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When outsourcing development becomes too fast.


Outsourcing adds speed to development

Is there such a thing as “too fast” development?

Just completed a small application/web service project. We did all the design and specifications in house and outsourced the development.

I spent some time sending out questions to possible outsource partners and felt that I did find a good one. (Now after the project I can say that the partner turned out to be excellent.)

The partner was in India but the time difference was no issue and we could communicate easily even before the project started and I got all the answers that I needed.

Then we started to make the detailed schedule for the project and development and I noticed a strange thing. I tried to schedule the project in one week iterations but this seemed to be too slow for the developer. For us having a week to review new features and test that the requirements are met feels like a minimum time. Even in a small project like this. The developer was so fast that they actually hoped to get instant feedback on a daily bases. Even after changes and updates to scope the updates kept coming in so fast that suddenly we noticed that it was us who were slowing the development. And suddenly I realized that the problem was not the testing or confirming the updates, but to make sure that all the managers have given their internal approvals. This was the part surprised me. The outsourced development had become too fast for our organization. Quality was excellent, response times and communication easy. Still we had to re-think can we outsource to offshore anymore.


For the developer this is difficult. If they don’t want to take multiple projects at the time they have to close projects fast. Especially if they are in a contract to get paid after completion of the project. The pressure is push the projects closed faster than needed.


I believe that we have to catch up on this super agile development.


5 steps to catch up on super agile/fast development cycles:


  • Step 1. The simple solution would be for small projects like this to have a dedicated person monitor and answer the developer questions on a daily basis. Basically giving this person much more power. It is a new role. Project Driver.
  • Step 2. Give the Project Driver enough power that she should not have to get approval for every little change.
  • Step 3. Make sure that the specifications are as agile as the development. Write specifications even more to the direction that says, what the end product should be and how it should feel to use. Rather than try to write technical details how it should be created. So it does not matter how it is created if it does what is needed and fits the bill. So there is room to maneuver within the specifications.
  • Step 4. Make decision meetings instead of project meetings. If a bigger decision is needed get the right people in the same conference and get them up-to-date on the issue BEFORE the meeting so the decisions can be made during the meeting. Decision meetings are not meant to be used to present new ideas but to accept or decline issues that are needed to keep project moving forward.
  • Step 5. Trust the developer if he seems to be good. If not change developer early in the project. If the developer is not good in the beginning in the project it definitely will not become any easier later in the project.


What are your experiences in outsourced development? Can it be too fast?

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Permanent link to this article: http://www.praas.org/2015/05/23/outsourcing-too-fast/

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