Integrating Agile with an Offshore Strategy
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Integrating Agile with an Offshore Strategy

A practical kit for adopting agile methods in distributed projects and teams

About the Book

What is this book about?

The key question that we try to address in this book is the practical side of *how to* work in an agile fashion with offshoring partners separated by space and often time as well. This book is a continuation of our work that was published first as an edited book in 2010, that concluded that more insight into the agile process adaptations, tool support, and business analysis are needed to succeed with blending agile methods across time and space. Back then we learned that companies shall "be prepared to work hard to get it right" since being agile in a global company requires patience and stamina. In this book, we focus on the management side of these transformations and sometimes talk about general challenges that are relevant for agile as well as non-agile companies. As such, agility is the part of the organizational context, which sets important values, boundaries and goals. We try not to take any stands on whether offshoring should be done or not, whether it is good or bad, but instead focus on how to be informed about the pros and cons, and how to improve ongoing collaborations. The recommendations included in this book are based on our understanding of the problems faced and solutions implemented by actual companies that we have personally collaborated with in research projects. Finally, we believe that after reading this book, the reader shall be more informed about the challenges and typical problems that are inherited in the nature of the offshore collaborations, and equipped with a number of practical solutions to address these challenges.

What is this book not about?

Reading this book will certainly be insufficient to understand all problems or solutions related to integrating agile with an offshoring strategy. We have not performed any systematic search of solutions, or validated our recommendations in all possible offshoring setups. Due to the diversity of the offshoring strategies, the differences in scale and the degree of agility in companies, what works for one company might certainly fail to help address similar challenges in another company. Therefore, we would recommend the readers to stay awake and evaluate the relevance of the context-specific recommendations, wherever appropriate. 

Who should read this book?

This book addresses the issues faced by different type of managers, from a CEO to the Line managers working closely with teams, from the strategic to tactical and operational levels. However, we believe that parts of this book might also be relevant and of interest for Agile coaches, Team leads, Product Owners, Software Engineers and especially students, who will later on find themselves working in modern software-intensive industry.

Why did we write this book?

Through our research, we see many companies still struggle by experimenting and adjusting their tactical approaches, learning through failure, and sometimes failing to diagnose the challenges and loosing time and money on something that could have been corrected, if only they knew what to look for. Through our teaching and professional training, we meet students with industrial experience, who confess falling into the problems discussed in the courses. On the question – *What shall we read,* we often say – *There is not much to read about it. *This is why we finally decided to summarize our experience and opinions in a set of practical recommendations for active and prospective practitioners. 

How will the book develop?

We have indicated that 90% of the book content is ready. This does not mean it is unfinished. We actually believe that this version is complete. At the same time, we do plan to work on the next version of the book, which will contain executive summaries for the readers who do not have the time to read it end-to-end. We also intend to better accommodate student readership, and address any other feedback we receive from the readers.

About the Authors

Darja Šmite
Darja Šmite

Darja Šmite is a professor of Software Engineering at Blekinge Institute of Technology and a part-time research scientist at SINTEF ICT. She has dedicatedly focused on understanding the impact of globalization and offshoring in software companies for more than a decade. She has conducted research with and for a number of international companies such as Spotify, Ericsson, ABB, Emerson Process Management, Boss Media, DXC Technology and Telenor, and has insights from working with offshore vendors in China, Croatia, India, Latvia, Poland, Portugal, Russia, and Ukraine.

Nils Brede Moe
Nils Brede Moe

Nils Brede Moe works with software process improvement, intellectual capital, and agile and global software development as a senior scientist at SINTEF. His research interests are related to organizational, socio-technical, and global/distributed aspects. His publications include several longitudinal studies on self-management, decision making, innovation, and teamwork from studies in Australia, China, USA, Poland, Russia, Ukraine, Poland and the Nordic countries. He has co-edited the books Agile Software Development: Current Research and Future Directions and Agility Across Time and Space: Implementing Agile Methods in Global Software Projects. He holds an adjunct position at the Blekinge Institute of Technology in Sweden.

Viktoria Stray
Viktoria Stray

Viktoria Stray is an associate professor at the University of Oslo’s Department of Informatics. She also works as a Research Scientist at SINTEF Digital. Her research interests include agile methods, global software engineering, teamwork, coordination and large-scale development. Her main focus is to improve productivity in software projects. Stray has a MSc in Computer Science (Norwegian University of Science and Technology and University of California, Santa Barbara), a PhD in Software Engineering (University of Oslo and University of New South Wales) and several years of industry experience (Accenture and Equinor). 

Table of Contents

  • Preface
  • Introduction
  • Acknowledgements
  • 1. Integrating agile with offshoring strategy
    • 1.1. Agile team shopping
    • 1.2. Virtual agile teams
    • 1.3. Global DevOps
    • 1.4. Globally distributed large-scale agile programs
  • 2. Creating good teams
    • 2.1 A well-working agile team in a global context
    • 2.2 Creating and supporting teams
    • 2.3 Establishing team norms
    • 2.4 Building knowledge networks
    • 2.5 Building trust
    • 2.6 Addressing cultural differences
    • 2.7 Onboarding new members
    • 2.8 Further reading
  • 3. Enabling effective communication and feedback
    • 3.1 Understanding coordination and communication needs
    • 3.2 Adjusting the daily stand-up meetings
    • 3.3 Implementing Scrum of Scrum meetings
    • 3.4 Retrospectives
    • 3.5 Conducting liftoff workshops in virtual agile teams
    • 3.6 Running demo meetings in distributed projects
    • 3.7 Synchronization artifacts
    • 3.8 Further reading
  • 4. Managing large-scale collaborations
    • 4.1. Understanding alignment needs
    • 4.2. Understanding governance needs
    • 4.3. Facilitating governance and alignment through CoPs
    • 4.4. Using architecture and centralization to address coordination challenges
    • 4.5. Meetings in large-scale distributed projects
    • 4.6. Key to success
    • 4.7. Further reading
  • Afterword
  • Notes

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