Agile Round the Globe

When perusing the book “Agility Across Time and Space” recently, I came upon a very effective way of summarizing  some of the differences between farshore and nearshore outsourcing that I’ve been talking about on this blog in recent months.  The book is a collection of cases studying how agile methods have been used in distributed software development environments.

The table follows below, exactly as in the book:

As you can see, the table makes no mention of either “farshore” or “nearshore.”  This, in my opinion, is one thing that could stand improvement in the book’s analysis: in treating any “distributed development” as equally effective, an important dimension gets lost.  To be fair, in chapter 2 the book mentions three different forms of “dispersion” – spatial (physical distance), temporal (overlap of working hours, i.e., timezone difference), and configurational (something similar to the onsite:offshore ratio I’ve dicussed on this blog) – and analyzes how these affected the effectiveness of agile methods in that particular case.  Unfortunately, the same analysis isn’t carried throughout the remainder of the book’s various cases from different authors and researchers.

If you just remove the “face-to-face” characteristic of communication in the agile development column, you will have an accurate representation of the nearshore agile development model I’ve described

If you just remove the “face-to-face” characteristic of communication in the agile development column, you will have an accurate representation of the nearshore agile development model I’ve described.  And if you replace the title column “Distributed Development” with “Farshore Development”, you will have an accurate description of the characteristics of offshore development I’ve been talking about, which often prevent effective agile development from being realized in those environments.

”Agility Across Time and Space” is a serious research work that tries to demonstrate how agile methods can work in distributed environments (i.e., with teams in more than one country), and does a serviceable job of pinpointing what has worked well and what were the challenges in each case study.  Although not explicitly stated, with a critical eye you’ll be able to identify where nearshore and farshore fit in the picture.  Recommended.

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