Scope Management and Communication Issues in Outsourced Projects


It might or might not sound surprising but we cannot recommend a universally suitable approach to outsourcing your project. It’s always a complex challenge. You will have to deal with multiple issues related to three basic constituents of an outsourced project:

1. The scope of software development projects;

2. The process through which deliverables are implemented;

3. The customers/users at the front-end, in-house staff, as well as vendor(s) at the back-end.

Unfortunately, there are no guarantees that your project will be successful even if you deal with everything from the aforementioned list. The most important point is to tailor your approach to match your specific needs.

After you choose the vendor, you need to make several decisions:

1. Define the type of project you want to outsource and how it will impact the overall process;

2. Specify the scope or adopt a way to manage it;

3. Match your project needs with a perfect team structure and the process design;

4. Make sure you engage your customers or users.

The specified areas of management require a high level of control and attention. Otherwise, your success is much further than you expect. The positive outcome crucially depends on how you approach every step of your project.

Perhaps the most important thing to consider is the type of your project. It determines scope upfront, the way to manage the scope, and, of course, the way you should interact with your vendor. You might not need to create the entirely new platform. Instead, you might build your software on the base of pre-made, thus adapt already existing technology. In other cases, you might need to create a new platform, which may lead to a high market risk and serious expenses.

Communication: How to and What to Deal with

We have already mentioned why you should prefer outsourcing to other software development approaches . When companies outsource their projects, communication is somehow thought to be the least important issue on your way to success. And that is a critical mistake. Aside from its importance, communication should also go through several adjustment steps to become efficient:

1. Build channels. You should deliver messages to managers through established channels to ensure it hits the aim. The stability of your communication will enhance the results. This will encourage the recipient to take in the message. What’s more, diligently established channels will make it evident where to turn when members of the outsourcing community have something to discuss or reconsider.

2. Define communication protocol. You need to make your communication predictable and anticipatable. Now that you have established channels, you should make communication regular and define format of communication . It will make communication twice as effective and will ease the process of finding important pieces of information. Fewer words and more fundamental messages – that’s your perfect formula.

3. Make your communication interactive. To make your vendors understand and “absorb” the information, you need to make your communication live and interactive. It should happen on all levels, whether it is between the outsourcer and outsourcee, or between project managers and project members. Don’t ever cut off the possibility to comment or/end ask for details. It will reduce the efficiency of your interaction and provoke the overall frustration.

4. Participate and react. Provide as much essential information as possible and answer anticipated questions before they even appear. You may not answer all the questions that will possibly arise, but being initiative communication will help the managers and the stakeholders to keep some control on what is communicated. In addition, keep an eye on the overall communicative process; provide feedback as soon and frequent as possible.

5. Inspiration and aims. We know that communication in serious and highly established teams may seem a bit dry and utterly informative. Why don’t you enliven it a bit by adding interesting chats, unusual meetings, and something inspirational? Any communication on a global level will create team spirit and mutual understanding among the team members and outsource vendors.

Incase of outsourcing projects, the communication obstacles are often blamed on cultural differences. Yes, it makes sense (we will discuss it a bit later). Yet it’s only a part of the problem. Less than optimal communication often lies in the lack of true understanding of the importance of communication—that, in its turn, results in a shortage of resources and poor outcomes. However, we have other possible interaction obstacles for consideration, including:

1. Language barriers. The English language is indeed one of the most powerful “business” instruments in the Western world. Given that not everybody in India and China knows how to use it properly, troubles related to language barriers eventually become visible. Moreover, different dialects of English might sound odd even to fluent speakers, which, as well, complicates communication. Without a proper understanding of the colloquial speech and slang (that can dominate exchanges between colleagues), misunderstandings will occur, without doubts.

2. Cultural peculiarities. In the modern world, cultural exchange has become a standard phenomenon. Globalization is no longer an abstract concept – it does exist, no matter if you appreciate it or not. Hierarchal relationships and communicative particularities in different parts of the world may radically vary. For example, Japanese business structures are nothing like American ones – starting from hierarchy and up to workflows. In the case of outsourcing, consider contacting a professional that is able to explain cultural nuances. It will improve your communication and create a pleasant atmosphere for your co-working.