Top 3 Key Takeaways From My Session at #TVMWORKSHOP
In March I was lucky to present a short session on Intercultural Sales Cycles at Technopark in Trivandrum, India. Ekipa brought together three other specialists in remote software development, invited professionals from all over Kerala, and we sat together sharing our insights.
The trip itself was an amazing experience that challenged my assumptions about people and about India. In this article, I share my top 3 key takeaways from my session at #TVMWORKSHOP.
India Is A Powerhouse Of Talent
As a source of remote software development talent, India acquired a certain reputation in the western hemisphere for both its good and negative aspects. Some of the negative aspects have become almost cliché – language and communication difficulties, buggy code, low quality work.
However, I didn’t find anyone who fit those stereotypes in my workshop. Everyone had excellent English language skills, and they all demonstrated an in-depth understanding of their fields. I learned that in India, twenty million people graduate university every year. In such a huge graduating cohort, it’s inevitable that there will be some bad apples. And even considering how large the global remote software development market is, I can imagine it’s a huge challenge to find enough work to run an IT Offshoring company profitably in India with such intense competition. My mind can’t truly grasp the nuances of all the local challenges in an industry that has to absorb millions of new entry-level workers, every year – but I can understand better the rush to find more projects, better projects, as quickly as possible. For a potential client, my key takeaway would be that India is truly a powerhouse of talent – don’t be put off by a few bad stories of something that went wrong.
That having been said, Indian companies are becoming increasingly more savvy to western markets’ need for quality teams that feel integrated with their companies, instead of being apart from them or hierarchically inferior to them. My number one takeaway for an Indian software development professional is the same – your country is indeed a powerhouse of talent, and the best way to show that off is by taking some time to get to know your sales prospects, and show them evidence of your quality through examples of your work and clear communications.
Don’t Assume The Same Things Apply To All Outsourcing Markets
Since Ekipa’s Intercultural Sales Cycles courses were so popular in Ukraine, I had assumed that selling registrations in India would be easy. After all, India has a much larger market for professional development courses (or so I thought) and a more established software development industry.
Wrong! We assumed the same approach to working with people that had been wildly successful in Ukraine would work in India – a classic mistake that I often caution others not to make when working with people from different cultures. As it turns out, India is a much bigger country, with far more regional variation, than you might imagine. While there’s a thriving market for professional development courses in established centers of tech outsourcing like Bangalore, in Kochi and Trivandrum, it’s not so much the norm. Training and professional development courses are often given for free, with the presenting organization making most of their revenue from sponsorships. These are much easier to attract if you’re a known brand in the field, and we were a newcomer.
As a result, we learned to rely much more on the know-how of our local organizers than on what we thought should work, or ought to work, given our assumptions. It’s a useful metaphor for any distributed working arrangement. If you can let go a little and trust that someone else knows how to get their job done, they will most often surprise you with the quality of their achievement. Both clients and providers can benefit from this key takeaway – trust that if you set out a goal and key parameters, the other person will show up with their best!
Assume The Best In Others And Take Nothing For Granted
I loved all the questions my workshop participants asked me – many related to behaving in ways that in their local area would be considered rude, but in the USA are the norm, and vice versa – things that may be considered normal in India, but that are strange in the USA. The use of time (and its very nature as renewable or non-), when and how to say No, and being given second chances in business after a mistake – these are all big areas in which India and the USA display marked differences.
If you didn’t get a chance to attend #TVMWORKSHOP, this would be my third key takeaway for anyone working in a USA-India remote software development relationship. Don’t assume that when your Indian team says “we will try” and you’re disappointed after things don’t turn out well, that it was all their fault – maybe it’s more painful for them to say “No” than you realize, and they were only trying to do their best to please you. For Indian teams, if a client gets frustrated that meetings consistently begin late, don’t assume they’re being picky or unreasonable – their schedule might be tighter than you realize, and their impression of time is that once it’s gone, it will never come back. In general, it’s best to talk through as many of these assumptions as you can and don’t be surprised if they pop up in ways you hadn’t anticipated.
If you’re interested in learning more about these key takeaways and other insights Ekipa has into working remotely, make sure to check out the Ekipa Academy, where we’re constantly rolling out new course offerings to help people from around the globe work better together.
Jennifer is Ekipa.co's CMO. When she's not helping people learn how Ekipa can match them with the right software development team anywhere in the world, you can find her running, dancing Argentine Tango, or relaxing with her partner, their two dogs, and one very fat cat.
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