Tackle offshoring challenges in Vietnam: What to do to seize opportunities in this emerging market

COVID-19 has become the force that shapes our present economy and creates new customer demands and needs, thereby challenging businesses to improve their performance.

However, history shows that disasters are not new; what has changed is the advancement of technology that enables organisations to shift toward decentralised and networked structures.

This in turn allows for offshore tech operations to become a favourable business practice during the pandemic, for its non-disruptive nature and significant cost saving. But here’s the catch, organisations must overcome these key challenges in order to manage their offshore developers.


Did you know that 70 per cent of workplace communication is non-verbal? Through body language and facial expressions, we learn how serious an issue actually is; or the trust and confidence toward their company.

Unfortunately, offshoring your tech operations to another country means most interactions occur virtually via email, chats, calls, and video conference. There is a pretty good chance that communication will suffer as there are more layers and friction that hinder the flow of information.

According to a study conducted by Harvard Business Review, remote workers who don’t get to interact well tend to get incomplete stories, never the full picture and are more disconnected or alienated compared to onsite workers. Meaning it is one of the biggest disadvantages of offshoring tech operations that businesses have to overcome.

Also Read: Mio raises US$1M to help rural Vietnamese women become micro-entrepreneurs


It is a daunting challenge to get remote workers motivated to accomplish their tasks on time. The lack of physical presence can sometimes make you feel like you’re shouting into the wind in hopes that they will listen. And for those who claim to be working, you’ll have little choice but to take their words for it.

As a result, about 40 per cent of managers expressed low confidence in their ability to manage workers remotely. This often pushes them into panic mode where extreme methods are taken to offset their doubt.

Managers can start to develop an unreasonable expectation that those team members must be available at all times, ultimately disrupting their work-home balance and causing more stress on the job.

This, in turn, could create a negative spiral, where a manager’s mistrust leads to micromanagement, causing drops in employee motivation, further impairing productivity.

Time zone differences

An interesting advantage of building up your tech team in other parts of the word is that project teams can “work round the clock” to optimise schedule and capacity.

However, it might be a real hassle to find a common meeting time that works well for all parties due to the time zone differences. Someone will always have to compromise by meeting outside their normal business hours.

This inhibits productivity and can cause tensions in the team. Additionally, monitoring your offshore team is difficult. Are they working during office hours or are they slacking off? Are your offshore developers able to fix a P1 bug in a timely manner?

Cultural barriers

It is obvious that cultural differences hinder effective communication, right across the project, from within the project team to external stakeholders. This can be particularly challenging for tech talent from deferential cultures such as Vietnam who may feel less comfortable speaking up or sharing ideas directly, especially if they are new to the team or in a more junior role.

Also Read: How looking into Vietnam can help startups save development costs

Moreover, the difference in cultural value will also drastically impact the expectation and performance result.

For example, the Japanese prefer a long detailed report and being on time as a way to show dedication. On the other hand, Vietnamese offshore developers are more laid-back and open-minded. So if you are offshoring your tech operation into Vietnam, having a flexible timeline will encourage them to perform better instead of a strict schedule like the Japanese.

Remote HR Management

Most startups and SMEs struggle on managing their offshore developers, which are often be-prioritised from their core activities. This complexity is multiplied when it comes to remote workers in another country, where the culture and regulatory compliance can be drastically different from yours.

Not only do these gaps create risk that can prove to be costly for companies, they also mean the companies need a dedicated HR department to effectively manage their teams across the globe. In fact, more than 80 per cent of small business owners have to handle HR on their own – and more than 30 per cent weren’t sure they were doing everything correctly.

Offshoring part of the IT operation to other countries has become one of the common strategies for startups and small businesses to scale up their tech capabilities in an efficient and scalable fashion. But to make the most out of it and maximise the benefits, it is crucial for companies to identify any potential offshore challenges and eliminate them.

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