How to Use Outsourcing In an Agile World

Agility is key to staying competitive and responsive to ever-changing market demands. One powerful strategy for achieving agility is outsourcing – delegating specific tasks or functions to external partners or service providers. By leveraging outsourcing in an agile world, businesses can access specialized expertise, scale resources as needed, and accelerate project timelines. In this article, we’ll explore how outsourcing aligns with the principles of agility and discuss practical tips for effectively integrating outsourcing into agile workflows.

What is Agile Project Management?

Agile or agile project methodology refers to an iterative and flexible method of planning and supervising project practices that dismantles them into minuscule cycles called iterations or sprints. A sprint typically runs from a couple of days to a few weeks.

However, the benefit of this method is that it allows teams to release segments when they are complete instead of waiting until the whole project has ended. Thus, if there are any errors, these can be corrected quickly. An agile methodology lessens the risks for large-scale failures, with ongoing development during the project lifecycle

What is an Agile Mindset?

What the agile project management approach values the most are customer collaboration, people and their interactions, working software, and the ability to adapt to change. Moreover, with the agile mindset pinned to the agile manifesto, this approach follows a set of values and principles. 

The agile method

Agile Methodology and Outsourcing 

The agile concept seems to be in opposition to traditional outsourcing. How can an agile model, which emphasizes teamwork, work together with the traditional outsourcing model? The traditional model involves sourcing workers who follow instructions and do not work collaboratively.

To argue more in-depth, many following an agile method believe that staff must be insourced. Such people believe that outsourcing is a fruitless exercise despite offering business cost savings and introducing much-needed skill sets. Nevertheless, businesses introducing agile methods can also resort to outsourcing − a blended approach allows for benefits of both worlds.

problem and solution

The Problem

When a business adds an outsourcing agency to its staffing component, the in-house team can delegate the project to its virtual assistants.

Equally, the virtual assistants can return projects to the in-house team. This is also called a waterfall model, indicating a cascade between these steps. The agile method stresses interdisciplinary teams working meticulously together throughout agile sprints.

The argument is that the teams will share information, solve issues, and maintain a viable product. The agile method also demands that the team members work on the project as equals; there must be flexibility should change be needed. After that, action must be prompt and efficient. One team may not punt against the other − both must execute the action in unison.

The Solution

Any barriers between the business and the outsourcing agency must be removed to encourage a company that has adopted an agile method to benefit from outsourcing.

Also, all members must work side by side − such can be physically together virtually. This comprises a distributed agile approach.

In this approach, the various squads comprise in-house staff and virtual assistants. In these squads, members are equal. Members should have a one-time mindset focused on the needs of the end users and seeking solutions to address these.

The result can be productive and passionate teams adopting a distributed agile approach—meanwhile, the business benefits from ongoing cost savings, owing to outsourcing some tasks.

Distributed Agile in Action

One must evaluate the various models for effective synergy between the business and the outsourced staff.

  • First Model: Most staff work onsite from a primary location, reporting in person to the business.
  • Second Model:  Similar to the first, but with product owners, scrum masters, and business analysts to ensure quality assurance.
  • Third model:  The product owner, together with the onsite employees of the business, is based at the central business location, and the rest of the team works remotely.

One should add that scrum masters can be from the business or outsourced, with testers and developers, for instance, being outsourced.

Determine the Significance of Juxtapositioning

Some businesses believe an agile method demands collocation, but collocation depends on the project. For instance, collating a call center functioning completed offshore is unnecessary. So long as functionality and all other requirements are met, remote workers are possible.

Select the Distributed Agile Model

Selecting the most suitable version of the distributed agile model for each project means grasping and accommodating appropriate tradeoffs. Such is seen mainly in obtainable knowledge, costs, and teamwork. Many businesses will opt for either Model One or Two.

These two models are pricey, as businesses must lean more on their staff. However, irrespective of the model selected, should there be any changes, the model must be reviewed to match the project’s needs.

However, moving towards the third model is suggested to increase cost savings, but only if the processes and systems are stable and the development is not critical to the business.

Only after the distributed agile model is selected can the business seek outsourced staff from an outsourcing agency. This will include adding new team practices, technologies, and tools to ensure proper communication and output.

However, there is a benefit when a business uses an outsourcing agency; the risk is shared. What is essential is to have clear and effective communication in stating the company needs to ensure that the correct talent is sourced to complete the tasks. The company can also make changes. This may mean onboarding more assistants or even offboarding assistants.

New Team Practices

With an agile method, the reporting structure differs from traditional outsourcing models, with everyone working on the same product.

However, there are still various levels of seniority or expertise. Therefore, a new best practice helps ensure a smooth path forward.

Build a Shared Culture

An essential practice in distributed agile is developing a culture in which people share an understanding of the agile principles and the different roles each will take.

The business should coach its on-site and outsourced staff to ensure the efficacy of the cultural change. The minds of the on-site staff will be set at ease should they fear that outsourced staff will replace them.

Moreover, the goal is to create a team, even if the team members are different people in different groups.

Facilitate Collocation

Collocation is an additional critical practice, regardless of which model is selected.

This can be vital throughout the first two or three sprints before any crucial, measurable deliverables are due. Certain team participants should collocate during that early stage, and teams can direct representatives to visit the business regularly.

After a team is thoroughly merged, representatives may need to visit less. Squad members in diverse time zones must amend their work timetables if not collocated. Doing so will produce devoted time slots with a three-to-four-hour overlap.

They can then connect with other staff members using videoconferencing tools such as Zoom or Tauria.

Make a Total Commitment

A team must be fully dedicated to all agile rituals once every two weeks to promote progress, show projects under development, and split the work between team members. These rituals should be undertaken once all team members, even those in different time zones, can join in. Team members should be trained to appreciate that every meeting is significant.

Empower Vendor Resources

If business employees cannot make decisions, progress will be slow. The business must ensure that outsourced staff members are empowered to make choices and to move ahead between meetings rather than waiting for the go-ahead from the product owner.

If a staff member blunders, this can be corrected, especially given the highly iterative nature of agile progress.

Tools and Technologies

Businesses that select a distributed agile method must utilize tools and technologies to improve communication and output. Essential teamwork tools for screen sharing and messaging are the smallest enablers of effective communication.

Teams likewise must use communication tools that can gather everyone for live discussions. All team members must use the same platform. Everyone has the right to use high-quality audio and video apparatus for conferencing, tools that aid collaborative writing, and whiteboard sessions.

All team members should have access to agile life-cycle management tools that will increase transparency and aid in tracking KPIs. They should also have the right to use the same development environment for constructing, testing, and organizing new products and services.

Moreover, businesses must create a united pipeline of work that permits team members in diverse time zones to continue working on products after team members in other time zones have ended their day’s work.

Collaboration might not always be achievable initially. In one example, a business established that virtual assistants were repeatedly omitting videoconferences by US-based members—but not for the motives it anticipated.

The virtual assistants had some practical restraints. The virtual assistants could not stay late for videoconferences; their office is in an unsafe area in the evenings. Virtual team members could not join video meetings at home due to a lack of essential internet bandwidth. This situation was resolved by reimbursing the costs of high-speed internet connections in the homes of persons who required it.

Applying agile methods of working through a business is a long journey. Using an outsourcing agency to join you on the trip can allow your business to transform and develop while still being able to reap the rewards of outsourcing.

Moreover, a distributed agile partnership calls for a company and the outsourcing agency to work and adapt. For those who succeed, the rewards are substantial. This includes lower costs, access to a vast pool of technology-savvy staff, and the ability to work uninterruptedly and speedily, even across various time zones. 

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