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What's the best way to work with country remote partners?

I've been working on a few platforms for awhile and still learning from my real life MBA.

In the course of this journey, I've worked with both local and overseas partners to develop the technical aspects of my startup projects.

I started working with someone who's based in the same country as myself, but a remote team managed by him. In the end, it was a lot of directives from me, which means I took on project management and the coordinator was just a translator. Needless to say, there were no fireworks.

I've veered towards working directly with someone who's in the same country as me, for ease of meeting face to face. Boy was it a mistake. The passion and drive to complete the project was lacking and the project sat on the shelf.

I've since pivoted and am considering the option of a highly recommended team overseas. They have been prompt and professional so far, but the fears still linger in my mind, especially so when the team is based overseas and there is no security.

I'm considering assigning a smaller scale project to this team to "try" them out. At the same time, I would like to avoid the issue of signing a contract where upfront payment or payment on 1st milestone is made but I end up with an unfinished junk.

I'm wondering what's the best way out of this?

14 Replies

Kirill Pertsev
2
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Kirill Pertsev Entrepreneur
Director Cloud Operations at EIS Group Ltd
I've been in this person shoes as well as in shoes of the remote team. Now I'm mostly in your shoes and decided to put my thoughts on the "paper" so that someone in the same shoes might find them useful.
https://medium.com/@kikap/how-to-not-lose-big-with-outsourcing-cdb98b2cd7d0#.91853rg69

Your idea to start with a small project is great and if you have an idea not to increase the size of the project as you move along, it's even better. Even if you have a large project in mind slice it into smaller subprojects, each of which may have a separate value. It means more work from you, but you'll be much safer.
Martin Omansky
0
1
Martin Omansky Entrepreneur
Independent Venture Capital & Private Equity Professional
Rumor has it that remote partners of Xerox were carefully vetted and reliable. Can't verify that currently. I offer the following observation: remote partners who put their own money into the deal are preferable. Sent from my iPhone
Brett Gentry
1
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Brett Gentry Entrepreneur
Program | Product | Operations | SaaS/IaaS Engineering
It takes time to build trust. I've been working with the same company of ~500 Indian engineers for the last 10 years and our trust level is very high. The one other suggestion is when working with distributed teams you must invest in more training, documentation and expectation setting than you would with a local team. As you note, milestones are good so you stay in alignment. Good luck.
Ananth Agasthya
2
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Ananth Agasthya Entrepreneur
Principal Facilitator at ILIFESigmoid
Dear Bernard, My suggestions are: Have a criteria of fulfillment at each milestone and clarity on how you will jointly evaluate what is not stated but will become vital or important later. Unstated or implied needs have to be fulfilled as that is expected to be known to someone in that business. Second, have a stage gate process by which you have a right to go or no go. However the objective must be to work together and make it work. Therefore the philosophy of why we are here together and what is the win- win for each must be well understood. Instead of mechanistic application of contract, there is a negotiated recovery that is possible in the interest of both. An increasing payment model that is not linear may be an incentive. Understanding the leadership and getting them committed beyond just the contract is the ground work that will be useful. A next higher level contact and communication to act as a balance would give you options of raising the level of attention in the group. A weekly report structure must be given close attention at the beginning and the format can vary for different stages of the contract. Arbitration clause and where the arbitration would be held would be essential and that must be agreed mutually in the beginning. You may like to understand the gaps in understanding arising out of cultural and business practice differences You may like to reflect on your style and see whether it has some impact on the outcomes that you have experienced. You can contact me for any further explanation. What I have stated above is based on what I concluded from what you have mentioned. Best wishes Anantha Agasthya Sent from my iPad
Max Garkavtsev
0
0
Max Garkavtsev Entrepreneur
CEO at QArea, TestFort
Hello, Bernard.
Pity to hear, but we all pay for our learning from own pocket, it's life :).

>At the same time, I would like to avoid the issue of signing a contract where upfront payment or payment on 1st milestone is made but I end up with an unfinished junk.

Qarea can work without prepaiments in certain case. Get in touch with me. I will give you referneces not worse then the company you refer to has.

Mikhail Velichko
0
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Mikhail Velichko Entrepreneur
Corporate development manager at Intend
Dear, Bernard. You can use Upwork platform to try them. Upwork block money, until you confirm that the work in this milestone is done.On the other hand, the team is also secure, because for a start, you need to put money into your account in Upwork. And run through the platform the first milestone.This will solve your task, you will get "insurance" and opportunity to check developers team without signing a contract.
Maciej Gudan
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Maciej Gudan Entrepreneur
VP of Engineering at Trialbee
Hi Bernard,

Both approaches are correct, having someone local and remote, you just need to find someone with same passion as you have and take into account culture differences in management. Many of software consultancy companies and freelancers focus on completing given tasks, but sometimes developing the product together with you, being proactive and thinking outside of the box is needed, like in your case. If you want I can give you contact to some companies I worked with successfully.

In terms of payments, there are different models. Some allows you to pay per iteration, every two or four weeks and stop the development after each iteration.

PS. Trying them out is a good idea.

Best Regards,
Maciej
Maria Morozova
1
0
Maria Morozova Advisor
Independent IT Outsourcing Consultant

Hi Bernard,


If you are not a tech guy, it is highly recommended to find a local good and enthusiastic Project Manager/CTO. It would be a good idea to further sparkle his enthusiasm by offering him some equity ownership. At the same time, your project is your baby. So you will never sit aside, but will regularly give recommendations or new directives.


As for development team, I'd chose an offshore company with years of experience and lots of clients to ask for recommendations. (Why? After working as a Business Development Manager at an Offshore Software Development Company for many years, I have a strong opinion that offshore teams work not worse, but often even harder and with more dedication than local teams. Besides, this is cheaper.)


Be sure to ask the company for experience in similar projects and for client references, for whom they have developed projects on technologies selected by you. Pick up those with a long cooperation history, as well as new clients - the fresher, the better.


Ask the company to give estimation of your project, having provided them with specification and all available information. Try to evaluate proficiency of their work already at this stage (quality of specifying questions, promptness of response, readability of their offer, transparency of their estimation).


When you set up your mind on proceeding with a certain company, get acquainted with the development team, but first and foremost with the Project Manager / Team Lead, to understand his proficiency level and dedication. You should be comfortable in communicating with him. And he should be easy to reach.


If you could start with a small test project, this would be good, so you could check manner of work and results.


Weekly reporting is a must.


Clear documentation and readability of code is also required. Who knows, perhaps, one day you decide to change a team. Or upon development completion you will hire a person to support the project, which is very likely.


BTW, everything mentioned above is also valid if you decide to hire a local development team.


But if you lean to a team overseas, drop me a line at FD, and I will connect you with a few trusted IT companies, whom I can only recommend!


Kind regards,

Maria


[removed to protect privacy]

+4917657648108

5 Star Film Co.Ltd. *
0
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5 Star Film Co.Ltd. * Entrepreneur
Agents for an Award Winning Television Channel Franchise
I have developed an App that is specifically designed for managing a remote team. Spectacular features enable 4 screen share windows to be open on each page. A Supervisor can monitor each remote workers screens,switch on or off video conference or voice room. Over twenty features enable you to send photos,voicemail,signatures,reveal where each computer is online via a map,send files,also contains a calculator and currency converter,Language translator. There is not a better tool on the market. Found on the 5 Star Film Co -International dot com site.
Adam Bell
0
0
Adam Bell Entrepreneur
Connecting China, ASEAN and the world
Hi Bernard

I think this is an increasing dilemma for many, have been through this myself few times.

I think it might help to develop a checklist..

1. Drive/commitment.. Matters not whether on or offshore, I tend to rely on referrals and reputation via my close network

2. Security.. Always a tough one. The ones is usually on the project owner to put something up front..an established firm may not bother if you don't want to do that, escrow can be an option depending on the value, but:

3. Teamwork and coord.. Is what keeps it all together... If your new offshore provider is professional, incentivised, and has something to lose if they screw up the probably all you've got to worry about is driving it.

Looking back it was pretty much apparent from the start who had the right attitude so trusting your own gut instincts important, doesn't feel right, keep looking reach out etc till you tick all the boxes
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