The phenomenon of software development outsourcing began in the 1980’s and it was in the 1990’s that IBM established itself as the major vendor to whom businesses turned to for their software development outsourcing needs.
Well, you and I both know that story well enough as it was mentioned the last time we engaged in our interaction here. Now, the question automatically crops up — is software development outsourcing at all necessary.
There are times when an organisation needs to engage in areas of business activities which are not in tune with its core business functions. Say for eg, an automotive giant like Ford needs to develop software for its plant division. In such a scenario, instead of Ford recruiting software engineers, getting them trained in the specific technology and then start developing the required software, it is better business wise to offload the same activity to a reliable vendor who shall give the same quality or probably better services at prices much less than what Ford would have spent had it done the same on its own.
One step further:
Well, we shall try to avoid the term software development outsourcing, as over the years it probably has lost much of its sheen. Also, there are several all knowledgeable seers who have for long predicted the downfall of this business model.
What we are talking about is the creation of distributed teams. This is a totally different universe as compared to the conventional software development outsourcing business model.
Creation of a team, even though distributed:
A distributed team is an unconventional way of seeing to it that your work activities are completed by engaging talented resources from all over the world. There are several business organisations who are taking recourse to distributed teams in order to add efficiency to their existing work processes. This in itself adds more flexibility and as teams are geographically distributed and in different time zones it ensures that some or the other members of the team are always in work mode. So the amount of time taken to do a unit of work gets dramatically reduced, thereby adding to the overall efficiency of the business process. This is much different that software development outsourcing , since you are not engaging a vendor to whom you are offloading your work activity.
Organisations who benefit from distributed teams:
There are several types of organisations who benefit from distributed teams, as it is highly different from traditional software development outsourcing.
You can be in a situation where your company needs to hire at an urgently. This might be because of many factors namely:
In such a scenario, it will certainly take some time for you to get the right candidate who has the right technical skills, domain knowledge and also can be considered as a potential employee for long term. As you are averse to software development outsourcing the solution in such cases is to hire talent who will work from a distant location if required but will fulfill the business objective and mind you I used the term hire, which means it is a temporary engagement and you shall not be burdened having an employee on your payroll after the execution of the project.
There are times when you might face a situation that there is a need for a team member with a particular technical skill set, a specialist actually and there is no such resource in your team presently. So, in this scenario if you hire a technical expert, it solves your problem in an amicable way. Your problem is solved and your professional engagement with the expert remains till the duration of the project. Also, you do not have to go for software development outsourcing.
If you happen to be in a phase where you are starting out and need skilled resources and also do not want to go for software development outsourcing then going for distributed hiring is the solution to end all your problems. You just name the technology, you will find enough developers with the required skill set who shall help complete your project in time.
You can have a look at this blogpost which mentions the points to be considered while choosing an appropriate software development company for hiring members of your distributed team.
How to manage a distributed workforce:
There are a few tricks which should come handy while managing a distributed workforce. As it is totally different from traditional software development outsourcing, so the methodologies differ:
One of the key goals while working on distributed teams is to ensure that all team members are fully aware of the goals of the project and what it wants to accomplish. The management needs to convey this to every member who is on the team so that there is complete understanding between all team members which leads to the execution of a successful project.
Well, working from a remote location is quite different than working face to face. In fact many managers face a problem while managing the workload of the team and it becomes essential to use project management tools. As for eg there are some whom use Kanban boards, Gantt charts etc. You need to take help of the toll which suits your purpose by which you can manage tasks in an efficient manner.
As the team shall be working from different locations, it is very important that the communication between all team members and management should be crystal clear. This goes a long way in handling issues efficiently as all members on board — developers, testers, implementation engineers etc know the status of each issue and as roles are well defined they can take their responsibilities when situation demands. As handling distributed teams is different from software development outsourcing, so effective communication is all the more important.