Software development team sitting around a round table. How to Use Agile in Software Development.

How to Use Agile in Offshore Development

Many would argue that the possibility of agile and offshore development working together is next to impossible. Software teams that adopt agile for projects tend to avoid outsourcing altogether. They believe that agile won’t succeed when applied outside of the main location.

After all, having another team from a different culture, time zone, and location can prove to be tricky if we are to strictly follow the values and principles in agile.

However, is it really necessary to choose one over the other or could we blend them together? With more than nine years of solid experience in agile offshore development, we here at Full Scale believe that agile development can be outsourced — ONLY when it’s done right.

First, what is Agile?

Contrary to the popular definition of agile circulating around, agile is not a methodology or a particular procedure of software development.

It is a collection of values and principles that serve as a basis for teams when driving exceptional software development outcomes. In 2001, 17 software development experts gathered and created the Agile Manifesto. This is to address the growing challenges dealt with by software developers as they adapt to changing business needs.

The Agile Manifesto emphasizes the principles of early delivery, continuous improvement, adaptive planning, simplified breakdown of tasks, and effective team collaboration and communication. Its main premise is that it should always be agile in adapting to changes in developing software.

People sitting around a table doing agile development.

What are the Benefits of Agile?

Better Customer Satisfaction

Customers are more likely to be satisfied because vendors develop and deliver products quickly in every release.

It allows them to get involved in the project through iterative planning, feedback sessions and regular software build containing the new features.

Improved Product Quality

Throughout the cycle, agile development integrates daily testing. This means that consistent checkups are in place to ensure that products work during its development. By creating frequent builds, and administering testing and reviews for each iteration, they maintain excellent quality of their product.

Promotes Team Collaboration and Interaction

An agile team is efficient at getting things done because they promote a collaborative environment and accountability. When issues emerge, everyone knows about them and solutions are easily identified and processed.

Team members understand their individual contributions are valuable to the completion of the project. When everyone knows what tasks they need to focus on, the team can move forward together from product development to its release.

Increased Adaptability

The ability to quickly adapt to changes is the true hallmark of an agile team. No one knows what the future may bring, so it’s important for teams to remain flexible when requirements, business needs, and technology change.

When teams use their resources prudently, they’re able to deliver to their stakeholders without going over budget. This will delight both the team and stakeholders knowing that their skills are optimized for quality product delivery.

Scalable Timeframe and Cost

Time and cost are the top factors to consider when a company decides whether to take a new project or not. Will the length of time and cost justify the investment to get this project rolling?

How to integrate people and resources is a question that comes up frequently. This is especially true for companies that can’t predict the frequency of future projects. New processes of scaling projects will continue to emerge as companies face challenges of balancing the high volume of work and the lack of people available to handle them.

Using agile in project management can help companies gather their resources and delegate the right people to the right project based on priority.

Can Agile work with Offshore Development? 

One of the essential elements of agile development is the close collaboration among the team. Without it, processes may break down and deadlines won’t be met.

This view aligns with one of the core principles of the Agile Manifesto – “The most efficient and effective method of conveying information to and within a development team is a face-to-face conversation.”

However, technological advancements usher a paradigm shift with this approach. While face-to-face communication remains a core agile principle–a productive use of technology, communication schedule, and emphasis on knowledge sharing–allows the adoption of distributed teams attainable.  

Challenges with Offshore Development 

Some companies turn to outsourcing to hire skilled software developers at a bargain and scale their resources as needed. Of course, offshore development does not come without any challenges.

These are some of the challenges with offshore development:

  • Cultural differences, timezone concerns, and lack of face-to-face interaction can cause misunderstandings. This can also lead to poor productivity.
  • Since distributed teams haven’t met one another, they may treat each other as separate entities. This setup doesn’t foster trust and partnership among teams members.
  • Offshore developers tend to work on tasks independently. This reduces the need to clarify things about the project; They may blame others when things go awry.

Offshore Agile Development Best Practices

In recent years, some companies discovered the harsh business reality. The idea of having all employees working in the same location is simply complicated to create or maintain. Staying inflexible can also reduce the company’s quality of hiring pool.

Today, offshore developers can work anywhere, as long as they have a secure Internet connection. This allows the company a wider talent pool compared to restricting it only to one location.

Here are some proven steps you can take to make offshore development work:

Improve modes of communication

Communication is vital to any industry, not just in software development. If you plan to hire offshore employees, then invest in advanced communication tools. This includes high-performance computers, comfortable headsets, stable and secure WIFI networks, and communication apps.

Video conferencing tools such as Zoom and Skype are the best alternatives for face-to-face communication for offshore teams. Instead of relying on emails and instant messages, ask team members to talk to each other through a video conference daily when their work hours overlap.

Visit your offshore team if possible; it is the perfect way to build trust and a better relationship. You’ll no longer be just a face or name on the screen and it works both ways! Getting to meet you (the customer/client) in person is always highly anticipated by your offshore team.

Widen your talent pool

Finding highly skilled software developers can be difficult if you’re limited to just one geographic location. You can hire developers from around the world. Distributed teams can work remotely from anywhere as long as they meet the communication and skills requirements of the job.

Treat it as a Partnership

To build a successful offshore team, treat it as an integral extension to your onshore team. Also, make sure that you build a team that aligns with your company’s corporate culture.

Conduct frequent video conferences and standups between onshore and offshore teams to establish a good relationship.

Plan ahead

Just as with any development projects, give a thorough effort and attention to planning. Your plan should include all project details such as objectives, timelines budget, scope and the agile development model you’ll be using. Make sure to research possible obstacles beforehand and consider possible solutions in your project plan.  

Listen to Episode 47 of the Startup Hustle Podcast – Offshoring, 10 Tips

In Summary

Yes, it is possible for agile to work in an offshore team. The key here is to provide an effective framework for communication and direction. The way you manage your local team should be the same as your offshore team.

You want the best offshore team, and offshore teams want the best client. You’ll need to put in effort in order to make that happen, but the results will be more than worth it! Not all offshore companies are equal, lucky for you, we at Full Scale have got over a decade of experience working with clients from the US and other countries.

By following the tips we have shared in this post, you can get on board with your agile offshore development projects.  If you’re planning on building your own offshore team, we here at Full Scale can provide you with the right offshore developers and resources to get you started. Contact us today!

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