HOW TO SCALE AGILE IN OFFSHORE SOFTWARE DEVELOPMENT
Offshore outsourcing can deliver surprising but cozy value for enterprises—increased agility, reduce overall development cost, leverage of world-class talent pool; all are subjected to effective communication and collaboration.
Agile and outsource development are two jargons of the technology industry. No doubt outsource development gives the state of the art advantages to enterprises to get a high-end cost-effective software solution AND easy access to seasoned software professionals.
Widespread use of internet has filled the dots of physical presence, monitoring and communication barriers. Before going ahead let’s first understand Agile, Offshore development & outsourcing in a more concise way:
AGILE DEVELOPMENT MODEL: WHEN TO USE IT? – BENEFITS AND HINDRANCES
Agile is a software project management model (however it is not limited to software development landscape only) which gives an alternative to traditional development methods. Agile gives lots of flexibility for rapid changes, continuous improvement through adaptive planning, evolutionary development.
In an agile environment, software is developed in incremental, rapid cycles which yield small incremental development of its predecessor. To maintain quality, each iteration is thoroughly tested.
Here are some popular agile software development methods/frameworks
- ASD – Adaptive software development(ASD)
- Agile modeling
- Agile Unified Process(AUP)
- BADM: Business analyst designer method
- Crystal Clear Methods
- Disciplined agile delivery
- DSDM: Dynamic systems development method
- XP- Extreme programming
- FDD- Feature-driven development(FDD)
- Lean software development
- Kanban (development)
- Customer satisfaction is the heart of Agile, which is achieved by rapid, continuous delivery.
- Continual interaction with between Customers, developers, and testers which ensure people and interaction have dominance over procedure.
- You can expect rapid development, may test the working version of the software is delivered in weeks rather than months.
- Face-to-face as well as different another medium of conversation including Skype, video conferencing etc. are the best form of communication than traditional emails.
- Collaborates business and technology experts together so they can work closely.
- Technical excellence and unbeatable UI and UX is achieved due to continuous attention.
- Fast adaptation to changing circumstances.
- Even late changes in requirements are welcomed
- Clients like to have a prior quote about development cost, in Agile process when the software is large, in many cases, it is very difficult to predict efforts so giving the exact quote for the project.
- Agile is an iterative process where people and interaction rule over procedure, it results withhold on obligatory documentation and on designing.
- Customers need to have crystal clarity about the final product/outcome. There could be a complete mess if all the stakeholders are not on the same page.
- Agility cannot be achieved with newbie programmers/developers. Either senior/experienced or a combination of a mix (newbie + experienced) can run the show.
AGILE IS NOT FANCY – SHOULD YOU GO WITH IT?
- Do you think your project is subjected to add frequent small changes? If your project falls into this category, Agile is the best option for you to implement changes at a very low cost.
- Considering your project may require roll back to update few features, with the agile process you may have to compromise work of few days or hours rather than in other methods where you have to restart the process again causing heavy losses.
- In a dynamic business and technology world, the user needs remain ever-changing. Agility gives a cutting edge advantage to discuss and deploy new features based on feedback. This efficiency gives the customer an upper hand to get the final outcome in the desired way.
WHAT IS OFFSHORING AND OUTSOURCING?
Consider your NYC based company deals in healthcare products and you need software to interact with your clients and respond to their queries or demands in a more efficient manner. Well, so your top management decided to adopt a mobile strategy to serve your clients in a more efficient manner.
Now you have few options:
- Hire a team of software developers at your own premises, train them and get your product done!! I.e. Onshore development…
- Give the contract to a third party company who are dealing with information technology services, it is known as outsourcing…
- Partnering with a software company who are located in some other country and get your software developed at a relatively very low cost
- Hire a freelancer and get your project done (usually, it is done for very small scale projects)
Offshore Software R&D states that the development of software (irrespective whether the team is internal or external) are located in a different country from the one where it will be used. The greatest reason for using offshore software product development services is to minimize higher development cost occurring at the local level.
WHY DO COMPANIES OUTSOURCE?
There are several reasons why a company might outsource. While this can be a politically sensitive topic, management experts generally agree that outsourcing – when done right – increases competitive advantage with a natural division of labor that evolves in any society. Reasons for outsourcing include:
- Cost Saving: Budgets are debatably the paramount impulse behind outsource development. Outsourcing software development work to other countries avails high-end talents relatively at low cost.
- Stick to your knitting: Well consider a baseball player starts playing football in a tournament, would that able to perform – In fact, it would add insult to injury. That’s not your job at all, as an expert of some other domain, your job is to ensure how the execution of technology takes place to strive your goal. Handling non-core functions can curiously kill the cat.
- Outspread Capabilities: Often companies hire experts of the same domain in which, they deal in. In these cases, it is not feasible to go for in-house hires, train them, arrange all necessary infrastructure, so it is better to outsource and focus on resulting products and services to be of higher quality when provided by outsourcing vendors.
- Labor flexibility: Consider you need a large number of software professionals for few months – Say you want to get your app developed for your enterprise and you require 15 programmers, UI & UX experts for 6 months. At first building, a great team is itself a very tough task, then their training, infrastructure, and blah blah blah… You can think about the overall cost and probable ROI.
- Outsourcing allows you to ramping up and down when you need it. It is not at all a very good decision to hire people for the short span of time. Outsourcing provides flexibility so the company does not have to worry about hiring and firing.
BENEFITS OF OFFSHORING
Offshoring is an extended version of outsourcing, it has many extended benefits including that of outsourcing:
- Fine outcome at the relatively very low cost: Controlling overall development cost is the primary factor of offshoring. A leading research firm focused on the technology, marketing, and digital industries – Clutch recently surveyed various tech companies. Their findings are quite interesting, where the average development cost in the US, UK, and many other European countries are in between 100 – 150$/hour, the cost goes down to ~25$/hour in India and some other developing countries like the Philippines. Usually, offshoring is done for manufacturing or services to developing nations where wages are comparatively low.
- Get Access to huge talent pool: Offshoring gives the competitive advantage to enterprises to take leverage of skilled human resources located at different regions with specialized skills. For example, India has lots of English-speaking, college-educated, technically sound youths. Availability of skilled professionals infrastructure, local government support attracts many companies choose to offshore certain business functions including call centers for customer support, programming etc. to these locations.
ADOPTING AGILITY IN OFFSHORE DEVELOPMENT
Experts say – Success of Agile and Lean transformations totally depends on the extent on a good sourcing ecosystem. The synergy of the partners and providers have transformative power supported by a successful strategy and great execution. But sourcing strategy should go beyond just resource or services providers and it must address a larger ecosystem made of agile software development and delivery choices, proper collaboration and communication across distributed teams, and teams’ infrastructure, necessary tools and equipment.
10 best practices for Agile Offshore Software Development
1. EFFICIENT COMMUNICATION
Prepare agenda, set up necessary communication tools such as Skype or another video conferencing system are the way to make distributed agile development work. The success of agile in creating standards for communication tools along with the software tools and method for collaboration, sharing and discussing artifacts.
2. START LEAN
Start with small teams, limiting the size of 5-10 software professionals rather than hiring a big team. It helps you to understand the capabilities, quality, and expertise of developers and team.
3. INTERVENE ACTIVELY
Hierarchy and complex decision-making process are the biggest reason for the failures of Agile. It is advised if you’re outsourcing–particularly offshoring, you should be very active.
4. PICK THE RIGHT PARTNER
Wisely choose your offshore partner, Expert say- your technology partner should have capabilities to act as a visionary partner, who just not help you in execution the project rather they help you to take right decisions at right time.
There are so many IT services providers who claim to adopt Agile, still, their businesses around waterfall development methodologies and they have not been able to scale their agile development capabilities up to the mark.
5. ENSURE OVERLAP OF TIME ZONES
Working with regions where there is an overlap of at least 2 hours for your onshore and offshore teams’ is the key factor to ensure agility. India is 9.5 hours ahead of United States during daylight savings time, makes a favorable destination for outsourcing/offshoring. Overlapping of time zone helps to conduct the daily kick-off meetings and resolve any outstanding issues. This greatly increased the communication flow and cohesiveness of the teams.
6. CREATE A REPOSITORY SYSTEM
A repository collaboration system helps to streamline all specifications, test cases necessary artifacts discussions and necessary inputs of either side. For important topics such as requirements discussion or design decisions discussing any functionality, a robust repository system helps to manage permanent record of events, artifacts, and communication.
7. DON’T MAKE EMAIL AS PRIMARY COMMUNICATION MEDIUM
Email is the primary mode of communication in the corporate world. However, in the case of achieving agility in offshoring development, it is not the preferred mode of communication. Use web conferencing to communicate with the offshore team members. This should be used on a daily basis to conduct stand-ups, review wireframes, and specifications, walk through requirements and conducting brainstorming sessions.
8. STRAIGHTEN QUALITY CONTROL
Quality control/Testing is the backbone of software development. There are plenty of IT providers who have developers but they sit behind in terms of professional bug testers, necessary bug reporting tools and expertise in manual and automated testing. In an Agile environment, testing is one of the key steps to complete an iteration.
9. ELIMINATE LANGUAGE BARRIERS
Since communication and people are one around whom and with whom Agile can be implemented successfully. It is a vital aspect that the partner you choose they have proficiency in your language. It helps better communication and understanding of projects requirements.
10. EITHER SIDE STRONG LEADERS
The software is all about technical implementation of your idea and turning them into viable product or service. The presence of strong leaders at either side enhances the capabilities of proper implementations.
10. DEFINE WHAT YOU WANT
Always start with great clarity what you want to achieve, you may alter few functionalities during development but the changing core of solution can create the complete mess. As a product owner, you should have great clarity about use cases, how users will be interacting with your system, their complete. It is highly recommended to use wireframes for a complete and detailed project specification.
SHOULD YOUR BUSINESS OUTSOURCE OR OFFSHORE?
Leveraging quality control to cost, outsourcing and offshore; both have extensive benefits, as well as issues that a business encounter with these models. The execution is the main factor which creates the difference.
Before choosing any model to think what your business wants to achieve in what timeline. Selecting the right partner can serve your need for a high level of quality and communications at low costs.
As the information technology has bridged the gap of physical distance with the high-end communication system, the line between outsourcing and offshoring has become fuzzier.
Share your thought in the comment, What other challenges you have ever encountered with your offshoring partner