Overcoming Cultural Barriers in Software Outsourcing

If you deprive yourself of outsourcing and your competitors do not,  you’re putting yourself out of business. – Lee Kuan Yew, first Prime Minister of Singapore

This statement becomes clear when you consider its implications. Outsourcing offers numerous advantages to businesses, including cost savings, access to specialized expertise, increased efficiency, and the ability to focus on core activities. If your competitors are benefiting from outsourcing and you choose not to participate, it poses a significant problem. Therefore, it is advisable to embrace software outsourcing.

It is important to acknowledge that not all processes will be seamless. Challenges and obstacles may arise. Although software outsourcing brings about significant success, it also presents certain difficulties. However, these issues are not insurmountable. In this article, we will discuss the cultural barriers associated with software outsourcing and explore strategies to overcome them, much more.

Cultural Barriers

What is Cultural Compatibility

Imagine finding yourself in a scenario where you’ve been diligently searching for a job for months, and at last, you come across a position that aligns perfectly with your qualifications and experience. You excel in the interview process, only to discover that there is a significant lack of compatibility between your personal values, beliefs, and customs, and the culture of the company. Cultural compatibility can be seen as the harmonious connection or resonance between individuals and their organization, where the degree to which their beliefs, values, and customs match becomes essential. It relies heavily on the context of interpersonal relationships and the overall environment within the company.

What is software development outsourcing?

Software development is a complex and time-consuming process. By engaging an external team, organizations can alleviate the workload on their in-house teams. The practice of enlisting the services of external individuals or teams to manage the development, maintenance, and support of software applications or projects is commonly referred to as software development outsourcing.

Software development outsourcing is chosen by organizations for several compelling reasons. The foremost among them is cost savings, as it allows companies to reduce expenses. Moreover, outsourcing enables the internal team to concentrate on their core competencies, leading to enhanced productivity. Additionally, it facilitates faster development cycles, helps mitigate risks, and provides the advantage of 24/7 development and support from the outsourcing team.

The software development outsourcing market is experiencing exponential growth, surpassing all expectations. It is projected to reach a staggering value of over $410 billion by 2027, indicating the industry’s remarkable expansion and widespread adoption.

Cultural issues in software development outsourcing?

Let’s understand this scenario. To enhance communication between a US-based software development company and their outsourced team from India, it is crucial to ensure proficiency in English for both teams. By prioritizing language adaptation, the US team creates an inclusive environment that facilitates effective communication between the teams. If this barrier widens, the process will go haywire. 

The language barrier is just one of the challenges that can arise when multiple cultures are involved in software development outsourcing. However, with proper management, these challenges can be effectively addressed. Language barriers often hinder communication, while discrepancies in time zones, resulting from hiring a team from a different country, can also impact collaboration and decision-making styles.

Overcoming Cultural Barriers in Software Outsourcing

For an organization to move forward is very crucial to overcome cultural barriers in software outsourcing. We have to embrace cultural diversity and look out for ways to bridge the gaps. Only then your organization will become a thriving place. Here is how we can overcome cultural barriers. 

  • Cultural Awareness and Training

An organization consists of individuals from diverse backgrounds and cultures. When cultural differences are not properly understood, conflicts and misunderstandings can arise. To ensure effective communication, it is essential to have knowledge about these cultural variations. Cultivating cultural sensitivity requires training, which can be achieved through effective communication, collaboration across cultures, and fostering connections between individuals.

  • Open and clear Communication Channels

When multiple cultures are involved, multiple languages come into play. Language support and sensitivity play a crucial role in overcoming this challenge. Open and clear communication, along with active listening is essential to address language barriers. If left unaddressed, language barriers can lead to conflicts, which can be resolved through face-to-face interaction and conflict resolution strategies. These efforts contribute to building strong communication channels.

Infosys, a renowned global consulting and IT services company is well-known for their effective communication in software outsourcing projects. They have established robust communication practices that enable smooth collaboration. This emphasis on communication is a key factor in Infosys’ success in managing diverse cultures and languages in its outsourcing projects.

  • Building trust and relationships

Establishing trust and fostering relationships across cultures can be a challenging endeavor. A survey conducted by Harvard Business Review encompassed regions such as Asia, Latin America, and the Middle East, involving interviews with more than 400 managers and executives. The findings revealed key insights regarding the building of trust and relationships in such contexts.


  • Managers understand the importance of trust building, and that this process is vital and its time. 
  • Managers give adequate time to understand every employee and their culture.
  • Managers know that results and character build trust.

Additionally, Tata Consultancy Services (TCS), a prominent IT services, consulting, and business solutions organization, is well-known for its dedication to building trust and relationships. This aspect holds significant importance in overcoming cultural barriers in software outsourcing.

  • Embrace Flexibility and Compromise

When faced with challenges stemming from cultural barriers in software outsourcing, it is crucial to approach them with an open mind. The ability to be flexible and willing to compromise reflects positively on a manager’s skills. Every problem presents multiple possibilities, and by embracing alternative approaches such as adjusting communication methods, adapting work practices, making collaborative decisions, balancing priorities, and building trust, viable solutions can be found. It is important to begin this process by respecting and appreciating every culture involved.

  • Clearly Define Roles and Responsibilities

Clearly defining roles and responsibilities has a significant impact, especially in the context of overcoming cultural barriers in software outsourcing. It brings about clarity and alignment, ensuring smooth communication. It fosters collaboration, instilling a sense of accountability and ownership in team members. Importantly, well-defined roles facilitate easy conflict resolution.

Read more: https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/overcoming-cultural-barriers-software-outsourcing-nurturing-hassan/

In Conclusion

Overcoming barriers is an ongoing journey that requires patience and persistence. It is important to recognize that change takes time and cannot be achieved overnight. However, for meaningful change to occur, organizations must possess an open-minded approach and a proactive attitude toward monitoring and addressing issues promptly. In order to foster harmony in a cross-cultural environment, it is crucial to embrace flexibility, be willing to compromise, and actively build trust among team members. Conducting training sessions provides an opportunity to gain a deeper understanding of different cultures and perspectives.

Another effective strategy is to clearly define roles and responsibilities within the organization. This clarity helps to overcome cultural barriers by ensuring that everyone understands their specific duties and tasks. By clearly defining roles, organizations can enhance communication, collaboration, and overall productivity while minimizing misunderstandings caused by cultural differences. In essence, it is said that software outsourcing thrives when cultural barriers are acknowledged, respected, and transformed into opportunities for collaboration, growth, and mutual success.

Building a Positive Company Culture: Key Pillars and Best Practices

Technically, an organization is an inanimate thing composed of materials such as cement, bricks, and stone, lacking feelings or emotions. However, the true essence of an organization lies in its people, who serve as the soul that brings it to life. Every founder has specific goals for their organization, and to achieve those goals, dedicated individuals who commit to embracing the organization’s culture are essential. Having the right individuals in place is crucial for propelling your organization forward; in fact, it encompasses nearly everything you require. However, without cultivating the appropriate culture, your organization will cease to thrive. The synergy between a conducive culture and the right individuals has the power to propel your organization to heights beyond imagination. 

Take, for instance, Google. When it comes to positive work culture, Google’s name always pops up. Google prioritizes innovation, collaboration, and employee well-being, ensuring a highly engaged and productive workforce. The company goes to great lengths to support its employees, recognizing their role as the foundation of the organization. They provide a range of exceptional benefits, including chef-prepared organic meals, complimentary dental and health check-ups, in-house nap pods, subsidized massages, death benefits for employees’ families, and subsidies for hybrid cars, among others. These perks contribute to an empowering and positive work culture that fosters creativity and personal growth.

Read more: https://jcsr.springeropen.com/articles/10.1186/s40991-017-0021-0#Sec25

Culture is not just one aspect of the game, it is the game.
In the end, an organization is nothing more than the collective capacity of its people to create value.
Lou Gerstner, Former CEO of IBM

Now that it has been firmly established that both work culture and people play vital roles in driving an organization forward; in this article, we talk about the importance of building a positive culture and its key pillars and best practices.

Building a Positive Company Culture

Why Is Positive Work Culture Important?

To fully grasp the significance of work culture, it is necessary to begin by comprehending its definition. Similar to how every household has its own set of beliefs and rules, organizations also possess a distinct work culture. It encompasses a range of attitudes, behaviors, shared values, practices, and other characteristics that dictate how individuals should conduct themselves within the organization. Work culture plays a crucial role in shaping the overall atmosphere of the organization, and the values and beliefs embedded within it serve as reflections of the organization’s vision and mission. This is precisely why, 91% of managers in the U.S. believe that a candidate’s alignment with the company culture is equally or more important than their skills and experience.

The work culture of a company is established by its values, which serve as a foundation. The manager or leader plays a crucial role in ensuring that the organization’s vision is effectively realized with the support of the employees. Additionally, the physical office environment, including factors such as lighting, plants, seating areas, food options, break rooms, and other amenities, also has an impact on work culture. According to studies, nearly half (46%) of job seekers consider company culture to be a significant factor when applying for a job. 


  • As employees form the foundation of the organization, a positive work culture enables the organisation to provide them with engagement and satisfaction.
  • Positive work culture is important as it ensures retention and recruitment. 
  • It even helps in fostering an environment of harmony whilst increasing the performance and productivity of the employees. 
  • When all these elements are effectively managed, employees can work and thrive in an environment where their health and well-being are prioritized, allowing them to experience peace and tranquillity.
  • Above all, a positive work culture nurtures an atmosphere conducive to innovation and progress.

Key Pillars and Best Practices

  1. The quality of a team relies heavily on its leader. Managers and leaders should exemplifying strong leadership and embodying values such as integrity, empathy, and inclusivity. Studies suggest that 97 % of leaders feel that a positive workplace creates resilient teams. While 91% of the leader agree that their actions indirectly or directly affects the work culture, and by being approachable to employees, leaders can set a powerful example for their team members

  2. A company without a clear mission and vision will lack a sense of purpose. It is essential to establish a vision statement and ensure its deep-rooted presence in the minds and hearts of your employees.

  3. According to recent data, an impressive 67% of job seekers prioritize the diversity and inclusivity factor when applying for a job. Additionally, 50% of employees hope for their current company to become more diverse and inclusive. Hence, it is crucial to prioritize diversity and inclusiveness when building a team. This cultivates a culture of respect, stimulates a broad spectrum of perspectives, and ensures equal opportunities for all individuals involved. 


  4. Open and transparent communication stands as a foundational pillar for any company. It encourages employees to freely express their thoughts, leading to positive outcomes and fostering collaboration and teamwork. Such an approach helps prevent rumours and maintain a harmonious work environment.

  5. In today’s competitive world, continuous learning is paramount for survival. Companies should provide benefits and incentives to employees who seek ongoing learning opportunities, while also motivating others to do the same. Microsoft’s CEO, Satya Nadella, advocates for a culture of being “learn-it-alls” rather than “know-it-alls,” emphasizing the importance of a growth mindset. This mindset encourages personal and professional development, enabling individuals and organizations to adapt and thrive in a rapidly evolving landscape.  He supports this by making videos where he acknowledges and celebrates employees who demonstrate this mindset.

  6. To promote a thriving work culture, companies must recognize and reward achievements. Southwest Airlines exemplifies this by implementing its ‘Spirit Stars’ program, where employees can nominate their peers for exceptional performance. Similarly, Microsoft follows a like approach with their ‘The Microsoft Gold Star’ program. These programs serve as motivational tools and contribute to employee retention by recognizing and appreciating outstanding contributions. By embracing such initiatives, companies demonstrate their commitment to nurturing a positive work environment that values and incentivizes excellence.


  7. In practice, being empathetic remains a timeless virtue that never loses its relevance. According to a recent survey, Microsoft emerged as the most empathetic company globally, boasting an empathy quotient of 100. Following closely behind are Facebook with a score of 93.21 and Tesla with 87.68. Emphasizing on being empathetic, Belinda Parmar the founder of social enterprise Little Miss Geek and the CEO of Lady Geek in an interview with Forbes said, “More empathic companies attract the best people, retain their staff and have loyal customers”. Effective leaders can demonstrate empathy by understanding their employees, providing training and workshops, acting as a support system, and promoting open communication. By embodying these qualities, leaders create a culture of empathy and foster a supportive work environment.




Your organization’s employees are the heart and essence of its success. Therefore, it is crucial to prioritize their well-being and happiness. When employees are happy, they are more likely to deliver exceptional outcomes. Studies indicate that happy employees are 30% more productive than their unhappy counterparts. To maintain their motivation at a high level, it is important for organizations to ensure job satisfaction, foster innovation, and enhance overall employee contentment. Recognizing and rewarding their efforts, showing empathy when things don’t go well for them, and fostering open communication channels are vital for boosting employee morale and facilitating the growth of the organization as a whole.