09 Dec 2021

Successful businesses have to satisfy market needs. For some, especially those that serve people across the globe, that means having a productive workforce all day. However, putting that into practice isn't an easy feat. Adopting a follow-the-sun support model can help you meet this goal. Here's what you need to know about the model, how to implement it, and the impact it will have on your organization.

What is the Follow-the-Sun service methodology?

The follow-the-sun methodology model addresses and satisfies market needs in any geographic location. This approach isn't new, but it has increased in popularity as many customer service teams now use it. 

Follow-the-sun is a sub-field of globally distributed software engineering. This is a type of global knowledge workflow designed to reduce the time to market. Software development teams spread out in different territories use this model to work on a 24-hour software development cycle.

Why do companies use this model?

If you have a service or product that requires constant support for different time zones, you need an employee available constantly or an offshore outsourcing partner. For software development, this kind of schedule may also be necessary when working on a tight timeline. It is possible to manage in shifts, but it's not easy.

You have to hire people to work night shifts which can be demotivating for them. Additionally, if people constantly have to work late or switch hours, it can take a toll on their health. You also may have to pay extra perks and overtime to compensate for the demanding schedule. 

That's where the follow-the-sun service methodology can help. Since the method, as the name implies, "follows the sun," you can work with a distributed workforce to have a 24-hour software development cycle.

What should I consider to implement this model?

The follow-the-sun model works, but only when companies implement it correctly. According to a study published in the Journal of Management Information Systems, handoff efficiency is paramount to successfully following sun practices. The duration of development time can reduce when both site coordinations improve. 

So how do you make this a reality for a team that is brand new to the model? Here are three different things you should consider before implementing it.

Collaborating as a global team

The follow-the-sun model involves strategy and coordination between global zones and teams. You need to put best practices and processes in place that empower your workforce to work within this model, especially if you'll also be leveraging offshore outsourcing.

For example, you can require a person working on an issue during their shift to document all of their work effectively. That way, the knowledge can transfer to the next person on the job. It's critical that your team works as a single unit and avoids overlap whenever it's possible to do so. 

Impact on the work environment 

Clarity is key. Having a shared understanding across teams of the goals, turnaround times, and accountability is important. You also have to be aware of the social and cultural differences across regional and localized units. 

Setting expectations with team members is crucial, and when moving to this model, the expectations you have for employees are likely to change. This is particularly true if you are welcoming people from different locations into your workforce. Everyone must fully understand their roles and responsibilities. 

Communication

Making sure tasks are handled in order and by priority is essential. This can't happen without constant communication between the different teams following this model. You need to have open channels for people to connect.

Since face-to-face communication will be absent, you might want to consider regular video conferencing meetings for your workforce. This will help you resolve any potential issues and help your team feel more comfortable as a unit.

To do this, you must pay special attention to any existing overlaps. While several team members may not have overlapping "office hours," some may do. That means there could still be plenty of opportunities for people to work together without disrupting the model. You can read more about this topic in How to Manage a Software Development Team Across Multiple Time Zones.

What advantages does follow-the-sun have?

Once you implement this model in your organization, here are some benefits you can expect to see.

More reasonable work hours

It can be challenging to fill overnight shifts. Working regular daylight hours keeps employees healthy, happy, and motivated to work. It's easier for your employees, which means you'll have less turnover. You can also take advantage of offshore outsourcing to help you with this.

Faster problem solving

When you only have a team working during your regular business hours, problems remain if a resolution isn't found by the end of the day. Using the follow-the-sun model ensures that the problem remains a priority and gets attention until there's a fix for the issue.

In addition, when you pass the work onto a new group, the problem will be looked at from a fresh set of eyes, therefore giving a new perspective. This often leads to better solutions.

Consistent service and workload

Handing work off from site to site makes it easier for your company to offer consistent service levels at all times and balance the workload. This model that workers across every location get equal treatment.

Potential for new markets

With the follow the sun model established in your company, you'll be better prepared to help customers around the world. This is an advantage that may allow you to expand for new opportunities.

Implementing a 24-hour software development cycle with offshore outsourcing

Here at Unosquare, we are set on finding the best talent in the world. Beyond that, we can put together a delivery management practice that is your eyes and ears within our organization. Unosquare provides agile software development services and complementing talent for your teams. Want to learn more about how Unosquare can help with your project? Check out our blog to find out more.

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