It is not enough to manage projects virtually, but to properly apply e-project management processes that result in less development time but with improved quality. This is about value and not just cutting costs, after all.
Advancements in telecommunication are among the key movers of offshore outsourcing. Without it, back-office operations and application development outsourcing will not be as successful as they are today. Better infrastructure has allowed for richer applications and cheaper communication that enable businesses and their outsourcing partners to manage people and projects efficiently from different time zones.
Adopting virtualization in managing project offers great competitive advantage to companies and offshore project teams . However, with the increasingly virtualized tech industry, it is not enough to manage projects virtually, but to properly apply e-project management processes that result in less development time but with improved quality. Remember that this is about value and not just cutting costs, after all.
To make a successful adoption of virtualization, a few key elements are involved.
Infrastructure – Both client and vendor must set up the infrastructure that can support virtualization efforts, particularly when the project at hand involves sensitive information. Both parties need the hardware and software to host VoIP calls, and in many cases, virtual private networks (VPN). At the start of the project, prioritize the acquisition of hardware, software, and bandwidth to support collaborative and communication efforts.
Communication Plans – Much of the success of adopting virtualization in depends heavily on communication. On-shore project members do not have the advantages of following up colleagues whenever they want or in person. Delivery teams, on the other hand, do not have the luxury of clarifying project details immediately. In this regard, it is best to set up communication plans that define identify proper channels and approaches. Are there available people on the other end of the communication line? When should the team use virtual meetings? Is e-mail enough to update one another about the project status? Who will project members ask about issues—specific persons or entire teams? Experts agree that it is better to err on the side of over-communication.
Control and Evaluation – On top of delivering results at a time when they are expected to, offshore project teams should report plans for manpower allocations and utilization, risks and issues, and milestones. By having these details, project teams—no matter where they are in the world—can evaluate project status and control risks. This also involves a single control system that allows for an easy generation and consolidation of data. At the end of every period—typically weekly or monthly—such data can be measured to evaluate the success of the project in terms of quality of work, manpower and financial investment, and the lessons learned from the venture.
Collaboration Tools – A repository accessible to every member of the delivery team should be put in place. Do not rely merely on multiple copies of outputs stored in individual folders. Versioning and project management software, such as SharePoint or Perforce, allow project team members to work on single source copies of outputs, as well as archiving, checking out and backtracking of works.