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Posts Tagged ‘Spotlight PPM’

Finding a Happy Medium: Distributed Team Communication

Spotlight Software is your go-to tool to facilitate communication within your team; however, there can be too much of a good thing, even where team communication is involved.  Over-communicating may be an especially pressing problem for teams that are changing and growing at a rapid pace, such as with start-ups and app development projects.

Team-Communication-Spotlight-SoftwareAccording to a recent article in Inc. Magazine, studies dating as far back as the 1970s showed that adding people to a project will put it further behind schedule.  The article summarizes an IBM project case study, which showed that:

Every time some aspect of the project fell behind schedule, IBM assigned a few more people to the task. And what [the study’s author] Brook’s noticed, which still surprises people, is that this didn’t work. His observation came to be known as Brooks’ Law: Adding people to a late project tends to make it run later still.

At the heart of the issue lies the growth of an organization or team.  As the number of team members increases, so too does the need for more communication between individuals.  In the beginning stages, a project may only involve a handful of individuals who are involved in all areas of development.  But as the team grows, positions tend to become more specialized, meaning that, while the number of individuals involved in communication increases, not every team member may need (or want) to know everything that’s going on.  It’s been documented that most meetings – nearly half, according to the Harvard Business School – are unnecessary and hence, unproductive, in part because of over-communicating.  Email may be a contributing factor, making it easy to invite a whole list of people or, as with some web mail applications, suggesting names to add to a list, even if those people are only loosely connected to the department at hand.

Spotlight tackles the issue of over-communicating by allowing for specialized reports and focused dialogue. Unlike other task management tools, with Spotlight, users have control over what’s important. While Spotlight offers a top-quality task management system, the real strength lies in its ability to help manage people and encourage timely, appropriate communication among virtual teams. By using social network-like communication tools, virtual teams communicate even better than in an office because users quickly see what others are working on at any time of the day.

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Measuring Quality in Offshore Software Development

Posted by: Seth Weedin

The term ‘quality’ comes up a lot when considering an offshore software development strategy. Any business that has thought about offshore software development as an alternative to hiring in-house often asks themselves, “How can I still ensure a quality product at the end of the day?” This tunnel vision of only thinking about quality in terms of the final product is what gets businesses into trouble when offshoring. Quality isn’t only about the final product; it starts the minute you decide to take the offshore development route.

Using an offshore software development team can be very successful and produce high quality applications. But the quality starts from day one of the project. An industry disrupting application doesn’t just happen with a talented developer putting his or her head down and writing the application. It definitely helps to have an experienced development team but the quality and success of the product is all about how the project is managed from the start.

Turning your software idea into a quality and robust application often comes down to three areas: preparation, people, and processes.

Ensuring Quality in Offshore Software Development

(Credit: Udayan Banerjee)

Preparation

Businesses thinking in the short term don’t often do all the necessary preparation. They just know they don’t have the people to build the software in-house or the resources to hire full-time. So the project is sent out the door to a cheap outsourcing firm with hopes for a quality application in 6 weeks. The horror stories often heard with offshore software development start right here.

Do all your homework first. This means having your idea clearly mapped out and a detailed software requirements analysis written. The fact of the matter is most offshore service providers will only produce exactly what is given to them. So go heavy on the details of your product roadmap. Ensure your management team and stakeholders understand each and every requirement that will form the roadmap. Show it to one of your colleagues with development experience for further validation. This will save a lot of headache when revealing the requirements to an offshore partner and help to ensure the quality will be built right in.

People

The requirements analysis have been written and a product roadmap in place. Now it’s time to engage the right people who will create that quality app you are looking for.

An offshore software development company will usually hand pick the people within their company to develop the software. It’s advisable not to let this happen and ensure you have an influence into the hiring decision. Thoroughly vet the software developers being considered even if it requires a few days. The best way to really get a sense of how they’ll work with your team and their talent? Hand them a short development task and see how they handle it. A payment may be required for this task but a mere $50 is worth the trouble if it validates you will get a quality product in the end.

Considering freelancers from sites such as Freelancer can offer more control over the project and team than a traditional, large offshore company. In this scenario, you have complete control over your team instead of trying to work through several people in a large company. Finding the right people will help make the process of working together smoother.

Process

The process of putting the project in motion begins the actual management phase. This mainly boils down to the question “How will we work together?”

First, ensure the requirements analysis are understood and agreed on by everyone involved on the development side. This will put the team all on the same page and working towards the same goal. The detailed nature of the requirements analysis helps build in the quality, not allowing the team to overlook something.

Ensuring a productive environment, especially in an offshore software development setting, requires constant communication. It’s the key to moving the project toward delivery. Frequent communication eliminates the “black box” businesses often find when the offshore team implements their own processes and they have no visual into them. Using an online collaboration tool like Spotlight can provide the needed visibility into the project and team through its social media based communication platform.

Processes also need to be implemented for dealing with uncertainties, how issues are handled, and many more factors. Having a process that the offshore team can follow for almost any scenario will create a high quality software development process.

Conclusion

With careful planning and preparation, using an offshore software development strategy can result in that quality product a business looks for at the end of the project. But quality service and development isn’t all about the written code, it’s engrained into a process that starts at day one.

Now it’s your turn, so let’s hear some great success stories about your business offshoring a software project. How did you manage that process? And if you are having trouble with a current software project or team, try a 30-day free trial of Spotlight to get your team and project back on track.

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