Sunday, 21 October 2007

Outsourcing sucks since there are not many co-located teams

Well Yes Yes..... I still work for a company that works on outsourced projects and that's why my post comes into action.. since when you do more you know more.... The misery of outsourcing always had been the domain knowledge and product understanding... and for the time been lets not use words like product vision or product UVP's... The more of technical teams I have dealt with, the more I realised that with the on-site - offshore model the understanding between the teams work but doest work that great.....

Reasons? in one of the Project kick off meetings earlier Sarah who was our Customer Services Director said that because of one small functionality lapse in the product a major security threat could have occured... and Yes the team sitting offshore could not understand this becuase it was never told on what is the IMPACT of not doing something... moreon sometimes the teams developing the softwares really really do not understand the business or functional use of what they develop...

Now lets get back to the basics.... Why Outsourcing sucks when the teams are not co-located...

A. The whole world talks and implements the distributed global development and enjoys the perks and benefits that come from cost reductions... Now what they dont understand is "DOES THE THING MEAN THE SAME TO YOU AS IT DOES TO THE PERSON SITTING 10,000 MILES AWAY FROM YOU?" geez... sometimes it does most of the times it doesnt.... Remember Project Management is a biggest challenge here .... Managing distributed Teams have their own problems from communication to conversions.

B. One Point of Contact
My previous company believed in ON-SITE - CORDINATOR concept.. one person who knows the team well stays with the Product Owners and co-ordinates with the development teams to realese what is expected..... Geez what a misery it is now I understand how things can be screwed with this approach... I am sure you would want to know WHY? and I am going to write it out sometime .....

C. I was waiting on this...
Recently something of much importance happened with the current developments that I am involved in.... There is a much awaited , Big cost , predominantly important project that needs to be kicked of.... however there are Teams waiting out here to begin... Why? We are waiting for something from the other end? Yes .... this is what you hear when you walk pass the development teams that are doing offshore development with the Business Analysts and Product Owners including the sponsors are sitting out of the location somewhere in the world...

Anyways I dont want the count to reach Z and then I have to put up a new numbering to tell you the issues .... the point of this post is to understand the importance of co-located team...

So when I say co-located teams I really mean that the Dev, QA, Product Owner , Product Manager and sponsors.... all sit in a place where the eyes can meet the eyes.... Now why this is important?

1. Teams can be involved in ad hoc discussions which can change the drive and path of the product and development... And if you think that it can still work by people involving offshores in scheduled meetings you are the one to come out and think out of what you are doing always.... The Idea of bringing the iPod did not come in a shceudled meeting ;) The Yahoo citations were not happening when development was talking to product owners... and so on.... ad hoc discussions happenings across desks bring innovations.... and you have to agree that many a times ideas trigger when you are not at work ;)

2. Teams know who and how .... meaning which customers want what and when and how they will use it and HOW it will affect the world.... in such cases you can trust that you will not build something that was NOT urgent and was just built becuase someone thought it should be like that...morever the bigger part of the story that is visibility in the development activity and the product vision is provided to everyone that is a part of it and not just one few...

3. Catch the responsible and Hold the accountable....
Many a times I have seen that NON Direct access to owners and champions along with sponsors or customers lead to a lot of mediation and hierarchies.... which causes a lot of trouble in the end.... remember he said that we have to do this? Or do you know who can get the answer for me? Or He told me that you should do this? Or I had a word and this is how it should be? Or I am working on it? grrrrrrrrrrrrrr.... these make it look sick...

4. Eureka .....
The call is not very common for dislocated (THIS IS A DELIBERATE USE INSTEAD OF DISTRIBUTED)... majorly I havent seen someone saying Eureka ..... "Hey Russ .. see what we can get here" Something I heard a long ago from James our developer who told Russ our Product manager who was sitting opposite his desk to show him that he has developed a very light weight User selection interface....

Now you want me to go Hundred dont you? Well I would want to continue..... but time is the key and so is work.... I could steal this time out specially today because I see when the product manager is not present .... outsourcing sucks...