Saturday, December 02, 2006

Agile methods to kill outsourcing? I dont think so.

I hear an industry thought leader vigorously promoting Agile Methods. Nothing wrong with that. Only problem is there is an underlying thought which I dont agree with. The thought being Agile Methods can kill outsourcing. I would like to provide a logical argument to support my opposition to this thought.

For this we need to understand the philosophies behind getting a job done. The two prominent schools of thought are Adam Smith's one and Hammer-Champy one. Adam Smith had proposed a division of labour centric approach. To get any job done, the roles were clearly segregated. Each role needed to have specific skills. The other inputs apart from the skill that particular role needed, were provided by roles above it. The system was made up of a lot of specialists. Each specialist made only those decisions that were confined to its role and sought the decisions beyond their own role to be made outside, irrespective of its effect on the job at hand. (any government office anywhere in the world,is a good example of this approach, so are some public sector banks in India).

It worked fine for lot of years. But like any system, it developed abberations. The big bureaucrocy that these division of labour created started having bad effects on working of systems. Thats when Hammer-Champy came up with their revolutionary ideas on business process re-engineering. They proposed systems with generalists instead of specialists. These generalists were to be supported by enabling tools, such as improved IT systems, better collaboration tools such as fax, telephone, e-mails etc. They made multiple decisions, irresepctive of specilaization they had. They used enabling tools to make those decisions and in rare cases when they could not make those decisions, the job was transferred to actual specialist. This mode of getting job done has caught on and examples are everywhere to see. (Any private bank in India or anywhere in the world is an example of this, where bank teller supports all the functions from opening bank account to withdrawing cash).

This approach works, because it is only rarely one needs services of true specialist, as compared to, a generalist supported by enabling tools. One can see parallel between these and the way software development itself is evolving. The traditional SDLC with BDUF (big design upfront) follows a smithian approach. It expects a lot of specialists to collaborate to develop software. It needs a very heavy process support. That when you have ISO/CMM coming in.

Whereas Agile method appear to follow a Hammer-Champy approach to software development, with a slight variation. It relies on a multi-role specialist, instead of generalist. These multi-role specialists perform multiple roles themsalves. They are specialists in these multiple roles (either because of their training or experience or both), hence they dont need either a big process support or support from a lot of other specialists. The people who think this can kill outsourcing appear to base that conclusion on following logic. Since multi-role specilaists are in short supply and difficult to create, the outsourcers cannot have enough of them. Hence outsourcing will stop. Thats what the logic appears to be.

But as I had discussed in one of my previous posts about innovation shown by outsourcers, this one too can be handled innovatively. One can always replace the multi-role specialist with a generalist supported by enabling tools and achieve same result, as originally envisaged by Hammer-champy. One cannot beat support systems provided for such a genralist by large outsourcing organisations. The large outsourcing organisations have benefits of sharing humungous amount of knowledge, which even multi-role specialists dont have access to. So agile methods should not be viewed as just an antidote for outsourcing.

As outlined in one of my earlier posts, both these approaches (viz. agile and traditionla SDLC) are valid and are valuable in different contexts. The IT leaders need to choose appropriate methods based on their needs. As an Enterprise Architect, its my worry to provide appropriate governance controls in an uniform framework which works for both these approaches. It is of vital importance that I put these governance controls in place so that the roles make only those decisions they are empowered to make. Because it is very easy to confuse role boundaries in these two drastically different approaches.

4 comments:

Anonymous said...

Iwebresources: Looking for some IT projects.


Interactive Web Resources is an outsourcing company focused on serving the needs of Small Medium & Large size Businesses in the U.K, Australia, U.S, Europe, Canada & English speaking countries.

Interactive Web Resources as your outsourcing partner help's you to increase your profits, reduce business risk and create breakout value with new services and revenue streams.

IT Out sourcing Is Our Business
We are a Delhi based IT out sourcing company. Providing quality IT related services have been our focus ever since May 2004. From web site designing to web support, we deliver cost effective and reliable systems.There is no doubt that IT out sourcing is a most effective way to stretch your budget.

Whether you need any type of IT related services we have what you need at prices you can afford At Interactive Web Resources, our goal is to provide you with courteous, expedient, professional service of the highest caliber. Browse our Web site for more information about Interactive Web Resources. At Interactive Web Resources, the customer always comes first. We serve you Better.

Our Focus
Our focus is to serve the most professionally managed Overseas companies / Leading IT Companies / MNC's and Any type of company, who demands IT related services of highest standard & wants to avail the same with a difference.

We provide professional services in: -
* Data Entry & Copy Writing
* Web Designing & Web Promotions
* Content Writing
* Graphic Designing
* E-Commerce Solutions
* Web Support
* 24/7 Live Support
* You Name A Service & We Render It.

Email: sharad@iwebresources.com
URL: http://www.iwebresources.com

Vilas said...

Dear Sharad, Spamming someone is not the best way to get a project.

Anonymous said...

Interactive Web Accountant: Accounting and Back Office Services.

Interactive Web Accountant is a leading provider of KPO solutions primarily focusing it's target on accounting and back office processes so you can focus on your business. Our extensive expertise and innovative delivery model dramatically improve the quality and efficiency of our clients' finance and accounting, payroll and benefit administration. Efficiency, accuracy, timeliness and cost-effectiveness are crucial when it comes to processing tax returns.

We as your outsourcing partner help's you to increase your profits, reduce business risk and create breakout value with new services and revenue streams. We try our best to strengthen your customer interaction using variety of web tools. We specialize in supporting your company at back end in efficient way. Many companies are outsourcing their accounting and back office work to us, Try us once and see the difference...

Kind Regards,

Interactive Web Accountant
http://www.iwebaccountant.com/

obackoffice said...

For outsourcing chat, email or back-office support

If you are considering offshoring your processes, or would just like to know more about the various BPO / KPO services that can be outsourced to us in India, kindly contact us and our customer service representatives will get back to you soon.

For outsourcing chat, email or back-office support, visit the website: http://www.outsourcebackoffice.com

Saturday, December 02, 2006

Agile methods to kill outsourcing? I dont think so.

I hear an industry thought leader vigorously promoting Agile Methods. Nothing wrong with that. Only problem is there is an underlying thought which I dont agree with. The thought being Agile Methods can kill outsourcing. I would like to provide a logical argument to support my opposition to this thought.

For this we need to understand the philosophies behind getting a job done. The two prominent schools of thought are Adam Smith's one and Hammer-Champy one. Adam Smith had proposed a division of labour centric approach. To get any job done, the roles were clearly segregated. Each role needed to have specific skills. The other inputs apart from the skill that particular role needed, were provided by roles above it. The system was made up of a lot of specialists. Each specialist made only those decisions that were confined to its role and sought the decisions beyond their own role to be made outside, irrespective of its effect on the job at hand. (any government office anywhere in the world,is a good example of this approach, so are some public sector banks in India).

It worked fine for lot of years. But like any system, it developed abberations. The big bureaucrocy that these division of labour created started having bad effects on working of systems. Thats when Hammer-Champy came up with their revolutionary ideas on business process re-engineering. They proposed systems with generalists instead of specialists. These generalists were to be supported by enabling tools, such as improved IT systems, better collaboration tools such as fax, telephone, e-mails etc. They made multiple decisions, irresepctive of specilaization they had. They used enabling tools to make those decisions and in rare cases when they could not make those decisions, the job was transferred to actual specialist. This mode of getting job done has caught on and examples are everywhere to see. (Any private bank in India or anywhere in the world is an example of this, where bank teller supports all the functions from opening bank account to withdrawing cash).

This approach works, because it is only rarely one needs services of true specialist, as compared to, a generalist supported by enabling tools. One can see parallel between these and the way software development itself is evolving. The traditional SDLC with BDUF (big design upfront) follows a smithian approach. It expects a lot of specialists to collaborate to develop software. It needs a very heavy process support. That when you have ISO/CMM coming in.

Whereas Agile method appear to follow a Hammer-Champy approach to software development, with a slight variation. It relies on a multi-role specialist, instead of generalist. These multi-role specialists perform multiple roles themsalves. They are specialists in these multiple roles (either because of their training or experience or both), hence they dont need either a big process support or support from a lot of other specialists. The people who think this can kill outsourcing appear to base that conclusion on following logic. Since multi-role specilaists are in short supply and difficult to create, the outsourcers cannot have enough of them. Hence outsourcing will stop. Thats what the logic appears to be.

But as I had discussed in one of my previous posts about innovation shown by outsourcers, this one too can be handled innovatively. One can always replace the multi-role specialist with a generalist supported by enabling tools and achieve same result, as originally envisaged by Hammer-champy. One cannot beat support systems provided for such a genralist by large outsourcing organisations. The large outsourcing organisations have benefits of sharing humungous amount of knowledge, which even multi-role specialists dont have access to. So agile methods should not be viewed as just an antidote for outsourcing.

As outlined in one of my earlier posts, both these approaches (viz. agile and traditionla SDLC) are valid and are valuable in different contexts. The IT leaders need to choose appropriate methods based on their needs. As an Enterprise Architect, its my worry to provide appropriate governance controls in an uniform framework which works for both these approaches. It is of vital importance that I put these governance controls in place so that the roles make only those decisions they are empowered to make. Because it is very easy to confuse role boundaries in these two drastically different approaches.

4 comments:

Anonymous said...

Iwebresources: Looking for some IT projects.


Interactive Web Resources is an outsourcing company focused on serving the needs of Small Medium & Large size Businesses in the U.K, Australia, U.S, Europe, Canada & English speaking countries.

Interactive Web Resources as your outsourcing partner help's you to increase your profits, reduce business risk and create breakout value with new services and revenue streams.

IT Out sourcing Is Our Business
We are a Delhi based IT out sourcing company. Providing quality IT related services have been our focus ever since May 2004. From web site designing to web support, we deliver cost effective and reliable systems.There is no doubt that IT out sourcing is a most effective way to stretch your budget.

Whether you need any type of IT related services we have what you need at prices you can afford At Interactive Web Resources, our goal is to provide you with courteous, expedient, professional service of the highest caliber. Browse our Web site for more information about Interactive Web Resources. At Interactive Web Resources, the customer always comes first. We serve you Better.

Our Focus
Our focus is to serve the most professionally managed Overseas companies / Leading IT Companies / MNC's and Any type of company, who demands IT related services of highest standard & wants to avail the same with a difference.

We provide professional services in: -
* Data Entry & Copy Writing
* Web Designing & Web Promotions
* Content Writing
* Graphic Designing
* E-Commerce Solutions
* Web Support
* 24/7 Live Support
* You Name A Service & We Render It.

Email: sharad@iwebresources.com
URL: http://www.iwebresources.com

Vilas said...

Dear Sharad, Spamming someone is not the best way to get a project.

Anonymous said...

Interactive Web Accountant: Accounting and Back Office Services.

Interactive Web Accountant is a leading provider of KPO solutions primarily focusing it's target on accounting and back office processes so you can focus on your business. Our extensive expertise and innovative delivery model dramatically improve the quality and efficiency of our clients' finance and accounting, payroll and benefit administration. Efficiency, accuracy, timeliness and cost-effectiveness are crucial when it comes to processing tax returns.

We as your outsourcing partner help's you to increase your profits, reduce business risk and create breakout value with new services and revenue streams. We try our best to strengthen your customer interaction using variety of web tools. We specialize in supporting your company at back end in efficient way. Many companies are outsourcing their accounting and back office work to us, Try us once and see the difference...

Kind Regards,

Interactive Web Accountant
http://www.iwebaccountant.com/

obackoffice said...

For outsourcing chat, email or back-office support

If you are considering offshoring your processes, or would just like to know more about the various BPO / KPO services that can be outsourced to us in India, kindly contact us and our customer service representatives will get back to you soon.

For outsourcing chat, email or back-office support, visit the website: http://www.outsourcebackoffice.com