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Monday, 16 November 2009 13:46

Offshore project management and use of Agile. – Part 1

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Its again Winter in North.. So we are busy here at Exilesoft, Sri Lanka with most the customers who visit us. That's one nice thing in offshore business, as much as we enjoy travelling Europe, it seems our customers have found a second home to come when the winter starts in their countries. This is an ideal time we get to work together again as collocated teams. For them its quite exiting to work with us as well as to extend their business trip for one week or so to have little relax time in this exotic Island, explore the culture and have a better understanding and stronger bonding between the customer and development teams. Altogether it’s an awesome experience for both the parties. I too enjoy such visits of our customers a lot.

In the same time, being in software offshore business is not easy. Unless you have the right relationship between the outsourcer and outsourcee, the offshore business can become really painful to both the parties.Software development itself is quite challenging even in collocated development environment. When it comes to offshore software development, we are adding some more complexities to it, simple reason is that an offshore development team faces the same complexities which an in-house team faces + much more . So the Project management in this environment by balancing this distant relationship is quite a challenging endeavor.

This series of articles which Im writing to ICPM, will be focused on the challenges in such offshore business and how we use Scrum (One of the Agile methods) at my current organization to overcome these mostly seen challenges in Offshore business. I hear you.. It’s a trade off. When we overcome some of the main issues., there will be other issues which we may face.. Its understood. Its all about how to overcome the most serious issues in such environment and deliver the right value to the customer without scraping the organization’s bottom line.

To manage these offshore/outsourced projects with distributed teams successfully, We first need to understand why Organizations outsource their software projects. By working twelve years in this industry I have seen the same reasons with most my customers who decided on outsourcing their projects to us irrespective of the size of their projects.

1. Skilled Resources
In Some of the countries , its quite hard to recruit skilled resources compared to others. May be its all about the availability of such skilled resources, the market competition as well as the difficulty of hiring such experienced resources only for one or two projects (Shorter time period).

2. Business Focus.
Even if they have these resources available to hire, if the organization’s main focus is not the IT business, it may not be always wiser to hire such resources and expand the IT departments which is not their primary business focus. As an example, a company in travel industry needs to be focused on travel business instead being focused on expanding its software development. So in this context, outsourcing its software development to an organization which focuses on software business can be a wiser move.

3. Protecting the Intellectual Capital
If an organization develop one of its core software products which will give them their competitive edge in the market, the last thing this organization may need is to have its developers who worked on this product to join its competitors with all the knowledge about the business. Some times when an organization hire people from the same country or state, there is quite a risk factor that the developers who work for this product may join their competitors when the assignment is over. But outsourcing this product to a country far away which doesn’t have such closer relationship with the other organizations in the same market may reduce the risk factor.

4. Cost
Most the organizations carry their cost benefit analysis before outsourcing its software projects to other companies. Its quite important that the cost difference to be a visible factor. However there is hidden costs in software outsourcing which I will discuss in a latter article under this series.

5. Round the clock / Extended hours of production
As an Example, if there are 2 distributed teams in an Organization in Norway and Sri Lanka, and if both team work their 8 working hours, the total production time expands to 12 hours as Norway is 4 hours behind Sri Lanka. This helps in some of the product development and software support work.

Its important that as the outsourcee we understand the key factors which enable the outsourcing business of the customer and deliver the expectations throughout development.


In Part2 of the article, I will discuss the tiers of such software outsourcing and how the challenges increases in each tier.


About the author: Thushara Wijewardena is a Project Director at Exilesoft in Sri Lanka servicing the Information Technology and Services industry. Thushara has gained over ten years of experience in the software industry, in the area of software project management and running PMO's. As a senior Project Manager, Thushara has managed multiple projects for various customers located in different parts of the world, including large scale projects for some of the worlds leading multinational companies. She has gained in-depth knowledge and experience of Project Office management including overseas (on site) /offshore / local software projects and products.

Read 14615 times Last modified on Sunday, 06 December 2009 22:01
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