How To Effectively Manage An Offshore Team Of Developers

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Offshore TeamsThere are probably two primary reasons you would go with an offshore team.

(1) Your customers are also offshore, or (2) you’re hoping to save money on development costs.

I’m going to assume your reason is number (2).  Though this post is brief for such a complicated topic, it should give you some things to think about.  Yes, you can certainly save a lot on development expenses. Then again, it can come back to bite you in rework expenses if there are communication issues.

How do you bridge the language barrier?
(1) You need a go-to guy or gal who speaks the same language as your developers but will be working at your location. This is a must. Your probability for success is going to go way up by ensuring there is no breakdown in communications.

How do you receive the quality of code you need?
(1) Use continuous integration
(2) Use test scripts to understand requirements
(3) Use short iterations
(4) Have regular builds
(5) Separate teams by functionality (not activity)

How do you communicate?
(1) If you can afford to send/bring someone (an ambassador) over to work with the other team at the beginning of the project, do it.
(2) It is critical that your “go-to” has a daily meeting with the team. Select a method that allows each side to see one another. (webcam/Skype)
(3) Have everyone use Skype (VoIP) and/or a chat client for one-on-one communications.
(4) Keep a Skype connection open between the offices.
(5) Use wikis or other collaborative solutions for common project information.
(6) Stay away from email, unless it is for formal communication. Information is going to get lost along the way and it will take longer to clarify.

Remember to use parallel communication methods, not serial.

Free Total Project Status Report Template

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TPS ReportAs I study the collection and reporting of metrics and project statuses, I find many reports just do not deliver what they should. I believe there should be a stand-alone deliverable that a project manager is able to provide to a stakeholder at any time, illustrating the total project status.  I created a report and used the name “TPS Report” from the movie Office Space.  I try to interject a little humor into a project, where I can, without raising too many eyebrows.  Because I do not think I should keep all of the good stuff for myself, I hope others will download my free template.  It captures everything from overall project status to schedule, budget, scope, and quality, including a RAG (Red, Amber or Green) status.  What milestones were planned and accomplished?  What is planned for the next period?  Though I believe a subjective narrative does have its place in project reporting, I like the more objective approach.  Give your stakeholders the facts!
Please enjoy this free copy of  my Total Project Status Report Template.

Cost Variance and Project Management Terms

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If you’re looking to take the PMP exam, there are several definitions you need to know.  You MUST know and understand the definitions listed in the table below.

The exam won’t come right out and ask you “What does Actual Cost mean?”  The questions are more like:  “What kind of Variance do you have on a deliverable if the Earned Value is $75,000 and the Actual Cost is $77,000?�
I won’t tell you the answer. I will, however, tell you how to figure it out.
Cost Variance (CV) = Earned Value (EV) – Actual Cost (AC).
A negative cost variance means you are over budget.
A positive cost variance means you are under budget.

Term Acronym Definition
AC Actual Cost What is the actual cost realized from the work completed.
BAC Budget at Completion How much was budgeted for the total project?
EAC Estimate at Completion What is currently the expected TOTAL cost of the project?
ETC Estimate to Complete From this point on, how much MORE is it expected to cost to finish the project?
EV Earned Value What is the estimated value of the work actually completed?
PV Planned Value What is the estimated value of the work planned to be completed?
VAC Variance at Completion How much over or under budget is the project expected to be at the end?

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