Rules to Better Outsourcing

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  1. Do you show your phone number to allow for emergency communication?

    Email is great. But in an emergency, you need to pick up the phone. Often the most effective methods of communication for a project is to talk directly to colleagues and clients on the phone.
    Figure: Bad example - can't call a phone number
    Figure: Good example - Able to call phone numbers

    Remote offices tip: Don’t make being overseas a barrier. ​Of course,​ it is always best to provide a local number as that gives clients peace of mind and keep their costs down. Not many clients will call an international number and there are lots of options -

    The next best alternative is to at least show your overseas phone number.​

  2. Do you go beyond just using Skype chat?

    Communication in English can be difficult if it is not your first language. In these cases it might be tempting to only communicate via IM, but this will not improve your skills or build a relationship as well as communicating verbally.

    1. Stop: Just using IM
    2. Start: Asking ‘Can I call you?’ 
    3. Start: Using video call at least in the first 10 seconds
    4. Start: Make up for weak English by typing while speaking
  3. Do you avoid Chinese or messy code on your website?

    Many companies use overseas developers to do some of their work, but the language barrier can sometimes extend past simply communications. Sometimes you can end up with foreign language snippets in your code too.

    When you edit an aspx page in TFS, follow the below steps to avoid having Chinese characters appear.

    1. Set the default language on your computer as English(Australia).
      Set default language as English (Australia) 
    2. After you finish editing, but before check-in, make sure Code Auditor and Link Auditor 0.
    3. Check the whole page which you edited, and make sure no messy code or characters are there.
    4. Ask someone beside you to check the rule or page you just edited.
    5. Reply done in an email.
  4. Do you make sure your Visual Studio encoding is consistent?

    Make sure your Visual Studio encoding is consistent with Sydney to avoid encoding problems in the future.

    Open file with Encoding:

    Use 'Open With...' in Visual Studio for file open
    Figure: Use "Open With...&Figure: Use "Open With..." in Visual Studio to open the file
    Set '...     Editor with Encoding' as Default Editor
    Figure: Set "... Editor with Encoding" as the Default Editor
    Make     sure your encoding is consistent with Sydney
    Figure: Make sure your encoding is consistent with Sydney

    Save file with Encoding: (Optional - it will be saved w (Optional - it will be saved with opened encoding automatically.)

    Open 'Advance Save Options...' in Visual Studio before checkin
    Figure: Open "Advance Save Options..." in Visual Studio before checking in
    Make sure your setting is consistent with Sydney
    Figure: Make sure your setting is consistent with Sydney
  5. Do you know in what currency to quote overseas?

    The easy thing is to just quote the price in your local currency. Go the extra step and convert it to a currency they understand.

    If you are not sure what currency to use, just use US Dollars, which is the international currency.

    Of course, if you are dealing with somebody regularly, then you should know their preferred currency.

    E.g. Chinese company billing someone in Brazil:

    Our price is CNY 1,000
    Figure: Bad example - the client will need to convert it
    Our price is CNY 1,000 (about USD $160)
    Figure: Good example - USD gives a clear understanding of the costs​
  6. Do you know you should always use the language of your head office? (usually English)

    Say your language is Chinese, of course, local Chinese customers would feel more comfortable communicating in English. The disconnect happens when head office needs to get involved. They can't review emails, read the history of email threads etc.

    So make it easier to add English speakers into the loop at a moments notice.

    The most polite way of doing this is to mention in the email why you are using English.

    Hi Joe, hope all is well. I wanted to confirm our conversation...

    Figure: Bad example ​

    (This is in English since I have included a Sydney colleague... let me know if you need it in Chinese).

    Hi Joe, hope all is well. I wanted to confirm our conversation...​

    Figure: Good example​​​​
  7. Do you always be careful with your spelling, grammar and punctuation?

    Improper spelling, grammar, and punctuation gives a bad impression of your company and can result in your message not being conveyed correctly. Emails with no full stops or commas are difficult to read and can sometimes even change the meaning of the text. And, if your program has a spelling checking option, why not use it?

    Web Content

    When on a web page, install Grammarly Addon for Chrome so you can automatically check web content. For example, while editing in a CMS.

    Figure: A typo caught by Grammarly plugin


    When on Word, press F7 (or on the ribbon go to Review > Spelling & Grammar) to check your .docx text.

    Use Microsoft Word's spelling and grammar checker to confirm your content is correct
    Figure: Click on "Spelling & Grammar" button to check your web content


    When on PowerPoint , press F7 (or on the ribbon go to Review | Spelling & Grammar) to check your .pptx text.

    Figure: Click on "Spelling" button to check your web content

    You should also keep "Check grammar with spelling" checked in your PowerPoint Options | Proofing:

    Figure: Make sure "Check grammar with spelling" is enabled

    Web Content

    Any other text can be checked manually. Go to Grammarly, create a New Document and Paste your content to check your text.

    Figure: A typo caught by Grammarly

    Related rule

  8. Do you know to add the ClientID as your email subject prefix when sending an email regarding a client?

    ​When discussing client work in an email, it is not always clear which client you are referring to. By using the ClientID as your email subject prefix, those involved in the email conversation will immediately know which client you are talking about.​

    Mmake sure you add ClientID as your email subject prefix
    Figure: Make sure you add ClientID as your email subject prefix

  9. Do you make sure all software uses English (Language setting)?

    ​When dealing with western people, you want to avoid having screen captures etc. showing foreign characters.​​

    Let us look at some examples:

    Figure: Bad example - Chrome using Chinese as its language setting
    Figure: Good example - Chrome using English as its language setting
    You want all screenshots you take to be showing English . Most of the time it is as simple as going Tools | Options | Language | Default Language = English (US)
    Figure: In Azure it is as simple as clicking on the Cog icon
    Figure: The Office 365 cog does not show the language. Some cheap versions of Microsoft Office 365 only allow Chinese, so you need to uninstall and install the English version. It requires you to download a language pack which is a bit more of a hassle....

    Figure: If you do not have the English version. In Microsoft Office open the rich client application such as Outlook or Word, then install and configure as per​

  10. Do you share screens when working remotely?

    If you are working remotely you should be sharing your screen with your programming partner for the majority of the day. This allows you and your programming partner to see changes that are happening on screen, making the remote collaboration experience much nicer.

    For a list of our recommended screen sharing tools, please check the SSW rules for remote support.​

    ​Another good practice that follows on from this, is to leave a S​kype session open. This eliminates to need to call your programming partner every time you have a query or question to ask.​