Offshore development and agile development methodologies are the two most popular trends in the IT industry. The combination of both these trends for effective implementation is known as Agile Offshore Software Development. It enables you to deliver maximum results with minimum input in budget and other resources. Offshore software development is the option you choose when you want to hire a third-party organization to build software for you. And agile development is a practice by which you can develop your software project in systematic iterations. Here every iteration consists of some improvements to the previous one along with a few latest features. This way you can make efficient and user-friendly software. You have to hire dedicated software development team of offshore developers who also practice agile development for they can help you pace up with the changing dynamics of the software market and fulfill all your software offshoring requirements.
Implying Agility in Offshore Development Team
The ecosystem determines whether the execution of lean and agile methodology will be successful or not. This synergy is successfully executed by the support of partners and providers with a powerful transformation strategy. Sourcing strategy isn’t just about service providers and necessary resources, it is larger than that. It is an ecosystem for agile software development that includes the collaboration of both parties, communication between the team members, the infrastructure, delivery options, technology tools, and other equipment.
Hiring well-rounded team
Teamwork is crucial in business but when it comes to agile development, its importance increases by many folds. Make sure that every person you hire in your team is proficient in specific technical skills. But that’s not enough. Agile development demands a positive attitude from every individual on the team to add value to the business. When you are hiring, apart from looking over the job qualifications and technical skills, you must also assess the potential candidate for their capability to work in a team. The meaning of this is that the recruitment process for hiring offshore developers should be very thorough and effective.
One of the easy ways to achieve this is by including a simple test project along with the interview where the interviewee has to depend on the team members for its success. This approach proves to be very helpful in assessing the performance of the interviewee and his/her skills that are necessary for an agile team. I know this thorough recruitment process would consume more time than traditional hiring but if you will be able to get ideal candidates for the agile team then it’s worth it.
The concept of offshore development was created around hiring a geographically distributed team. Therefore, when you are managing offshore development teams, you convey the goals and the deadlines to every work location. This will help you organize your offshore team effectively. Despite being in different locations around the world, the good thing about agile teams is that it is capable of delivering desirable outcomes because the concept behind the formation of an agile team was to be self-sufficient. Every team member here will work independently on the set of goals given specifically to them. The decrease in the dependent work processes will in turn increase the productivity of an entire team and organization.
Define the product vision statement
Determining the volume of all the tasks that must be completed within predetermined deadlines given to your dedicated team is necessary before starting the project. Taking this action would help in understanding the scope of work, in creating a comprehensive work strategy, and at last, provide a full picture of the development projects to your offshore teams. Delivery timelines, milestones, reports, and many more such expectations from the team are included in the Scope of Work.
Once the scope of work is decided, it is used to divide the projects into small chunks or a specific set of tasks. This set of tasks are what is later planned to be used for product iterations. This approach of product development is more flexible. Many complications would come once the process has started. In that time, depending on the user feedback and other factors, the priorities might change. So if you have adopted this approach previously, your work would become easier.
Create a plan and set up a collaboration system or tools like Microsoft Skype for communication and more that would be helpful to remote working for agile development. You can achieve success in agile development by setting the standards for communication tools along with the software development methods.
Language Barrier Elimination
Contrasting professional etiquettes, conflicting working styles, misinterpretations, communication problems, and many more can happen if there is a difference in culture and language between the onsite team and distributed team. Appreciating cultural differences and promoting cultural exchange is one of the ways to resolve conflicting work styles. You also need to resolve the challenges related to language as early as possible because the company has to set up a robust workflow for code and document translation before the software development process starts.
Regular demo sessions
In agile software development, regular demo sessions are held at the end of every iteration to demonstrate the intermediate results of the teamwork. The main reason behind holding such sessions is to show the distributed team what they have achieved during the sprint process. It also helps in assessing whether the remote team has managed to meet the expected requirements or not.
During such demo sessions, the project manager has to give feedback to the team which is later documented. It is highly recommended that the project manager must offer constructive feedback. Apart from that, the last launched iteration is analyzed for its pros and cons and then possible solutions are developed for the same.
Many claim that distributed teams don’t collaborate often. Know that all the members of the offshore software development team have to actively participate in these demo sessions, so a continuous level of collaboration happens between all the parties. There is high importance of demo sessions for distributed teams.
Leverage the time difference
Let us assume that you have a business in the UK and you have outsourced the software project to an offshore development team in India. Now, the UK time laps behind the Indian standard time by 6 hours. Some may consider this as a big disadvantage but if you think then you would realize that by the team your onsite team in the UK would be sipping their morning coffee, the Indian tea, would have already completed their morning’s work.
Additionally, the overlap is more than enough for necessary check-ins and stand-up meetings. It all comes back to organizations that how effectively they can leverage the time difference. Because if you believe then time difference is virtually not a barrier at all. Agile methodology has helped approximately 99% of the companies that adopted them.
The key here is to keep sharing all the project and business-related information with the offshore development teams. The more information your team has to work on, the more productive they become. Gather all the information you can including the data flow, development strategies, process documentation, roadmaps, test results, etc, and then make all of it easily available and accessible. In this way, every team member can self-serve themselves with valuable information and resources.
Invest in remote tools
Your agile offshore development team can be more effective if they start using remote tools like Slack, JIRA, and Trello. Such tools help the agile development teams to collaborate easily and seamlessly. Keeping the offshore teams on the same page is necessary and these remote tools can help you with it despite any kind of difference in time and location. This is also very essential to manage agile development teams.
Making frequent deliveries of working software is very important in agile practices. The period can vary from a couple of weeks to a couple of months depending upon the requirements of the agile project. So, if you want to achieve the goal of making these frequent deliveries then you must integrate automation into every single step of the development process to make sure the software is working up to expectations.
Providing the tests that the stakeholders can easily understand is necessary, so it is recommended that you put a test automation framework in place. Ideally, this framework would be easy to imply as well as maintain. If the framework is executed at the right level then it would be able to run quickly. The executions of the framework and tests are automated so they are scheduled beforehand. And if any test fails then it is addressed immediately. In the case of acceptance tests, you need an automated framework that is a little broader than usual to enable rapid turnaround of the internal releases which will be distributed later.
As a general automation procedure, all the members of in-house offshore teams can easily access the automated test suite. They are also allowed to execute it and the best thing? The automated test suite can be executed with just a click of a button. So whenever you want to find the bugs or issues in your code, all you have to do is execute the test suite before or after committing the code. An automated test suite would help you to find all the issues with minimal effort.
The code is also checked frequently in agile development through continuous integration. The code is checked for bugs and other issues after every small increment. On the other hand, the implementation of test automation and source control builds are regarded as collaboration tools in offshore development. Such a continuous collaboration
Keeps the entire agile development team on the same page which helps provide feedback quickly if any issues are found. This also reduces the possibility of surprises.
Disruption is bound to happen in the design, development, and deployment of software products when the two most popular trends of the industry are brought together. Agile offshore software development enables businesses to continuously deliver value to clients and respond immediately if any changes are observed.
When the market demands to lower the rate of software development, agile development offers you more value at lower prices with added benefits of SDLC. Offshore agile development also helps businesses overcome the communication challenges and language-related barriers that are common in all offshore development projects.
I hope you have enjoyed reading this article, the agile offshore software development is achievable if you follow the tips provided in this blog.