1. In managing outsourcing contracts what is the key to successful PM?
The Clientele for the IT services outsourcing vendors is spread across multiple Geographies with varied cultural ethos, languages, approach and expectations. We at Q3 strongly believe that effective and proactive communication, bridging cultural barriers, making realistic commitments and accomplishing them are some of the key elements of successful project management as far as outsourcing contracts are concerned.
2. In your opinion what expectations do clients have when outsourcing their projects to India and what role should Project Managers play to ensure that projects are delivered as per quality and in a timely and successful manner?
We have observed that clients have a mixed set of notions and perceptions when they start contemplating on the decision of outsourcing work to India. Most often, they are wary about the standards of communication, quality and timeliness of work delivered from India. At the same time they are no less impressed with the availability of a matured and talented workforce and obviously the cost proposition. In my opinion it is therefore imperative for the Project Manager to raise the bar on communication, probe with the right questions, make accurate and realistic estimates and set the right expectations for the clients. Playing a lot with heuristics and assumptions, I believe, will not make a lot sense here. Located thousands of miles away, it is a given that clients only have limited means of getting real time visibility on their projects and it therefore becomes all the more important for the project manager to provide accurate progress updates, involve the client appropriately , make the client aware of Risk factors and mitigation plans apart from other project variances from time to time.
Beyond what is stated above, I do not really see any palpable difference on how an outsourcing contract should be managed as compared to its non-outsourced cousin. We strongly believe that irrespective of the nature of the contract, successful Project Management will always thrive upon a solid framework of Planning, Execution, Monitoring and Control and Closure. Q3 is a CMMi level 3 and ISO 9001 certified organization and in all our projects we follow some of the most stringent Quality and Project Management guidelines stipulated by the Industry.
3. In an outsourcing relationship, do you believe that there are critical issues that are left to chance or ignored or not planned by Project Managers in their day to day work?
As noted above, the Project Manager is expected to constantly identify and meet the specific communication needs, bridge the cultural gaps and sometimes language issues of a myriad set of global customers. Typically, people sometimes have pre-conceived notions about matters when dealing with international clients and it is possible that commitments are made without getting as much insight that would have been otherwise desired. At Q3, as a result of our immense experience of dealing with global clientele, it is natural for us to coach and mentor our personnel in dealing and confronting such situations. Other critical areas such as integrated change management, scope and cost control, Risk Identification, Opportunity development, value engineering and following ethical practices in project management are standard doctrines and best practices that a project manager needs to be always on top of.
4. For software products and applications development companies in India which project management Methodologies would you recommend?
At Q3, we strictly follow the Project and Process Management guidelines stipulated by CMMi. CMMi provides a lot of flexibility to mould the approach and execution model based on the size and type of project, while a generic set of guidelines are strictly adhered to. At the same time, we continually encourage our Project managers to be inventive in their approach, be prudent in their decisions and to confront problems rather than withdrawing from them.
5. What is your opinion on Scrum and Agile development methods used by Indian software companies?
I think Scrum and Agile development methods have started making their mark in India. As a matter of fact, many companies have started moving away from the traditional Waterfall model. The change is imminent as customers start getting unequivocal in their demand of “quickly watch things working”. Companies will be successful as long as they are able to manage shorter learning curves, impose strict quality guidelines within constantly dwindling development iteration’s and at the same time reduce rework.
6. Which are the new Project Management approaches in India that have gained popularity in recent times?
CMMi benchmarks stipulated by Software Engineering Institute (SEI) will continue to provide a significant and solid process and management foundation and will help companies to improvise on their project planning, execution, monitoring and delivery mechanisms. In the context, it is pertinent to note that, of recent, best practices stated by PMI (Project Management Institute) are gaining a lot of popularity in the Indian IT Industry circles. The good thing is that both of the above approaches share a lot in common and chances of conflict are none or minimal.
7. What are the challenges in Project Management that software development companies in India will face in the coming days?
Worldwide, Technology frontiers are being challenged at a very fast pace. At the same time, clients continue to be unambiguous in their demands on increased level of quality, reduced turnaround time and above all a strongly competitive environment that imposes lot of constraints to the Project Mangers list of worries.
All this transcends to a Project Management approach that is flexible, is attuned to the changing times and technologies, proactive and that which holds a vision for the future. Companies that will have this covered properly will survive the tide. Project managers will have to continue to improvise and learn at an equally fast pace.