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Challenges in managing offshore Agile teams

Posted by Jai on October 10, 2012

This post shares some of the challenges commonly encountered while managing offshore Agile teams. In general terms we do talk about self sustaining, self managing and independent Agile teams but freedom with responsibility always has some price to pay. Managing local teams is hard enough and the challenges becomes equally harder if we talk about distributed or offshore teams.

Outsourced/offshore co-ordination problems:

  • no idea how team on other side is working
  • how time is spent by the team
  • why it takes 2-3 hrs in doing 15-20 min job
  • why the productivity is different
  • is the concentration same that side
  • is the feeling of belonging to team and motivation same
  • how to track work status
  • how to work on communication plan
  • why expectation of once said and will get done is different
  • why the challenges are more in handling offshore
  • why it is hard to transfer functional and contextual knowledge

These are very common questions which sooner or later do come into discussion in retrospective or during round table between management discussions.

Long back written article on the same, Managing Offshore projects

some of the points mentioned are still valid in any of distributed/offshore teams,

  • Trust
  • Internal resistance with the notion of losing jobs
  • ROI (Return on Investment) not as expected
  • Culture and language barrier
  • Communication
  • Multiple Time zone
  • Multiple locations
  • Lack of visibility

Now a days we do have support of different development methodologies, practices and principles to minimize the overhead and lots of tools to support to cross the bridge. But at times we do come across these questions again and again, there is no silver bullet with single answer for the same. The best suited suggestion and even solution would be do go case by case and see what suits best to you and your team.


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