Then Luxoft began providing agile development services from Kiev, Ukraine and Omsk, Russia, in small teams. It was important to take time to grow the relationship and figure out how to work together most effectively, says Kaplun.
Carpenter advises limiting development teams to three to seven programmers in order to assess their skills and find the most effective coders. IT leaders should be prepared for less-than-stellar performance on the first few iterations as customer and provider work out the kinks. Time-boxing the work into small chunks--two weeks max--is also smart, says Carpenter.
3. Consider a Hybrid Model
Joe Sniado, CIO of Standard & Poor's initially struggled < http://www.cio.com/article/706120/Outsourcing_Declines_Are_IT_Jobs_Coming_Back_> when offshoring agile development. So he opted to pay more to have the offshore partners provide more on-site personnel and has been pushing for partners to provide more nearby personnel--a couple of hours away versus another time zone--on the agile projects, creating a 50/50 onshore-offshore model.
4. Manage Actively
In theory, agile is supposed to be an organic, hierarchy-free method of software development. But if you're outsourcing--particularly offshore--you need to actively manage it. "You need to take control of your own destiny with Agile," warns the Forrester report.
Kaplun tried the hands-off approach in Kiev and got mixed results. "We came to the realization that the process and team needed to be managed," says Kaplan. But finding the right manager was tricky--someone who could intervene when necessary without being dictatorial and could work equally well with engineers and the business.
[Related: Is Your Cloud Project Ready to be Agile?]
5. Invest in Onsite Training
The Hotwire business model, whereby customers book a hotel room without knowing which one in exchange for cut rates, was foreign to many of the Eastern European engineers who would be working on the site. So Kaplun brought engineers over at the beginning of the engagement to learn more about Hotwire and its products and understand the customer point of view.
6. Pick the Right Partner
Many traditional Indian IT service providers built their businesses around waterfall development methodologies and have not been able to scale or perfect their agile development capabilities, says Stephanie Moore, vice president and principal outsourcing analyst with Forrester Research.