Thursday 25 February 2021
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Overcoming Language Barriers with your Outsourcing Partner

Overcoming Language Barriers with your Outsourcing Partner

It is estimated there are over 6,000 languages spoken in the world. Barriers with language are one of the prime sources of difficulty in outsourcing to any country. In today’s global economy, companies must reach different parts of the world to maximize the advantages derived from outsourcing. India’s growth in Enterprise Application development is estimated to increase by 4.6% according to research firm Gartner, while many believe that number is low.  Needless to say, India has been one of favorite destinations for outsourcing in the last decade for software development needs.


Partnering with an Indian software development company has its share of challenges. The pros definitely outweigh the cons when you are partnering with an Indian team. Due to its colonial legacy, English has been a large part of the Indian educational system, which  is a huge advantage. This advantage allows for Indians to have an edge over other countries due to their fluency in English and their willingness to learn other foreign languages. Countries such as China and Japan, even with their technological advantages, have a more difficult time mastering foreign languages.


IT outsourcing teams use more technical jargon and special terms which helps in minimizing the impact of language barriers. This technical jargon laden communication is essential to ensuring good workflow in an application development life cycle process.  So how do you minimize the impact of language barriers to create an effective outsourcing partnership?   The top ways to ensure effective communication beyond language barriers are: understanding that communication with the client partner is a multi-layer process, not solely relying on verbal or email communication, both client teams must be able to communicate directly with each other, and utilizing all the available tools to make the communication between partner teams less problematic. One of the most important approaches to increase communication is to implement cross-cultural training programs maximizing interaction between client partners.


  • Communication as a multi-layer process entails the use of verbal, email/written, illustrative, including the use of diagrams, data/process flow and high and low level design documents.
  •  Team members who are in direct contact with client partner teams working on specific issues about the project, are highly effective. It is imperative that both teams be comfortable with solving issues directly with the partner team, taking full responsibility for this communication is every team member’s focus.
  •  Tools abound for assisting communication throughout an application development life cycle process; task management systems such as TFS or JIRA provide a good foundation for communication. Some companies have even gone as far as adopting e-translators to cope with voice to voice communications, hiring a non-native manager who has proficient skill in English who can translate the communications easier.
  •  Cross Cultural training/management programs, as indicated in a white paper titled “Success Factors In Application Development Outsourcing“,  help create clearer lines of communication have been widely implemented at large corporations enhancing their ability to communicate and interact globally.


These are just a few effective options to handle language barrier issues. Although, as you can see the language barrier is becoming less pronounced as our global economy is expanding and the tools and people involved are becoming more attuned to solving these challenges. One thing to keep in mind is an effective Outsourcing partnership benefits the most from using simple language, and last but not least adding a bit of humor to bring down the level of frustration and the language barrier at both ends.

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