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Lean Outsourcing

  • Using SCRUM or other Lean Agile Methodologies with OffShore Development Teams

    We are an expert in Lean Outsourcing: We have more than 8 years of experience in combining efficiency of Lean Agile development methodologies such as SCRUM and Test Driven Development with the cost advantage of outsourced development. We offer our customers a selection of onsite, nearshore and  offshore development at our development centers in California and India.
    We have implemented Lean Agile development methodologies with globallby distributed teams  for more than 20 projects, with teams ranging in size from 2 to 80 members. 
  • SCRUM and Offshore Development

    Scrum is an agile software development methodology that is based on developer teams that work on a project together, through prioritized lists of requirements. The project development is organized in short time frames, called “sprints,” which usually last from around one week to a month. At the end of the sprint, the finished work is shown off to and validated by business users, features are re-prioritized, and work for the next sprint is planned.
    Under the Scrum methodology, the developers are required to meet for roughly 15 every day during the project duration. The format of this meeting is simple and sparse; the developers talk about their accomplishments for the day, their plan for next day and any obstacles they may be facing, and nothing more.
    At first glance, the close contact in terms of daily meetings, the end of sprint retrospect and the seemingly informal nature of the process may seem to make Scrum incompatible with projects done where part of the development work is outsourced to offshore teams.
    But this is not true - modern communication technologies have made using Scrum with offshore development possible. Outsourced developers working under the Scrum approach have a multitude of communication tools available – from Skype to “Go ToMeeting” and WebEx, and a choice of web based project management tools, many of which, such as Rally’s Community edition, are free. These tools allow them to collaborate closely with each other. A shared online project tracking environment ensures that all the developers know where they are collectively in the project.
    In fact, Scrum’s formalization of daily communication helps facilitate the “compression” process, bringing team members in close virtual proximity  as the methodology’s daily contact requirement increases trust and comfort among all members of the teams.
    Additionally, Scrum creates an environment that is otherwise rare in outsourcing – an environment that quickly adapts to changes, with a team that works in unison to address issues that inevitably arise.
    So not only SCRUM can be successfully used in conjunction with outsourcing, it can be argued that Scrum actually aids in increasing outsourcing productivity and accelerating the team building process; as the daily meetings and end of the sprint retrospect and planning brings the team members together.
     We can help you engage an offshore team which is well versed with SCRUM, or assist you with implementing SCRUM with your existing offshore team. Contact us today. 
  • Implementing Test Driven Development with Offshore Teams
  • Lean agile methodologies such as Test Driven Development are mainstream; as Software Development Times famously declared last year. So is outsourcing or offshoring, as we all know. So, marrying the two should be a no-brainer, right?
    Strangely, industry has been reticent to combine the two. The reasons are not far to seek, but far from convincing.
    One reason is that many consider, wrongly, lean agile software as an alternative to offshoring in terms of cost savings. What many fail to see is that this is not an “either…or” situation. There is nothing stopping somebody from embracing both and enhancing the gains.
    But the key reason, in my opinion, why many still are reluctant to outsource lean agile software development arises from a flawed understanding that Test Driven Development and the broader agile methodologies do not lend themselves to outsourced processes. The truth is: Many aspects of lean agile methodologies and Test Driven Development (e.g., continuous integration, short iterations, people over processes), curiously enough, are ideal for outsourcing processes, and many more have been successfully adapted to bring home offshoring gains.
    In fact, this is why an expert such as Scott Ambler of IBM believes use of agile methodologies in software development and business process outsourcing is “inevitable, particularly if the buyer of such services wants to optimize its resources spent on such efforts and the seller of such services wants to compete effectively against lower labor cost countries!”
    To press home my point, I draw your attention to independent, and more rigorous, studies by academia, not just industry research or case studies.
    The first is a study by researchers at the University of Texas at Arlington, who specifically evaluated the effectiveness of agile software development when offshored to countries such as India. Here is what they found:
    “The focus on customer collaboration, continuous testing/integration, short iterations and test first development seem to be the most important agile practices which are (already) used in OISD (Outsourced Information System Development) and show clear benefits to companies.”
    Vishal Sachdev and Kishen Iyengar, the authors of the study, say the experiences suggest that some agile practices such as Test Driven Development are actually very useful for offshore development.
    “While some communication and documentation overheads are required to compensate for the distance…the end result is more efficient and cost effective than traditional development,” the researchers conclude.
    Also, “contrary to popular belief that high structure methods will help reduce the uncertainty in offshore projects, the experiences…show that people issues are the most important,” the study says, reiterating a mantra of agile methodologies – people over processes.
    The second seminal finding comes from Rajiv Sabherwal, the University of Missouri System Curators’ Professor and the Emery C. Turner Professor of Information Systems. Sabherwal, who has brought pioneering new insights into outsourcing of agile methodologies, identified four levels of trust required for successful outsourcing. Of them, two – identification-based and performance-based trust – mirror agile lean methodologies, besides reducing the need for structure.
    On other aspects of Test Driven Development, researchers and experts note clever adaptations to address factors unique to offshoring. A big difference arises from geographic distance. This has been overcome by the use of Wikis to replicate the intense consultative process that is key to Test Driven Development, and increased documentation.
    Such adaptation is “more than offset by the improved productivity” arising from outsourcing of lean agile methodologies including Test Driven Development, as the study by University of Texas at Arlington found. The improved productivity, and lower costs, find an extra resonance in the context of the present sluggish market and lean budgets.
     We can help you deploy Test Driven Development with your current team, or provide you  with an offshore team which is well versed with Test Driven Development. Contact us today. 





 Contact Us
To learn how you can get the flexiblity and waste elimination provided by Lean Agile development methodologies, while enjoying the cost benefits of offshore development, contact us today. We can provide you offshore development teams in our offshore and nearshore development centers in India and in California which are well versed with Lean Agile methodologies such as SCRUM and Test Driven Development, or assist you with implementing SCRUM or Test Driven Development with your existing offshore team.