In areas of China and the Asia Pacific, most of software outsourcing projects are accounted at a fixed rate, and this contract mode brings a mistaken concept to firms that it will cause inconvenience but have no effect on project investment because of this project delay. In fact, any delay of project not only causes inconvenience but also affect operation and benefit of firms. If a new business can't be put out into marker by reasons of not ready for its software or information related, and others occupy the opportunity, how it will affect the firm. Or a project is developed for simplify internal workflow and improve work efficiency, then delays of the project will prolong the operational choke point and increase operational costs. All these affect a lot on benefits of company directly or indirectly, not merely on the matter if investment will increase or reduce?
However, in Europe and America, outsourcing projects are mainly accounted by actual numbers of work days, so it will impel to overspend if project is delayed.In this case, to avoid project delay is an important target to judge management capability of project manager. Project managers have to monitor schedules and risks of outsourcing project effectively to avoid delay of project and extra development charges. We can learn this management idea to manage outsourcing projects in China to guarantee that project can be achieved before deadline.
1. Establish Our Own Project Plan
As a project manager, you can not adopt project plan of outsourcing provider completely and chuckle to yourself to pass over project planning. Even if it is an outsourcing project, you have to make a full project plan by yourself, then you will know exactly about the whole workloads, evaluate the price to negotiate with outsourcing provider, ensure technicians who will be involved, judge if outsourcing provider can provide sufficient resources and if the promised time is feasible.
Having made the project plan, firms should require outsourcing provider to provide a full development plan before starting the project. In order to avoid numerous paperwork, some outsourcing provider usually claim that the plan provided before signing contract is the whole project plan. This tell us that they have no system of integrity on development management and project management?and their project manager is not suitable for his job. Any employable project manager should realize that the preliminary plan for delivering the project made in period of contract negotiation can't be all-around, and it needs modification to be a feasible plan according to actual contents of the contract, add actual workloads, assignment of resources, and time required.
After getting the project plan from outsourcing provider, we need compare and check it with our own plan carefully to understand if it tallies with requirements of the project, that is workflow of the whole project, contents, estimated workloads and arrangement of resources. It is necessary to clarify timely and make it acceptable to each other if there are obvious difference. The project will be started formally after the project plan of outsourcing provider has been confirmed, and now it's time to monitor the project.
2. Concerned On Evaluating the Schedule
Outsourcing contract should ask outsourcing provider to provide schedule reports regularly. I have seen many project schedule reports, and they are different a lot in contents, however, most of them explain definitely which parts have been completed, which parts are going on, which parts will be taken up in next report period, and whether the work has been completed on time or not, even more, some use different colors such as red, yellow and green to show status of progress.Basically speaking, all these information can only allow directors to see the project roughly?but can't make the project manager hold the schedule of the project in hand.
In my opinion, the best way is that we should know how many tasks have not been finished, how long they will be complete, which parts have not start and will they start as scheduled, and is there any change on planned resources. If answers are different from original plan, we are supposed to question ourselves immediately, find out main reasons why the task haven't been finished or why not start according to the schedule. Consequently we can discuss it with outsourcing provider, how to bring the project into normal schedule. Such finished tasks have become history to us and they have little effect on the schedule of the project. The parts haven't been completed or haven't start are the key of project, and they are in need of monitoring in particular
We need confirm the schedule reports offered by outsourcing provider to make sure if tasks have been actually finished as planned. The best way is when each program module is finished, we need let outsourcing provider to list original codes and testing results of the program. And let technicians and user representatives check the results to confirm that work provided by outsourcing provider has been finished in fact. This procedure of confirmation doesn't mean we do not trust outsourcing provider. We simply want to confirm if the schedules of the project have been finished as planned, and ensures the person in charge is able to report to boss about the accurate status of the schedule.
3. Closely Associated When Checking and Accepting
The biggest risk of the software outsourcing project is not in development progress, but appears after the project has been finished.Many of them often turn up problems in program logic or editing range of data entry during checking and accepting period, which result in differences between testing result and real requirement, outsourcing provider cannot but modify a lot to result in project delay. Sometimes, outsourcing provider complains that it 's not their fault. Avoiding these risks, you'd better check and accept the project at the same time of developing, but not to do it until tasks have been closed.
It is not a proper idea that some firms put it as a last work to check and accept. Checking and accepting of project should be on it's way, begins and ends at the same time of project development, and then can make sure the final procedure of checking and accepting successful. Another mistake in software development is to ask developer to create testing data for module testing and system testing.
Technician have limited knowledge of business operation, and only users know ranges of these datas and what information of the data is accurate. Therefore, an experienced project manager usually asks user representatives to assist its module and system testing in project process, and establish testing data for technician testing. Testing data of every module are offered by users. To prevent us from disputing, outsourcing project is suggested to test with this method. When outsourcing provider delivers original codes list and testing report of each module, users and technicians of firm check it together, and guarantee the results consistency between testing and users' data, and at last check and accept the system successfully, and cause no fatal delay.
4. Distributing Time in Reason
It is more complicated to manage an outsourcing project than develop it internal, and more milestones are necessary to be established to monitor the schedule of the project.More communication and negotiation are needed; firm members should cooperate with the schedule of outsourcing provider constantly and supply with data needed for testing, all these will be handled in extra time.
Generally speaking, it supposes that an internal project will be completed in 500 workdays, 50~75 workdays are for project management, about 10%~15% of the entire workloads. And the same 500 workdays of outsourcing project needs another 75~110 extra days to manage this project. In other words, it takes 15%~22% of workloads for firms to manage outsourcing provider. Certainly, these data are only for reference for software development outsourcing projects, every project and outsourcing provider have difference management requirements. However, it is an unchangeable rule of project management, we can not think that outsourcing allows us have no management requirement.