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How much effort should be spent communicating with an offshore team?

Currently more and more projects are multi-shore in a lot of big companies. Clients always ask us one question: How much effort needs to be spent to communicate with offshore teams if we work with one. It is one concern from clients that they need to spend more time to communicate with offshore team and usually they do not want to communicate with an offshore team directly.

So the question is how much effort should really be spent communication with offshore teams?

Basing on my experience, communication with an offshore team will not be much different from communicating with your onshore team if you have a good communication plan at the beginning of the project and implement your communication using some useful tools according to plan during the project. We already finished half a year’s project which has one US lead from client side to communicate with our team directly. And the following lists the best practices from my previous project on how to communicate with our US client directly and more smoothly.

Daily Tasks & Status

  • Define the efficient way to assign daily tasks to offshore team members, such as email, wiki, SharePoint or JIRA
  • All tasks should have clear priorities to guide team members to finish them by sequence
  • One team member should be responsible for daily status and send it to the US client before the end of working day according to a template
  • Recommend marking every task’s effort in a daily status and help the US client understand our productivity level
  • Recommend using tools to store daily status and make sure it can be tracked easily

Requirement Communication

  • Set up one method to do daily requirement communication. It can be WIKI page, share point, one shared document and so on
  • Session can be set up if there are a lot of new requirements coming up. It can be conducted with client onshore team together and it will not spend extra time.
  • The meeting can be recorded and shared with the offshore team due to the different time zones

Weekly Report & Sync-up Call

  • Weekly report needs to be sent to the US client. It will contain an overview about the offshore team’s achievements, next week’s plan, coming milestones and risks & issues. Recommend focusing on communication about risk & issues and coming plan since we already exchanged daily status information
  • A short Sync-up Call will be another good method. Usually it will not include too many details and just sync-up every week’s status between US client and offshore team. Demo is also a good way to show your achievements in sync-up call

Contact point & Emergency contact

  • Contact point and responsibilities should be indicated clearly both of client and offshore side
  • Emergency contact information need to be published for both of sides at the beginning of project


  • Do not recommend using heavy documents to do communication with client or offshore team
  • Do not recommend writing long emails
  • Instant massenger can be used to communicate as well

Now let us see how much effort a client needs to spend with an offshore team and what is the difference with an onshore team?

Activities Communication with Onshore Team Communication with Offshore Team
Daily Tasks Assign 5 minutes to assign to team members 5 minutes to assign tasks in sepecific tools
Review Daily Status 5 minutes to communicate with team members 5 minutes to teview status in specific tools
Daily requirement communication 30 minutes to communicate with BA 30 minutes to answer questions
Weekly report 10 minutes to review weekly report 10 minutes to review weekly report
Weekly meeting 30 minutes 30 minutes
Others Average 5-10 minutest for communicating with team members daily Average 5-10 minutes for Instant massager daily

If you are a client, can you tell me how much time you spend communicating with your offshore team or how much time was saved communicating as recommended above? 🙂

Thoughts on “How much effort should be spent communicating with an offshore team?”

  1. Thanks Mary – this question comes up quite a lot from clients. I think some customers want to be fully engaged with their development teams across shores while others want a little more formality (and less evening calls ;-). I agree that we need to be flexible with regard to respecting both perspectives.

    Your post gives good examples that can be used in both situations.

    I also liked the emphasis on how important a formal communication and escalation plan is in multi-shore delivery. I would probably add that vacation / holiday schedules are another area where additional formality can help – since many times each ‘shore’ doesn’t have daily reminders of an upcoming holiday on the other shore (unless we are emphasizing them). I recall being in Ireland one week, and was upset because I couldn’t get hold of anyone in the US to solve an IT problem for me. Then I was walking back from the Internet Cafe and saw a sign in the window of a shop “Happy 4th of July to our American Friends” – I had forgotten that the US office was closed – and I LIVE THERE!

    Thanks again!


  2. Mary Jiang (Hangzhou, China) Post author

    Kevin, Thanks for your comments. I totally agree with you that we need to add vacation / holiday schedules as well. We did have this part in our communication plan. We also should remind client to our holiday in our daily status. I already added this part in my post. Hope it urwill be helpful for the coming projects in the future.

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