… or “What have we learnt so far?”
So, I feel it’s time to get down on “paper”, what we Projectplace and especially the R&D department, have learnt so far from working with a remote development team in Bangalore.
First of all, what is the set up and starting point?
We have one team of developers in Stockholm Sweden together with a team of Interaction and Visual Designers, a team of Testers, a Scrum Master, a Product Council and the Project Owner.
In Bangalore we have a team of developers, a tester and
(soon) a Scrum Master.
Early yet, but we can learn a few things anyway
A developer is a developer is a developer.
Yes there are culture differences and we embrace them, but most of the stuff is the same all over the globe it seems. A developer needs to feel part of the team, have the possibility to learn and grow, be able to raise issues and be listened to. Let the developers in Bangalore find their own way of going by their work, but be crystal clear about the core values and the company strategy! This is not something that is negotiable, if we have agreed on something, stick to it!.
Have someone from the head office onsite, values applies for all!
We have learned that is is vital that someone who knows the company, has deep knowledge about the product and is an ambassador of the core values, is working in the remote site. All the meetings, mails and all can never replace the daily conversations and good examples of behavior.
The core values must of course be implemented everywhere the company operates, they are global for all working for Projectplace. We are on the same team!
Meet as often as possible.
Online meetings, video conferences, telephone calls, however plenty, can never replace in real life meetings! The developers needs to connect with each other, the most efficient way of doing this is face to face. We have had developers in Stockholm going to Bangalore and Bangalore developers going to Stockholm. The longer the stay the deeper and better the results.
Make the remote team independent.
To make the remote team perform, make sure that they feel they have the power to take decisions, especially things that impact their working day. Remove all the obstacles that make decision-making hard and slow.
Communications channels needs to be up and running.
The remote team needs to know what is happening, and especially things that affects their work. It’s frustrating to wait for answers or feedback.
We have tried using Skype, gTalk, MSN, Yammer etc to stay in contact, but we still have a long-way to go.
By the best I do not mean the developer that can write the smartest or fastest piece of code. The best in my mind is the developer with the best drive and attitude, the will to share and lead or really any other trait that will make the group perform and become best. It is totally true that the group will always outrun the best individual, so make sure that the group is happy and performing!
In Bangalore there are a lot of developers and Scrum Masters that have done this before, listen to them, they have the experience that you have not (if you are new to this as we are).
Be crystal clear about the purpose of outsourcing.
The remote team needs to know the agenda! Are we looking long term or is this a short venture? Can you expect more commitment from developers if the company is looking for a long-term relationship? Hell yes!
My impression is that many Indian developers working for medium sized service companies are usually tired of bureaucracy, so they love to be treated as any other employee of the offshoring company rather than as mere consultants. So give them the freedom they need and treat them as you would any other employee. Now you can expect and, and in the long run demand, commitment.
…. to be continued.