|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]
The 3rd International Internet of @ThingsExpo, co-located with the 16th International Cloud Expo - to be held June 9-11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY - announces that its Call for Papers is now open. The Internet of Things (IoT) is the biggest idea since the creation of the Worldwide Web more than 20 years ago.
Jan. 27, 2015 03:00 AM EST Reads: 9,966
Code Halos - aka "digital fingerprints" - are the key organizing principle to understand a) how dumb things become smart and b) how to monetize this dynamic. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Robert Brown, AVP, Center for the Future of Work at Cognizant Technology Solutions, outlined research, analysis and recommendations from his recently published book on this phenomena on the way leading edge organizations like GE and Disney are unlocking the Internet of Things opportunity and what steps your organization should be taking to position itself for the next platform of digital competition.
Jan. 27, 2015 02:00 AM EST Reads: 4,440
In their session at @ThingsExpo, Shyam Varan Nath, Principal Architect at GE, and Ibrahim Gokcen, who leads GE's advanced IoT analytics, focused on the Internet of Things / Industrial Internet and how to make it operational for business end-users. Learn about the challenges posed by machine and sensor data and how to marry it with enterprise data. They also discussed the tips and tricks to provide the Industrial Internet as an end-user consumable service using Big Data Analytics and Industrial Cloud.
Jan. 27, 2015 01:00 AM EST Reads: 4,066
SYS-CON Media announced that Splunk, a provider of the leading software platform for real-time Operational Intelligence, has launched an ad campaign on Big Data Journal. Splunk software and cloud services enable organizations to search, monitor, analyze and visualize machine-generated big data coming from websites, applications, servers, networks, sensors and mobile devices. The ads focus on delivering ROI - how improved uptime delivered $6M in annual ROI, improving customer operations by mining large volumes of unstructured data, and how data tracking delivers uptime when it matters most.
Jan. 27, 2015 12:30 AM EST Reads: 5,418
Things are being built upon cloud foundations to transform organizations. This CEO Power Panel at 15th Cloud Expo, moderated by Roger Strukhoff, Cloud Expo and @ThingsExpo conference chair, addressed the big issues involving these technologies and, more important, the results they will achieve. Rodney Rogers, chairman and CEO of Virtustream; Brendan O'Brien, co-founder of Aria Systems, Bart Copeland, president and CEO of ActiveState Software; Jim Cowie, chief scientist at Dyn; Dave Wagstaff, VP and chief architect at BSQUARE Corporation; Seth Proctor, CTO of NuoDB, Inc.; and Andris Gailitis, C...
Jan. 27, 2015 12:00 AM EST Reads: 3,977
SYS-CON Media announced that Cisco, a worldwide leader in IT that helps companies seize the opportunities of tomorrow, has launched a new ad campaign in Cloud Computing Journal. The ad campaign, a webcast titled 'Is Your Data Center Ready for the Application Economy?', focuses on the latest data center networking technologies, including SDN or ACI, and how customers are using SDN and ACI in their organizations to achieve business agility. The Cisco webcast is available on-demand.
Jan. 26, 2015 11:30 PM EST Reads: 2,190
Today’s enterprise is being driven by disruptive competitive and human capital requirements to provide enterprise application access through not only desktops, but also mobile devices. To retrofit existing programs across all these devices using traditional programming methods is very costly and time consuming – often prohibitively so. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Jesse Shiah, CEO, President, and Co-Founder of AgilePoint Inc., discussed how you can create applications that run on all mobile devices as well as laptops and desktops using a visual drag-and-drop application – and eForms-buildi...
Jan. 26, 2015 09:00 PM EST Reads: 4,006
The Industrial Internet revolution is now underway, enabled by connected machines and billions of devices that communicate and collaborate. The massive amounts of Big Data requiring real-time analysis is flooding legacy IT systems and giving way to cloud environments that can handle the unpredictable workloads. Yet many barriers remain until we can fully realize the opportunities and benefits from the convergence of machines and devices with Big Data and the cloud, including interoperability, data security and privacy.
Jan. 26, 2015 07:45 PM EST Reads: 3,925
IoT is still a vague buzzword for many people. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Mike Kavis, Vice President & Principal Cloud Architect at Cloud Technology Partners, discussed the business value of IoT that goes far beyond the general public's perception that IoT is all about wearables and home consumer services. He also discussed how IoT is perceived by investors and how venture capitalist access this space. Other topics discussed were barriers to success, what is new, what is old, and what the future may hold. Mike Kavis is Vice President & Principal Cloud Architect at Cloud Technology Pa...
Jan. 26, 2015 06:15 PM EST Reads: 5,157
The Internet of Things (IoT) is rapidly in the process of breaking from its heretofore relatively obscure enterprise applications (such as plant floor control and supply chain management) and going mainstream into the consumer space. More and more creative folks are interconnecting everyday products such as household items, mobile devices, appliances and cars, and unleashing new and imaginative scenarios. We are seeing a lot of excitement around applications in home automation, personal fitness, and in-car entertainment and this excitement will bleed into other areas. On the commercial side, m...
Jan. 26, 2015 06:00 PM EST Reads: 4,589
SYS-CON Events announced today that CodeFutures, a leading supplier of database performance tools, has been named a “Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 16th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 9–11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York, NY. CodeFutures is an independent software vendor focused on providing tools that deliver database performance tools that increase productivity during database development and increase database performance and scalability during production.
Jan. 26, 2015 06:00 PM EST Reads: 2,692
Dale Kim is the Director of Industry Solutions at MapR. His background includes a variety of technical and management roles at information technology companies. While his experience includes work with relational databases, much of his career pertains to non-relational data in the areas of search, content management, and NoSQL, and includes senior roles in technical marketing, sales engineering, and support engineering. Dale holds an MBA from Santa Clara University, and a BA in Computer Science from the University of California, Berkeley.
Jan. 26, 2015 06:00 PM EST Reads: 4,884
The Internet of Things (IoT) promises to evolve the way the world does business; however, understanding how to apply it to your company can be a mystery. Most people struggle with understanding the potential business uses or tend to get caught up in the technology, resulting in solutions that fail to meet even minimum business goals. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Jesse Shiah, CEO / President / Co-Founder of AgilePoint Inc., showed what is needed to leverage the IoT to transform your business. He discussed opportunities and challenges ahead for the IoT from a market and technical point of vie...
Jan. 26, 2015 05:45 PM EST Reads: 5,252
"People are a lot more knowledgeable about APIs now. There are two types of people who work with APIs - IT people who want to use APIs for something internal and the product managers who want to do something outside APIs for people to connect to them," explained Roberto Medrano, Executive Vice President at SOA Software, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at Cloud Expo, held Nov 4–6, 2014, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
Jan. 26, 2015 02:30 PM EST Reads: 4,051
Performance is the intersection of power, agility, control, and choice. If you value performance, and more specifically consistent performance, you need to look beyond simple virtualized compute. Many factors need to be considered to create a truly performant environment. In his General Session at 15th Cloud Expo, Harold Hannon, Sr. Software Architect at SoftLayer, discussed how to take advantage of a multitude of compute options and platform features to make cloud the cornerstone of your online presence.
Jan. 26, 2015 02:15 PM EST Reads: 4,837
In this Women in Technology Power Panel at 15th Cloud Expo, moderated by Anne Plese, Senior Consultant, Cloud Product Marketing at Verizon Enterprise, Esmeralda Swartz, CMO at MetraTech; Evelyn de Souza, Data Privacy and Compliance Strategy Leader at Cisco Systems; Seema Jethani, Director of Product Management at Basho Technologies; Victoria Livschitz, CEO of Qubell Inc.; Anne Hungate, Senior Director of Software Quality at DIRECTV, discussed what path they took to find their spot within the technology industry and how do they see opportunities for other women in their area of expertise.
Jan. 26, 2015 01:45 PM EST Reads: 3,433
DevOps Summit 2015 New York, co-located with the 16th International Cloud Expo - to be held June 9-11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY - announces that it is now accepting Keynote Proposals. The widespread success of cloud computing is driving the DevOps revolution in enterprise IT. Now as never before, development teams must communicate and collaborate in a dynamic, 24/7/365 environment. There is no time to wait for long development cycles that produce software that is obsolete at launch. DevOps may be disruptive, but it is essential.
Jan. 26, 2015 01:15 PM EST Reads: 3,854
Almost everyone sees the potential of Internet of Things but how can businesses truly unlock that potential. The key will be in the ability to discover business insight in the midst of an ocean of Big Data generated from billions of embedded devices via Systems of Discover. Businesses will also need to ensure that they can sustain that insight by leveraging the cloud for global reach, scale and elasticity.
Jan. 26, 2015 01:00 PM EST Reads: 5,671
"BSQUARE is in the business of selling software solutions for smart connected devices. It's obvious that IoT has moved from being a technology to being a fundamental part of business, and in the last 18 months people have said let's figure out how to do it and let's put some focus on it, " explained Dave Wagstaff, VP & Chief Architect, at BSQUARE Corporation, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at @ThingsExpo, held Nov 4-6, 2014, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
Jan. 26, 2015 11:30 AM EST Reads: 3,507
Advanced Persistent Threats (APTs) are increasing at an unprecedented rate. The threat landscape of today is drastically different than just a few years ago. Attacks are much more organized and sophisticated. They are harder to detect and even harder to anticipate. In the foreseeable future it's going to get a whole lot harder. Everything you know today will change. Keeping up with this changing landscape is already a daunting task. Your organization needs to use the latest tools, methods and expertise to guard against those threats. But will that be enough? In the foreseeable future attacks w...
Jan. 26, 2015 11:00 AM EST Reads: 4,525