Flexibility is one of the most prominent characteristics and an obvious advantage of outsourcing engagements. A team often located thousands of miles and multiple time zones away can be set up to work under different schedules and in different modes, giving the customer the level of flexibility virtually unattainable with regular in-house teams. In addition, the time zone difference can be leveraged for providing support services during night hours and round-the-clock maintenance.
This innate ability to adapt to the customer’s needs explains the various delivery models commonly used in outsourcing. Below are their high-level descriptions along with a brief list of advantages and shortcomings.
Offshore development team model
This most typical scenario is based on a dedicated team working on the vendor’s premises. The team uses the vendor’s infrastructure, tools and other means of production to deliver a particular product or service. Project coordination is carried out remotely by means of regular meetings with stakeholders and/or a product owner and local supervision by a project manager or scrum master.
The obvious benefit of this approach is the team’s autonomy and self-sufficiency. The customer invests a bare minimum of time and effort into managing the team and bears no extra expenses apart from the team’s cost and, possibly, the cost of equipment or materials required for the delivery of the project. Successful offshore development teams can potentially evolve into permanent dedicated centers working on their customers’ long-term projects.
The downside of this form of product delivery is that regular and often prolonged communications are vital for the success of the project and any interruption can bring the work to a halt. With no direct control over the delivery process, the customer is forced to rely on the maturity of the vendor and the quality of its production processes. In addition, this delivery model may not be the best choice for complex projects involving multiple parties and requiring frequent synchronizations between them.
This is arguably the most effective, yet the most expensive delivery model that implies the presence of the vendor’s employees on the customer’s premises at all times. This approach is used for the most time- or security-critical projects requiring specialists that are hard to find in or around the customer’s location. In this case, the customer essentially lends a team from the vendor for a particular period of time and assumes full responsibility for their visa arrangements, if needed, accommodation, onboarding, training, and management. This delivery model is not very common for outsourcing, as it is associated with considerable relocation expenses and legal paperwork, mostly in the non-compete and non-solicitation areas. However, in situations where the on-site presence of particular experts is vital for the success of the project, it may be the only option yielding tangible results. The increased overhead, in this case, is balanced out by the higher efficiency of the team and faster progress towards set goals.
Hybrid onsite/offshore model
Being the most common scenario in software development outsourcing, this approach is a combination of remote work and on-site visits of varying duration. As a rule, the first trip takes place immediately after the project kick-off or the project kick-off takes place when the first team (comprised of senior developers, business analysts, QA leads and a project manager, for intance) arrives at the customer’s office. It enables the vendor’s team members to quickly achieve the following:
- Get acquainted with their peers on the customer’s side
- Get fully introduced to the specifics of the project
- Get a clear picture of the customer’s business flows and unique needs
- Take part in a lot more meetings than they would if working remotely
- Agree on processes and communication patterns
- Define milestones and draft the roadmap
Going forward, other team members may regularly travel to the customer on a regular basis for knowledge transfer and getting in sync on project priorities. Such trips raise awareness on both sides of unresolved issues and improve cross-team communications. In the long run, good cross-team relationships enable both parties to benefit from extra proactivity, shorter reaction time and sense of belonging to a common cause.
Software delivery models used by Cortlex
Cortlex fully supports all major delivery models and is ready to adapt to the needs of its customers in every respect: from the size of the team and the skills of its members to the frequency of communications and tools used for time and issue tracking. We boast a comprehensive set of production processes that allow us to stay very productive even while acting autonomously or with irregular contacts with the customer. At the same time, we are always open to trying new approaches in project management and delivery.
Please feel free to contact us and tell us your story so that we can advise you on the optimal approach to your project.