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April 11, 2024

Streamlining Nearshore Software Development Through Project Management Best Practices

So you’ve signed the deal and are about to start sending development work to your new outsourcing partner in Latin America. 

Well done, you are on the way to enjoying the many benefits of doing business in this diverse, competitive and culturally-rich region that’s just a time zone and, in many cases, a single plane ride away.

Understanding the cultural context of working with a team in Brazil, Colombia, or Costa Rica is essential as we’ve pointed out elsewhere. Clear and effective communication is critical to establishing a strong and productive relationship with your outsourcing partner from the get-go.

Then the success of your project is largely going to come down to effective project management, incorporating an approach that takes account of those cultural factors specific to the country where your partner is based.

Effective project management is a multifaceted discipline that requires a combination of technical skills, strategic thinking, and interpersonal abilities. It’s challenging enough getting project management right in-house where you can all pile into the same conference room to hash out problems, let alone keeping projects humming on time and on budget when the bulk of your workforce is sitting in a different country.


In my experience, there are six key attributes you need in effective project managers.


In my experience, there are six key attributes you need in effective project managers. They include:

  • Know what leadership is 
    Strong leadership is essential for motivating the team and driving them to achieve their goals. A project manager should be able to inspire and guide the team towards the project vision, adapting to changes and empowering team members to contribute effectively. Your project manager equally needs to have a strong leader in the outsourcing firm to work with. This is as or more important than finding the best software developers.
  • Decision-making ability
    Project managers must be capable of making sound decisions quickly. This involves assessing situations, considering the implications of various options, and choosing the best course of action to move the project forward.
  • Negotiate well
    The ability to negotiate effectively is necessary to resolve conflicts and maintain harmony within the team. This involves mediating differences in opinion and finding solutions that satisfy all parties. This requires empathy. Understanding and caring for the needs of the project, its stakeholders, and team members is a sign of an empathetic leader. This includes being grateful for their contributions and support. A project manager who can negotiate firmly, but fairly, and understands how cultural nuances play into solving disputes, is worth their weight in gold.
  • Have technical know-how
    A solid understanding of the technical aspects related to the project is crucial. This includes familiarity with project management software and other relevant programs, as well as the ability to take strategic initiatives when necessary. Your lead person in the nearshore team needs to have up to date knowledge on the technical platforms and tools that will be employed to get the work done.
  • Build strong teams
    The ability to foster a cohesive team environment is important. Project managers should focus on the positive traits of team members, treating them fairly and justly, and ensuring that the team works in unison. In a nearshore outsourcing arrangement, that team building ability may rest on the project manager spending time with the nearshore team before the developers roll out their sleeves and get to work.
  • Be well organized
    Highly effective project managers are organized, understanding the interdependencies within their project plans and resources, and are able to adjust as needed. A high level of organization is all the more important when teams are dispersed.
  • Be flexible
    The ability to adapt to changing circumstances and reprioritize tasks is a key trait of successful project managers. Embracing an agile approach allows project managers to encourage creative problem-solving and adaptability within their teams. I am not a proponent of prescriptive processes. I prefer using agreed frameworks and guiding principles. You and your outsourcing partner don’t have to do things exactly the same way. But defining that interface that ensures you can work seamlessly is imperative.
  • Anticipate issues
    The foresight to identify potential issues and proactively plan for them is a characteristic of a highly effective project manager. Contingency planning is a must. It’s an area that too often is overlooked in project management. Projects inevitably take longer and cost more than you anticipated. It's important to have adequate contingencies in place to avoid these issues from derailing the project. Overseeing outsourcing projects involves a healthy dose of risk management.


Effective Project Management - Putting it into Practice

You have educated yourself on the cultural context of your nearshore team, established a strong foundational relationship, and put good project management in place. The rest of the equation comes down to the processes you apply, the nuts and bolts of effective project management. 

Here are six things you need to put in place to keep your project on track:

  • Define project requirements and goals: Clearly outline the scope, technical needs, and specific skills required for the project. This helps in aligning expectations and reduces the chances of misunderstandings. Create clear documentation, and create bilingual copies of it if necessary. Everyone needs to be, literally, on the same page as to what is expected of them.
  • Establish clear communication channels: Utilize various tools for communication such as video conferencing, instant messaging, and project management software. This ensures that there are multiple ways to reach out and discuss project details that overcome the tyranny of distance.
  • Regular updates and meetings: Schedule regular meetings to discuss progress, address any issues, and plan ahead. This helps in maintaining transparency and keeping everyone on the same page. Keep meetings short, and to the point.
  • Technical oversight and quality assurance: Have a trusted technical expert on your team to oversee the work being done by the outsourcing partner. This ensures that the quality of work meets your standards and that any technical issues are addressed promptly.
  • Legal and compliance considerations: Be aware of the legal and compliance aspects, especially regarding data protection and intellectual property laws. Ensure that the outsourcing partner understands and can comply with these requirements
  • Feedback and improvement: Encourage open feedback and be willing to adapt processes as needed. Continuous improvement should be a shared goal for both parties involved in the outsourcing arrangement


By following these strategies, companies can establish and maintain effective communication with their nearshore software outsourcing partners in Latin America, leading to successful project outcomes and long-term partnerships.

At Accelerance, we are the experts at project management in outsourcing partnerships and can help you set up your project for success. Get in touch with us to find out about our Align workshops, which help you put the project management in place that will see your plans come to life.


Tag(s): Best Practices

Olivier Poulard

Olivier is a change agent with over 20 years of global international leadership experience, combining all aspects of digital product development, technology management, software engineering, program management, and offshore outsourcing at scale.

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