How do you successfully work with an outsourced agile software development team? In this article, I share some insight from my extensive experience.
Software outsourcing is now becoming mainstream. Companies that would previously not have contemplated outsourcing part or all of their software development operations are now doing so to support their go-to-market strategy. Outsourcing software development is a growing hot trend because it allows businesses to accelerate product creation while lowering expenses, especially in uncertain times.
The growing trend of outsourcing
The growing trend of outsourcing can be attributed to its numerous benefits, including freeing up resources, cost savings, access to specialised skill sets, increased efficiency, and improved service quality. In addition, the recruitment process for own resources is often time-consuming and costly. Utilising outsourcing companies’ staff can shorten the time it takes to get resources, while utilising processes and workflows already in place for experienced software teams will guarantee that project milestones and budgets are reached. As the demand for software development outsourcing services continues to rise, companies will increasingly leverage outsourcing to overcome recruitment challenges and focus on their core business objectives.
Outsourcing agile development projects has become increasingly popular among organisations looking to reduce costs, tap into global talent, and increase efficiency.
Agile development is a key strategy to get better results. However, only a few per cent of all companies are truly agile. According to a survey, organisations with an agile approach are more likely to possess the right vision and strategy (4.1 times) and foster a sound risk-taking culture (2.3 times). They also prioritise continuous skill development (2.3 times) and have teams well-versed in the latest tools and trends (2.9 times). These factors contribute to a 60% higher revenue and profit growth than non-agile organisations, making a compelling argument for adopting agile practices throughout the organisation.
Working with outsourced agile teams
Working with an outsourced agile team offers several advantages over relying on individual remote resources. Here are a few key reasons why it is more effective:
- Synergy and Collaboration: Outsourced agile teams often consist of professionals with experience working together, allowing them to collaborate more effectively and efficiently. This synergy results in better teamwork and faster problem-solving than when working with a group of individual remote resources who may not have prior experience collaborating.
- Streamlined Communication: Agile teams typically have established communication channels and protocols, making it easier to stay in sync and share information. In contrast, coordinating communication among individual remote resources can be more challenging, leading to potential misunderstandings and delays.
- Scalability and Flexibility: Outsourced agile teams can quickly adapt to changing project requirements, as they have the resources and expertise to scale up or down as needed. Individual remote resources may not have the same level of adaptability, which can hinder the project’s progress.
- Access to Diverse Skill Sets: An outsourced agile team often includes professionals with a wide range of skills and expertise, allowing for a comprehensive approach to problem-solving and innovation. Working with individual remote resources may limit the diversity of skills available, which could impact the project’s overall success.
- Accountability and Quality Control: Outsourced agile teams are typically accountable to a project manager or team lead, ensuring that quality standards are maintained and deliverables are met. Individual remote resources may lack this level of oversight, potentially affecting the quality and consistency of the work delivered.
In summary, working with an outsourced agile team offers greater collaboration, streamlined communication, scalability, access to diverse skill sets, and increased accountability compared to working with individual remote resources. These factors contribute to a more effective and efficient project execution.
Challenges when working with outsourced agile teams
However, working with outsourced teams presents unique challenges that can hinder a project’s success if not appropriately addressed. In this article, we will explore organisations’ top challenges when outsourcing agile development and provide practical solutions for overcoming them.
Communication and Collaboration
Effective communication and collaboration are essential in agile development, but working with outsourced teams can create barriers due to time zone differences, language barriers, and lack of face-to-face interaction.
- To ensure seamless communication, use collaboration tools like Slack or Jira to facilitate real-time discussions, document sharing, and task tracking.
- Schedule regular video conference meetings for team members to interact face-to-face and address concerns.
- Establish clear communication channels and protocols to reduce misunderstandings and keep everyone in the loop.
Cultural differences between in-house and outsourced teams can create misunderstandings, leading to misaligned expectations and work habits.
- Invest time in understanding your outsourced team’s cultural norms and working styles.
- Encourage cultural exchange and sensitivity training to help both teams adapt to each other’s work ethics and expectations.
- Foster an inclusive environment that values diverse perspectives and promotes mutual respect.
Language barriers between in-house and outsourced teams can hinder effective communication, leading to misunderstandings, slower work progress, and potential errors in the final output.
Ensure that your outsourcing partner has a strong English language proficiency among their employees, including spoken and written communication. If required, request or provide accent training for the outsourced team members to minimise any potential miscommunication due to strong accents. Facilitate language workshops and create open channels for feedback, allowing both teams to gain confidence in their communication skills and address any language-related issues promptly. Encourage patience and understanding when communicating with non-native English speakers and use clear and concise language to minimise confusion.
Maintaining Quality Standards
Ensuring consistent quality standards across in-house and outsourced teams can be challenging, particularly regarding code quality, testing, and documentation.
- Establish clear quality standards and expectations from the outset.
- Implement processes for regular code reviews, automated testing, and continuous integration to ensure quality throughout the project.
- Encourage collaboration between in-house and outsourced teams to share best practices and foster a culture of constant improvement.
Managing Scope Creep
Agile development projects are prone to scope creep, especially when working with outsourced teams, as misunderstandings or misaligned expectations can lead to additional, unplanned work.
Clearly define the project scope and requirements from the beginning and maintain up-to-date documentation. Use tools like burndown charts to track project progress and identify potential scope creep early. Regularly review the project scope and adjust as necessary, ensuring all stakeholders are informed and in agreement.
Trust and Accountability
Building trust and ensuring accountability between in-house and outsourced teams can be difficult, especially when working remotely.
- Establish clear roles and responsibilities for both teams, and set expectations for deliverables, timelines, and performance metrics.
- Create a transparent working environment by sharing project progress, successes, and challenges.
- Encourage open communication and provide regular feedback to foster trust and promote accountability.
- When something goes wrong, don’t assume that the other party has intentionally done wrong. Speak about the challenge!
Outsourcing agile development projects can bring many benefits, but it also has unique challenges that must be addressed. By implementing effective communication strategies, promoting cultural understanding, maintaining quality standards, managing scope creep, and fostering trust and accountability, organisations can successfully navigate the agile development landscape with outsourced teams and achieve their project goals.
Gislen Software is a Swedish/Indian Software development company established in 1994 with a focus on providing advanced software development services to clients in Europe and America. We have worked with Agile Development for many years and are also an ISO 9000-certified company. To mitigate cultural challenges, we early investigated and tried to understand the challenges and have since trained our employees and clients on how to mitigate challenges successfully and achieve superior results. Together with Epical group, we provide blended teams for systems integration for some of Sweden’s largest companies. We have many satisfied clients and very low attrition. We are also a carbon-negative company and have an extensive CSR program. Contact us here to discuss your outsourcing needs!