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Meet Regularly

How many times do employees talk to their colleagues sitting in the next cube or office? Similarly, talking to the distributed team—even if they're sitting in China, Brazil, Russia, or India—is necessary for dual-shore project success. When managing offshore resources, the time differences between locations in the contiguous United States and Europe, Africa, or Asia can range from 5 to 20 hours. Your offshore team may be going home when your workday is just getting started. To make sure that team members communicate with one another, schedule regular meetings even if just to get a status update.

Keeping your distributed team apprised of what's happening is crucial. When all team members are located onsite, it's easy to grab everyone and have a quick meeting in a conference room. When people are distributed across the East Coast, West Coast, and Russia, keeping the team in the loop is not as easy.

Simple, short communications can boost the productivity and performance of the global team and should be encouraged. They supply team members with a way to demonstrate interest and ownership in the project's outcome and to recognize problems before they escalate.

Project managers and key leaders must talk to their offshore counterparts daily—at least a few minutes at the beginning and end of the day. Others should do so as needed. A 30-minute weekly or biweekly conference call with a majority of the teams on either side also will help drive synergy.

Communication grows infinitely more complex as more end users, parties, countries, and time zones are added to the mix. I recently worked on a project for a California company with a presence in India. Scheduling a status meeting and coordinating East Coast, West Coast, and Indian time zones added a layer of complexity to what should have been a straightforward task. Simple problems are magnified offshore. Having the processes and experienced management in place to facilitate communication guarantees companies greater success with outsourcing engagements.

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