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10 ways to communicate best with software developers in Ho Chi Minh City

Keith Tan
October 23, 2018
Most Product Managers, Project Managers, Product Owners or Founders are good at communicating their vision to non-technical audiences. This is especially so if they are non-technical themselves. Communicating to a software development or software engineering team is completely different. This is even more so when you have a team of developers or engineers based out of Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam. Even though we here at will screen your developers for their English proficiency, it is not their first language.

Some of our clients have employed a PM in their team mix in Vietnam, and let him/her take the reins of communicating your message to the rest of the developers working out of our Vietnam office(s). What you will may find, and frustratingly so, is that the end result has a high probability of being inconsistent with your vision. To minimize misunderstanding between the head office (possibly in Singapore, Hong Kong or Jakarta), product owners must learn how to sketch board, wireframe and prototype their visions.

We invite your onshore PMs to spend as much time as they like in our offices working with your developers in Vietnam. Rightly so because they are your tech talents and work directly for you. Moreover, what we have found is that this is a highly positive way to communicate. Face to face communication beats video calls and conferences, period.

Here are some tools and tips that we have found help to improve communication with an offshore software development team in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam:

  1. Sketch boards and storyboards: Sketching a simple technique that doesn't require any technology. Using a pen and paper, you could draw out any tech product, and allows you to think about different parts of your user interface. This also allows your tech team to digest the "user flow." Drawings are a universal language afterall. This process will illustrate clearly how your user will navigate through and interact with all the screens and pages in your application.

  2. Flowcharts: Another thing some of our clients use is flowcharts. With a couple of pre-defined symbols, a flowchart lays out the entire user flow in a graphical format. This is different from sketches because it helps you think through all the logical possibilities that a user could encounter. Again, this is a universally understood concept, and even Vietnamese developers with a slightly weaker command of the English language will be able to understand it with little meaning loss.

3. Business use cases: Business use cases explain how you should deal with different scenarios that a user might encounter. Here’s an example, an event registration system would have several different use cases - purchasing a ticket, processing a payment, listing different events, processing a refund, just to name a few. Each of these scenarios have different outcomes, and user interfaces, and flowcharts (as we described above). You would probably write these in English. And your Vietnamese PM would then use these to communicate with your developers working out our of our offices.

Here’s a further example - for example,
- If the user cancels within 30 days of the event start date, refund 100 percent of the registration fee.
- If the user cancels within 15 days of the event start date, refund 50 percent of the registration fee.
- If the user cancels within seven days of the event start date, don't issue any refund.
It's very important to define these situations well because remember that when you hire a software developer working out of Vietnam, he or she is probably not going to be very familiar with some of the inner workings of your business.

PS: This is an opinion piece by Joe Low, Co-founder of Wonderlabs Vietnam. Wonderlabs is the leading service provider helping companies build and manage software development teams in Indonesia and Vietnam. Across our various shared and dedicated centers, we have over 350+ active software developers. Since our founding in 2015, we have grown rapidly through innovation and our relentless mission focus - Connecting you to success and productivity. Alumni of Wonderlabs have gone on to work at some of the biggest companies in Southeast Asia.

Official Blog Wonderlabs Vietnam

"I started Wonderlabs because I experienced the problems of building and managing a distributed software development team in Indonesia from 2011 to 2015. I wanted to make it seamless and frictionless for companies to build and manage teams. On the other hand, I found that there are so many amazing software engineers in Indonesia and Vietnam and wanted to connect them to employers in Singapore, Hong Kong and Jakarta" - Ivan Chang, Executive Chairman, Wonderlabs Group

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