If we accept the notion that we need to figure out how to work with outsourcing
because it's more likely to increase than decrease or stagnate, then it would be beneficial for us to become
"Distributed Software Development Experts" (Fowler, pg 169).
To do that, you need to overcome challenges associated
with non-colocated teams that exceed those experienced by teams who work in the same geographic location.
Chad lists a few of them in this week's advice from
My Job Went To India
(I'm not quoting):
Communication bandwidth is lower when it's not face to face. Most will be done through email,
so most of it will suck comparatively.
Being in (often widely) different time zones means synchronous communication is limited to few overlapping
hours of work. If you get stuck and need an answer, you stay stuck until you're in one of those overlaps.
Language and cultural barriers contribute to dysfunctional communication. You might need an accent to accent
translator to desuckify things.
Because of poor communication, we could find ourselves in situations where we don't know what each other
is doing. That leads to duplicative work in some cases, and undone work in others. Which leads to
more sucking for your team.
The bad news is that there's a lot of potential to suck. The good news is there's already a model
for successful and unsuccessful geographically distributed projects: those of open source.
You can learn in the trenches by participating. You can find others' viewpoints on successes and
failures by asking them directly, or by reviewing
open source project case studies
Try to think about the differences and be creative with ways to address them.
Doing that means you'll be better equipped to cope with challenges inherent
with outsourced development. And it puts you miles ahead of your bitchenmoaning colleagues who end
up trying to subvert the outsourcing model.
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