Having employees or freelancers several thousand miles away in a different time zone can present its own set of problems, regardless of the difficulties of just trying to get everybody on the same page with a development.
The Agile and Scrum processes were direct responses to the needs of modern businesses, where employees might be clocking in in the morning as their comrades left for the evening. Having tasks chopped down into manageable and (very importantly) trackable chunks meant that it was suddenly possible to coordinate complex tasks across continents and get a result.
Communication is Key
There are a number of communication platforms that everybody can use together to keep communications and tasks in one place. Skype, WhatsApp, Google, they’ve all got ways of making sure everybody gets the message and knows what they’re doing. Uploading tasks to the cloud so everybody can access it, comment on, test and review it makes successful development much faster and more comprehensive. You need a revision quick? Push it into the cloud and see who can be allocated the task.
Yes, meetings. They shouldn’t be what everybody dreads, and with Agile they’re supposed to be kept to a minimum 10 minute “stand up” at the start of each work session. Not often the case in reality as there’s often a lot to discuss, when done right they can ensure everybody knows what they’re doing and when to do it. Outsourced tasks are treated largely the same as tasks taken inboard with the Scrum process, making it a (hopefully smooth) process.
When a development task is broken up into small slices and allocated in the Scrum process, employees are generally going away to work on their task and reporting in when they need help or have finished. To avoid this being isolating, having a meeting where everybody gets to report both helps people feel part of a team and makes sure everybody is doing the right thing. It’s not uncommon for someone to say in a meeting “no, that’s not what I asked for!” And that’s the benefit.
Work it out
What needs to be outsourced and what needs to be kept onshore? That is the question. An analysis with Agile can show you who has what skills and what time available, giving you a pretty quick answer to the question. You can then Scrum it and allocate where needs be. It sounds much simpler than it often is, but it is efficient when you get it right.
If you can, exploit the time difference. If they’re doing it right, at the end of the day all your employees and freelancers will report in at given times, meaning you can set tasks for the “night shift” to do in preparation for your “day shift”. This works for everybody as it keeps nobody waiting and makes everything much faster.
Know the Goal
Everyone on every team needs to know what they’re working towards and a rough path of how to get there. Especially your outsourced help, talk to them as much as possible, as often as possible about developments, improvements, revisions and the tasks at hand.