Can Agile Methodology Be Applied to Outsourced Projects?

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Agile methodology is something that has fast become the status quo in many software development companies, but how can it help you? Let’s take a look at how you might combine it with outsourcing some of your essential functions. That way you can judge whether it’s a hit or miss in terms of what you want to get done.

The agile methodology in a nutshell

The bedrock of the agile approach is fluid and articulate communication. By having everyone working on a multitude of different tasks at any given time, you can leverage the diverse range of skills of your team. Every idea is then essentially voted on in many different ways by people with different skills and outlooks. Sounds pretty good from a creativity standpoint, doesn’t it?

Why agile processes can streamline outsourced projects

The great thing about agile methods is that, provided you have the right communication, you can scale indefinitely. It allows you to outsource, increase the size of your team, and step up your workload, significantly.

The more people you add to the mix, the more ideas you will have floating around. It will allow everything you come up with to be looked at from even more viewpoints and hopefully refined as a result. Once again, sounds like just the sort of thing you need if you want to find the creative spark that puts the competition in the shade.

What’s the overall aim of fusing agile methodologies and outsourcing?

Fusing agile methodology and outsourcing is an exciting idea and one that is being tried by some companies at the minute. At this point, it’s important to note that while ‘agile’ came from the software world, it’s now spreading like wildfire. That is due, in no small part, to the runaway success of the number of companies in that field.

By bringing the two together, you’re aiming to keep your workforce flexible and lean, while promoting exceptional communication. Imagine a company that could hire anyone they needed, for only as long as they needed, and have the benefit of all their skills. That’s the aim of the businesses that are trying to combine the two.

Where agile methodologies can run into difficulty

The one potentially dangerous pitfall with the agile approach to work is that it lives and dies by the quality of the communication. It’s all very well having all hands on deck and giving experienced people roles that are close to free rein, but you need communication to go along with it.

Without fluid communication, the left hand will not know what the right side is doing. It can be a significant issue for many reasons. Firstly, it will waste a lot of time and energy as everyone will have to check what everyone else is doing. This issue will then be compounded if you have outsourced essential functions to off-site staff. In an ideal world, everybody freely communicates what they’re working on. But when the communication flow dries up, you have no other option but to chase endlessly.

Another thing that you need to be wary of is the cardinal sin of creative endeavors: duplicated effort. If you have several teams all working on overlapping areas, then they need to be talking regularly and freely. If they don’t, you’ll end up paying to solve the same problems in a variety of slightly different ways; that’s no good to anyone.

The importance of the right fit, and how to spot it

Discovering the right fit is more art than science, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t essential pointers you should be on the lookout for.

Firstly, you want to ensure that everyone understands what other people in the team are responsible for. It ensures there are no errors in reporting or instances of people encroaching on one another’s remits.

Secondly, you need to lead from the front if you want to highlight the importance of communication to the collective output. Develop a culture where no one is afraid to approach anyone else, and where your outsourced staff feels valued. Emphasize fact sharing, precise and concise communication across all levels of the business.

You can always check our post “How To Manage Virtual Teams?” on successfully managing virtual teams in more detail!

Conclusion: Knowing which way to go

There is indeed value to be had from adopting the agile methodology in any workplace, but a balance needs to be struck. It’s no use trying to push a way of working onto your team that isn’t suitable for the types of tasks they need to tackle.

Start by creating a culture of fluid and open communication, and then use that as the foundation on which to build. You can then bring your outsourced team into a culture where they feel valued and have the contacts needed to make a difference to your business.