Agile and offshore? How to make it work
Every tech startup wants a lean and mean team. They want to develop innovative applications and deliver it to the market fast. Organizations are making big changes by adopting the agile methodology - and rightly so if they want to get in the game of amazing and fast.
To be the best, they also want the best talent - even if it means hiring from the other side of the world, where talents are eager, affordable, and plenty.
But can it really work? Can an agile development team be distributed around the globe?
The soul of the agile methodology is iterative development. Requirements and solutions may evolve. Results are driven by the collaboration of self-organizing cross-functional teams. Whether you are a developer, tester, scrum master (if you follow the scrum framework) - you are disciplined and accountable. Team members work and deliver as a unit. They make it work guided by the agile manifesto.
Agile is a desirable development methodology because it aligns with the flexibility and fast pace that the software industry calls for.
Why bring Agile offshore?
If Agile works because of close collaboration among members, why do companies want to bring it offshore?
Talent comes from anywhere. In Agile, it is more critical than ever to have talent that matches your skills requirements, possesses excellent professional values, and can build a good rapport with teammates, wherever they may be. They are expected to be a self-organizing unit, needing minimal supervision and delivering outcomes. Competition for good hires is tough especially when you are headquartered in the same location as your business rivals. You have to be creative about where you source your team members. Sometimes, this means looking overseas.
Offshore talent is affordable. The knowledge work industry has become truly global. Everywhere, digital nomads are thriving. As knowledge workers now have access to work anywhere, so do companies have access to them. Countries like the Philippines are home to professionals always looking for greener pastures. The cost of living is lower, so you can save on operations and at the same time offer a better opportunity for your offshore team.
You get to work with the best, within the budget that you have. If all goes well, you will have a team to depend on for your entire development roadmap and continue benefiting from both the agile methodology and offshoring roles.
Overcoming obstacles in an offshore agile team
Of course, it’s not all rosy and glowy in the world of agile teams, especially remote ones. If even onsite team members experience miscommunications, agile team members distributed across the globe have language and culture barriers, differing time zones, disruptive internet connections, misunderstandings, and overall productivity hurdles.
But if you want the benefits of both the methodology and offshoring as an operational strategy, you can make it work.
Put up modular teams to correspond with a modular design. Microservices are all the rage these past couple of years. It’s modular. It’s efficient. It allows teams to take on a piece of the puzzle and run with it. This way, each of your agile teams can be as self-sufficient as possible, only requiring collaboration when it’s time to integrate.
Build chemistry. In Agile, no single person is accountable - everyone is answerable in delivering the product. While this sounds like a good theme for a superhero movie, it rarely works perfectly in real life. A good, palpable chemistry is important for an agile team to work, even if they are in different locations. Video conferencing can play a central role in getting to know your peers better, not only during standup meetings but also for casual consultations, maybe even personal conversations. Set up team building activities in lieu of Friday night drinks - maybe an online game or a watch party.
Communicate. There is no such thing as too much information. In the beginning, you will still be getting to know each other’s working styles. At the same time, you are already expected to deliver a minimum viable product. You want to minimize the misunderstandings in this crucial time. The team must be oriented towards updating everyone of progress and decisions, big or small. Communication apps are aplenty to organize the information into a feed, to avoid the messy email pileup. As your team gets used to each other, you will naturally arrive at a comfortable cadence as regards what kind of information needs to be distributed and how often. In the meantime, the more information, the better.
Well defined process and a clear definition of done. A lot of arguments stem from wrong assumptions. The definition of done needs to be defined at the very beginning. When do you consider your work done? When do you pick up the next task in the bucket? To whom do you escalate an issue? Set the guidelines in anticipation of issues, not scramble when you encounter them. And, as with anything agile, improve the guidelines as you go.
With Atticus Solutions, make offshore agile work
Atticus Solutions provides offshore Filipino talents for IT roles all over the world - PHP, Java, .Net, Golang, Ruby on Rails developers, and other highly specialized skills.
We hire for skills and values. Our founders are involved in hiring and developing team members, always with the goal of finding the right skills, experiences, and values in a talent. When you need someone who is both an excellent developer and colleague, we find and groom them for you.
We are great communicators. In an agile working environment, there is little room for hesitations and misunderstandings, especially the kind that result from language errors. Filipinos are known to be native English speakers, so communication gaps are rarely an issue. We are used to working with international clients, so we onboard our team members about the project and the culture they will immerse in.
We are growth mindset evangelists. We understand the high pressure in IT, so we keep the growth mindset at the center of our team values. This quality very much aligns with the concept of agile. We even have a full-time coach to help us manage obstacles at times when we are stuck or demotivated. This is how we consistently deliver results and continuously improve.
Have a chat with us and see how we can help you build a global agile team.