you can hire a part-time project manager who will dedicate 20% to 50% of his/her time to managing your offshore developers. Some companies want to get full control of their dedicated team and accept no interference with their processes. It is ok; we won’t bother them with obtrusive services.”

So, here is how staff augmentation company works in a nutshell. It processes your request, sieve applications, arranges interviews and takes care of teams morale.

If you have any questions regarding how to build an offshore development team and how it works, you can contact us or schedule a consultation call with Iva.

We will be glad to answer your questions!

Iva Kozlovska
Managing Partner
Iva Kozlovska is a Managing Partner at Qubit Labs. She specializes in recruiting, talent resources, and building development teams. Mrs. Kozlovska has been working as an HR for 10+ years, and she got to the conclusion that it’s soft skills that matters a lot. She applies her knowledge of psychology to building development teams – Mrs. Kozlovska holds a Master’s Degree in this discipline and she is a certified user of Thomas International Personal Profile Assessment.