Team Extension Outsourcing Options: Splitting Roles and Responsibilities

Sigma Software

This article is about major project roles and responsibilities as well as ways you can distribute those between your in-house team (if any) and an outsourced team. We are not trying to give a one-size-fits-all solution for team extension of any type, but hope the recommendations provided here will help you shape your outsourcing strategy.

How to Split Project Roles and Responsibilities between In-House and Remote Teams

When choosing an outsourcing cooperation model for team extension, an important question to ask is which responsibilities you want to keep in-house and which you are ready to outsource. Efficient project roles and responsibilities distribution between you, your in-house team (if any), and remote team members is one of the key success factors for sustainable distributed development process.

Team Extension Outsourcing Options: Splitting Roles and Responsibilities

 

So, once you have decided to involve an outsourced team to extend your development capacity, first you need to define the set of roles and responsibilities your project requires (those will depend primarily on the goals you need to achieve and specifics of the tasks, which need to be done). After you have defined those, it will be easier to map them to your existing team knowledge, interests, and expertise, and see which roles you would definitely need to outsource. Having the list of such roles, you can have a detailed discussion with your provider about a possible set-up and the solutions they can offer for your team extension.

Regardless of the role distribution you end up with, some things can hardly be delegated and should remain your responsibility. No matter how skilled, creative, professional, and competent the outsourced team is, you are the one who knows your business and goals best.

So, be ready to invest time and efforts into sharing your vision with the outsourcing partner and the remote team, conveying your goals and expectations. Even if you do not plan to take over any of the project roles (delegating them to your colleagues).

Project Roles and Responsibilities

When we talk about a new or existing project, there is a vast set of tasks and responsibilities, which the team has to perform. Below you can find a list of project roles with most typical tasks those roles are accountable for. Please note that the list is not exhaustive. Other roles can also be added depending on your project specifics and size (e.g. DevOps, Information Security Experts, Quality Managers, Resource Managers, etc.). We left them out of the current article scope and tried to focus on the most typical ones.

Role

Responsibilities

Product Owner

  • Works with subject matter experts and stakeholders to define a set of requirements shaped into the project
  • Maintains a project backlog, manages the requirements and prioritizes them
  • Ensures that the project is aligned with your company business needs
  • Verifies that project deliverables meet the requirements

CTO / Solution Architect

  • Defines the best-fit solution architecture with regard to business needs, functional & non-functional requirements and existing constraints
  • Documents and communicates the defined architecture to the project team and makes sure the team follows the defined architecture
  • Supports the project team and provides input during tool and environment selection
  • Manages risk identification and risk mitigation strategies associated with the architecture

Project Coordinator

  • Coordinates project activities and communication between team members and various working groups
  • Maintains relevant documentation and shares it with project teams
  • Keeps record of project scope, timeframes, financials, outcomes, progress, etc., and provides reports on a regular basis
  • Provides support to project managers, stakeholders, and team members when requested
  • Ensures necessary resources and equipment are available
  • Contributes to removing any barriers and blockers through the project flow

Project Manager

  • Manages schedule, budget, and change requests
  • Supervises ongoing project activities
  • Monitors and evaluates the project progress
  • Manages project risks and issues, accounts for the risk mitigation strategy
  • Performs Resource Management (including safeguarding of proper technical resource allocation)
  • Elaborates Regular Project Reports
  • Safeguards technical quality of the project deliverables
  • Removes any barriers or blockers throughout the project flow

Team Lead

  • Manages the development team
  • Provides technical leadership and supervision

Developer

  • Performs middle and low-level technical design based on the approved architecture
  • Writes and reviews code
  • Creates unit tests

Test Engineer

  • Prepares a test strategy and a test plan
  • Elaborates test cases

Test Specialist

  • Executes tests
  • Reports found defects

Graphical Designer / UX Expert

  • Creates graphical design
  • Creates UI/UX wireframes, mock-ups, and all necessary graphic assets
  • Provides support to the development team in all aspects related to graphical design

 

There is no necessity to have separate professionals performing those functions. Depending on the scope of the project, time, and budget available, you can delegate several roles to one person, engage professionals part-time, perform some of the roles yourself, or purchase some functions as a service from existing or a third-party provider.

Note
Want to discuss roles and responsibilities for your specific project and how the typical list below can be adjusted?

Contact our project set-up team

Team Extension Options by Roles Distribution

Most providers in this business domain are very flexible and offer a wide range of team extension options from set-ups where provider’s responsibility is limited to staffing the team you request, office space, and basic administrative assistance to project set-ups where the provider takes over full responsibility for your project success.  

In most cases, you can achieve the same set-up both with a basic option through extending your remote team with specialists to control the project progress, safeguard technical excellence, quality, etc. (Important notice: team onboarding, motivation, and control would remain your responsibility). Alternatively, you can go for some of the extended dedicated center options, when all those things would be provided by the supplier as a part of the service. In this case, it will be supplier’s responsibility to ensure that the team performs up to your expectations and in line with your KPIs, all employees are motivated, best practices followed, etc.  

Team Extension Outsourcing Options: Splitting Roles and Responsibilities

 

Let’s go a bit deeper into possible roles distribution between you, your in-house team, and remote team.

 

Basic Option

When the project is small and you or your in-house team can handle all management, product ownership, and CTO activities, it would make sense going for the basic option. You can staff your remote team, including developers and testers only, with PO, PM, CTO, Coordinator, and other roles assigned to your in-house team or performed by yourself.

While going for the basic option, it is important to remember that:

  • Remote team motivation and management, tasks distribution, and performance control remain in your responsibility domain
  • Your in-house specialists should be positive about their involvement, be ready for increased workload, and have capacity to take over this workload (experience in managing remote teams would be a big plus)
  • Adding a Team Leader to your remote team (it can be a Senior Developer performing the role) would definitely make things easier and more efficient

 

Coordinator and Project Manager Involvement

If you decide to involve a Coordinator, you will be able to delegate all communication and staff motivation matters to this person. Reporting and some infrastructure-related matters can also be included into Coordinator’s responsibilities. If you want to delegate more tasks, a Project Manager is just a right role to undertake organization, motivation, and management of the project team, tasks distribution, as well as project progress and expectations compliance control.

Including a Coordinator or a Project Manager into your remote team is essential for project success and helps you with the following:

  • Relive part of the workload, which would otherwise fall on you and your in-house team
  • Bring in experience in managing outsourced teams and projects and good knowledge of outsourcing specifics
  • Recoup time-zone and culture differences

 

Involvement of a Business Analyst

Big and complex projects may also require involvement of a Business Analyst who will get insights into the business case you are dealing with and translate business needs into the language of product features. This specialist will also be able to support you in defining a long-term product strategy, he or she will structure and prioritize your project backlog, act as a proxy Product Owner when you or your in-house specialists have limited availability.

Note
Want to know more about what a Business Analyst can do for your project?

Read an article about the benefits of a BA on a project

 

Architect/Part-time CTO

Another important aspect of any IT solution is its architecture. If you do not have deep technical background or an experienced CTO in your team, it would make sense to include an Architect or a part-time CTO into your software outsourcing team. This person will help you shape the architecture of the solution considering its long-term strategy. Thus, the developed solution would both fit the current needs of the project and provide stable operation in future.

For bigger projects, it also makes sense to involve an Architect into your outsourced team even if you have an in-house CTO, so that this person could help your team with architecture-related decisions locally.

Conclusion: Team Extension as a Tool

To sum it all up, outsourcing is an efficient tool to extend your delivery capacity, stay flexible, and generate new opportunities for your business. Keep in mind all the team extension options available, compare them with focus on spend, management efforts, yours and your team’s experience and availability, needed product quality level, and expected time to delivery. Remember – there is a perfect match for each business case, and it is just a matter of finding the one that suits yours best.

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