Onshore-offshore model pain points
Based on our survey with our customers and potential customer’s worldwide, these are some of the pain points identified in an onshore-offshore model of development. They may or may not be applicable to all clients, but every offshore implementation would want to improve some aspects as mentioned in this article. Also mentioned are the solutions which The Digital Group provided in each of these scenarios.
1. The quality of the offshore resources has not been up to par.
- The understanding of the business processes / functional knowledge by both the onsite and offshore teams is a key to providing sound solutions. An effort is made to conduct business process workshops before the commencement of the projects to ensure seamlessness between the groups on both shores.
- The team composition is such that any onsite tech lead has an equivalent person in the offshore side. A common platform is created for the requirements and design phase of the project. Both shore leads are responsible for the delivery of design and implementation back and forth. An internal SLA guides both leads to provide quality output.
- We try to engage more in a Project / Deliverable based model rather than number of resources. This way we own the deliverable and the client team interacts mainly with the onsite tech lead and the business analyst. The core development work is performed offshore, but getting it delivered to the client still lies with the onsite tech lead / delivery lead. There is interaction between client and the offshore team but on an as needed basis. This way there is a SINGLE POINT of delivery and quality for the client to interact with for any given project.
- The Digital Group has a vested interest in quality deliverables to the clients; hence we are building a team which is centric around knowledge. The quality of resources depends on the experience, knowledge, industry exposure, variety in past implementations, communication, logical abilities etc. These are some of the guiding principles we take into account while hiring each of our team members.
2. The realization of cost savings was very slow.
- Cost should not be the sole purpose of off shoring. Cost savings should be a by product of a relationship with a vendor/partner who is capable enough to provide the services and solutions to the client at a mutually desirable price. Off shoring is just one component of cost savings. Bad quality work leading to rework can cost more than the upfront price tag on an implementation. The Digital Group intends to be a partner to the client in its ERP initiatives and will deliver turn key projects. During the same, some components of the project will be performed offshore thereby providing cost benefits to the client on the overall project.
3. Inconsistency in standards of development
- We mitigate this risk by providing our own methodology to the development lifecycle. This can be merged with the client side development cycle to obtain a best fit. Standards of development have to be developed. Documentation (Design, Test Scripts) have to be created at a detailed level yet not too verbose to loose its meaning.
- The single point delivery manager (onsite) will be responsible for the quality of the product delivered conforming to the standards. Any work product ready for UAT has to undergo TDG’s testing requirements and offshore QA will have to attest to the functionality.
- Code walkthroughs are part of the normal delivery cycle for a technical supervisor.
- Internal SLA’s between onshore and offshore teams to ensure code and standards quality.
4. High offshore turn over rate leads to paying for ramp up time for new resources
- High job turn over is a by product of a global competitive marketplace. The Digital Group is able to harbor long term relationships with the employees by being competitive and providing a nurturing and team-oriented environment in all its locations. We keep our team challenged enough to grow professionally. This is true for all successful companies worldwide and purely depends on the culture promoted within a company. TDG has been successful in the past and hopes to continue the trend.
5. Lack of Domain knowledge in the offshore team
- This is a key avenue to improve the quality of the final deliverable. Any new person assigned on an offshore team goes through a domain workshop either by the offshore or onshore team lead. The client business processes, enhancements, nuances in the client system are all discussed with the team member. This is all done as an upfront work before the actual project work starts. Also, during the hiring process one of the criteria is to hire people with a combined technical and functional expertise. This way they understand the software integrity better than a pure technical person. This is a very important need for an ERP software implementation.
6. Cultural Co-ordination
- This is by far a very important aspect to build synergy between the Digital teams as well as the relationship between client and the Digital offshore team members. Along with general cultural training, whenever time and budget allows, the offshore team members visit the client site. This helps them understand the client working environment better than conference calls alone.
- This is handled by creating very client/project centric teams on the offshore side. Digital has always tried to engage in a deliverable based model. The project teams are decided based on the nature and size of the project. The work allocation ensures that an offshore team member is providing full time commitment to the project. For example, teams who are specific to certain big enhancement projects will not be associated to other support related work.
- The project management style is a daily deliverable base approach. At a root level, every day of work should produce some tangible output which may take the project further to meet its deadline. It could be a research document, concept, design document, report, piece of working code, test plan; any deliverable which is a tangible piece of work is expected from the offshore members.
8. Disaster Recovery and Backup Resources
- Digital truly believes in a global presence and has substantial presence of the ERP teams both onsite and offshore. In case of any emergencies, if the need arises Digital also is quite capable of ramping up the required teams from a different office onsite or other locations. Also Digital’s capabilities to work with their partner companies also keep the resource pool available if the need arises.
9. The management of schedules of people causes a problem
- We have divided the timings between our resources to adjust to the onsite and offshore teams. When it comes to client meetings, they are always held during normal business hours at a client site. The onshore-offshore team’s co-ordinate at different hours of the day. The leads on both sides are responsible for their teams and their schedules. The client is never involved in schedule conflicts between the two regions.