Managing Time Zone Differences for Seamless Software Offshoring

Managing Time Zone | TurnKey

There’s a saying in the business world, “Time is money.” Especially when considering software development outsourcing, effective time management and using time zone management tools become pivotal for seamless collaboration and project success.

Software offshoring, or outsourcing software development to offshore software development teams, has become a sought-after cost-saving strategy. By tapping into a global talent pool, businesses not only reduce operational costs but expedite their delivery process. But there’s one aspect that can delay delivery timelines if not managed efficiently: time zone difference.

Handling time zone differences is crucial, especially for an offshore development team. When done right, using good management tools, it’s like conducting a harmonious symphony. Mismanage it, and you risk communication barriers that can disrupt the rhythm of your offshore teams.

Ready to find out how to lead your offshore development team like a maestro?

Let’s start by clarifying the concepts of nearshoring and offshoring and their implications on time zone management.

Table of Contents

Understanding Time Zone Differences: Nearshoring vs Offshoring

Before we start, watch our CEO’s guide on when offshoring is a great solution:

Offshoring and Nearshoring are two critical business strategies, each with its own advantages and challenges. Offshoring involves outsourcing work to distant countries, which brings in a wealth of diverse talent but also raises complications in managing time zone differences. Effective time zone management is vital in this strategy, as you will be dealing with a larger time zone gap, which sometimes can be as much as 12 hours.

Offshoring to countries with a time zone difference of more than 4 hours can cause a 50% drop in productivity, while  good time management can increase productivity by 30%

Effective time zone management strategies for offshoring might involve scheduling meetings during mutually convenient hours or employing digital communication tools that support ongoing interaction.

On the other hand, nearshoring, outsourcing to geographically closer countries, can simplify work schedule coordination due to fewer time zone disparities, but it could potentially limit talent diversity.

Nearshoring typically results in a more manageable time difference, resulting in a 2-3 hour time difference This lesser time gap allows real-time interaction and collaboration, potentially speeding up turnaround times and improving productivity.

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Why Effective Time Management is Crucial for Software Offshoring

Why Effective Time Management is Crucial for Software Offshoring

Imagine trying to coordinate a software development project across multiple time zones. Sounds challenging, right? That’s because it is! Effective time management is crucial in software offshoring and can make the difference between success and failure. 

In software offshoring, you’re working with a team that’s potentially halfway across the world. The time difference could be anything from a few hours to an entire day. This can create a myriad of complications, from communication delays to missed deadlines. 

Poor time management in software offshoring can lead to a ripple effect of setbacks. Without effective time management: 

The statistics above paint a clear picture: time zone differences present a significant challenge to both companies and remote workers alike. But why is time management so critical in remote software development, and how can these challenges be overcome?

Case Study: Successful Management of Time Zone with Remote Team

Take the example of a global software company that managed to successfully navigate the challenges of time zone differences. However, by going nearshore, the company ensured seamless communication, timely milestones completion, and a balanced work-life environment for its developers.

So, what did they do? They partnered with TurnKey to establish a nearshore software development team in Mexico.

Within a mere 30 days post signing the contract with TurnKey, they welcomed the first batch of hires for their Mexican innovation center. The onboarding process was seamless and expedited. Encouraged by the early successes, they’re now broadening the initial plans for the innovation center, which has eliminated the time zone challenges.

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Easy Steps That Can Help in Time Management

How can you best navigate time zone disparities? Let’s explore some tactics for managing asynchronous working hours in software development offshoring.

Easy Steps That Can Help in Time Management 

#1. Embracing Flexibility and Shift Management

Flexibility is key when tackling any time zone difference. To effectively manage teams across different regions, it’s crucial to keep in mind that both your offshore software development team members and your in-house staff require a healthy work-life balance. This not only helps maintain work life balance but also offers significant advantages in overall project execution.

The specific time zone variations at play may allow for the establishment of shifts with overlapping work hours between both the offshore teams and your core business’s in-house personnel. By strategically managing these shifts and using a few tricks from seasoned project managers, you can ensure adequate coverage while balancing everyone’s workloads.

#2. Leveraging Communication and Collaboration Tools

Various efficient project management tools can facilitate effective communication and handle time zone differences with ease. Implement a mix of communication channels tailored to different purposes, such as video conferencing and chat platforms.

The time gap between your dedicated software development team and the outsourced team might result in mostly asynchronous communication. Understand that even the slightest mistake in choosing tools can impact collaboration. So, select tools that support this dynamic, like those that enable teams to work with agile methodology. Tools like Slack and other essential planning resources such as Trello or Jira are crucial to maintaining alignment when dealing with offshore development teams scattered globally.

Communication and Collaboration Tools

#3. Setting Clear Expectations and Deadlines

When it comes to offshore development services providers, establishing clear expectations, deadlines, and benchmarks is of utmost importance. It’s particularly crucial when you handle time zone difference, as opportunities for real-time connection with the offshore development company are reduced.

By defining project milestones, deliverables, and avoiding scheduling meetings at inconvenient hours, you’ll ensure that you stay ahead of the game, ultimately putting the project on the path to success.

#4. Cultivating a Culture of Trust and Accountability

Building trust is a key aspect of managing teams in successful software development offshoring. Regardless of time zone variations, it’s possible to foster a culture of cooperation and open communication. This environment promotes accountability and transparency with your competent development team.

Establish a remote open-door policy to show your commitment to supporting all team members involved, including those from your offshore software development team. Regularly provide feedback to avoid any delayed delivery timelines and foster a sense of trust and rapport.

Best Practices for Overcoming Time Zone Challenges

There are a few key best practices we use at TurnKey when dealing with time zone differences, whether working with full-time professionals, outsourced teams, or any other remote context. This involves understanding the fundamental dos and don’ts of software development offshoring to ensure smooth and efficient collaboration. 

Implementing these best practices can truly strengthen your approach to managing time differences:

  • Clear Communication: Ensure that every team member is well-informed of the tasks and deadlines. Use communication tools that everyone can access. Regular meetings can be a good way to clear any misunderstandings and keep everyone on the same page.
  • Flexible Work Hours: With remote teams spanning across different time zones, it’s crucial to have some flexibility in work hours. This way, you can accommodate the different working hours of your team members.
  • Defined Roles and Responsibilities: Each team member should have a clear understanding of their roles and responsibilities. This clarity can help in avoiding miscommunications and ensuring that there are no gaps in task completion.
  • Use of Project Management Tools: Project management tools can be a great asset in dealing with time zone differences. They provide a centralized platform to manage tasks, deadlines, and progress, making the process more streamlined.
“Remember, the key to successful management of time zone differences lies in efficient communication, flexibility, clarity of roles, and effective use of technology. By embracing these practices, you can lead your remote team to unprecedented successes.”
Boris GlantsCTO at TurnKey

Here are four time tested strategies to help you implement these best practices:

Leverage Time Zone Management Tools

Tools like World Clock Meeting Planner and World Time Buddy, are invaluable when you’re handling time zone differences. By using these tools, you can ensure meetings are scheduled at times that work for everyone, including your in-house team and offshore team. Checking local time for each participant ensures everyone can be accommodated.

Maintain Regular Check-Ins and Progress Updates

Despite time zone variations, it’s crucial to maintain regular check-ins and progress updates with your offshore software development teams. Software development outsourcing requires stringent coordination. Aligning your work hours—aided by the aforementioned world clock tools—will ensure that you accommodate everyone’s needs.

Promote Cross-Cultural Training and Awareness

When outsourcing software development, implementing cross-cultural training and awareness can foster stronger relationships among team members. This becomes particularly important—though challenging—when handling the time zone difference in collaboration.

There are numerous factors influencing cultural sensitivity in the workplace. From understanding work styles to getting a grip on local holidays and professional standards of your outsourced team, awareness is pivotal. Creating a guide to diverse cultures can facilitate understanding among offshore teams and other team members, fostering collaboration.

Encourage Autonomy and Empowerment

Empowering your offshore development team and granting all members—including your internal in-house team—the autonomy to do their tasks. Studies suggest that this not only boosts productivity but also signifies trust in professionals’ abilities. Encouraging self-management is vital when working across time zones with both internal and external teams. While cloud tools can aid in autonomy, this doesn’t mean you should avoid scheduling meetings. Instead, use the right communication channels and prioritize synchronous and asynchronous discussions, ensuring your project manager has a clear view of progress.


With companies continuing to lean into software development outsourcing and embracing remote teams, managing time zone differences and variations remains a challenge. But, equipped with understanding and strategic approaches, companies can navigate these challenges and optimize their core business operations, deriving competitive advantage from their remote teams.

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Why TurnKey
August 29, 2023

TurnKey Staffing provides information for general guidance only and does not offer legal, tax, or accounting advice. We encourage you to consult with professional advisors before making any decision or taking any action that may affect your business or legal rights.

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