Offshore software development teams regularly deliver great value to their hiring partners and provide high-quality technical skills to expand capabilities and drive growth. But not all projects are a success. Some teams struggle to deliver what was originally promised, and in many cases, this can be attributed to a particular issue or challenge, either relating to the client relationship or the project itself.
So, like any issue, when things start to go wrong, you need to take action and look into the problem to see what can be changed to help them recover and continue to deliver. Remember your external team is a partner, so it’s important you make the effort to help them, help themselves. Often, it only takes a small change to get them back on track.
In this blog, we look at the common reasons why teams struggle to deliver a successful offshore software development project and what you can do to resolve them.
Reason: The offshore software development team have lost enthusiasm for the project
Most software development projects are long, extending across months or even years, depending upon complexity, scope and purpose. As a result, it’s easy for teams to lose their enthusiasm as time passes. This may be due to micromanagement tying their hands, creating tension internally, or it may be related to the way the client treats the team as an external part of their business, rather than as a genuine partner. Alternatively, it may just be because there is little fulfilment in the project in question.
Solution: Build and reinforce the working relationship
Whatever the issue, it’s important the relationship between the offshore software development team and the client is cultivated and protected. If actions are taken that actively put it a risk or threaten to destabilise the partnership further, it’s likely neither side will come out of discussions positively. Trust is the key to a good partnership, and so it’s integral efforts are made to satisfy all parties involved without rocking the boat.
If the lacking enthusiasm is the result of a broken team dynamic, communication challenges or dissatisfied individuals, then it may be worth bringing key stakeholders together from both sides and outlining a team building strategy. Alternatively, it may just require an update to communication agreements, increasing the cadence of discussion and ensuring the external development team feel like they’re actively part of the project.
Reason: Failure to remain within budget and meet milestones
Budget spend and management is everyone’s responsibility, so when your offshore software development team overspend to deliver, it’s clear something, somewhere in your collaboration is wrong or missing. It may be the result of a misalignment at the project kick-off stage or poor communication throughout the delivery phase. In many instances, budgetary challenges arise because there is no Product Owner on the client side to coordinate the external team’s efforts. This is also an issue when timeliness of delivery becomes a problem.
If the external team is failing to meet deadlines, it’s likely those deadlines were either poorly communicated, progress wasn’t being tracked properly or the deadline wasn’t managed to reflect a change in circumstances. Again, these all fall under the remit of the Product Owner to manage and resolve.
Solution: Appoint an experienced Product Owner
The very best offshore software development projects are managed, coordinated and driven by a Product Owner. This role is critical and plays a key part in successful delivery. For projects experiencing challenges around budget management and delivery times, it’s essential this individual is installed with the task of bringing order to chaos, manage expectations and drive the team forward.
In most projects, the Product Owner will schedule daily/weekly stand ups to monitor progress and remove any blockers that may be holding the development team back. These regular communications are critical and help avoid misalignment and confusion throughout the project.
Reason: Key staff are being phased out and replaced by juniors
Some projects start extremely well, but then quality quickly falls. This is often the result of the much maligned, ‘Bait and Switch’ model - a common practice in the remote development sector. A tech vendor will sell themselves on the premise that senior development team members will be working on the project, but after a short period of time, those individuals are slowly phased out, in favour of much cheaper Junior developers. These replacements lack the depth of knowledge and capabilities required to deliver to the agreed quality and this quickly leads to project difficulties.
Solution: Carefully monitor the project at all times
To avoid the old ‘Bait and Switch’ you need to carefully monitor who is working on your project at all times. If changes are being made to the team, you need to review the replacements and ensure they have the skills, expertise and knowledge to deliver to the same level as their predecessor. You do not want your technical partner training their junior members on your clock, so it’s important to be wary if they start swapping large numbers of staff and quality drops. If worker transitions are absolutely necessary, then it’s important that detailed knowledge transfer has taken place in order to avoid pitfalls and ensure the replacement is ready to hit the ground running.
With all these challenges in mind, it’s easy to understand why it’s so important to investigate when your development team isn’t meeting your expectations. In reality, they may just require a tweak to the relationship, or an amend to the project plan to get them motivated and back on track.
Like any good relationship, when problems arise, it’s important to meet them head on and actively tackle the issue. This may require a little flexibility and an open mind, but if you can meet in the middle to rectify the problems, you can help your partner overcome their blockers, maximizing the efficiency of the project, the strength of the relationship, and ultimately, the success of the development strategy.