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Rules to Better Outsourcing - 9 Rules

  1. Do you make sure all software uses English as default on language settings?

    When dealing with western people, you want to avoid having screen captures showing foreign characters.

    Let us look at some examples:

    Google Chrome

    2016 3 22 10 43 12
    Figure: Bad example - Chrome using Chinese as its language setting

    2016 3 22 14 59 07
    Figure: Good example - Chrome using English as its language setting

    How to fix on a PC?

    You want all screenshots you take to be showing English. Most of the time it is as simple as going Tools | Options | Language | Default Language = English (US).

    In Chrome, you can follow these steps directly:

    1. Three dots bar at the top right of the Chrome window:

    Figure: Blank Chrome page showing the 'Settings' button, 3 small dots

    1. Click on Settings:

    Figure: Showing the 'Settings' page

    1. Click on Advanced:

    Figure: Advanced tab in Settings

    1. Click on 'Add Languages':

    Figure: Add Languages to your current Chrome

    1. Move English to the top

    Figure: Move English to top

    How to fix on a Mac?

    1. Change the language in System Preferences. Go to Apple menu | System Preferences | Language & Region

    WX20180906 111514 2x
    Figure: In macOS it’s simple to change to English

    1. In Preferred languages, add English and select it as primary language
    2. Reboot the system and verify that English is now the primary language for all desktop applications

    How to fix your Google account?

    You should also change your Google language to English as well. If it is not already, take a look at these steps:

    1. Go to <>
    2. Click on Sign-In or My Account if you are already signed in

    Figure: Google page without an account

    Figure: Google page with an account

    1. Search for 'Language':

    Figure: Search for 'language'

    1. Now click Language and search for English

    Figure: Language picker

    1. Move English up to default language by clicking on the arrow

    Figure: Move up English

    1. Done! You changed your language to English

    How to fix your Gmail account?

    1. Click on the cog then Settings

    Figure: Access to Settings on Gmail

    1. Set language to English(US)

    Figure: Change language setting

    1. Scroll down and click on 'Save Changes'. Done!

    How to fix Mozilla Firefox?

    1. Go to Options

    Figure: Access to Firefox options

    1. Set Display language to English (United States), you may have to restart Firefox to apply the change

    Figure: Language settings

    1. Choose your preferred language for displaying pages. Add English (United States) and move it to the top

    Figure: Click Choose to change your preferred language

    Figure: Add English (United States) to your preferred language for displaying pages

    1. Done!

    How to fix on MS Azure?

    Figure: In Azure it is as simple as clicking on the Cog icon

    How to fix on MS Office 365 (rich client)

    Some cheap versions of Microsoft Office 365 only allow Chinese, so you need to uninstall and install the English version. It requires you to download a language pack which is a bit more of a hassle...

    Figure: The Office 365 cog does not show the language.

    install language pack
    Figure: If you do not have the English version. In Microsoft Office open the rich client application such as Outlook or Word, then install and configure as per the image above

    How to fix on Office 365 (

    1. Go to

    Figure: If you have the Inbox, Sent Items etc in Chinese then you will need to follow these steps

    1. Click on "My profile" in the top right corner

    screenshot step1
    Figure: Choose 'My profile'

    1. Click on "setting" button

    screenshot step2
    Figure: Choose 'Mail'

    1. Click on Region and time zone

    screenshot step3
    Figure: Choose Region and Time. Then when you change the ‘Language’ with the checkbox enabled, the problem will be fixed.

    1. In Windows 10, Go to Settings | Language | Windows display language, click Windows display language and search for English.

    Figure: Set windows display language to English

    1. Go to Settings | Language | Region, click Regional format and select “English (United States)”.

    Figure: Set regional format to English

    1. In Outlook, go to File | Options | Advanced | International options, check "Use English for message headers..."

    outlook options headers
    Figure: Force message headers to English

    1. Done. You have changed your language to English. Congratulations!

    screenshot finished
    Figure: After completing the fix

    Microsoft Teams

    1. Navigate to Microsoft Teams | Manage account

    Figure: Navigate to Microsoft Teams | Manage account

    1. Navigate to General | App language and then select English from the dropdown

    Figure: Navigate to General | App language and then select English from the dropdown

    1. Done!

    How to fix on iOS SharePoint App

    1. Change the language in System Preferences. Navigate to Settings | General | Language & Region

    Figure: Navigate to Settings|General|Language & Region

    1. Drag English field to the top of the PREFERRED LANGUAGES list

    Figure: Drag English field to the top of the list

    1. Done!
  2. Communication - Do you go beyond text chat and do professional video calls?

    Communication can be difficult (even if English is your first language!). When using Teams/Zoom/Skype, it might be tempting to only chat via text in IM, but this will not improve your skills or build a relationship as well as communicating verbally.

    skype conference
    Figure: Good example - Asking _"Can I call you?"_ (especially for complicated conversations)

    Tips to have a better call

    Try to always answer the call with video (if weak bandwidth, use it for the first 10 seconds and say "I'll turn off video to save bandwidth").


    • Be ready with the headset already on (it looks disorganized setting it up after you are on the call)
    • Check the sound quality of the microphone - you need a good mic and it should be close to your mouth - if you are using the laptop mic, sit in close


    • Check the image quality of the camera
    • Beware of the angle of the camera - laptops with thin bezels now put the camera at the base, looking up your nose. Avoid them. Frame your head and shoulders in the shot, and keep the camera lens at or above eye level - use a stand if necessary

      screen stands
      Figure: Height-adjustable monitor and laptop stand

    • Get your video background right

      Bad Video Background orgn
      Figure: Bad example - Ugly background showing an air conditioner

      Good Video Background orgn
      Figure: Good Example - Nice background

    • Keep a light source on your face, and try to avoid sitting with a window behind you
    • Have a microfiber cloth and wipe off the lens from time to time


    • It's always helpful to confirm things you're talking about with typed text during the call (especially helpful for people with English as a second language).

    For more info, see how to look and sound great online

    Tip: Help the other person with following this rule by taking a screenshot of a call with them, then give a mark /10 with good and bad feedback. E.g. Sound/video quality, background.

  3. Do you avoid Chinese or messy code on your website?

    Many companies use overseas developers to do some of their work, but the language barrier can sometimes extend past simply communications. Sometimes you can end up with foreign language snippets in your code too.

    When you edit an aspx page in TFS, follow the below steps to avoid having Chinese characters appear.

    1. Set the default language on your computer as English(Australia).
      Set default language as English (Australia)
    2. After you finish editing, but before check-in, make sure Code Auditor and Link Auditor 0.
    3. Check the whole page which you edited, and make sure no messy code or characters are there.
    4. Ask someone beside you to check the rule or page you just edited.
    5. Reply done in an email.
  4. Do you make sure your Visual Studio encoding is consistent?

    Make sure your Visual Studio encoding is consistent with Sydney to avoid encoding problems in the future.

    Open file with Encoding:

    Figure: Use "Open With...&Figure: Use "Open With..." in Visual Studio to open the file

    Figure: Set "... Editor with Encoding" as the Default Editor

    Figure: Make sure your encoding is consistent with Sydney

    Save file with Encoding: (Optional - it will be saved w (Optional - it will be saved with opened encoding automatically.)

    Figure: Open "Advance Save Options..." in Visual Studio before checking in

    Figure: Make sure your setting is consistent with Sydney

  5. Do you know you should always use the language of your head office? (usually English)

    Say your language is Chinese, of course, local Chinese customers would feel more comfortable communicating in English. The disconnect happens when head office needs to get involved. They can't review emails, read the history of email threads etc.

    So make it easier to add English speakers into the loop at a moments notice.

    The most polite way of doing this is to mention in the email why you are using English.

    Hi Joe, hope all is well. I wanted to confirm our conversation...

    Figure: Bad example 

    (This is in English since I have included a Sydney colleague... let me know if you need it in Chinese).

    Hi Joe, hope all is well. I wanted to confirm our conversation...

    Figure: Good example

  6. Do you know to always be careful with your spelling, grammar, and punctuation?

    Improper spelling, grammar, and punctuation gives a bad impression of your company and can result in your message not being conveyed correctly. Emails with no full stops or commas are difficult to read and can sometimes even change the meaning of the text. And, if your program has a spelling checking option, why not use it?

    Web Content

    When on a web page, install Grammarly Addon for Chrome so you can automatically check web content. For example, while editing in a CMS.

    grammarly plugin
    Figure: A typo caught by Grammarly plugin

    Any other text can be checked manually. Go to Grammarly, create a New Document and Paste your content to check your text.

    Figure: A typo caught by Grammarly


    On Word, press F7 (or on the ribbon go to Review > Spelling & Grammar ) to check your .docx text.

    Microsoft Word has a spelling and grammar checker
    Figure: Click on "Spelling & Grammar" button to check your web content


    On PowerPoint, press F7 (or on the ribbon go to Review | Spelling & Grammar ) to check your .pptx text.

    ppt review f7
    Figure: Click on "Spelling" button to check your web content

    You should also keep "Check grammar with spelling" checked in your PowerPoint Options | Proofing:

    ppt check spelling
    Figure: Make sure "Check grammar with spelling" is enabled

  7. Do you know to add the ClientID as your email subject prefix when sending an email regarding a client?

    When discussing client work in an email, it is not always clear which client you are referring to. By using the ClientID as your email subject prefix, those involved in the email conversation will immediately know which client you are talking about.

    Mmake sure you add ClientID as your email subject prefix
    Figure: Make sure you add ClientID as your email subject prefix

  8. Do you share screens when working remotely?

    When working remotely, you should be sharing your screen whenever discussing changes to a document or software. This allows your colleague or client to see changes that are happening on the screen, making the remote collaboration experience much nicer.

    When you first share your screen, make sure the other person can see your screen before you start talking about it. Often it takes a little while for the image to appear. The same if a new participant joins the call.

    For a list of our recommended screen sharing tools, please check the SSW rules for remote support.

    Another good practice that follows on from this, is to leave a Teams/Zoom/Skype session open if you are working with the same person for the whole day. This eliminates the need to call your programming partner every time you have a query or question to ask.

  9. Do you build inter-office interaction?

    When a company has many different office locations, often people in one office aren't familiar with people in other offices due to a lack of interaction. This problem is particularly pronounced where you have offices that span multiple time zones or countries.

    Tip: You can use the website to know the time difference between offices. You may also install one of the numerous apps to help with that info.

    What can be improved?

    It is crucial to build interaction between all company offices because it often improves the following:

    • Communication
    • Relationships
    • Technical Skills
    • Access to resources

      • Knowing who has certain skills
      • Knowing who can provide you with localized or domain specific information
    • Cooperation
    • Confidence
    • Knowledge of alternative approaches
    • Cultural understanding
    • Understanding of foreign perspectives

      • Knowing why someone from another culture responds to questions in a different way to what you are used to


    Think about what your company can do to increase interaction. There are tonnes of unique ways that interaction can be developed. Examples include:

    • Team building activities

      • Playing a game together
      • Solving a puzzle together
      • Reviewing/updating a company standard together
      • Go on a group trip to the Great Wall of China
      • Visit local companies together
      • Retreat - Have a company retreat to bring everyone together
    • Cultural Exchange programs

      • Having employees from China work in every Australian office for a month each or vice versa
      • Having developers from Brisbane spend a week in Melbourne
    • Mentoring
    • Working together

      • Pair programming
      • Mob programming
      • Sitting together to work side-by-side
    • Cultural events

      • Celebrating holidays from other countries
      • Having a cultural performance day where everyone chooses something cultural to perform such as a culturally relevant poem
    • Creating cross-office teams

      • Putting developers from the China office onto a project with Australian developers
    • A fun weekly company meeting

      • Everyone meets on Friday for 30 minutes to discuss a fun question
    • Rotating Daily Scrum

      • Each week, 1 person from each office is paired up to do a Daily Scrum with others
    • Virtual coffee events

      • People from different offices are paired up to have virtual coffee
    • Get people involved with events for others offices (especially other countries)

      • A Chinese dev does a presentation at the Sydney User Group
    • Organize meetings to discuss culturally different issues

      • Everyone talks about localization or WeChat Mini-Programs
      • Have a weekly language exchange catchup
    • Film videos about other offices

      • What is it like to work in the China office?
      • What are the differences in the app market in China and Australia? I.e. WeChat vs Facebook etc
      • Localization - What is your reaction if you see Chinese on a web page?
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