Are offshore developers agile enough?
Yet another company has been in the news, bringing its outsourced development back in house. This time it is Hotels.com that is bringing back around half of its IT outsourcing.
Yet another company has been in the news, bringing its outsourced development back in house. This time it is Hotels.com that is bringing back around half of its IT outsourcing. The company says that offshore agile development isn’t producing the right results for them and that in-house they are reducing software product cycles from 26 weeks to 2 weeks – a huge difference. Offshore agile clearly hasn’t worked for Hotels.com and without more information I can’t say what they could have done differently to make it successful. What I can say however is that agile over distance can work. We successfully run agile projects for many customers and they deliver high-quality software in a very short period of time. But, we have spent a great deal of time honing our agile development methodology so it works across distance. For example as well as the daily developer team stand-up, our project leaders have a daily Skype call with their customer counterparts. Taking a step back, I also think it is paramount that organisations go into a distance-based agile project with the right expectations. It isn’t always going to be a smooth ride and understanding what will make it smoother, before you begin can make a huge difference. Working with one of our customers, we have developed these pointers for anyone considering offshoring an agile project:
- Communication is the most important factor in the success of your project. Communication between the two parties needs to be: clear, open, honest and regular.
- Time zones matter. It is possible to use disparate teams located in very different time zones, like Asia and Australia, but it does make the agile development much harder. You can find yourself expending a great deal of effort co-ordinating that could be spent more productively on other project areas.
- Ensure your outsourcing partner is flexible. It needs to be able to adapt to your way of agile working. You can often tell from the outset if a company is going to be flexible by their approach to outsourcing.
- Inherent quality can make a huge difference. If quality really matters to your outsourcer then they are going to pay more attention to detail and ultimately deliver a better product. The iterative nature of agile is all about delivering quality
- Relationships have a big role to play too. The collaborative nature of agile means that if you do not get on well with the team at your outsourcer you are both likely to be less productive. Additionally you are less likely to use the outsourcer again, effectively meaning that you are wasting all the time you invested at the start of the project
I hope that by following these tips companies will find that they have a much higher rate of success with offshore agile projects.