Articles | August 1, 2016
Nearshoring – Almost Like at Home
Due to the increasing demand for IT professionals in virtually all sectors of the economy, and also to the deficiencies in local labor markets, the outsourcing of IT services through the nearshore model is growing in popularity. However, companies often hesitate before deciding to utilize outsourcing in the scope of body and team leasing with foreign companies, fearing the associated risks. The way to overcome these fears is to find a business partner who is experienced in the implementation of outsourcing projects to jointly develop an effective model for project management. Also important when it comes to cooperation is to ensure an effective onboarding process for incoming employees at the client’s company.
Onboarding in sunny Valencia
The recent launch of JCommerce’s support project for the Dutch company Helloprint is excellent proof that the onboarding process greatly facilitates further cooperation. The outsourcing contract in this case includes the maintenance and development of the QlikView platform for the rapidly growing international online printing service. In accordance with the customer’s wishes, Łukasz Czajka, Business Intelligence specialist, spent two weeks in one of the company’s offices located in beautiful and sunny Valencia.
Łukasz said of his trip: “In June, at the invitation of the customer, I went to Valencia, the third largest city in Spain. The trip was to meet the client directly, to get to know the company and discuss the work that I was to do. The trip should certainly be considered a success, because apart from the tourist attractions (plenty of incredible sights to see and the wonderful de la Malvarrosa beach), I had the opportunity to take a closer look at the style of work at the client’s premises, to assuage misconceptions or doubts and get to know the business “from the inside.” Thanks to my trip, after returning to Poland, the task is much easier thanks to the contact established there and the fact that I met the people who I’m working with on a daily basis.”
As you can see, thanks to the well-thought-out onboarding process, the employee has the opportunity to learn about the project requirements, the users, and build the relationships and trust which are the basis for long-term and effective cooperation.
Onboarding – the first step to quality cooperation.
Those responsible for the decision to begin cooperation in terms of the outsourcing of IT services usually indicate the following questions and concerns:
- communication problems (language barriers, remote communications – video conferencing, teleconferencing, lack of face-to-face meetings);
- difficult contact;
- lack of integration with the outsourced team;
- lack of involvement of the outsourced team;
- loss of control over the quality and speed of the project (risk of dissatisfaction of the final customer);
- coordination problems;
- cultural differences;
- the risk of a bad reception within the company to the decision to cooperate with a third-party vendor (a bad effect on the atmosphere within the team);
- the risk of an ‘us’ and ‘them’ mentality developing within the project;
- bad experiences of one’s own or other companies in terms of IT offshoring;
- unpredictability and ‘surprises’ which may pop up during cooperation.
Without a doubt, these concerns are reasonable, and therefore the organization of such collaboration is especially important in order to minimize the potential risk. From the very beginning honest communication and clearly defined rules should be established, and – perhaps most importantly – the two parties involved must be able to get to know each other better. If it should prove possible, both parties should move toward the process of onboarding, which initiates cooperation and consists of meeting people directly engaged in the execution of the project. Normally, onboarding should last between 3 and 5 days, during which the client managers on the client’s side, such as the Project Manager, Product Owner and Software Architect, meet with the team put together by their business partner: the Project Manager, Technical Leader and developers.
Onboarding is designed to:
- help with understanding the business objectives of the client and the project itself;
- establish the principles and tools of communication;
- establish roles within the team;
- prepare hardware and software for use in the project;
- get to know colleagues through initial integration.
Ideally, onboarding is done on-site at the customer’s premises. Thanks to this process, the whole team has the opportunity to get to know and understand the “client organization”, as well as the people who they will work with. The integration process is of great importance, especially in the team extension model where the project and the work of particular outsourced employees are managed by the client. If onboarding and subsequent integration are carried out effectively, it may even lead to a situation in which the employee will identify more with the final customer than with the organization in which he is formally employed. Strong identification with the client means greater loyalty and engagement from the employee, which translates into greater efficiency and the satisfaction of both parties.
In the case of foreign projects, it sometimes turns out that the onboarding stage can be extended by up to several weeks – as it was in the case of Helloprint. Why do customers from Germany, Finland and the Netherlands choose to extend this initial stage? It gives them a sense of control and security – during those first few weeks, it is possible to get to know the staff, to present their expectations, and finally to verify whether cooperation in the form of the outsourcing model will be feasible. At this stage, understanding and trust are built, without which fruitful cooperation cannot be ensured.
What comes next after onboarding?
Of course, integration and building good relationships do not end with onboarding itself. We realize that over the course of the project, some topics should be discussed face-to-face from time to time. It is also important to remember the need to maintain proper motivation and integration within a team, or people working together. That’s why JCommerce takes care to regularly organize such meetings for their employees.
Depending on the needs of the client, on-site visits and work can also take place regularly. The proportion of on-site work (at the customer’s premises) often constitutes up to 25% of foreign projects. As an example, the team can spend an entire week on-site at the customer’s premises each month, and spend the rest of the time working remotely. From this perspective, nearshoring is no longer something distant, unknown and difficult to manage. Fortunately, Polish developers are increasingly mobile, amenable and willing to undertake foreign travel. Through the experience gained during such trips, they build self-confidence and improve their communication skills, not to mention taking the opportunity to gain international experience and visit interesting places. With the proper organization of cooperation, both parties can gain a great deal.