\u201cAs if managing complex technology projects wasn\u2019t difficult enough, outsourcing can create numerous stresses you likely have not experienced when using a primarily or exclusively internal team,\u201d says Tom Fountain, CTO of Pneuron, which provides distributed enterprise solutions. \u201cInterestingly, it\u2019s not the technical competence of the outsourcer that normally derails projects. Instead, it\u2019s a lack of communications and common understanding of simply what\u2019s important and how to meld diverse organizations into a cohesive unit.\u201d\nSo how can project leaders keep outsourced, especially internationally outsourced, projects on track and on budget? Following are eight helpful suggestions.\nHelp the outsourced party (or parties) understand your business and goals\n\u201cThis does not entail endless training sessions and lengthy document exchange [but] sharing the important elements of your business, your customers, your business processes, your people,\u201d says Fountain. \u201cThe more of these elements you can share effectively, the more likely your outsourcer will be aligned [with your business goals and be able to] create real value.\u201d\nMake sure everyone\u2019s working from the same playbook\n\u201cAlways create a playbook that contains step-by-step instructions,\u201d says Kapil Bagai, manager, LexInnova Technologies, a legal outsourcing and technology consulting firm. \u201cThis facilitates consistent application of your requirements. A well designed and robust workflow builds accuracy and promotes overall effectiveness,\u201d he points out. Furthermore, it\u2019s important to \u201cprovide the team with necessary background information and material that could help them in further streamlining and managing the project.\u201d\n[ Related: 10 tips to get the most out of your project management system ]\nAlso, when working with team members whose first language may not be English, be cognizant of the fact that that written requirements may not be enough. So, if possible, supplement written communication with wireframes, annotated diagrams and other visual aids to clearly convey your needs. The more specific you are, the better the chance of getting the deliverable you are looking for.\n[ Related: Should you outsource your project management? ]\nIn addition, \u201cyour processes should involve a tracking mechanism [metrics] for measuring the team's productivity and quality,\u201d says Bagai.\nBe mindful, and respectful, of everyone\u2019s time zone \u2013 and use them to your advantage\n\u201cWhen the team working on a project is in different time zones, it is good to know the time difference and schedule meetings that suit both parties,\u201d says Bagai. \u201cBeing concerned about your team's time builds a level of trust and motivates them to work harder.\u201d\nYou can also use large time zone differences to your advantage. For example, if you have outsourced part of your project to India, which is 9.5 hours ahead of the East Coast of the United States, you can send them something at the end of your business day, they can work on it while you are sleeping and have it back to you at the start of the next business day.\nMake sure everyone\u2019s working off the same files\n\u201cEnable globally distributed teams to collaborate as if in the same office by ensuring that there is a single authoritative version of a file,\u201d suggests Randy Chou, CEO, Panzura, a global cloud storage provider. \u00a0\u201cThis allows teams to work on the same file at the same time without overwriting work of others. This is especially important for applications like design, software development, architectural, and engineering where document integrity issues can cause major delays [and] incur significant additional expense.\u201d\n[ Related: How to pick a project management methodology ]\nHave good project management software \u2013 and make sure all parties use it\n"Provide your team with a collaborative software solution that allows them to work together,\u201d says Bassem Handy, vice president of Enterprise Strategy, Procore, a provider of construction project management software. \u201cWith immediate access to project data, team members can spend less time tracking down information and more time being productive. Project team members and stakeholders alike will have visibility into the project, keeping everyone on the same page.\u201d\u00a0\n\u201cWe have a team of 20 developers overseas, and all of our development work is conducted from this office,\u201d explains Mark Tuchscherer, cofounder and president, Geeks Chicago. \u201cThe primary piece of advice I would offer [in regard to managing outsourced or far-flung projects] is to have excellent management software,\u201d he says. \u201cWe use JIRA because we are an agile company, but something like Asana would work as well. Everything should run through the software; never use email to manage projects.\u201d\nSync up regularly\n\u201cAgree in advance to be kept updated on a fixed schedule,\u201d says Chok Leang Ooi, CEO, AgilityIO, a global consulting firm helping entrepreneurs. \u201cSync ups can be done on a daily or weekly basis, but be disciplined about keeping to the agreed upon timing, especially if your outsourced team is in another time zone.\u201d\n\u201cEffective communication, especially with new or off-site employees, is key to creating a more efficient, productive and profitable project,\u201d says Handy. \u201cWhether you are using Google Chat or Slack, keeping all project communication in one central location will increase accountability and allow all team members to communicate in real time.\u201d\nHold regular video chats\n\u201cFace-to-face interaction (even if done electronically) is vitally important to developing a solid relationship and rapport with your team that ensures alignment on objectives and milestones,\u201d says Patrick Rice, CEO, Lumidatum, a predictive analytics company. \u201cTools like Skype, Slack, WhatsApp and Google Hangouts make it so easy to stay connected and interact with teammates,\u201d wherever they are.\nTreat outsourced member of your team with respect\n\u201cTake some time to get to [know] the members of [the] team,\u201d advises Fountain. \u201cWhether through a video conference or other means, put faces to names and get to know what makes them tick. Bottom line: treat your outsourced team like the partner you expect them to be\u201d and they will be.