In this article, we’d like to share with you how we work with your customers to overcome language and cross-cultural communication barriers. Overcoming these barriers ensures success of a software development project.
First of all, we’d like to correct the notion that when you outsource to Vietnam, you are looking for software developers. This will often prove to be futile in so many fronts. What you must look for is a team. Teamwork allows you to go long term. Teamwork improves quality.
At LinxHQ, we offer this structure when we take in a project from overseas:
- An overall project manager to oversees project requirements, schedule and quality. This person is so critical, because they often have a better customer-oriented mindset compared to software engineers.
- Dedicated software engineers / developers: when we put a person on a project, we work to keep him/her there for at least 2 years before any rotation. Software developers must also learn to work with project manager in making decisions. Not everything is a technical or coding problem. Many issues are business oriented and end-user oriented. Working in a team give you a higher chance of everyone arriving at an optimal and user-friendly solution.
- Quality officer, or simply called Tester: again, we cannot rely on just software developer to do their own testing of their own code. How often we hardly see our own shortfall! Therefore, we have a test department to let work go through 3rd-party scrutiny before it can arrive on user’s screen, even only for user testing.
Teamwork is so important that we organize team activities every Monday, besides occasional teamwork training seminars run by our Singaporean partners.
Domain Knowledge and Translation
Most software developers in Vietnam aren’t able to communicate well in English. Don’t get me wrong here. They can read technical material written in English and apply it perfectly. But when it comes to typing and talking with customers, it poses a challenge. And this is not just a problem with the English language, it’s the same with our mother tongue.
Thus, our project managers double up as translator as well. However, we understand translating alone is not sufficient. We can even use Google Translate and then work from there to arrive at a final translation. That’s not an issue. What more critical is project managers understand what they are translating. They grasp the context and concepts included in the materials.
At LinxHQ our solution is simple: we train them. We let them go through IT and Software Development Management courses on Udemy and Coursera. We also conduct internal classes on software development process, basic software architecture and other software development related topics such as testing, web service API, Database, etc. Through this, they also learn important terminologies.
Our project managers are also closely and directly involved with the GUI design process. This is yet another critical steps of gaining domain and product knowledge.
Finally, it’s documentation. There are 2 sets of documentations we focus more on when it comes to collaboration with customer:
- The GUI design and screen flows.
- The Test Case Spec.
Major misunderstandings will find it very hard to hide when it comes to these 2 documentations. Just look at a GUI prototype design and flow, it’s pretty easy to point out what’s not right.