6 Tips for Making Agile and Offshore Work in Harmony

The benefits of employing agile methodology in software development are clear. It enables companies to deliver products to market faster, to improve them continually once they’re there, and to retain flexibility. That’s why more than 95% of organizations now practice agile, according to VersionOne’s 10th Annual State of Agile Report.

Another trend that’s going strong is global outsourcing. Offshore teams offer companies the chance to scale quickly, find the expertise they need, and control costs carefully. The worldwide outsourcing market was worth $90 billion last year, according to Accelerance.

While agile and outsourcing both offer major potential benefits, it’s not necessarily very easy to get the two to work in tandem. Agile is all about direct communication, so physical distance between teams can pose a real challenge. How do you make agile and offshore work together? These tips should help.

With happy clients of 8+ years, we have become experts at making agile and outsourcing work. Contact us to partner on your next development project.

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Regular Meetings

Agile cuts through the documentation workload in favor of regular meetings and conversations about the best route to take. Even if part of your team is on the other side of the world, you still need to make time for regular meetings. Make sure you schedule for a time that’s manageable for both parties, not midday for one and the middle of the night for the other.

Direct Conversations

Encourage people to talk directly whenever possible. Video conferencing is easy to set up now. Audio calls are better than written communication. But even the real-time nature of instant messaging beats email.

Common Resources

Sharing a central repository for common knowledge can be enormously useful for distributed teams. A Wiki or a forum can work perfectly for this purpose. It should be a place where team members can see the plan for the next sprint. They should also be free to share thoughts about the project.

Face Time

Prize face-to-face communication above all else. During your regular meetings, use video conferencing and try to make sure everyone participating can be seen by the other team. Being able to see each other and talk openly helps to build trust and understanding.

Regular Visits

There’s no faster way to build a relationship than being physically in the same room. Regular visits are very important, especially at the start of the project. Key team leads should work directly with the offshore team and vice versa. They’ll get a clear picture of the workflow that they can disseminate when they go back to their home office, but set some time aside for social activities, too.

Respect and Trust

You hired the offshore team for their expertise and experience, make sure that you take the chance to benefit from it. Showing respect and asking for opinions from the offshore team helps them feel included and could bring up useful actionable insights that can improve your processes. Encourage them to ask questions and get involved.

If you treat your offshore team as you would an internal division, then you can build a solid partnership that will prove mutually beneficial. When your goals are aligned and there’s respect and trust, you can employ agile methodology successfully with minimal tweaking. The cornerstone of success when you’re trying to marry agile and offshore is effective communication.

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Innovation – No Big Deal?

Through Viet Hung’s article named “An Observation of KMS Culture” I believe each of us sees the need of building a positive culture that can support KMS along the way to the greatness. How do we go about building a positive culture? If I am asked to build a positive culture for KMS, it will be like eating-a-whole-elephant mission to me. However, I can eat part of the elephant and along with everyone, we can accomplish eating-a-whole-elephant mission. Through this article, I will start tackling my part by providing initial thoughts & encouragements so that we will make innovation one of the things people would tell about when referring to KMS.

As you know, one of the core values of KMS is innovation. Core values alone are not a company’s culture. They are a part of the culture. Making innovation a way of life of every KMSer is a good part of the “elephant.”

Let’s start with definition of innovation.

“…The central meaning of innovation thus relates to renewal. For this renewal to take place it is necessary for people to change the way they make decisions, they must choose to do things differently, make choices outside of their norm…” — Wikipedia

By definition, innovation is not something only companies that produced phenomenon iPod, iPhone, iPad products or created the World changing search engineer are leveraging. But this renewal process is being applied at almost every organization. Why are there few companies applying this process successfully and making themselves different whereas the others are just so-so companies? What makes the difference between Apple, Google, Facebook, Toyota & probably the rest of the World that apply the renewal process? The difference lies in two dimensions. The first dimension is level of impact of the change. Companies that can make revolutionary changes, create needs people don’t know they have like Apple, Google, Facebook make themselves different. The second dimension is the persistence in applying small & continuous improvements to any facet of the business. Companies that make continuous improvements in anything they do like Toyota make themselves different.

What dimension should we focus our effort on to make ourselves different? The ability to make revolutionary changes is gifted. And making such changes needs luck sometimes. Making continuous improvements in anything we do is totally a free ticket. And the answer for KMS is obvious. Our primary focus in the effort of making KMS a company that is not humble being put next to big names like Apple, Google, Facebook, Toyota in the long run will be the persistence in continuously improving anything we do. Continuous improvement is not only something more practical for us to do or it is not only the innovation core value of our company and part of the culture we want to have at KMS, it also supports our product development effort that usually involves revolutionary changes.

Many things have been told about company’s prosperity in the long run in making innovation part of its culture. What is in it for each of us in changing the way we make decisions, choosing to do things differently, thinking out of the box? In other words, what is in it for each of us in making continuous improvement in things we do? Well, a lot & as much as what the company benefits from it.

When you ask yourself, “How can I do things better?” your creative power is switched on. Your mind is alive. It keeps you move forward and be ahead of those who do things mechanically.

When you come up with better ways to do things for our clients, you are adding more value to our clients. You will have happy clients. Having happy clients means a lot. Immediate sweetness of having happy clients is that you have the enjoyment working with them that you don’t always have for one reason or another. Having happy clients will improve company’s bottom line which in turn improves your compensation.

When you come up with better ways to do things on your work, you feel more satisfaction of getting things done your way. It is you who decide and come up with better ways to get things done. You will have higher pride about things you produce. When you have pride about things you do, you outcomes will have high quality.

When you come up with better ways to do things, you will have respect from people around you. Everyone in KMS shares the same value, innovation. They respect those who innovate in works, those who can make their clients happy, and those who believe that there is no boundary for improvement.

You name many other benefits being innovative for yourselves. Then, someone would ask how I develop the power of the I-can-do-better mindset? Actually as mentioned, when you ask yourself, “How can I do things better?” your creative power is switched on and ways for doing things better suggest themselves.

Believing in innovation & embracing it in your works & your life is very important. Once you believe in it & you start asking yourself the question “How can I do things better?” in anything you do, you will be a successful person, a KMSer, an innovator. You can start laughing at yourselves now because you might have thought that innovation was not something you could do. Innovation – no big deal. Let’s do it.