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.Net Project for a Danish Company

Option Matrix has been working over last 2 years for an IT solutions firm in Denmark that provides portal solutions to sports clubs

Offshore Coordination

Offshore Development Center Communication Plan defines the interaction between our offshore software development team members and the client team associated with the project.

Overview

Offshore Development Center Communication Plan defines the interaction between our offshore software development team members and the client team associated with the project. For smooth interaction with the client, you require:

  • A list of the important contact ways and phone numbers of the various ITOI and client team members.
  • The planned communication methods and techniques.
  • The templates to be used for the planned communications.

The various methods of communication used in Software Offshore Development Communication Plan are discussed below.

Step 1

Meeting the client – It is initiated for the client and usually the mode of communication is face to face. It is scheduled for once in a week (day and time to be decided). It is a standard status meeting with a predefined agenda.

Step 2

The communication process is done through Internet Messenger Meeting / Teleconference in the mornings. If needed, video-conferences are conducted. It is initiated by the project manager to update the client about the progress.

Step 3

The last one is to communicate about Application Development Issues. Initiated by the client’s team, it is conducted as needed. The mode of communication is Internet Messenger Meeting/Teleconference. It is used to record and track Application Development issues on an ongoing basis.

The offshore development center communication plan goes a long way in ensuring that the communication between the parties involved and the progress of the software development concerned is undeterred.

Communication Channels – Example

Communications is one of the main factors in any sizable IT effort, and for offshore engagements it’s impossible to overstate the value and importance of it. How the communications are planned, maintained and controlled depends on variety of factors: size of the engagement, SDLC and project management methodology, organizational maturity on both sides, time zone differences, complexity of domain or technology just to name a few. The first step in ensuring solid communications is planning. The communications plan should outline all the most important components of the process, media, participating parties, etc. I prefer to use PMP style communication plans even for small engagements. It doesn’t mean that you should establish PMO structure and write 10 page meeting notes after every phone call, you only need to take some standard template and adjust it for your specific case. Here is an example how a meetings section of a simplified communication plan might look:

Best Practices from Our experience

Communications as any other process has a tendency to deteriorate unless enforced and controlled. Small ad hoc changes, cancelling meetings for convenience or scheduling constraints, and focus of executive sponsors drifting away accumulate resulting in communications break down and a domino effect on multiple aspects of the engagement. There is no panacea or one-fit-all solution for keeping communications intact and maintaining their quality. Below are some good practices that we use as a checklist to design our coordination plans:

  • Consider steering committee / PMO structure or some other org structure with the sole / prime objective of governing the engagement
  • Audit activities, if size of the engagement allows, consider dedicated auditing group. Dedicated auditing is fairly expensive proposition, one of the easiest way of doing it using a third party perform the audits. Engaging outsourcing advisors for these activities could work out quite well.
  • Consider a dedicated offshore manager; a person responsible for all aspects of the offshore activities. The person should have very solid PM/PMO skills, in-depth understanding of the processes such as SDLC, strong knowledge of the domain, and of course understanding of the offshore.
  • Project Wiki and/or dashboard. That’s a great helper with relatively low support overhead. Some vendors offer such tools as part of their offering. I consider that big value-add. In case vendor doesn’t offer the out-of-box project dashboard you should build one using some open source wiki, SharePoint or any tool you are familiar with.
  • Time tracking. While not a communication tool and bane of existence for people on the team Time Tracking is unbeatable control tool that offers insights in the time allocation and forces you to communicate when any odd behaviour is detected.
  • IM tools with VoIP features, in particular I recommend Skype. The value of instant access to resources is difficult to overestimate.
  • Open group chats using Skype or other IM technologies. A great way to stay abreast of what’s going on the project, pick up important communication breakdown clues, control information flow.
  • There are plenty of great team collaboration tools starting with fairly simple ones like Google docs or base-camp and all the way to high end enterprise style applications.