Questers Group was established in 2007, and since then have gained extensive knowledge in working with businesses to extend their capacity in a near-shore location, both through our own experience and what we have observed in the approaches from a vast variety of companies we have worked with.
We recognise the significance of this step for any growing business, especially those that have previously had all functions performed at Head Office. While the financial investment is very transparent and rarely restrictive under the Questers model, there is a requirement for time and commitment to the process, something we match with the support from our internal management team, each of whom have expertise in ensuring the success of each new venture.
We are asked a wide variety of questions, ranging from security to language skills, IP protection to productivity and while the majority of these are covered contractually between Questers and your business, there are many ‘softer’ factors that we believe are the real key to ensuring the success of your near-shore team.
The start of the process begins with identifying and hiring the appropriate skills required. One fundamental basic of establishing a team in any location is ensuring the right skill level for what the client need is,. This is especially true in a vibrant market such as the Bulgarian IT sector where if people are not challenged or finding their work interesting there will be no shortage of opportunities elsewhere. This is an important point to consider throughout the hiring process and our inhouse Recruitment team advise, manage and assist you throughout this process. The teams we feature in our case studies are all great examples of stable organizations, achieved in part because of this.
INDUCTION & INTEGRATION
Once your team has been successfully hired, the next key point to plan is the induction phase. As we are all aware, first impressions count and the aim should be to ensure the new team feel part of your company.
We would recommend that all new team members travel to your Head Office for their first week of employment. This would mean they immediately get a feel for your business, its culture and environment. This time can be invaluable long-term as we have recognised that while a specific technology stack may not change from company to company, every business has their own subtleties in how they operate and these elements are the hardest to impart over multiple locations.
It is an opportunity for both the new team members and all your current team to meet their new colleagues, share some social time as may be the norm with any new starter and for the team to become familiar with the business structure. This point of structure is relevant to highlight as we believe the near-shore team should be included in the client’s company Org Chart as anyone else would be.
We do recognise that this is not always possible. For example, a new team of 10 people may prove financially unviable at this time to travel and spend a week at Head Office. Instead, we would expect their direct Line Manager and a member of the Exec team and/or a senior peer of the team to travel to ourlocation to spend the first week onsite. Questers will work with you to ensure the office infrastructure is in place but the presence of their Manager is important a sound base is set from the start.
We would also want this Line Manager to be heavily involved in the Recruitment process and not assigned a new team once they have been hired. A bond is formed at this stage if you are chosen by the manager you are then working for from Day 1 of your employment. As you can read in our case studies, and as teams grow, a layer of management in the location will form and this process can be adapted accordingly with inductions performed onsite by local management.
These minor points are amongst many that add value to this integration phase. Things such as providing company email addresses immediately, intranet access and exposure to/involvement in what is happening on a wider scale within the company are important, as they would be for a new employee at your head office.
COMMUNICATION & EXPECTATIONS
Based on the extensive research and experience we have it becomes clear the value placed on communication to ensuring the near-shore team is a productive, successful and valuable part of your business. By this we mean purposeful communication but the importance of availability and regular contact with Management and peers is vital.
As seen, there are a variety of methods to be utilised and means that there is no reason why anyone in either office that is needed in a meeting, video conference or on a call should be unable to attend. The ability to ask a colleague a question and receive a swift response is something often taken for granted and goes unnoticed when a team is all in the same office despite being a valuable part in the speed of productivity. Having an extended team across multiple locations means this should be given consideration. Team/project meetings can be planned in diaries, while the HR team shall co-ordinate reviews and other activities, these open lines of communication can be critical. We have some very good examples of this and while Skype is popular, other methods such as a two-way video between offices and a company intranet IM also proving successful.
It is often said that a project team should have all members situated together, and while we recognise the merits of this, we have multiple teams spread across locations who have proven this is not essential, inclusive of teams using both waterfall and scrum methodology and allowing individuals to be assigned to projects based on the specific skills and knowledge required rather then location.
Regularity of meetings will understandably be determined by workloads and project stage, while in addition to these, reviews and performance planning will be organised and co-ordinated by our HR team. These are conducted regularly in line with our HR policies and your input is required as you would with any of your team members at head office.
These play an important part in managing and controlling the ongoing expectations within the team. This point is universal but we believe it is important to reinforce this to encourage as much clarity as possible when considering a multi-location team and can only work in favour of establishing a valuable, successful and highly productive part of your business.
Finally, we believe, being supported by our clients, that having a near-shore team is something to welcome and be enjoyed. The opportunity to travel to and work from another office, socialise with team members in a different city and environment are only positives and this attitude is undoubtedly shown in the success of the teams they have established.