Often when trying to discuss QA services with the top managers of some fairly large companies, it is not uncommon to hear that the services of all providers in one region without exception are of low quality. Such generalized statements are honestly surprising, and it is even more disturbing that even such high-ranking people sometimes do not realize that they are equally involved in the success/failure of global interactions. So here we are going to try to break down thoughts on such a very important topic as building a model of successful global interaction. This topic may not be entirely new to discuss and you can probably find a lot of material on the subject, but we will parse through practical experience and knowledge (some good, some bad) and, more importantly, touches on various aspects of geographic presence, such as:
- A product company working with its geographically distanced branch;
- A product company working with development and QA services (outsourced) partners;
- A services company working with its geographically distanced branch;
- One services company working with another services company, to name a few.
Bottom line is that the best practices that outlined below are ones that are generalized and applicable to a varied set of scenarios in the global delivery model.
As we all go through and gradually come out of the vicious hands of recession, we can see all the lucrative tax benefits of doing work in-house. Given the man – power demand supply situation, it understands you will find excellent talent locally at a much more competitive price than before. Despite all of these attractive factors at play, one cannot completely ignore the positives of a “Global delivery model”; some very important ones being:
- An enhanced productivity cycle (sometimes even 24*5, depending on where your teams are based out of);
- Continued cost benefits;
- Expertise of local hires in native countries which is often invaluable if that market happens to be a launch pad for the product under development.
Weighing in all these pros and cons, it is important for the management to decide the balance of how much work to retain in-house, how much to get done from global delivery teams, where should such teams be located etc. Receive a detailed consultancy about needed QA specialists, tools, time consumption, workflow planning you might check out the website of the testing company Testfort.com.
Let’s now take a look at the best practices which will certainly help the management answer some of these key questions, helping them build a successful delivery model.
1.Planning Where and How to Do the Work:
Doing this right is very vital and stands proof to the saying “A job well begun is half done”. Going wrong at this step typically has adverse implications from a cost, quality, timeline and team morale standpoints. Some criteria to be had in mind while determining the location of a work module include:
- Complexity of the feature under development;
- Logical grouping of certain work modules to be handled by the same team;
- Sequencing and parallelizing of work modules to leverage and maximize productivity of global teams;
- Proximity to specialists: Consider outsourcing to Ukraine the testing of your software project and save funds without quality losses.
- Local team experience – for example, if the product under development is a student work application that will be used primarily in developing countries, schedule a lot of acceptance testing and usability testing in low-cost, non-target market countries.
2. Effective Relationship Building and Communication:
By effective communication, we don’t mean extra overhead that makes the communication process more cumbersome; this is often a misconception in a global delivery model. Granted, the communication factor is slightly more time consuming in this model compared to projects that are centralized in the same location. However, when the communication protocols are clearly laid and implemented upfront and everyone buys into it, it soon lends itself to a smooth delivery engine which in fact creates more time for the management to focus on more strategic tasks.
The key here is to blend a good balance of project/technical communication with non project/softer aspects of communication. Build your rapport/relationship by giving your global counterparts their deserved significance in planning meetings, project reviews, product demos meetings etc. which empowers them to succeed in their jobs as well as makes them feel a part of the larger team. At the same time, do not forget to share a lighter moment with them, which you would, if they were physically co-located with you.
Show your care and empathy for global teams even if it is a very small gesture. For e.g. if a weekly status meeting has long been happening in the morning PST, check to see if changing it to evening PST, for a few months, would make it easier, for a team in Asia or Europe. Keep your communication channels open and free flowing yet respecting each other’s work-life balance. Use both audio and video communication modes; video especially goes a long way in relationship building as you see the body language of the people talking making each other more comfortable in the conversation at hand.
3. Maintaining the Team Spirit and Using an Inclusive Management Approach:
This point does have a few overlaps with the earlier point on “relationship building through effective communication”; but there’s more to discuss specific to this best practice. One of the leading causes for the failure of a global delivery model is when teams don’t feel a sense of “togetherness” and this gets only further amplified by the lack of their physical proximity. The manager at whose levels the teams culminate, herein has a major responsibility of ensuring team bonding for which an embracing style of management is very important. Some things he/she should do to build and strengthen team spirit include:
- Acknowledging the contributions of global teams at periodic and appropriate intervals – this could be just a verbal acknowledgement or could be say a certificate signed by senior management etc.
- Ensuring morale events take place not just at the project hub but at all global locations;
- Decentralize work items effectively with a goal of giving interesting and challenging work to all teams;
- Promote cross geography team visits starting at his / her level:
– For e.g. Project review meetings can be conducted from different locations, each time.
– Encouraging engineers from varied locations to travel to other locations in such a way that it justifies the project costs involved – e.g. plan for travels during the product training, knowledge transfer, project ramp up phases. Such visits strengthen team bonding.
– If possible get the teams together for team outings.
4. Recognize and Respect Cultural Differences:
When global teams involve cross–geographies, this becomes especially important; taking some effort and due diligence to understand and appreciate cultural differences goes a long way in the overall program’s success. A few examples here include:
- Not everyone would have had English as their first language. Give them some time and support to help onboard them into the project’s rhythm.
- Holidays observed and celebrated vastly differ across the globe. Accommodate for these in your project plan.
- Individual’s aggressiveness and assertiveness quotients vary a lot based on his/her cultural background. Don’t pass by giving pep-talk sessions to help understand that “it is perfectly ok to say “NO” to a customer’s requirement”. Understand the team’s softer work aspects to provide any training they need to fill gaps that may exist.
- Some extra communication from the triage committee’s end and some education to the global teams about the time pressure under which triage meetings are held, would help avoid any personality clashes.
Last but not least
Setting up a global delivery model is an art and a science in itself. Though these are valuable guidelines that were defined and there may be others available for you with a simple search online, evaluate your situation at hand, before you decide which practice to implement and to what extent. You are the best judge here to bring in customization to suit your needs. Your experience is a valuable asset to help your engagement model succeed; however the above time-tested best practices will certainly help you go a long way, in the right direction.