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Managing Offshore Software Development

3d person and globe
Originally uploaded by 姒儿喵喵

Over the last decade, many lessons have been learned about sending software development work overseas. These lessons have been documented in books, magazines and blogs the world over. Many lessons are similar to those that you would face if you chose a consultancy down the street from you. Others are simply lessons of doing business with cultures foreign to your own.

For those who have been working with offshore partners for a number of years, what I write here on the subject will be a “no duh” moment. Others looking to embark on a pilot of sending work overseas may think “this won’t happen to me.” Regardless – what I write over the coming weeks and years will be my observations and a sort of record of my experiences.

My thought for today is this -> It can be more challenging than it might appear. On the surface, the idea sounds great. You do the customer interactions, the requirements definition and design work – then turn it over to your partners to implement. But what if there are issues? When the work is done within 3 timezones of yourself, getting people together to discuss the issue is very straightforward. Even emailing back and forth is possible when the timezones are close.

But the problem with sending work 12 timezones away is the lag in time. If there is an issue that impacts delivery dates, resolving it via email is a guaranteed way to miss your deadline. One model that has worked well is to use an “onshore coordinator” – a technical individual that works for your offshore partner whose job is to interface with you and the offshore team and work across time boundaries to get issues resolved. 

One final thought on this matter is this -> no matter which of the above options you take, whether you have an onshore coordinator or you are up at midnight on the phone – YOU are the bottleneck. It may be that the team overseas is incompetent, but it’s your job to make them competent (or take some other action). If systems are unreachable, requirements are unclear, or deliverables are of poor quality it is your responsibility to remove the obstacles and rectify the situation. If you execute well, your chances for a successful program are higher.

The Year Ahead in Sport and Career

My focus this year is on nutrition and quality events. For the first time since 2007, there is no full distance Ironman triathlon on my race calendar. I am hoping this will allow me to focus on shedding more weight and building my capacity rather than focusing on getting ready to “get through” a 140.6 mile race. I have picked a handful of triathlons including 2 half-iron distance endeavors. I have also set my sights on 4 or 5 marathons with the goal of going under the 4 hour mark for the first time.

On the work front, my responsibilities are slowly increasing. I have a small portfolio of projects that I’m slated to deliver by the end of March and it is giving me a good taste of the rigors of resource, risk, and plan management at that level. The budget and scope are smaller than the largest project I managed, but has been a good way to get my feet wet in this arena that I hope to fully move into one day. During the 2nd half of 2010, I will likely be involved with revamping either our dot com or intranet platform (or both!). I’m looking forward to the opportunity to continue to grow. I’ll yap more about this in March when I look back on my tenure at McKesson.

2010 Resolution Run 10K Race Report

The Chic-Fil-A Santa Cow
Originally uploaded by Iron Mike Schubert

Happy 2k10 to ya! This year has started off in much the same tradition as the past 5, with a 10k run at high noon.

This year’s Atlanta Track Club Resolution Run marked a major departure from years past. This used to be a low-key event where you registered only on race day, it was free to members ($5 to non-members) and maybe 400 people or so ran it. This year, pre-registration was mandatory, it was chip timed, and around 1700 people signed up between the 5k and 10k.

The temperature at

race start was somewhere between 35 and 40, with 10mph winds. It was very difficult to dress for this event. There were times I felt overdressed (no wind and in the sun) and times that I froze my ass off (shade and wind). I simply couldn’t win. In the end, I ran my best for the day and turned in a reasonable 56 minute time. That’s a full minute per mile slower than when I turned in a 49:xx time in 2008. Most importantly, I had a good time and started the new year off right.