One additional aspect that is usually overlooked when choosing an outsourcing location and more specially when defining your outsourcing partner, is the cultural difference between countries and companies. Let me elaborate a little bit more on this.
The Cultural Barrier Challenge:
The effect of different cultures may affect the communication process and the easiness needed to work effectively in an agile world.
Cultural barriers can be evident, or much subtler, such as when, “We may have problems implementing this” may actually be a polite way of saying, “We cannot do this…” or “I don’t have a clue on how to do this”
Other cultural barriers arise when finer points or nuances are misunderstood due to thinking within a different framework, specially when project failures or problems occur, and the need to communicate setbacks arise.
Many of our clients have had previous experience working with countries in the other side of the world and the cultural part has been an issue that occasionally have created unforeseen problems that are hard to solve. In some cases, asking questions is seen as something “bad” from the provider side, or “a disrespect to the client who is explaining requirements”. Same thing when saying “no” is the best answer.
In an outsourcing model where we are working together but physically separated, most of the times there’s no time to manage this type of things, specially if we are talking about agile custom software development, or agile application maintenance. The more straight forward the communication is (of course in a professional and respectful environment), and the quicker we cut to the chase, the better.
Costa Rica has a “westernized” culture historically aligned with the US. Tourism brings over 2 million people every year, the majority coming from the US. Also, Costa Ricans have a culture that facilitates communication in a respectful but straightforward way. You will always receive our opinion, and the engineers will speak their minds based on the experience and knowledge from previous projects, within a professional environment that only brings food for thought to the table, moving to the action as soon as possible.
It is what we call the “Tico Touch” (“Tico” is a colloquial term for a native of Costa Rica) that represents our way of doing business, the friendliness, the openness to communicate effectively, the transparency we strive for in business relationships, and the understanding of the value we need and we want to add to be competitive.
Every culture has something interesting to learn from. From our experience, I can tell that our clients like to work with us, to visit us and learn/practice their Spanish. We even name the sprints using local expressions that they like to learn. The country is secure, the food is great, the people are nice, and the landscape is beautiful, the weather is perfect (specially during winter time in the US!). Sounds like a great mix of things!
I invite you to give it a try!