Offshoring can be low cost, but it’s important not to be low involvement. Here are seven tips on how to get it right.
1. To get the best value for money, while retaining control of your development, use a blended on-shore/offshore team and take advantage of each team’s strengths.
2. On-shore product development delivers the best results. It means product owners retain full control of what is to be built and retain all the IP in the product. When it comes to the build, leverage offshore technical skills at a much lower price point to leave cash in the bank for version 2.
3. To get the most out of offshoring, product owners need to be fully involved with their offshore developers. On-shore developers need to stay close to product owners to make sure they stay on track, and offshore developers are no different in this regard. This greatly facilitates understanding of the requirements and leads to higher developer productivity and effectiveness, which translates into value for money. The more specific product owners can be with their requirements, the better the results.
4. One of the keys to facilitating this is a technique borrowed from agile project management methodologies: the daily “stand up” meeting. All stakeholders attend (product owner, PM, developers) and it ensures the whole extended team are always on the same page. Any questions can be answered quickly, and everyone is aware of where the project is at.
5. Another strategy is to ensure that demonstrable work is delivered regularly, such as in agile sprints, so product owners can stay in touch with the direction of the build and adjust quickly if necessary.
6. Team members need to remain available to communicate when needed. For offshore developers, it is the technology-based version of walking up to someone’s desk and asking a question. It can be easy to think of offshore developers as far away and hard to reach, however, collaboration tools mean that is not the case. We use a range of tools for different clients, depending on their needs and preferences. The Google suite includes email, chat and voice/video calls, and Skype remains a popular option, including its screen-sharing function. Both offer the ability to have conference calls with multiple people in any number of locations. Most recently one of our clients has started using Slack, a chat-based tool that is designed for group communication.
7. I see a high correlation between the level of involvement of the product owner and the smooth running of the build. For startups, this means you can retain control of all aspects of the work while taking advantage of the lower cost. This can leave you with additional funding to make post-launch adjustments, cash that would otherwise have been eaten up in the initial build.
Paul Russell is the managing director of SoftwareSeni, a Sydney-based startup specialising in near-shore software development seat outsourcing. Russell, was the executive general manager for technology and delivery at Salmat, and previously held the CIO position at Fairfax Digital and was head of technology, digital media, at Network Ten before joining SoftwareSeni in May 2014.