In any case, communication should be a top priority in this relationship, as according to a Price Waterhouse Coopers 2007 global outsourcing survey, 69% of outsourcing deals fail, in whole or part. Actually poor communication and unclear expectations are very frequently the main reason outsourcing deals fail
More people mean more lines of communication, more opportunities for miscommunication, and more misunderstandings and mistakes. Mistakes are much harder to see and fix in outsourced projects. First, the parties must clearly agree on the expectations from the outsourcing team, the deliverables and the <<Vipul – Communication is a two way street. Often the problem arises because the client is unable to understand the MEANING of what is being said. In India we have often found that our method of saying No is not as straight forward as in the USA or Europe. We almost never say no to anything. This causes unrealistic expectations. Indians are often reluctant to give bad news immediately. This results in late surprises esp. when you can’t read the non-verbal cues. Some people, where their written communication is better than verbal, prefer not to communicate in conference calls. This results in impersonal communication. Emails are an impersonal means of communication. Phone calls are better, video calls even better and in-person meetings are best. Once you can associate a face to a name then emails, calls all become easier and more effective.>>
I was advised by my manager that if you want to win trust of people, you need to respond quickly and in such a way that the matter doesn’t need any more communication, if possible. If more communication is required try to answer emails in such time span that matters can be resolved on the same day. For example, first thing in the morning, answer emails from Japan and if you are catching tail end of work somewhere else, like USA from India. This will give them time to respond and you to respond back. Changing your working hours so that you can get some overlap with the clients is also very important esp. if you have 12 hour time zone difference.
Most IT organizations experience a 20% decline in productivity during the first year of an agreement, largely due to time spent transferring both technical and business knowledge to the vendor. Many offshore vendors are deploying video conferencing (avoiding travel) and classroom settings (creating one-to-many transfer) to improve the efficacy of knowledge transfer. In addition, employee turnover often places a burden on the IT organization to provide additional information for new team members. <<Vipul - One method we have tried to use is recording of knowledge transfer sessions and then later editing those to make them short and compact, esp. if we are dealing with complex topics and/or high turnover of people. Wikis also help. Creating FAQ also help. Asking clients for same information again and again makes for a very bad experience.>>
Your company and your offshore outsourcing partner should have a clear common goal a successful project.
Even small incidents can appear as big, relation threatening in absence of trust and big incidents can be handled easily when trust exists. Raising negative information as soon as possible, admitting to mistakes and putting measures in place to avoid repeat behavior is very important for building trust. In one case We found out that our productivity was 1/5 th of what we had initially projected. After trying hard to improve productivity we found that we could not increase it beyond 1/4 th of initial prediction. We called for a face to face meeting with the client, explained the situation, told them about why productivity was low and invited their teams to spend time with us to 1. understand why we were low on productivity and where were the problems. They were upset but reluctantly agreed to spend that time. After spending a week with us they realized that the mistake wasn’t ours. There were a number of reasons – 1. Issues with test cases not being updated consequently our actual results seldom matched the expected results in the test cases resulting in long cycles of clarification. 2. Environment availability 3. Slow speed of their link. From our side we kept two extra resources (low experience, low cost) as back up resources who could take up extra work or deliver more work. We did not charge them anything. These measures helped restore the client confidence in us.>>
In one case we found out that the person who was responsible for outsourcing decision was battling political battles in his organization and some people wanted him to fail. We made sure that we deliver so that the trust placed in us by the person is not broken. Once we delivered good results the political opposition died down and sailing was smooth. In other case when our sponsor left the company, we were ill-prepared because we had not interacted at top level with other people. Soon for various reasons we were thrown out of that account. One need not indulge in the politics but one needs to be aware of it and make sure that people in client organization are aware of good work done by you.
Skill training + motivation training, making sure that the whole team shares the same goal – delivery of a successful product Good feedback is vital for the team morale. The outsourcing team, esp. the testers, should know that they are valuable contributors to the project. Special attention to managing people, knowing their needs should be paid.
Weekly status for project is not sufficient. One needs to engage at multiple levels so that in cases of escalation things can be handled. Small projects but extensive metrics program to capture data result in too much overhead. One needs to sit with the client to understand how do we measure the health of the project, what are the parameters and what is the effort in capturing the data. There are some standard metrics – Milestones, Effort, Defect and Test case based data. Risk is one which is often missed out. Follow top 5/10 risk every week and once a month perform complete risk analysis for long term projects. For short term projects it may be done informally. Customer satisfaction is another thing that needs to be measured at the end of every project and annually covering larger cross-sections of client management.
Testing depends on everything, and if the scope creeps or developers fail to deliver the product, time for testing is reduced. Solution: risk-based and prioritized testing. Equipment acquisition includes not only persuading your client to provide you with some specific equipment, but also issues related to customs and delivery. Do not underestimate them!
Frequent problem areas Access to application to be automated Application keeps evolving. Customers might expect automation done on a given build to work on more recent builds Number of application instances. If multiple people need to automate, they might need multiple environments, tool licenses, database instances etc. Lack of precisely documented test STEPS Lack of domain knowledge in automation teams and client resources having no time to do handholding, knowledge transfer, resolve queries Not sharing development plans often leaves odd-shore team automating things that need not be automated or are incorrectly automated
Work culture – some countries treat work above everything and some treat family first. Some people can’t say no but one has to understand the no How to explain to a German what is the reason for the 9 th of May Holiday? client and service provider may have different norms in terms of speed, style, decision making and organizational structure. Sometimes both organizations can take extreme, inflexible positions that serve to create tension or distrust (e.g, the client taking a position that “I don’t care what the contract says, I’m the customer” and the service provider equally digging in its heels and taking a view that “we are delivering to contract specifications”).
Tests executed, cycles done, tests created etc. are common productivity metrics for testing. For automation – scripts converted/created, framework functions created are some others. Outcome based testing is becoming popular where outcomes like number of defects found, tests run, field defects found etc. are used as parameters for testing effectiveness and efficiency.
clarify the responsibilities and role of each party determine how often reports (with what level of detail!) are to be made and to whom. some cultures, might not feel comfortable reporting problems, or giving bad news. This is why you should realistically define success, and give clear measurements for it.
Lessons learnt in outsourcedproject delivery. Test team view from India and CIS By Vipul Kocher & Kateryna Nesmyelova
Vipul KocherVipul Kocher is a Co-founder of PureTesting, a global testing services organization.He has over 17 years of testing experience. He built and led testing teams at reputed companies such as Adobe Systems, Aplion Networks and River Run Software Group.Vipul has presented papers and tutorials at various international testing conferences throughout the world. He is also the inventor of Q-Patterns, a method of capturing testing knowledge, and writing reusable test cases and Extension to Noun- and-Verb technique – a test design method.Vipul is also President of the Indian Testing Board, Indian National Board of the ISTQB. By Vipul Kocher & Kateryna Nesmyelova
Kateryna Nesmyelova8+ years in software testing. Kateryna specializes in functional testing and test management. She participated in testing of various projects - from medical systems to the systems of primary stock market for the worlds largest banks and innovative power management in large data centers.QA Club speaker and trainer, Kateryna conducts a training to prepare for the Foundation Level ISTQB certification and a project for ISTQB - certification within QAClub since 2009.Member of USQB, Ukrainian branch of ISTQB, since 2010;owner of the ISTQB Full Advanced Certificate. By Vipul Kocher & Kateryna Nesmyelova
What You Can’t OutsourceBy Vipul Kocher & Kateryna Nesmyelova
Topics to be covered1. Knowledge transfer.2. Communication issues, taking into consideration time gap and language issues.3. Team Management (Governance).4. Different goals for the in-house and outsourcing team.5. Team issues (such as insufficient qualification of team members, team member leaving the team etc.)6. Peculiar testing issues (test environment and test bed issues etc.)7. Automation.8. Cultural issues. By Vipul Kocher & Kateryna Nesmyelova
Reasons to FailBy Vipul Kocher & Kateryna Nesmyelova
Communication issues-Wrong expectations-Time zones difference-Language problems (insufficientknowledge of the communicationlanguage)-Slow reaction to requests-Lack of feedback By Vipul Kocher & Kateryna Nesmyelova
Time ZonesIf you work with multiple locations of one client how to handle time zones?Golden rule - Respond to those ahead of you first and those after you laterFlexibility in working hours required to get some overlap with the clients By Vipul Kocher & Kateryna Nesmyelova
Knowledge Transfer-Fear of knowledge loss-Insufficient business knowledge-Too little documentations-Afraid to ask questions By Vipul Kocher & Kateryna Nesmyelova
Different goals-In-house team goal: make asuccessful product-Outsource/outstaff team goal:sell as many man-hours aspossible (independently on theproduct success).-Different goals for each teammember. By Vipul Kocher & Kateryna Nesmyelova
Trust•Trust about capabilities, intentions,security of information etc. is built overtime.•What is your strategy for building trust?•Some activities:–Face-to-face time of key people from both sides–Doing something “extra” without charging customers–Flexibility, willingness to adjust–Consistent delivery By Vipul Kocher & Kateryna Nesmyelova
Vested InterestOffshoring may–put a fear of Job loss in minds of client’s employees–Some of them may want to see off-shoring failWho is your champion in the client organization who would want you to succeed?Don’t get caught in the politics of your client By Vipul Kocher & Kateryna Nesmyelova
Team issues-Lack of management astuteness tounderstand problems before they happen-Lack of skills/expertise-Hiring wrong people-Process Discipline-Lack of resources-Lack of ownership By Vipul Kocher & Kateryna Nesmyelova
Team Management (Governance).-Turnover of key personnel-Too many managers on both sides / Nomanagement in Agile development By Vipul Kocher & Kateryna Nesmyelova
GovernanceWhat is your governance strategy and plan?–When it is a small project–When it is a large projectWhat are the parameters that you measure and analyze?Perform Risk analysis periodically – both project risk analysis and quality risk analysisWhat is the frequency with which you engage with client? At what levels?Engage with the client at multiple levels,going up as high as possible By Vipul Kocher & Kateryna Nesmyelova
Peculiar testing issues-High level of dependency-Shared environment-Equipment acquisition By Vipul Kocher & Kateryna Nesmyelova
Automation–Access to application to be automated–Scripts support and–creation–Environmental and–tool needs–Lack of precisely–documented test STEPS–Lack of domain knowledge inautomation teams–Not sharing development plans By Vipul Kocher & Kateryna Nesmyelova
Culture IssuesImportant to–understand the culture of the client–help them understand your cultureMost important points related to culture–What is the meaning and method of sayingYes/No in that culture–What are the main festivals and holidays–What are the religious, social sensitivities–What is the work culture? By Vipul Kocher & Kateryna Nesmyelova
ProductivityWhat are the client expectations of productivity?How are you measuring these?What are the factors that impact your productivity?What are you doing to communicate these to the client? By Vipul Kocher & Kateryna Nesmyelova
Conclusions-Set common goals-Align expectations-Good communication is a key tosuccess-Manage carefully-Monitor and motivate people-Make the common process as clear aspossible By Vipul Kocher & Kateryna Nesmyelova