Working with consultants and developers in countries other than that of your own origin is not new, but it’s becoming increasingly common, especially in the world of Salesforce configuration and development. As the overseas Salesforce community continues to explode, keep these tips in mind as things to avoid in order to get the most out of your experience.
1: Chasing rates over experience It’s true, salaries are less expensive in countries like India, Russia, and Vietnam, than in the US, Europe, and Australia, but the old adage “cheaper isn’t necessarily better” still applies. If you search hard enough you can probably find Salesforce developers with hourly rates in the teens USD. What you’re really getting for that is 1) someone who hasn’t been working with Salesforce very long, and 2) someone that will take 2-3 longer to accomplish your needs, meaning you are effectively paying 2-3x the cheap rate you negotiated. You can also imagine the working environment at a company that is charging those types of rates (actually, you probably can’t). And what are they paying their employees? Surely you should see some greater value in the rate department over onshore partners, but for a specialized skill like Salesforce, expect to pay more than “traditional offshore”.
2: Only hiring “developers” Many companies who contract with overseas partners assume they only need developers, when in most cases they need much more. We wrote a post about the different technical roles needed in most Salesforce projects, and those roles need to be filled by someone on your team or your partner’s team. Another critical aspect of development that many companies tend to overlook, especially with Salesforce, is QA (Quality Assurance), which is much more than doing a walkthrough of the app and making sure no errors pop up. For larger projects and teams, you’ll also need to ensure there is adequate project management, both on your side AND the partner’s side. If you want to be more hands-off, make sure your partner has the right team allocated before you start the project, else you could end up disappointed and with a mess on your hands when your expectations aren’t met later down the road.
3: Giving a narrow view of requirements Always give as much context and detail as possible when assigning work to your developer or team. If you have suggested solutions, that’s also good detail to include, but you’re not getting as much value as you should be if you have to spell out every detail of what you need done. Another reason the overall project context is important is that your development partner should be guiding you and helping you avoid potential pitfalls that you may not have been aware of or considered. They can’t do that if they don’t have any broader knowledge about the project or environment. Always begin a new project with a kick-off where you explain the goals, success criteria, and business requirements. Include that same detail in any stories or requirements you assign to your team. You might be surprised by how much your team can save you from making bad decisions.
4: Not building personal relationships We are all humans, and regardless of nationality, sex, religion, or background, we all need the same things. We all want to be treated with respect, like to know when we’re doing a good job, want to learn and grow, and want to work with people who challenge and support us. Sometimes language barriers, timezones, or that person who cut us off in traffic on our way to work make us forget these things. Working with colleagues across the globe, it’s difficult to always express our true thoughts, feelings, and intentions via email, conference calls, and status updates. But it’s much more important and goes much further when we can do these things. Put yourself in the shoes of the people you work with, and remember, sometimes they are frustrated as well for some of the same reasons you are. Creating personal relationships with your overseas partners will help you get more out of your business relationship and will pay many dividends when you hit the rough patches of projects or go-lives.
Hopefully these tips will help you be more successful with your current overseas Salesforce partner or one that you work with in the future. Do you have additional do’s or don’ts? We’d love to hear your feedback.