|By Udayan Banerjee||
|April 3, 2012 07:00 AM EDT||
You are a software service provider. You develop software for you clients. Majority of your clients are from a different city or even a different country. You are in a discussion with your client where you are exploring the option of adopting Agile Development Methodology for your next project.
Does the above paragraph describe you? Are you concerned about how the whole thing will work out?
If the above paragraph describes you, then I can assure you that you are not in minority. Many of us have been in a similar situation.
The biggest challenge of adopting agile for an outsourced project is that there aren’t any clearly defined best practices available which you can adopt. The whole field is still evolving and the best practices are yet to emerge.
So, what should you do to increase the chance of success?
Obviously, you will have to find the answer yourself. To find the right answer, you need to ask the right question!
Let me set you thinking on what questions you need to ask. Here are 5 of them:
1. Is your understanding of Agile same as your clients understanding of Agile?
Please remember, there is no common accepted definition for agile. Yes, there is the Agile Manifesto but that can hardly be called a definition. It is more of a vision of how to develop software which delivers business values. The manifesto indicates that the best way to develop software is to create a “co-located” “cross-functional” team of “competent” individuals and allow them to “self-organize” and deliver “working” software “regularly” which delivers “business-value”.
In today’s complex globalized world it may be impossible to keep the software team small and collocated. The prescribed method of software development becomes infeasible when the size of the problem grows beyond a point. Yes, one small team can be very productive but there are many real life problems where it becomes impossible for a single team to handle. Similarly, when experts across multiple locations need to collaborate, co-location is not really an option. As a result, where outsourcing is involved, the agile process will deviate from what is envisaged in the manifesto.
There isn’t any common understanding of what the deviation should be. So you need to have your own interpretation of the “agile methodology” that you want to follow. What you need to keep in mind is that your interpretation may be different from what the client expects. So, the most important task should be to identify how much is this difference in interpretation?
If the difference is small then you would be lucky because you would have crossed the biggest hurdle. However, if the difference is significant then you need to decide if you want to follow your client in agile adoption or do you want to act as the thought leader and convince the client about your interpretation?
If you have a mismatch of the interpretation it will definitely result in mismatch of expectation and erosion of trust.
2. On what basis are you going to get paid?
Though one of the 4 principles of agile manifesto is “Customer Collaboration” over “Contract Negotiation”, in an outsourcing situation it is impossible to avoid contract negotiation. The key element in your contract is going to be a mechanism or a formula to derive how much you are going to get paid for the service that you are rendering.
If client is willing to pay based on the hours logged by the team members and ready to take the responsibility of the output of the team then you don’t have to worry.
The current trend is to link the payment to output. There is no standard method of achieving this and you need to work it out with each client separately. There are two alternate mechanisms to achieve this.
In the first one you agree on a scope of work and a price for the same. The scope can be defined for an “iteration” or for a “release”. You also agree on a mechanism for arriving at the deviation from the agreed scope and method of calculating how much you will be compensated for the extra work. Alternately, you can come up with a formula to calculate the size of the work delivered and a method of calculating the price for that. However, whatever may the mechanism be, it should appear to be fair for both parties.
You need to work for a win-win without which you will not be able to build the trust required for the success of the agile project.
3. How will the iterations be accepted? How will the project close?
In most cases, your payment will be linked to a milestone. It may be on a completion of “iteration” or the delivery and acceptance of release. Will the client pay you as soon as you make the delivery or will the pay only after they have verified the delivery and found it acceptable. What happens if there are bugs? Would you have to fix them before you are paid? Will that be a separate delivery or will they be fixed in the next iteration. What happens if there is a delay in reviewing the delivery?
Best way to overcome this problem is to deliver good quality software and adjust your iteration cycle-time to match the client’s ability to review it, give feedback and finally accept the delivery. Also, it is a good idea to have a clear understanding on how the project is going to be brought to a closure. In the over eagerness to start the work, the method of acceptance may not be fully resolved.
It would a big mistake not to address the issue of “method of acceptance” before starting the engagement.
4. Will your communication infrastructure measure up to client expectations?
Insisting on co-location while outsourcing a project may not make sense. In most cases it will defeat the purpose of outsourcing. Therefore once you give up on one of the original agile premise of cross-functional collocated team you will face another set of challenges. Irrespective of what agile may say, tools processes and technology will come to your aid to ease the burden of multiple locations.
You need to put in place suitable infrastructure which will support direct interaction between all members of your team and the product owner and other relevant people in the client organization without any delay. You also need to have in place suitable tools and process in place for sharing information like story, backlog, open issues, bugs etc. You also need to figure out if all your team members are comfortable and confident about discussing road blocks with the client representative.
For a distributed team it is difficult to achieve continuous interaction without the support suitable technology and infrastructure support.
5. How transparent do you have to be about your team composition and organization?
Is self-organizing team a necessary precondition for executing an agile project? The view among the experts range from (A) “yes, it is a must” to (B) “it is a good thing to have but not mandatory”.
If your clients fall into the second category and he leaves the problem of team organization to you then you don’t have to worry too much about team self-organization. If you are able to create a self-organizing team you will be better off and be more productive. Without that also you will still survive.
However, if the client insists that the team has to organize itself, the scrum master will only play the role of facilitator and you are not going to have a project manager then you need to clearly understand the implication. If your whole organization is only using agile methodology then you may not have a problem. But if like most of software service provider you use a mix of many different development life-cycles – this distinction becomes very important.
To support self-organization you will need mature team members and experienced scrum master.
There is enough evidence that agile works better than traditional methods … even in outsourcing situation.
Therefore, agile is going to get adopted – question is “are you prepared”?
[A version of this article is also published in Global Delivery Report]
In his keynote at 18th Cloud Expo, Andrew Keys, Co-Founder of ConsenSys Enterprise, provided an overview of the evolution of the Internet and the Database and the future of their combination – the Blockchain. Andrew Keys is Co-Founder of ConsenSys Enterprise. He comes to ConsenSys Enterprise with capital markets, technology and entrepreneurial experience. Previously, he worked for UBS investment bank in equities analysis. Later, he was responsible for the creation and distribution of life sett...
Jun. 25, 2016 06:15 PM EDT Reads: 969
There are several IoTs: the Industrial Internet, Consumer Wearables, Wearables and Healthcare, Supply Chains, and the movement toward Smart Grids, Cities, Regions, and Nations. There are competing communications standards every step of the way, a bewildering array of sensors and devices, and an entire world of competing data analytics platforms. To some this appears to be chaos. In this power panel at @ThingsExpo, moderated by Conference Chair Roger Strukhoff, Bradley Holt, Developer Advocate a...
Jun. 25, 2016 05:00 PM EDT Reads: 655
Cognitive Computing is becoming the foundation for a new generation of solutions that have the potential to transform business. Unlike traditional approaches to building solutions, a cognitive computing approach allows the data to help determine the way applications are designed. This contrasts with conventional software development that begins with defining logic based on the current way a business operates. In her session at 18th Cloud Expo, Judith S. Hurwitz, President and CEO of Hurwitz & ...
Jun. 25, 2016 03:00 PM EDT Reads: 1,507
In his general session at 18th Cloud Expo, Lee Atchison, Principal Cloud Architect and Advocate at New Relic, discussed cloud as a ‘better data center’ and how it adds new capacity (faster) and improves application availability (redundancy). The cloud is a ‘Dynamic Tool for Dynamic Apps’ and resource allocation is an integral part of your application architecture, so use only the resources you need and allocate /de-allocate resources on the fly.
Jun. 25, 2016 02:15 PM EDT Reads: 1,003
A strange thing is happening along the way to the Internet of Things, namely far too many devices to work with and manage. It has become clear that we'll need much higher efficiency user experiences that can allow us to more easily and scalably work with the thousands of devices that will soon be in each of our lives. Enter the conversational interface revolution, combining bots we can literally talk with, gesture to, and even direct with our thoughts, with embedded artificial intelligence, wh...
Jun. 25, 2016 01:45 PM EDT Reads: 861
19th Cloud Expo, taking place November 1-3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA, will feature technical sessions from a rock star conference faculty and the leading industry players in the world. Cloud computing is now being embraced by a majority of enterprises of all sizes. Yesterday's debate about public vs. private has transformed into the reality of hybrid cloud: a recent survey shows that 74% of enterprises have a hybrid cloud strategy. Meanwhile, 94% of enterpri...
Jun. 25, 2016 01:15 PM EDT Reads: 1,193
SYS-CON Events announced today that Bsquare has been named “Silver Sponsor” of SYS-CON's @ThingsExpo, which will take place on November 1–3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. For more than two decades, Bsquare has helped its customers extract business value from a broad array of physical assets by making them intelligent, connecting them, and using the data they generate to optimize business processes.
Jun. 25, 2016 11:45 AM EDT Reads: 1,155
Internet of @ThingsExpo, taking place November 1-3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA, is co-located with 19th Cloud Expo and will feature technical sessions from a rock star conference faculty and the leading industry players in the world. The Internet of Things (IoT) is the most profound change in personal and enterprise IT since the creation of the Worldwide Web more than 20 years ago. All major researchers estimate there will be tens of billions devices - comp...
Jun. 25, 2016 11:15 AM EDT Reads: 1,160
Machine Learning helps make complex systems more efficient. By applying advanced Machine Learning techniques such as Cognitive Fingerprinting, wind project operators can utilize these tools to learn from collected data, detect regular patterns, and optimize their own operations. In his session at 18th Cloud Expo, Stuart Gillen, Director of Business Development at SparkCognition, discussed how research has demonstrated the value of Machine Learning in delivering next generation analytics to imp...
Jun. 25, 2016 11:00 AM EDT Reads: 471
There is little doubt that Big Data solutions will have an increasing role in the Enterprise IT mainstream over time. Big Data at Cloud Expo - to be held November 1-3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA - has announced its Call for Papers is open. Cloud computing is being adopted in one form or another by 94% of enterprises today. Tens of billions of new devices are being connected to The Internet of Things. And Big Data is driving this bus. An exponential increase is...
Jun. 25, 2016 11:00 AM EDT Reads: 1,277
The 19th International Cloud Expo has announced that its Call for Papers is open. Cloud Expo, to be held November 1-3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA, brings together Cloud Computing, Big Data, Internet of Things, DevOps, Digital Transformation, Microservices and WebRTC to one location. With cloud computing driving a higher percentage of enterprise IT budgets every year, it becomes increasingly important to plant your flag in this fast-expanding business opportuni...
Jun. 25, 2016 10:30 AM EDT Reads: 1,225
Cloud computing is being adopted in one form or another by 94% of enterprises today. Tens of billions of new devices are being connected to The Internet of Things. And Big Data is driving this bus. An exponential increase is expected in the amount of information being processed, managed, analyzed, and acted upon by enterprise IT. This amazing is not part of some distant future - it is happening today. One report shows a 650% increase in enterprise data by 2020. Other estimates are even higher....
Jun. 25, 2016 10:15 AM EDT Reads: 1,213
The cloud market growth today is largely in public clouds. While there is a lot of spend in IT departments in virtualization, these aren’t yet translating into a true “cloud” experience within the enterprise. What is stopping the growth of the “private cloud” market? In his general session at 18th Cloud Expo, Nara Rajagopalan, CEO of Accelerite, explored the challenges in deploying, managing, and getting adoption for a private cloud within an enterprise. What are the key differences between wh...
Jun. 25, 2016 10:00 AM EDT Reads: 661
Internet of @ThingsExpo, taking place November 1-3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA, is co-located with the 19th International Cloud Expo and will feature technical sessions from a rock star conference faculty and the leading industry players in the world and ThingsExpo Silicon Valley Call for Papers is now open.
Jun. 25, 2016 09:30 AM EDT Reads: 1,079
It is one thing to build single industrial IoT applications, but what will it take to build the Smart Cities and truly society changing applications of the future? The technology won’t be the problem, it will be the number of parties that need to work together and be aligned in their motivation to succeed. In his Day 2 Keynote at @ThingsExpo, Henrik Kenani Dahlgren, Portfolio Marketing Manager at Ericsson, discussed how to plan to cooperate, partner, and form lasting all-star teams to change t...
Jun. 25, 2016 07:45 AM EDT Reads: 1,041
Connected devices and the industrial internet are growing exponentially every year with Cisco expecting 50 billion devices to be in operation by 2020. In this period of growth, location-based insights are becoming invaluable to many businesses as they adopt new connected technologies. Knowing when and where these devices connect from is critical for a number of scenarios in supply chain management, disaster management, emergency response, M2M, location marketing and more. In his session at @Th...
Jun. 25, 2016 07:30 AM EDT Reads: 867
SYS-CON Events announced today that ReadyTalk, a leading provider of online conferencing and webinar services, has been named Vendor Presentation Sponsor at the 19th International Cloud Expo, which will take place on November 1–3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. ReadyTalk delivers audio and web conferencing services that inspire collaboration and enable the Future of Work for today’s increasingly digital and mobile workforce. By combining intuitive, innovative tec...
Jun. 24, 2016 01:00 PM EDT Reads: 1,326
Amazon has gradually rolled out parts of its IoT offerings, but these are just the tip of the iceberg. In addition to optimizing their backend AWS offerings, Amazon is laying the ground work to be a major force in IoT - especially in the connected home and office. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Chris Kocher, founder and managing director of Grey Heron, explained how Amazon is extending its reach to become a major force in IoT by building on its dominant cloud IoT platform, its Dash Button strat...
Jun. 24, 2016 12:00 PM EDT Reads: 1,585
industrial company for a multi-year contract initially valued at over $4.0 million. In addition to DataV software, Bsquare will also provide comprehensive systems integration, support and maintenance services. DataV leverages advanced data analytics, predictive reasoning, data-driven diagnostics, and automated orchestration of remediation actions in order to improve asset uptime while reducing service and warranty costs.
Jun. 22, 2016 11:00 AM EDT Reads: 1,349
Vidyo, Inc., has joined the Alliance for Open Media. The Alliance for Open Media is a non-profit organization working to define and develop media technologies that address the need for an open standard for video compression and delivery over the web. As a member of the Alliance, Vidyo will collaborate with industry leaders in pursuit of an open and royalty-free AOMedia Video codec, AV1. Vidyo’s contributions to the organization will bring to bear its long history of expertise in codec technolo...
Jun. 19, 2016 12:45 PM EDT Reads: 1,242