9 Best practices for hiring nearshore software developers in Mexico and Latin America.
As the competition for top-tier software development talent grows, companies turn their attention to nearshore outsourcing options in Mexico and Latin America. Recognizing the immense potential of this region, JAMStack Consulting recently introduced Codexico, a service designed to connect businesses with expert software developers in Latin America.
In this article, we explore the remarkable benefits of nearshore software development and delve into best practices to ensure a successful nearshoring process.
Whether you are a startup seeking to accelerate product development or an established enterprise looking to scale your development capabilities, we are well-positioned to provide practical advice on how to make the most of these partnerships thanks to our expertise as a web development agency and our intimate knowledge of the incredible dedication software developers in Mexico and Latin America possess. Take a good look at our checklist, and don’t hesitate to reach out if you need any further assistance!
Nearshore software development is the practice of outsourcing software development projects to neighboring or nearby countries, typically in the same time zone or within a few hours' difference.
For US companies for example, nearshoring would involve sourcing talent in Mexico, Brazil, Argentina, Colombia, and so on.
Why Nearshore Software Development
Nearshore outsourcing gives you access to a new talent pool of software developers with a job market that’s in your favor: because you can afford higher rates than the ones practiced locally, you can attract top profiles whether they are unemployed or working for a competitor.
It’s a win-win: they get paid more and are provided with new global opportunities, and you get more affordable rates than the ones you can find onshore. According to Glassdoor, the average software developer in Mexico City receives $32,500 per year―3 times less than the US equivalent!
Hiring freelance contractors means you can scale up and down your developer team as needed. If delivery speed is your priority, you can split your project and assign each one in parallel to a separate developer team. This way you can keep more core activities in-house without decreasing your focus, and let nearshore developers handle side-projects.
Nearshore vs Offshore
Nearshoring is a type of offshoring with teams located in close geographical proximity. The overlapping timezones make it easier to communicate in real-time and usually implies fewer language and cultural barriers to overcome. It’s an incredible advantage when you are on a short deadline and need fast turnovers, for example. It also makes things easier to get the team together physically.
On the other hand, offshoring can result in higher cost savings thanks to the bigger amount of options available but also more management complexity when it comes to communication, cultural fit, and project tracking. One notable advantage is how the time zone difference can be leveraged by companies to stay active 24/7: when one team sleeps, another can take over where it left off.
9 Best Practices For Nearshore Development
1. Test async work skills
Testing the asynchronous work skills of nearshore software developers in the context of remote work is crucial to ensure that developers can effectively collaborate and work independently:
- Test remote work tools proficiency - A remote developer has to be able to work without much hand-holding, so look for evidence of self-discipline, proactive communication, and the ability to meet deadlines without constant supervision. Familiarity with remote work tools like Slack, version control systems, or Loom are a must.
- Assess written communication skills - Strong written communication skills are key to articulate ideas clearly, provide detailed progress updates and reports, document technical decisions and implementations, and ask questions.
Remember it takes two to tango: ensure your company is prepared with efficient communication channels to support asynchronous work and adequate training for the workforce.
2. Ensure language compatibility
Language barrier is not only a problem for effective communication but also to mitigate misunderstandings and conflicts among team members.
For solo contractors, prefer developers who can actually speak and write in your language to collaborate on complex technical concepts. Just like in any candidate interview, you need to assess the cultural fit with your company values and goals, including language requirements. English being the lingua franca in software development, this shouldn’t come as a problem.
Another approach can be to appoint bilingual project managers who can bridge any language gaps between your company and the nearshore team: they can serve as facilitators to relay information, help clarify requirements, or resolve conflicts. Their presence can significantly enhance language compatibility and help nurture stronger bonds between both parties.
3. Define clear project objectives
Defining a clear project scope establishes a shared understanding between the client and the development team: without it, the whole nearshoring process is compromised because the quality of the work you receive is only as good as the explanations you provide!
- Define requirements collaboratively - Foster close collaboration between your company and the nearshore development team during the requirements gathering phase. Encourage active participation from both sides and document the functional and non-functional requirements to minimize communication errors.
- Define Objectives and Key Results (OKR) Identify relevant metrics that align with the project’s scope and objectives so that you can regularly monitor your project’s health. For example, you could transform all requirements into unit and functional tests and use those to track your team’s progress.
Of course, apply the basics of agile project management to break down the project into manageable iterations with clear milestones and deliverables to regularly review and prioritize tasks and adjust accordingly: flexibility is key in the nearshoring process!
4. Establish appropriate legal contracts
Each country has different legislation, so make sure to consult a lawyer or let an outsourcing agency take care of all legal aspects. More specifically, pay attention to:
- Write comprehensive service agreements - A contract should outline the terms and conditions of the engagement between your company and the nearshore development team―the project scope, deliverables, timelines, payment terms, and any other requirements. Include provisions for intellectual property rights, confidentiality, dispute resolution, and termination clauses to protect your company from legal claims.
- Have workers sign Non-Disclosure Agreements (NDAs) - You’ll probably need to share sensitive information during the development process so require all team members involved to sign NDAs that clearly outline the confidentiality obligations and the consequences of breaching them to protect your proprietary information, trade secrets, and any other confidential data.
A legal misstep can be costly. Without proper contracts in place, it’s unlikely you’ll be able to sue or recover your money without incurring additional costs if something goes wrong.**
5. Schedule team integration activities
Bringing your team together is important to foster stronger relationships, improve morale, and create a sense of unity:
- Organize (semi-)yearly team retreats - Having a yearly team retreat is almost a standard best practice for remote organizations nowadays. Use it to build personal connections and work on the company roadmap to create a positive work environment.
- Schedule on-site visits - Nearshoring makes it easier to arrange on-site visits to your company's office or vice versa.
When in-person interactions are challenging to organize, consider remote watercooler events using video conferencing and collaborative tools. For example, a weekly sharing circle or a Discord channel dedicated to a topic unrelated to work.
6. Provide cross-cultural training
Cross-cultural training helps bridge cultural gaps to promote effective collaboration via empathy and respect. Underestimating the impact of cultural differences can be an easy-to-miss source of conflicts in international organizations, so make sure to address them:
- Set up cultural awareness workshops and resources - Educate team members about the cultural nuances and practices of different countries or regions represented in the nearshore development team, including topics like communication styles, work values, decision-making processes, and social norms.
- Use effective communication tools - Provide training on effective communication methodologies that accommodate diverse cultural perspectives―active listening, non-violent communication, non-verbal communication, etc.―to encourage open dialogue and create a safe space for team members to address cultural differences and seek clarification when needed.
- Buddy up - A buddy system where team members from different cultural backgrounds are paired together is also an effective way to learn from each other's cultural experiences. Combine it with pair programming or joint customer support activities to make it more practical in day-to-day work.
It’s easy to assume it’s the nearshoring team’s job to adapt to your culture, but making efforts to understand the other person goes a long way to foster trust and long-term support.
7. Facilitate knowledge transfer with appropriate tools and methodologies
You probably do things a certain way and want your nearshore team to get up to speed, or just need to share information with teammates. In any case, knowledge transfer is part of the company lifecycle and needs to be adapted to the unique challenges of nearshoring:
- Have a robust onboarding system - Familiarize new team members with the tools and methodologies used in your software development processes: provide comprehensive documentation, training materials, and access to relevant resources in the form of wiki pages, mentors or dedicated communication channels.
- Use knowledge sharing platforms - Wikis, internal blogs, and collaboration tools should be used to centralize information and avoid knowledge silos. Encourage active contributions from all team members to foster a culture of continuous learning.
- Schedule regular training sessions - Organize interactive workshops to address problems or recurring questions as they emerge.
If possible, foster collaborative workflows that encourage knowledge exchange and cross-team collaboration like pair programming..
8. Use transparent project tracking
Promoting transparency and accountability ensures the project goes as planned, while giving room for developers to do their job without having to worry about schedules or tools.
- Use GitHub / Gitlab / Bitbucket workflows - Use Git platforms like GitHub to track code changes, manage pull requests, and automate recurring processes like testing and deployment. Everything your team does should be traceable via git commits.
- Request regular progress updates - Encourage the nearshore development team to provide regular progress updates on tasks and milestones using Git tools and written reports. Stand-up meetings can also help everyone remain aware of the project status, challenges, and upcoming milestones.
Fortunately, software development doesn’t lack tools and methodologies for tracking deliveries. Just make sure to regularly review and adapt them.
9. Technical vetting
Last but not least, consider the following elements to assess the technical expertise of your developer team:
- Conduct technical interviews - After defining the technical skills required for the project, schedule technical interviews with shortlisted candidates to delve deeper into their technical skills and experience: ask questions that assess their understanding of concepts relevant to your project, their ability to work within your technology stack, and their familiarity with industry best practices.
- Review portfolios - Request candidates to provide their portfolios and past project details to gain insights into their technical capabilities, coding style, and project management experience.
- Propose a temporary contract - The best way to assess somebody’s technical skills is to hire them for a short-term, small-scale project. It’s a win-win: you get to see how they really work and avoid wasting precious hours with coding tests, while they receive compensation for their time.
Because meeting in person isn’t always possible, it’s important to focus on a vetting process that can be done remotely without compromising on quality: a bad hire can severely disrupt your team, so take your time to perform this step properly.
In conclusion, implementing best practices in nearshore software development is important to maximize the benefits of this business model. While they require time and effort, it's important to remember you don't have to navigate this journey alone: hiring a specialized company that excels in nearshore software development can reduce the burden of managing these best practices.
By partnering with a nearshore development agency like Codexico, all the best practices come out-of-the-box: we send you developer profiles we personally vetted, and you can just integrate them in your project right away―no wasted time with constant back-and-forths.
Take the next step and hire a specialized nearshore development partner today!
** JAMstack Consulting does not provide legal advice, we suggest you consult with a local lawyer or attorney.