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Best Practices For Building a Nearshore Innovation Team

Julieta Barrionuevo

Gabriel Vasquez

March 9th, 2015

Are you a football or basketball fan? Did you enjoy the last Super Bowl or NBA All-Star game? If you did, you’re familiar with what a great team looks like. The concept of a great team is applicable to every aspect of life.

But what does the ideal team look like in software development, and what about for a nearshore innovation team? Based on the experience gained from more than 200 successful projects, Belatrix recently published a report looking into this.

Puzzle piecesWe identified five best practices which will help you in creating a high-performing team. These are:

  1. Keep the team size to 7-10 members. Assuming you will be using Agile, the typical Scrum for instance team comprises of 7-10 members: 1 Scrum Master, 5-7 development engineers, and 2-3 quality assurance (QA) engineers. A good rule of thumb is to add one QA for every two developers. This is the sweet-spot for productivity.
  2. Find the best talent, but remember the importance of culture. Finding, recruiting, and retaining talent is a critical priority for organizations. But building a culture which will bring out the best in those individuals and get them working as a team is often even harder. For a nearshore innovation team, human resource teams can help with using psychological insights for example to ensure individuals are well-suited to collaborative work.
  3. Precisely define the methodology together with the provider. The software development methodology has implications for how teams perform and the coordination between the client and provider. The first step is agreeing on a methodology, or a version of one. Just stating that you will use Agile can mean very different things depending on the organizations´ interpretation of Agile. Mature service providers will be able to help here, and should be able to make recommendations based on previous or similar projects.
  4. Outline roles and responsibilities on both the vendor and client side. Roles and responsibilities which are not clearly expressed and understood by both sides of the relationship, create noise and friction that decreases the productivity of the team. When using Agile, the typical roles you will want to identify include: Scrum Master/team lead; subject matter expert (SME); development engineer; UI/UX developer / graphic designer; and quality assurance (QA) engineer
  5. Put in place clear practices for communication for team members. Communication is a critical but often overlooked factor in project success. Effective communication, particularly in teams which are distributed across different locations and geographies, simply does not happen without appropriate guidelines. What is the optimal level of communication? In which instances should you use instant messaging versus email? Team members should also be empowered to communicate freely with each other and this may require investment in specific communication tools.

The full report is available here.


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