Outsource Like a Pro
Outsourcing the development of your organisation’s App, AI or other software could significantly lower your development costs and reduce project delivery times. However, outsourcing is not appropriate for every organisation, product or project – you still need the right leadership, a robust service level agreement (SLA) and you need to follow the Golden Rule to deliver a successful project.
Between them, the largest remote work platforms (Elance, Odesk and Freelancer) have more than 20m users and their combined turnover is currently over 2 billion dollars. Outsourcing to a remote team of developers, including those offshore, has never been easier, despite the many persistent challenges. The global staffing market is worth about $422 billion, with online staffing growing 10 times faster than offline. McKinsey say that while the last era of globalisation was driven largely by sourcing low-cost production, the next era will centre on the rise of the global knowledge economy.
However, no matter how qualified, experienced and accessible remote IT professionals and teams might be, on their own, they are not a panacea for the IT skills shortage and they certainly do not guarantee successful project delivery. Selecting the right development service providers is fraught with difficulties. There are multiple barriers – cultural, language, communication and more – and numerous pitfalls to avoid. If you are planning to outsource, the advice below will help.
CREATE THE RIGHT ENVIRONMENT
The most successful firms strategically determine which projects are best performed by remote teams – the more complex the project, the more detailed your specification must be and the less reliant your team should be on untested solutions. For example, more complex projects demand mature web services and well documented APIs.
BECOME A CROSS CULTURAL LEADER
identifying the right professionals and teams for your project is difficult and time consuming but this is just one of the first risk points. You need to professionally organise and manage everything from project documentation to the right work environment to collaboration tools and communication schedules. Never underestimate the impact that different time zones, physical distance and cultural barriers have. Successful leaders understand and proactively accommodate cultural differences, aligning projects around the needs of their remote teams.
Agile can be used to describe a general approach that encourages teamwork through an iterative approach to planning and guiding project processes. The main benefit is its ability to respond to issues as they arise – throughout the course of the project and enabling change to be made quickly, saving time and resources – increasing the likelihood that a project will be delivered on time and within budget. If your organisation is not already Agile, start by getting an Agile Coach on board and/or a ScrumMaster. A coach will help to embed Agile within your organisation. Scrum is an agile framework and a Scrum master will assist your team to achieve peak performance by removing impediments, spreading the practise of scrum and working with product owners. He or she will provide a framework within which your team can address complex adaptive problems, while productively and creatively delivering products of the highest possible value.
FOLLOW THE GOLDEN RULE
The Project Management Institute (PMI) estimates that US$122 million is wasted for every US$1 billion invested, due to poor project performance. Good project management is not enough – yes, you need the right methodology (preferably agile for complex projects but also waterfall and/or a hybrid where appropriate) – the most successful go one step further. That is, despite the real potential for significant cost savings through offshoring, they make sure that all parties achieve their goals and visibly benefit, at every stage of the project.
Over the years we have learnt how to build specialist remote teams that deliver projects on time, within budget and to required quality.
Outsourcing offers huge benefits for all organisations, large and small. A common theme underlying every success story is the practice of choosing the right projects to outsource, cross cultural leadership, the use of an Agile methodology and strict application of the Golden Rule.
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