Use Ambassadors to Improve Communication with your Offshore Scrum Teams

Agile methods stress the importance of face to face human interaction (People > Processes)

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Even if everyone can’t be physically co-located, moving people around helps.  It is extremely helpful to ensure that at all times someone from the US team is present in India to help facilitate the communication between your onshore team and your offshore team.  These ‘Ambassadors’ are already starting to become a very important part of any offshore-Agile efforts.

Your ambassador, assuming they are coming from the US, is already familiar with the people and personalities of the US-based team.  Bringing that personal connection will help everyone communicate more effectively.

When you send an ambassador from India to the US, the Indian ambassador gets the benefit of first-hand experience in dealing with the US-based team.  This person brings back connections and trust, which he/she shares with the rest of the Indian offshore team.

When you send an ambassador, don’t just send a developer every time

Send some of your business-oriented people as well (business analysts, product owner, product manager). The most common model for off shoring is to have the requirements defined onshore, and send them offshore to be built.  But building software from just a list of requirements misses out on a lot of the business context – you are telling your offshore developers *what* to do without telling them *why* it’s important.  Sending a business-oriented ambassador to your offshore development team can make a big difference between doing the right *what* and the wrong *what*.

Ideally, you want to rotate your ambassadors once per month

Ambassadors are an important part of trust building ‘across the wire.’  As a result it is important to send Ambassadors as early as possible in the project.  If a project runs for a time without ambassadors in place, miscommunications and bad feelings can develop and will take a lot of work to fix.  Ambassadors reduce this risk, but need to be in place before problems start setting in.

The costs of having ambassadors soon repay themselves in improved communication.

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