The software development industry is fast growing as user requirements change-requiring applications that can address these requirements. As the costs of development rises in developed countries, a new source of labour market is emerging to provide labour for development of such applications at reduced costs. This is achieved through offshore software development approach an outsourcing process where a parent company in a developed country outsources the development of the software product to a team located outside the country. This is expected to reduce the costs of development of the software product while maintaining its quality. As offshore software development collaboration approach is gaining popularity, challenges are arising as to how such approaches can be implemented to maximize profitability as well as production. This writing bases on one study of how a software development firm has tried to implement offshore software development collaboration approach. A critical analysis of this case reveals areas that need restructuring to ensure that the overall process proceeds in a seamless and effective way. This is vital for the success of any projects undertaken using this approach. Most importantly though, a vetting of each project based on its suitability for this approach is a very important undertaking.
Improving the offshore development process
The potency and profitability of many software products today is to be able to adapt to the ever-changing user needs. The personalization of software products is quickly resulting in highly creative software products that are supposed to adjust according to the user’s requirements. In employing offshore software development approach, the offshore team may also receive leeway to maximize creativity. As far as the development framework for any software product to be developed offshore is designed onshore, an increased participation in terms of team input may be all together vital (Cusick & Prasad, 2006). The flexibility of the process is an important consideration as well. Therefore, as much as a reliance on development tools and infrastructure defined prior to the offshore process is concerned, there may be a need to establish generic standards during development but allow for flexibility in terms of application as far as enterprise libraries and associated frameworks are concerned. This would invariably give an upper hand to the offshore team to maximize creativity while maintaining the objective of the project. Environments like the web delivery framework (WDF) would serve more as a guideline while being flexible to allow for additional input by the offshore team. This is likely to contribute to improved morale and a feeling of ownership on the part of the offshore team.
The enterprise library for instance a component of the WDF should allow for additions by any of the members of the offshore team. In other words, an open library would encourage more collaboration and spur creativity among the offshore team. A foreseeable risk with enforcing the interim functional delivery (IFD) midway through a project is that the work may be done in a scrappy and hurried manner. A better approach would be establishing mechanisms to provide and support fully iterative and incremental development to capture the requirements and drive a satisfactory software product. Over time, it has been realized that offshore software development collaborations continue to face challenges the most common of which include communication and cultural issues (Hanna & Daim, 2009).
Well-established and consistent communication channels are vital for any offshore undertaking to succeed. “At times it appears appropriate to offshore the entire management team because successful offshore outsourcing relationships involve people who bridge cultures” (Hanna & Daim, 2009, p.887).
Project success depends upon a number of things. It has been long known that one of the most important of such things is effective communication. However, effective communication remains an elusive factor especially in offshore software development collaboration approaches. This is because of the diversity in setup between the two or more countries involved as well as the cross-cultural differences. This puts a lot of emphasis on need for very effective communication so that the project may proceed on successfully. Therefore enhancing effective communication is more critical while dealing with offshore projects. It remains a known fact that because of cross-cultural composition of offshore project teams, effecting communication and harmonizing the activities between the onshore and offshore remains a great hurdle. This is likely to affect the project’s success if not handled well. Rather than having predefined frameworks by which an offshore team can work as indicated in the case study, there is a need to involve the offshore team closely to ensure the success of the project. It may not be enough to engage the lead from the offshore team onshore and redeploy them to manage and direct the process offshore. A direct and candid engagement with the whole offshore team can affect how the project progresses. A one on one communication approach has been long known to be an effective approach in any management process. There is need to establish elaborate channels of effective communication to ensure that the offshore team is creatively and proactively engaged in every step of the project. However, this requires high initial capital investments to set up facilities and channels that can well support effective communication. It is also known that as the project progresses there may arise risks that were not pre-conceived during onshore meetings and planning. This means that the offshore team must be empowered to undertake the necessary measures to mitigate or counter such risks. Therefore, approaches such as IFD may not be thoroughly practical in dealing with all the underlying factors likely to affect the project schedule. A replication of the processes offshore seems to be one of the viable ways to ensure that offshore projects proceed with minimal challenges. However, the costs involved in implementing such an approach remain high.
Other than establishing an onshore structure and framework and pushing it to the offshore team to fit in and implement, a better approach would involve including the offshore team more intimately in the establishment of this framework in manner of sharing a common strategic offshore vision. A more elaborate risk assessment approach that harmonizes the two teams is necessary. It is inevitably true that the software development risks or project risks are present in all projects and assessment and mitigation processes must be well collaborated and harmonized between the onshore and offshore teams (Wallace & Keil, 2004). Offshore global software development approaches remain an effective way to cut costs in software development projects. However, this approach is not without serious challenges that may well compromise the success of any project. These challenges must be addressed to ensure the project proceeds on successfully.
Cusick, J., & Prasad, A. (2006). Global software development: A practical management and engineering approach to offshore collaboration. IEEE Computer society, 23(5), 20-29.
Hanna, H., & Daim, T.U. (2009). Managing offshore outsourcing in the software industry. Technology analysis and strategic management, 21(7), 881-897.
Wallace, L., & Keil, M. (2004). Software project risks and their effect on outcomes. Communications of the ACM-Human computer etiquette, 47(4), 68-73.