Table of Content
- Before Anything Else
- Tips for Those New In Working With Offshore Software Developers
- Getting Your Message Across To Offshore Software Development Teams
The success of offshore software development does not solely depend on the offshore teams. Most of the time, buyers blame the offshore teams if the developed software fall short of its expectations or totally fail. In most cases, buyers do not know that part of the success of the project depends on the proper managing of software development with offshore team. The keyword here is "with"; which means the development of the software should be managed by BOTH the buyer and the offshore teams.
According to Foote Partners study conducted over a three-year period of 90 offshore partnerships, more than fifty percent of outsourcing partnership fails to meet its budgetary and output targets. Particularly noteworthy in the study is that most of the companies were found to almost totally give their management responsibility to the offshore team the moment the contract was closed or signed. Thus, this is the topmost reason why projects fail.
BEFORE ANYTHING ELSE
David Foote, president of Foote Partners LLC, based on the findings of the study enumerated several tips that will help in successfully managing the offshore team.
Hire only an experienced and most suitable firm
Imagine all possible contingencies and define all terms before signing the contract
Find out if the provider has career advancement plans for its people to evaluate its workforce.
Make certain on buy-in on both parties
Create domestic "anchor team" as liaison and project management assistance group
Develop an external and internal communication plan
Involve the team with your vision, plans etc.
Plan and do offshore visit
Outline the changes in orders
Be transparent and proactive in planning
Do financial review and set budget for unexpected and emergency costs.
TIPS FOR THOSE NEW IN WORKING WITH OFFSHORE SOFTWARE DEVELOPERS
According to Yajov Fain, the managing principal of Farata Systems, author of several Java books and the leader of the Princeton Java Users Group, "there are important things to remember for those who are new to working with offshore software developers."
Based on Fain's principles, the first thing to remember is to hire teams on a "fixed price" basis. This will enable you to control, at least to some level, the financial aspect of the project. Thus, the final financial cost will be on your hands. Should the offshore team fail to deliver your expected outcome, then you may opt not to pay for a poorly done work. On your part, you should have planned the project to the last detail to avoid any changes in the specs later on. Changes may affect the cost of the software and the scope of work so to avoid being charged extra, you should make sure that everything is first laid out perfectly.
Next thing to remember is that outsourcing teams, whether in the US or other countries, work under the 80/20 rule = only 20% delivers. Thus, it is important that the management team build the team himself and not accept the pre-staffed offers. Then the next thing to do is to interview applicants for the team in the same way the buyer company interviews its applicants. Never go easy on offshore teams and make sure to accept only those who can deliver. Then evaluate everyone for the first two weeks. Fire and replace those who fail to meet your standards. This will avoid any delay for the project.
After the team has been formed, it is important not to let anyone, especially the team geek, to manage the team. Always make sure that that the team follows scheduled work. The manager should know what the team is doing at present and will be doing for the following day. Those assigned for the task should understand every assignment to eliminate missing deadlines and work on unspecified tasks.
Lastly, in case you will hire another team for another job, remember to evaluate their skills the same as you did with the interview process. Do not hire the same group just because they met your expectations. Hire them only if they are qualified for this specific job.
GETTING YOUR MESSAGE ACROSS TO OFFSHORE SOFTWARE DEVELOPMENT TEAMS
One of the difficulties in effective management of offshore software development teams is the language barriers between the management/buyer team and the native software development teams. In many software development providers, it has also become quite common to find people from different countries. This adds to the burden to getting your message across to the team composed of people speaking not just one, but several different languages.
According to F. John Reh, managing this kind of group may seem a little too difficult but with some basic principles, it will not be that hard. The first thing to remember is the principle of "different is not wrong". Generally, people have the tendency to see things that are different from their viewpoint as wrong. This is like a child's reaction to ways contrary to what his mother does. As one gets older, one realizes that there are different ways of doing things. Following this principle, allows you to be more tolerant of the different ways other people perform their jobs.
The next principle is "respect". In every work environment, it is necessary for the success of the project that you respect everyone even if some people may sound, act and look too weird or different to your liking. By respecting others, you will also gain their respect. As manager, you should understand that the project relies partly on your hands. Without this principle, you may cause undesirable consequences to the project.
"Open up to new ideas" is a very logical and practical principle. By opening up to new ideas, you and your team will have the opportunity to adapt and grow for the benefit of the project. This will allow you to spot those with special skills that may benefit the project and will enable you to harvest the experiences of your highly skilled people. These perspectives will help you come up with brilliant ideas that will be an additional benefit for the project. Now that you are more tolerant of others, it is time to "focus on the goal". Know and stick to your goal.
Reh also stated the importance of exerting extra effort in the way you communicate with foreign offshore teams. A good manager of offshore team is always focused on the way communication flows on the team. As a manager, he adjusts necessarily and is always mindful of using only clear, direct words.
Reh gave specific guidelines to help managers in communicating with his offshore team. First is the use of formal language. Whenever speaking and even in writing, it is important to use formal language. This will make your words clearer and sound more respectful. Second is the avoidance of using slang, idiomatic expressions and jargons. Foreign speaking individuals may not be familiar with them. As a result, it may cause your team to misunderstand you and your instructions. Third, remember not to use the word "don't", "can't" and other contractions in your written instructions or communications. Some get confused with these contractions and you may not always be present to clarify things for them. Other times they may not even bother to ask for clarifications. Fourth is to always ask for your teams' feedback. In other culture, saying no to you or asking for questions is considered rude. Thus, it is up to you to go out of your way to solicit their opinion. Make sure that they also understand your instructions. The best way of doing this is to make them repeat your instructions. Lastly be patient. For you to be able to do all the items in the guidelines you must remember that patience is a virtue. In the end, everything will work to your advantage.