Working on Overseas Projects

May 31
blog author

Appno Blogger

Appnovation Coop

With internet, we can stay connected with people all over the world. Website/software development has no physical boundary anymore as a developer who lives in Japan can work with a designer who lives in France while the actual site or software can be hosted in Mexico. However, if this is your first project that involves overseas client then there might be a few things to consider. Time Zone This might have the biggest impact on you because this will affect you physically and most directly. If you are working with a client located on the other side of the globe then both you and your client might need to adjust your working hours and meeting time. For example, if you are in Seattle and your client happens to be in Hong Kong. By the time a typical work day ends for you at 6pm it would be 9am or 10am, the beginning of a working day, for your client over in Hong Kong. If you arrange a meeting with your client at your lunch time then your client will have to stay up around 3am~4am their time to attend your meeting. As a result both side will need to find the best time to host meetings and do presentations. Due to the time difference, sometimes a simple question that requires a decision might take hours to get answered. In addition, please also note that if you are located in North America then Friday afternoon of your time is actually Saturday in Asia. Although most Asian businesses work on Saturday, if you really intend to give a presentation or host a meeting on the client's time on Friday then you should aim to have all your preparation done Thursday of your time. Language Difference Even if your client's main contact person can communicate with your team without any problem in your language it is always good to have at least one of your team members that has a certain degree of proficiency in your client's native language. In case there is a situation you will need to get in touch with someone working behind the scenes for your client, either a system administrator or developer, that does not have very good English skills, having the capability to communicate in their native language will certainly help. There is also another language related issue that is often overlooked. Translated text for some languages like Chinese might result in a much shorter length compared to the English version. If your designer optimized the site design with English wording then you might find that the translated version of the site will end up with a lot of extra unexpected empty space. It is always good to compare mock-up designs with the client's translated language to see if you will need fine tune the site design. Cultural / Religion / Political Difference Although this might affect your company's marketing team more often than developers or designers, once in a while you might need to change certain graphical references, color schemes or even wording due to cultural, religion or political reason. It would be good to know a bit about your client's background beforehand in order to avoid any future issue. This will definitely save design and development time down the road. I remember that my brother designed a label sticker for a shipment of electric fans that need to be sent to an overseas client during the 80's. Due to a small but significant last minute graphical change due to religious reason the company had to stop the label printing process and re-print everything all over again. Of course nowadays it is much easier to make changes but this illustrates how significant these changes are. Technical Issue/Deployment If your client is planning to host their website or software locally in their country then you should also make sure you have a good understanding of their technical environment. It is good practice to mimic their environment and test the deployment beforehand to make sure that nothing will go wrong. You should also check if you have proper access level and permission to their system in case you need to do the installation. In case of emergency you should also know who to contact on the off chance something goes wrong. Please also keep in mind that if there is a time zone difference so you should plan ahead and choose the best time to do the deployment. Deploy during your client's internet rush hour or having to call up their system administrator at 4am their local time might not be ideal in this case.