The benefits of employing agile methodology in software development are clear. It enables companies to deliver products to market faster, to improve them continually once they’re there, and to retain flexibility. That’s why more than 95% of organizations now practice agile, according to VersionOne’s 10th Annual State of Agile Report.
Another trend that’s going strong is global outsourcing. Offshore teams offer companies the chance to scale quickly, find the expertise they need, and control costs carefully. The worldwide outsourcing market was worth $90 billion last year, according to Accelerance.
While agile and outsourcing both offer major potential benefits, it’s not necessarily very easy to get the two to work in tandem. Agile is all about direct communication, so physical distance between teams can pose a real challenge. How do you make agile and offshore work together? These tips should help.
Agile cuts through the documentation workload in favor of regular meetings and conversations about the best route to take. Even if part of your team is on the other side of the world, you still need to make time for regular meetings. Make sure you schedule for a time that’s manageable for both parties, not midday for one and the middle of the night for the other.
Encourage people to talk directly whenever possible. Video conferencing is easy to set up now. Audio calls are better than written communication. But even the real-time nature of instant messaging beats email.
Sharing a central repository for common knowledge can be enormously useful for distributed teams. A Wiki or a forum can work perfectly for this purpose. It should be a place where team members can see the plan for the next sprint. They should also be free to share thoughts about the project.
Prize face-to-face communication above all else. During your regular meetings, use video conferencing and try to make sure everyone participating can be seen by the other team. Being able to see each other and talk openly helps to build trust and understanding.
There’s no faster way to build a relationship than being physically in the same room. Regular visits are very important, especially at the start of the project. Key team leads should work directly with the offshore team and vice versa. They’ll get a clear picture of the workflow that they can disseminate when they go back to their home office, but set some time aside for social activities, too.
Respect and Trust
You hired the offshore team for their expertise and experience, make sure that you take the chance to benefit from it. Showing respect and asking for opinions from the offshore team helps them feel included and could bring up useful actionable insights that can improve your processes. Encourage them to ask questions and get involved.
If you treat your offshore team as you would an internal division, then you can build a solid partnership that will prove mutually beneficial. When your goals are aligned and there’s respect and trust, you can employ agile methodology successfully with minimal tweaking. The cornerstone of success when you’re trying to marry agile and offshore is effective communication.