When it comes to offshore project management options, we have found that employing an Agile Offshore Development strategy is superior to other traditional models for many reasons. The most important being customer satisfaction. Why is Agile offshore development the preferred development strategy? This is precisely tied to the way that Agile is implemented and carried out; every detail is aligned to ensure agile success and customer satisfaction.
But in order to learn more about implementing a successful Agile offshore development strategy, it is best to take a look at the process and the steps involved in implementing an agile strategy.
The Agile process for offshore project management is quite different from the more traditional Waterfall. The fundamental difference is that their steps are differently planned and organized. Each phase of the Agile software development process is called a sprint and it can last from days to weeks, depending on the complexity of the project.
Generally, shorter sprints are favored in this type of outsourced project management, because is the most efficient and able to generate work faster. The customer can assess the outcomes and decide whether they are satisfied or not. Each sprint has its specific phases, from the project initiation to the sprint planning, the daily scrum or stand-up calls to sprint retrospective and finally, the demo.
- Project initiation is where the business requirements take place and the product owner discusses product goals with the stakeholders. In the case of an offshore development project, this meeting takes place between the client and the local (US based) project manager.
- Sprint planning involves the project owner, the scrum master (or project manager) and the developers discussing the scope of the project.
- The daily stand-up calls serve as check points of sorts, and each member presents their work from the previous day; what their work for the current day involves and how they can improve their performance in any way.
- The sprint retrospective is a meeting that is usually organized last in the very last sprint and it is a time for the team to evaluate what they are doing wrong, what they are doing right and what they can change and improve about their work.
- Finally, the presentation of the demo is when each team decides whether or not their project and final result is according to expectations.
Each and every step of the process is important and essential to the success of the project and the customer’s satisfaction with the product. Even though the process is less linear than with other outsourced project management strategies, this does not mean it is chaotic or illogical. The high-contact throughout the project means that Agile offshore development ensures that remote teams are on track daily, and Project Managers can fine-tune resources throughout the project. This greatly reduces the risk of lengthy delays or product shortcomings often synonymous with offshore development.
Deliverables – As an outsourced project management strategy, Agile process methodology focuses on the deliverables it produces in every sprint, more than any other strategy. As opposed to completing them at the very end of the project, Agile delivers its deliverables in smaller increments, as the process unfolds.
Product Backlog – The backlog is a list with features and requirements for the final product. Unlike other outsourced project management strategies, such as Waterfall, Agile does not start out with a never-ending list of requirements. Instead, the team, together with the product owner, create an initial list that will serve as a backlog for the first sprint.
After this, the product backlog changes and develops together with the product itself, as requirements and customer demands change. Items that can be found on a normal backlog include technical work, features, knowledge acquisition and bugs. The product owner prioritizes the items on the list and presents it to the team, who decides which particular items can be successfully completed in the next sprint.
User Stories – In this outsourced project management strategy, features are best expressed through user stories on the backlog. User stories are brief, but effective descriptions of a desired end result in the product, as told by the user. These are points relating to functionality and features that might be efficient or practical in the final product or make it more user-friendly. This part is essential, because it offers insight into the user’s needs, expectations and desires.
Burndown Chart – In order to keep track of time and maintain an efficient and tight schedule, a burndown chart is employed, in order to offer a visual representation of time elapsed and completed tasks versus work that still needs to be done in the allotted time frame.
With Agile outsourced project management, every person has a well-thought out and clearly defined role that contributes to the end product in an essential and unique way. Each and every person is a vital part of the process that creates the successful final result and ensures customer satisfaction.
Scrum Master – Also known as the project manager or team leader, the Scrum Master takes care of the team: managing it, avoiding problems and attracting resources. This person acts as a leader and takes responsibility for the team.
Team Members – Team members are usually developers and they are the ones actually working on creating, developing and delivering the product. Modelling the product, programming, testing the final product and more are a team member’s responsibilities.
Stakeholders – Stakeholders can be users, whether direct or indirect, or even people who manage users, help desk staff, other developers, people who are funding the project, or other people that are directly affected by the development of the project, such as sales people or account managers.
Users – The users are as essential as any other team member, because they are the ones who ultimately indicate what they are interested in seeing in the final product and what could be improved. User stories are vital to the process and they determine features to be included in the product backlog.
Product Owner – One of the most important roles, the product owner is the one who is responsible for prioritizing the work present in the backlog, based on research and a thorough understanding of market requirements. In an Agile outsourced project management strategy, the product owner works closely with the team, in order to ensure that the final product is satisfactory, fulfills requirements and is up to standards.
Agile offshore development has proven to be highly effective for offshore project management. The key is for all resources to clearly understand and follow the required steps, components, and roles. It requires a dedicated Scrum Master (or Project Manager) who understands the offshore team and manages the project successfully to completion.
Your Project. On time. On budget. – Venice Consulting Group is committed to helping companies take their ideas and products to market. Our experienced US-based Project Management Team and Nearshore Development Teams work with you to ensure the best value for your next project.