Extended Delivery Centers (EDCs) have become prevalent as an effective way to drive velocity within delivery organizations. They have several benefits:
- Ability to create talent-specific cross-functional teams
- Ability to flex capacity
- Access to global talent
- Ability to execute multiple projects simultaneously
While the use of EDCs has become prevalent, success has not been universal. We at Ness have learned through experience that there are practices that greatly influence the probability of success.
One key to the success of EDCs is to focus on the word Extended. The teams need to be a natural extension of the cross functional team model. They should be integrated into the execution of the natural team approach. Onsite product managers and architects should work hand in hand with product managers and architects at the delivery centers. This will be the point of convergence of the teams. Sprint retrospectives need to be completed in the same way as would happen with an onsite team. This structure will insure that the EDC is not being looked at as an outsourced team, but instead as a true extension of the larger team.
Another key to success is transparency in governance. In the same spirit of treating the EDC as a natural team extension, metrics should be tracked and reported consistently and not only as a distinct entity. If the overall team is measured on specific metrics (say velocity, defects, time to repair, etc.) the EDC should be included in this reporting. It’s helpful to track the metrics for the EDC in the same manner that any group within the cross functional team will be measured. However, they must also be treated as a true part of the team when measuring overall success.
Finally, the EDC should utilize the same practices and automation tooling as the overall team. Source code control, continuous integration, automated testing, etc. should be consistent regardless of whether a team sits onshore or offshore, localized or virtual. Automation of disparate DevOps practices just accelerates the implementation of inefficiencies. These practices should be applied consistently across all teams within the program. This consistency allows the overall project to progress in a seamless manner.
There are a couple of Don’ts that are important to the successful implementation of EDCs. Don’t always gravitate to the lowest cost resources. One of the biggest benefits of an EDC as a virtual team is the ability to find skilled resources for specific initiatives. Machine learning resources can come from one center while core platform engineering skills can come from another. The productivity benefits of choosing higher skilled resources will generally outweigh “economies of scale” cost savings.
Do not give in to a “fire and forget” mentality. Lapsing into a waterfall-like methodology where an attempt is made to create specifications that can be implemented in a vacuum has been proven to fail. EDC implementations are no different from outsourcing initiatives from this standpoint. As in the number one Do, make sure the EDCs are integrated as part of the overall team approach for delivery.
We at Ness are having tremendous success with customers using our EDC approach. Following these simple Dos and Don’ts will help increase the probability of success in implementing this model.