Remote Agile Development: Working with Offshore Resources

remote agile development


Looking to cut costs but have heard the horror stories about offshoring – low quality, missed deadlines, angry calls and lots of late nights? Well, there’s a right way to do it and hopefully these 5 ideas will get you a bit closer to saving money and delivering quality.

1. Integrate offshore/nearshore developers into an onshore team. If you are hiring offshore/nearshore developers then have at least 1 local developer. Same for the QA team and any business analysts. Having solid Stateside peers gives the developers someone to talk to that isn’t a “boss”.

2. Communicate frequently. Daily scrums are a minimum. All developers should have everyone else’s contact details – IM, phone (and appropriate times to call) and email. Have a way to web conference on short notice for any technical issues that come up. Make sure leadership is responsive to any questions. Make sure you communicate expectations clearly to anyone brought on board. In addition try to minimize the time when people are not able to communicate with each other during the work day – the main consideration here is timezones and cultural work hours.

3. Hire only quality. Have your team interview everyone brought on board and only accept them if they meet the criteria you would expect of a hire being brought into your local office. Sometimes you can get a deal with a team, but often 1 great developer is worth 2 or more good ones.

4. Allow them to have work/life balance. Just as most teams in the U.S. are focusing on this, these are people on the other end of the phone. They have families and troubles all their own. Their time with their family and recreation time is just as important as anyone onshore. Developers with a healthy work/life balance and working at a sustainable pace develop better for longer, so that’s better for your bottom line.

5. Make them and your team people. Ideally, this would mean meeting them in person and dining with them. There’s a easier connection between people who have shared a meal and a few drinks. If that’s not possible, make sure you have photos of the team available. If your local office dresses up for Halloween, share the photos of that on a team meeting. Encourage them to do similar things. Find ways to make a personal connection with them and to make you less a scary voice at the end of a phone line and you’ll have happier, less fearful, more productive team members.

Written by Steve Lohrenz, Development Manager.