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Tips on Offshore Software Project Management

~ By Rod Morris

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Success of a project when developed by an offshore provider is largely dependant on the way the project is remotely managed from the client's side. If you hope to make a project successful with very little input from your end as a customer, it is unlikely that the project will achieve success in the long term. The basic reason is very simple: you know your business requirements best. Software services companies working in another part of the world can only develop a solution based on the input provided by you.

Fairly large projects have a dedicated project manager who interacts with the offshore team and acts as a virtual bridge between the business and the software developers. If your project does not have dedicated personnel for it, there is no need to despair. You can follow some simple tips mentioned below and manage your project quite successfully.

Define the goal every week: The complete lifecycle of the software development process can be divided into smaller goals which can then be communicated to the team via email or by phone. It is a good idea to have a call with the entire team on Monday morning and run through the list of weekly goals that need to be achieved and then call again at the end of the week to evaluate if they have been achieved or not and what type of roadblocks were faced by them.

Manage the time difference: Time difference is one of the factors in offshore software development projects which can become a pro or a con depending on how it is managed. It is imperative that a "common" time zone is mutually agreed on by you and the offshore vendor. This time should be used for communication and ironing out issues faced by the development team. Though it might take some time to get used to getting in to the office at 7AM, it pays good dividends in the long run.

If there are issues, alert everyone in time: It is advisable that you keep a look out for early warning signals and warn the team up front rather than wait for things to correct themselves. Ninety percent of the time, the issue is not self-correcting but goes on to become a real pain to the entire team before additional effort is exerted to get it on track.

If someone in the offshore team is doing well, comment on it: Encouragement and motivation are required even when you have hired a team with an offshore service provider. Motivating team members with an encouraging email along with occasional gifts sent to them on regional festivals creates camaraderie as well as doing wonders for the project. At the end of the day remember that developers are human beings and they do need an occasional pat on the back.

Although a number of on-site project managers feel that project management tools are advantageous to the flow of a project, the core driver in a successful project will always be good project and human resource management skills.


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