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How to Manage a Large Team in India From the USA

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I’m the founder/Co-CEO of a SaaS company that has scaled to tens of millions in ARR and lists in the top 100 software companies. Our objective is to grow to US$100M over the next few years. However, a key part of our success until now is working with a large and outstanding team in India across multiple functions like engineering, marketing, sales, and customer success. Several US-based, venture-backed companies are not comfortable working with a distributed workforce, thinking that the talent pool in the US is the best and the easiest to manage. I encourage those organizations to take a step back and realize that they are missing a great business opportunity in India.

Background

We provide cloud-based time-tracking software that helps manage projects, resources, tasks, billing, and compliance in one place. As a cloud-based company, it was important for us to “eat our own dog food” and scale the company using cloud-based technologies. With the proliferation of technologies like Voice Over Internet Protocol (VoIP), Artificial Intelligence (AI), Internet, Mobile, and AWS, what is a better way to scale the company than managing a distributed workforce? Talent in the world is moving where cloud-based technologies are coming together, and India is the best place in the world for technology and talent.

From a Functional Standpoint, What This Means for Us Is:

  • Sales — Traditional thinking suggests that sales can only scale using US-based Sales Development Representatives (SDRs) and US-based representatives. That’s absolutely not been the case for us — we have amazing SDRs and reps based out of India, and they help us with around-the-clock coverage.
  • Customer Success — Our proactive custom success team based in India recognizes customers’ needs and provides them with a personalized solution with around-the-clock support  — we’ve won the Bronze 2022 Stevie Award for the tenth consecutive year for bespoke customer service.
  • Engineering — We work with some amazing engineers and cloud architects in India. They proactively uncover and develop a robust cloud system. 
  • Marketing —Marketing teams play a vital role in business success. We have amazing marketing technology specialists, CRO analysts, content marketers, SEO-trained professionals in India, and a great web development team. They build brand awareness, define the importance of cloud-based products, and drive growth.
  • Finance/Other Functional Areas — From cash flow recommendation to tax implication, our finance teams look for the best possible ways to accelerate business profitability and growth. At Replicon, we use the latest cloud-based technologies to manage our distributed workforce across the world. 

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Key to Success #1 — Do Not Treat Your India Team as “Inferior”

We know that Indians are brilliant, well-educated, and excel at STEM. In contrast, why do companies treat their employees in India as mere “doers” who execute orders? The more respect you show people, the more they’re likely to give back to you. Our Indian employees are able to think out of the box and deliver great results because we give them a lot of rope to experiment and succeed. We strongly believe that an organization that values its employees and fosters a flat hierarchical structure will make an inspiring workplace.

Key to Success #2 — Develop Mutual Training Programs

If you outsource a good chunk of sales to India, as we do, you have to train employees to succeed on both sides of the Pacific. The US team has to communicate processes/best practices that work, but the India team must constantly give feedback on what is working/why/why not? If you don’t have a constant feedback loop where the US and India teams can learn from each other, you cannot succeed at outsourcing a large chunk of work overseas. Therefore, conducting a training program and feedback session is important to help the team collaborate and accomplish business objectives. 

Organizing a sales enablement training session will help your distributed sales team to identify potential opportunities, develop a winning strategy, and effectively close deals. Great sales training and collaboration directly impacts the organization’s bottom line. 

teamwork

Key to Success #3 — Understand the Culture

Work culture varies across the globe. There is a significant and defined difference between the working cultures of Indians and Americans. Indians do not work the same way as Americans. You have to make a concerted effort to understand the culture to get what you need. For instance, Americans may value a more “direct” and “blunt” culture and tend to be more explicit than their Indian counterparts.

In contrast, Indians are more reluctant to give feedback unless given in person. Plus, they are more likely to value harmony and communicate implicitly. It’s your job as an organization to understand the culture and create a safe environment to give ongoing feedback. 

Key to Success #4 — Travel to India

Organizing quarterly meetings or annual visits to India can strengthen employee engagement and boost morale. It is also a great opportunity for strategic planning, brainstorming sessions and ideation with your team. Also, it helps you get to know more about your people. These interactions help India teams feel connected to your business. You should almost always have someone from your US-based office traveling to India. This shows that you are brought into outsourcing and treat your Indian counterparts as equals. We also try to meet annually in person at one of our offices or for a company retreat. Our distributed workforces emphasize that virtual and in-person touchpoints are essential for team-building and ultimately help build a connected workplace. 

Key to Success #5 — Timing Is Everything

You need to have work schedules sorted out in such a way that you are not constantly having scheduling difficulties with regard to calls and other matters. We have our India team working around-the-clock coverage, which is the same as Pacific Standard Time (PST) hours in the US. This affords us the ability to work with our India team during normal hours for our clients and others. We have a team of about 800+ people in India, and we have around-the-clock coverage for any customers with issues and sales needs. This has helped us scale to a global company.

In Conclusion

I recommend entrepreneurs outsource a good chunk of their work to India. Aside from the obvious cost benefits, you will be working with some of the smartest and kindest people on the planet. Today, as the global leader in cloud applications, we assist thousands of companies to increase productivity, improve product visibility, reduce revenue leakage, and manage labor compliance.

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Raj Narayanaswamy

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Raj Narayanaswamy

Raj is the Co-Founder and Co-CEO of Deltek | Replicon. Deltek | Replicon provides award-winning products that make it easy to manage your workforce. With complete solution sets for client billing, project costing, and time and attendance management, Replicon enables the capture, administration, and optimization of your most underutilized and important asset: time.

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