How to Manage Several Agile Teams in Enterprise Application Development

Major enterprise application development projects are often implemented simultaneously by several Agile development teams.

How can clients control and optimize the implementation of such large and complex projects from their side?

Enterprise software development projects are usually massive-scale affairs that last for several years. They may involve more than one enterprise application or legacy systems that need to be sunsetted or overhauled in parallel with the development of new software. To make matters worse, many clients are tied down to their former software providers through legacy systems.

These factors force businesses with enterprise application development needs to hire several external teams, often strewn across multiple locations. These teams may also belong to different software development vendors. Because of this, clients must take a much more proactive approach when implementing large-scale enterprise software development projects.

What can help clients keep better tabs on the implementation of their major outsourced software application development projects implemented by several Agile development teams? How can these companies increase project manageability? And how should they collaborate with their outsourcing partner to maximize project outcomes?

We posed these questions to our senior engineering team, and they’ve provided five key recommendations for anyone considering outsourcing an enterprise app development project with multiple agile teams.

1. Organize Frequent and Regular Communications

An Agile enterprise-grade project involving several development teams amplifies the need for regular project-related communication.

Make sure the communications between all of your teams occur regularly and according to plan, even if there seems to be no topic for a discussion – odds are, something, somewhere still needs to be discussed. This way everyone will be in the know about what the others are doing and any important overlaps. A steady cadence of communication will help create more trust and make your project more stable.

All of your outsourced development teams should sync up regularly. In the Scrum realm, the Scrum of Scrums and product demos can serve this purpose. This will ensure greater visibility and engagement of all teams in achieving project goals.

2. Don’t Economize on Project Management

Many companies that are new to software outsourcing try to achieve cost savings by not hiring project managers to manage their external development teams. This can severely impair your project’s manageability and reflect negatively on overall performance.

From our experience, in addition to the Agile team roles, an enterprise software development team that consists of more than five software developers requires solid people management. This includes a diverse array of procedures and activities, such as budgeting, mentoring, solving local problems on the fly, getting the team members familiar with career prospects, driving motivation, preventing employee turnover, and more. Given the distance and cultural differences that frequently arise, all this can be extremely difficult or nearly impossible to do from your onshore location. Therefore, having a Scrum Master doesn’t eliminate the need for hiring a project manager.

3. Use Several Scrum Masters

If your custom application development project involves more than one Agile software development team and uses the Scrum approach, it’s imperative to have several Scrum Masters. Otherwise, their involvement will be shallow, and they won’t be able to efficiently drive the team and ensure high-quality and timely delivery.

What’s the right Agile development team distribution and size?

Ideally, each of your teams should have a Scrum Master of its own. But if this isn’t feasible, in our opinion, each Scrum Master should serve no more than two teams and no more than 7-9 developers total.

4. Expect and Encourage Innovation

With long-term and large-scale application development outsourcing projects, it’s important to encourage ideation, research, and innovation.

Clients tend to underestimate the innovative potential of their IT outsourcing partners. Some regard their IT outsourcing provider as a mere “code factory”, only capable of churning out some amount of code their in-house teams don’t have enough resources or time to produce. Consequently, these companies seldom seek to tap into this offshore or nearshore development potential, which can sometimes easily exceed that of their in-house team.

A well-chosen and seasoned offshore or nearshore development team can become an additional source of new product features and optimized approaches. To achieve this, you should try to build a good rapport with your outsourced team members, share your project vision and long-term business plans with them, and try to make them advocates for your product on all levels. This can result in a steady inflow of innovation and help make your product a great deal more competitive.

Although some core activities must always remain in-house, you should start delegating more complex tasks to your outsourcing partner as your project gets underway. Supporting your external developers’ initiatives is hugely important for any enterprise software development project.

5. Involve Your Outsourcing Partner in Creating Your Service Model

Complex enterprise application development efforts yield much better results if your outsourcing partner is directly involved in defining and creating your service model. For example, this could mean building a travel business for you from the bottom up and delivering it as a turnkey solution. Generally, development teams involved in implementing a project from start to finish are much more motivated and show better performance.

However, for your outsourcing partner to be capable of providing this advanced level of service, they must be a full-cycle software provider, employing not only software developers and testers but also BAs, PMs, software architects, DevOps engineers, UI and UX experts.

If you’re considering employing a third-party design provider, bear in mind that the look and feel they provide will likely be quite generic and may require further elaboration. But if you do end up going this route, make sure your outsourced development team approves the application design work when it’s handed over to you, as the implementation capabilities may differ significantly from the visual concepts.

The Bottom Line

Enterprise application development projects are very large and complex software development efforts. In this article, we’ve covered several meaningful subtleties involved in managing these types of projects – essential knowledge for anyone who wants to keep track of how their enterprise project is implemented and help their IT outsourcing partner deliver it successfully.

TEAM International has over 28 years of experience in developing and implementing these best practices in dozens of enterprise software development projects for companies in the United States and Europe.

Contact us today if you’re interested in learning how TEAM can help with your project.

TEAM International

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