Already in the 00s, we agreed that the agile methods are exactly what our industry needs. Despite that, many people persist in working in project form with their offshore teams. “The term development project should be banned altogether,” says Sven Miller, founder of Miller Development.
Large, heavy development projects with carefully documented processes. The idea was good, but unfortunately could never be realized in a satisfactory way. The traditional project form, with a predetermined outcome, was actually doomed to failure from the very beginning in development. But it took quite a while to figure it out. Specifying this type of development assignment is largely impossible unless you are a mind reader and fortune teller at the same time. The agile approach, with, among other things, shorter cycles and smaller deliveries, gives a greater chance of quickly discovering problems and an opportunity to fill in with clarifications over time. It also gives the developers room to think for themselves, which is a success factor in many ways.
“Obvious”, you might think after reading this far. Good! But had everyone really thought as we agreed twenty years ago, even the projects would have shone with their absence in offshore collaborations. Unfortunately, many continue to stick to the project form with their offshore team, even if it is already scrapped in-house. This despite the fact that the task of the development department, regardless of where in the world it is, is to deliver software that solves a problem or fulfills a need. The cold fact is that the development department has no value in itself. It is the result, the product, that the development team produces that counts in the end.
However, there is a statement that we come across quite often: “We must find a well-defined and well-defined project before we can start our offshore investment”.
As some kind of explanation for why you can’t work with external teams. In our opinion, we have already argued that projects are not appropriate in a development context. Having said that – it definitely won’t be more appropriate when it comes time to start working with a new team. It is of course important that the new team knows what to work on, but that does not mean that it has to take place in a project.
We say it again – because it bears repeating: To succeed with your offshore venture, the most important thing is long-term thinking. Work on conveying your customers’ problems and needs so that the offshore team understands this in depth. The focus from the very beginning should be that the offshore team should be in sync with the culture you have built internally. It is the basis for building a working method that permeates the entire operation, from the head office in Sweden to the development department offshore.
As with many other things, adaptation must come from several directions. Development teams must relate to the agile reality – just as the entire business needs to let go of its sometimes rigid way of thinking. Getting stuck in a routine where you bring in consultants and work on projects with temporary development teams results in knowledge gaps. Knowledge of the business and all systems is the single biggest success factor. Something that is lost when the consultants move on to the next client.