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The role of a liaison to help with multi-shore development

In my experience, a project’s success is dependent on having good communciation between the onshore and offshore teams, and a liaison can make this process much easier.  We have had several projects which have involved our China team and a liaison who has travelled to the U.S. to help with communication and keeping both teams in sync. Not only does the project go more smoothly, but both teams learn a lot about the other side without having to physically travel there.  For those projects, the liaison role was built into the project plan and the related travel expenses were included in the budget.

The liaison can either be from the onshore team travelling to the offshore location, or vice versa.  Having someone on the team who gets to know everyone on both sides makes it possible to build an instant rapport with the two groups, and gives everyone the chance to meet someone from a group they may not know at all.  It can be a tough job for the liaison because of some off-hour sync-up meetings, but the experience can be very rewarding with the chance to travel to an unfamiliar place and a chance to hone in-country language skills.

When most of the communication is done over the phone, having a liaison also helps greatly with regional accents and moving meetings forward, especially at the beginning of the project.

The key is find a liaison who has the language skills to communicate between the two groups ( or just communicate between two different accents – like Australian English and American English).  I strongly believe that this type of cultural exchange should be encouraged on multi-shore projects.

Here are some tips to summarize:

  1. Build the role of liaison into your projects plans before even starting a project
  2. Plan for travel expenses and keeping someone onshore/offshore for an extended period of time.  The cost savings overall in communication gains, efficiency, and team building will make the travel expenses seem small.
  3. Choose a liaison with excellent language skills, organization, and follow through.  Getting along with different types of people as helps.

Does anyone have any experiences with a project liaison they would like to share?

Thoughts on “The role of a liaison to help with multi-shore development”

  1. It’s actually a cool and useful piece of information. I’m glad that you shared this useful info with us. Please keep us informed like this. Thanks for sharing.

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Ken McCorkell (Denver, CO)

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