If you are reading this article, most probably you have faced some communication problem with your offshore team or you are considering to offshore your project work and want to learn effective ways to communicate to the team which is thousands miles away.
Being CEO of outsourcing company (Infotrex Services Pvt. Ltd.), I deal with many clients(based in USA, UK, Italy, Ireland, France etc.) & our team here in India. I will share some of my insights and day-to-day observations, so that you can get benefited.
Lets try to understand the basics of communication and possible ways to make mistakes when communicating with your offshore team in India. There are 3 entities involved in any communication – 1. Sender, 2. Receiver & 3. Channel between Sender-Receiver.
Now, try to understand Sender (its you yourself!!!). Mostly you are born & brought up in western country, having some cultural inclination and English language knowledge. Receiver is mostly the person in India, who knows English, but finds it hard to understand American English accent as well as having different cultural & geographical understanding. Channels of Communication can be phone, email & chat most of the time.
Now, lets try to accept the fact that – when messages(technically communication signals) are sent from sender to receiver through any communication channels, then some sort of noise or distortion will happen and because of that communication will be broken. These kind of communication gaps can become critical for long term success or failure of the project or relationship between you and off the shore team.
So, here are best 7 tips:
1. Start initial communication on Phone It is easy to pick up a phone and start talking with someone who is ready to listen to your ideas or project requirements. If you can find someone from offshore company who can understand your English accent, that’s a very good first start. Nowadays many offshore companies have US phone numbers or Skype ID, so just find it out if any phone communication channel is available to offshore team and start using it first. If any offshore company is not providing phone support, then either they are not capable to understand western English or do not understand the importance of this communication channel. Beware of these kind of companies because in long run, you will find it very problematic to communicate because of time difference & cultural differences.
2. Start Email communication to extend initial Phone Communication If you have passed the first phase of phone communication, then next phase is to have some written text via email. Do not expect that the receiver (offshore team) will remember & understand 100% whatever you have discussed on phone. Nobody is 100% perfect, so accept this fact and try to fill-up the gaps of phone communication by writing email. This 2nd phase will crystallize your thoughts/ideas or project requirements and will provide written evidences for future use.
3. Start Chat Communication to extend Phone & Email Communication
Once you have passed first & second phase, then you should start feeling better if the offshore team is good at communication & understanding your project requirements. Now, you can have some chat communication with CEO or Project manager if still there are communications gaps exist. Chat communication is useful for quick confirmation, clarifications and project updates. Make sure to send all chat communication through email to all concerned people, so that everyone can be in a loop.
4. Have some central Storage of All Communication Once you have started communicating with offshore team through combination of channels (phone, email, chat), then it is very easy to get lost in the pile of digital papers. So, use Google Docs or some central web-enabled storage systems (Box.net, Microsoft One Note etc.) and collaborate with team members of offshore team. You may consider developing your own customized central storage for all communication.
5. Send same message through Phone/Email/Chat You may experience that many times the messages may get lost on other end. For example, many people just leave chat message or only voicemail or only send email and then expect timely response from the offshore team. Offshore team might be busy and the message can get lost (in bulk email or voicemail or chat) which exist in only 1 communication channel. So, make sure to send same message to multiple communication channels, when something is urgent and important. If important & urgent messages are passed more than one time, there are more chances that it will be received or heard on other end.
6. Be ready with emergency communication strategies We all live in the world where anything may happen at any time. Offshore team may face power outage, internet connection outage, social problems, riots, traffic jam, computer virus, network problem etc. So, you need to have some emergency communication strategies with offshore team. You have to accept the facts that – people live in other globe of the earth are also humans and nobody anticipate failure of communication channels in advance. So, be calm and patient when something goes out of control. This tip will help a lot once in a blue moon, but very important for overall success or failure of the project or relationship.
7. Make sure to close the communication loop this is the last and essential point for any communication. In very simple words, sender say something to receiver and then ask for receiver to re-iterate same thing to sender in their own words or own ways. If both messages from sender to receiver & receiver to sender are almost same, then it is considered that the communication loop is closed. For clarity of all communication messages, closing the communication loop is very essential. Sometimes, this seems wastage of time & efforts, but believe me – in long run this last tip will make the big impact.
Use these 7 basic tips for successful communication with your offshore team in India or any offshore team through the world.