expanding horizons

Expanding horizons

In today’s blog I’d like to ask a simple question: how many positive things organizations can learn about themselves when doing outsourcing by offshoring?

Outsourcing and offshoring continue to be a hot and often sensitive topic for many IT organizations, whether they are big or small, when it is time to decide how to go about developing and testing a software product. There are several views that are not always aligned for the reasons, rationales and/or goals are to get engaged with outsourcing and offshoring. Many tend to use more simplistic views of just cutting cost or ‘getting more done for same money’ or ‘focusing on core activities’ which are way too often the attention of focus. Likewise, just establishing the way of working with the outsourcing arm – be that internal or external – without taking a long, hard look in the mirror can result to a disappointing experience.

In my experience as the Director of technology at Symbio for the past 4 years, I believe that Agile software development practices, and SCRUM in particular, are very efficient tools in discovering dysfunctional teams. It also acts as an instant X-ray tool which reveals whether efficient decision-making, communications, empowerment and leadership practices are properly in place when companies engage in Outsourcing and offshoring.

No two cases are the same, and that should be a fact everybody has to accept, but all cases share the same ingredients which will either make them successful or will make them end up in a big, flaming wreck with lots of collateral damage and secondary explosions. In today’s world, where continuous integration and deployment are a norm and deliveries are expected in short cycles, the manifestations of very classic things regarding successful teamwork are multiplied and amplified in the outsourcing / offshoring environment, namely;

1) Involvement – There is no substitute for knowing and having a direct relationship and knowledge of your team’s strengths. Involvement should mean sufficient face-time when establishing the operations.
2) Communications – You will need to get into the 21st century and use Slack, video calls, and well-defined formal communications (i.e. backlog and user stories) with something established, such as JIRA. For those companies who are offshoring to China, in particular, have to accept the fact that if you don’t exist in WeChat, you don’t exist at all.
3) Empowerment – If you have taken the previous two items seriously, it is time to give artistic freedom to your team and trust that they make the right code/testing level decisions. Micromanagement in this area is, in my opinion, the biggest reason for poor results – it invites the demons of Waiting For Confirmation and Unnecessary Overhead to unleash their fearsome destructive powers towards your project.
4) Leadership – In this context, the most important thing for a leader is not to break the rules. If you do SCRUM, do SCRUM and don’t let in any “chickens” bring ‘The Most Important Change To This Feature Right Now’- surprises across the road. Most of the more enlightened and mature offshoring providers have spent enormous effort in educating their teams in best industry practices, and seeing them broken ad nauseam does not bode well for the expected performance.

So, the questions to ask yourself are – when adopting Agile development – are you ready to face the fact that the ways of working may need to be adjusted upon discovering any impediments to efficient delivery? Are you able to accept the fact that doing things ‘as they have always been done’ is not always the formula to success in outsourcing / offshoring? And, is your organization mature enough to see and embrace the positive impact of any needed changes?

If you are able to answer ‘Yes’ to all of these questions, I would like you to come and check out what Symbio has to offer where you will not only get the obvious benefits of outsourcing / offshoring in terms of dollars and cents, but your organization also gets a working culture boost and expanded horizons.