How has been experience working with offshore dev teams

I’m looking to hire engineers in India to grow my startup. I’m looking for advice on what kind of things I should be asking/looking out for to ensure that this is successful?

I have worked with the engineering and QA teams in Eastern Europe, Latin America, and India. Here’s my advice:

  • Schedule meetings at a time that’s convenient for both of you. I start my days a bit earlier so I can have meetings with the India team. I’m on the East coast, so 7 AM for me is 4:30 PM for them. I’ll keep my Teams open from 10 - 11 PM at night for any emergency messages.
  • I had my PM create weekly scrum pages on our wiki. They take notes during our daily standups and then email the wiki page to the India team to provide their updates or questions each day when they sign up. This helps them feel like they’re contributing when we’re having meetings while they’re offline.
  • Make sure there’s a lead on the dev team who can be your go-to if there are problems, someone on the team is struggling, there’s an emergency, or just for status updates.
  • Be very, very clear and direct in your requests and requirements. I often have to write very specific, step-by-step instructions. As you start working with offshore teams, it may take a while to hit the right stride and learn the best way to communicate.
  • Likewise, make sure they’re comfortable with the requirements or timelines. Sometimes I’ll ask “okay, do you guys think this is 2 or 3 story points?” or “What is your recommendation for how we implement?” so they can contribute and feel comfortable discussing options and understanding the work and level of effort.
  • Have a high-level understanding of their holidays, weather, social events happening because it will impact work. If there’s bad weather happening, it means they might not be online. Some might live in areas with poor internet connection. There are a lot of different holidays, so have a shared calendar so you know every different region’s holidays (and also to post US holidays - this has been helpful for my offshore coworkers to know when the US is OOTO)
  • Can someone give you an overview of labor laws or how your company is working with an offshore team? My company has very strict laws about how many hours offshore teams can work, and when they need to be paid overtime. Knowing this level of detail helps with story point estimation, planning, and execution.
  • Make sure they have access to all necessary servers, repos, etc. Sometimes there are VPN issues in place for teams in other countries.
  • Go to bat for them and let them know you consider them part of the team. Offshore teams often feel like they’re not truly considered team members, so it’s crucial to let them know that you consider their opinions, that the success of the product is due in part to their work, that you want to collaborate, and not just dictate how to build something.
  • Similar to the point above, let them know that you value their input. I’ve found some offshore devs/QA analysts are worried that speaking up will get them in trouble, especially when they’re working for a US company. I always make sure they know I’m here to protect them from that - I’m the person they can come to and tell me whether they think we should be building something differently, to report a defect, to say something is taking longer than estimated - and that in turn, I’m here to prevent them from getting hounded by sales or stakeholder requests and I’m giving them work with a reason behind why we’re building it, who it’s for, and what problem it solves.
  • Review work until you’re comfortable working with the team and can trust their judgment. I have some offshore devs and QA analysts who I can trust 100%, but some who I need to review before approval because they struggle with timeline pressures or experience. Some will send work without testing, some will overlook what they consider minor details, some won’t report issues, etc.
  • Offshore teams are sometimes less vocal in meetings. Make sure you allow other forms of communication, whether it’s email, Teams/Slack messages, comments on a wiki, JIRA, etc. Sometimes they’re more comfortable with written communication.

I think all of my points are good ones to keep in mind for any dev team, regardless of location.


I wasn’t expecting this level of response. Thank you SO much! Lots to learn here regardless of offshore team or not.

Adding to the above - having been a Dev and a PM, onshore managers often failed to make me feel like I was a normal employee but just cheap labour! There were times when managers called Indian and other developing countries Dev just cheap labor on our faces. Don’t do that.

One of the other annoying things for me was not to be mindful of our time differences and treat us like we don’t have our personal lives.

Most Dev won’t speak good English and won’t be comfortable. You will have to bridge that gap. How you bridge that gap is up to you. I generally use pop culture references to break the ice, try to be funny etc with my American or European counterparts but that may not work.

When I was working as a Dev here I never got credit but were quick to be blamed they were all taken by the European and American counterparts. Please don’t do this. Share credit and develop a sense of trust so they will be comfortable speaking to you about any forthcoming problems.

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