Offshore coordination in outsourced software development

An Offshore Coordination Communication Plan details the interactions that the Offshore Software Development Team members have with the Onsite team and the Client team associated with the project.

Overview

The Communication Plan for the offshore software development team is developed to ensure smooth interaction with the onsite team and the client. The following are requirements for the plan to work effectively:

  • A list of important and relevant contacts, and client contacts with their phone numbers, email IDs.
  • The planned communication methods and techniques
  • The templates to be used for planned communications.

Communication Plan

The Software Offshore Development Communication Plan uses different types of communication:

  1. Weekly status reports shared by the Project Manager, in a Weekly Status Reporting format
  2. A Status Meeting on a weekly basis with the client. This could be face to face meetings with predefined agenda. Remote meeting tools like webex, or skype help in the process.
  3. A daily meeting/ call through teleconference /skype /internet messenger, usually early in the day, which includes the offshore team as well as the onsite team / client team members. The offshore team members usually share the work done the last day, the work planned for the day and the immediate future. Any issues or queries are discussed upfront so that the client manager can respond to such queries. Also, the client manager can share feedback and any comments so that they can be addressed right away.
  4. Meetings conducted by Client or Project Manager/ Business Analyst to communicate on Application development issues. These can be conducted by teleconference, or webex or on skype on an as needed basis and used to obtain more information on Application development issues on an ongoing basis.
  5. Working sessions conducted by Lead Designers using skype/ teleconference / Internet Messenger Meeting/ videoconference on an as needed basis.
  6. Project announcements from time to time by the Business Analyst or the Project Manager and used to inform general information about the project.
  7. Monthly Progress Reports shared by Project Manager to the client by end of month.
  8. Monthly Progress review initiated by client to include the client managers, onsite team coordinator and the Project Manager from offshore. The review is done once a month.
  9. Account Review Meetings on a Quarterly basis involving Client Senior Manager, Vendor/Technology partner Senior Manager, Project Manager, Business Analyst and Technical Architect.
Type of CommunicationFrequency of CommunicationMode of CommunicationWho InitiatesObjective of Communication
Weekly Status ReportsWeeklyEmailProject ManagerShare project status in a predefined format
Client Status MeetingsWeeklySkype or webexProject ManagerStandard Status Meeting with predefined agenda & based on the Weekly Status Reports
Daily Meetings / ScrumsDailyTeleconference / skype /internet messengerProject ManagerDaily progress reporting
Project Issues meetingAs neededTeleconference / skype /internet messengerClient / Project Manager / Business AnalystUsed to record, get clarifications and track project issues on an ongoing basis
Working SessionsAs neededWebex /Skype / teleconferenceLead DesignersUsed to demonstrate and get a confirmation
Project AnnouncementsAs neededEmails  / teleconferences / webexBusiness AnalystShare general information to the development team on the project
Monthly Progress ReportsMonthlyEmailsProject Manager or Project LeaderShare monthly status in a Reporting format
Monthly Progress ReviewMonthlyWebexProject ManagerReview of progress – High level with impediments, dependencies, risks
Account Review MeetingsQuarterlyWebexProject Manager, or Client ManagerQuarterly review at a High level Roadmap with impediments, dependencies and risks.

 

Channels of communication set are both formal and informal. While the formal modes discussed above are effective, and ensure that only necessary information is filtered up and top management does not get bogged down with unnecessary details, they are also time consuming and may affect decision making if the vital information does not reach the concerned.

Therefore, informal channels of communication like chat services are used, which when used judiciously can be useful to pass vital information to the stakeholders, and at the same time, reduce time taken to share the information.

Communication Plan – An Example

The planning for channels of communication could also vary based on multiple factors:    project management methodology used like SDLC or Agile, size of the engagement, organization maturity for both the client and the offshore partner, complexity of technology or domain, and time zone differences, etc. The communication plan includes important constituents like type of communication, frequency, initiated by / run by, description of the agenda, invitees to participate in  the same and the duration in case of a meeting.

An example of a simplified communication plan with two activities is shown below.

MeetingFrequencyMediaRun ByInviteesAgendaDuration
Daily StatusDaily, 8 AM ESTSkypeProject ManagerProject Team, Client ManagersFor each team member:

·         Status updates for the last day

·         Tasks planned for the next day

·         Any impediments

30 mins
Weekly StatusWeekly Monday, 9 AM ESTSkypeProject Manager Business AnalystClient team, Project Manager, Business Analyst1.    High level status review

2.    For each project / initiative

·         Status updates for the past week

·         Tasks planned for the next week

·         Any impediments

30 mins

Best Practices For Outsourced Agile Projects

Communication is as vital as other processes, as it can deteriorate unless enforced and controlled. Ad-hoc changes or cancellations in meetings due to personal inconvenience is an example. Such changes not only affect the culture of the company, but may also adversely affect the timeline of the project when accrued altogether.  Make sure your technology partner understands the importance of communication in offshore coordination and diligently works on best practices to improve such communication.

Some of the best practices that help in Offshore Communication and Coordination are:

  • A dedicated offshore project manager with experience, skills and expertise in PM / PMO activities, processes such as SDLC, domain knowledge / understanding of the offshore team and processes is on boarded to the project during the inception stage.
  • A well-defined Steering Committee / PMO structure to govern the project.
  • Audit groups / third party auditing, for monitoring that processes are being followed.
  • Project dashboards and collaboration software for ensuring good communication within the team.
  • Time tracking and monitoring for resource loading, and taking action when some team members are insufficiently loaded.
  • Use of IM tools with VOIP facility such as Skype, which help in collaboration and instant accesses to resources.
  • Open group chats using Skype or other IM tools.

Make sure that your technology partner has a good communication plan in place, see how we work with you and whether you should work with us.