Which approach is the best – on-site or remote development?

One of the most common questions that a hiring manager processes when she hires a software engineering consultant is, ‘Should they work from my office or remotely?’ As with most business decisions, the answer is, ‘It depends.’

What we’ve found in our 22 years of experience is that three potential working arrangements can be characterized as:

  • On client site / Project-managed by client
  • On client site / Project-managed by IQ
  • Off site at IQ / Project-managed by IQ

There are benefits to each approach.  Client needs and bandwidth and the nature of the Client: Consultant relationship (that is, is the work project-related or a long-term consulting engagement) are the two basic drivers to evaluate which approach is most appropriate:

 

benefits chart

 

As you can see, there are benefits associated with each approach, depending on the nature of the work being outsourced. Once the ‘right’ approach is identified through the client discovery process, there are optimal approaches to implementation (best practices). At a high level:

  • If the outsource work is being performed on the client site, appointing an IQ Site Liaison significantly improves the communication between the consulting firm and the client.
  • If the outsource work is being performed remotely (consultant’s site), a client Technical Point Of Contact serves in a role similar to, and provides the same communications benefits as a Site Liaison

As in all relationships, communications is the key to a successful project or engagement

  • Clients are encouraged to participate in scrums on a regular basis
  • Appointing an IQ Site Liaison significantly improves the communication between the consulting firm and the client
  • Consultant’s Account Manager must check in monthly, or as frequently as the client desires
  • Frequent, accurate reporting is the underpinning for a successful client: consultant project or engagement

The Site Liaison / Technical Point of Contact role is a matrixed role that serves as an ‘informational traffic cop’:

graphic on hiring vs outsource

 

In this organizational configuration, the Site Liaison / Technical Point of Contact is literally the point person. This role, in this construct, is most effective when its focus is technical and process.  It is the communications pipeline between the hiring firm and the outsource firm, and ensures that the outsource team is integrated with and collaborating effectively with the internal engineering resources.

An additional benefit is that anyone in the constellation has a single, consistent point of contact for status, conflict resolution and scheduling issues – the internal project manager enjoys a majority of the benefits of the three working arrangements and avoids much of the downside attributes.

The Site Liaison / Technical Point of Contact in the example above may seem to be a bit of unicorn, a combination of technical, supervisory and leadership skills.  While these individuals aren’t a ‘dime a dozen’ they certainly do exist, and IQ Inc. has decades of experience constructing teams that include this strong lead developer component.

Please contact us to [for a free assessment of how IQ can help you execute your product roadmap], to see it we help push your product development initiatives forward, either on-site at your facility or from our new state-of-the-art location in Monroeville, PA.