The September 6 issue of Information Week shares the offshoring story of Bekins Co., which wouldn’t have been able to afford the routing and dispatching system it needed if it hadn’t gone offshore. According to CTO Randy Valentino, if he’d had to pay US developer wages, he never would have gotten the greenlight on the $400,000 program because the ROI would have taken three years, not the two the company allows new initiatives. The story concludes with a quote from American Michael Treacy, author of The Discipline of Market Leaders, and head of a start-up that developed “smart antennas” by using a team of Russian scientists and programmers: “This isn’t a choice. This is like gravity.”
The question is, how do you make it work? How do you get programmers oceans apart to communicate and share tools, approaches, ideas and information? That’s the topic of a second feature in the same issue. The story, “Global Reach,” references some of the tools program managers use to stay on top of projects. IBM, Microsoft, Borland and others are on the job of figuring this out, since their development environments are a natural place to provide global project management capabilities.
But it’s little known Rally Software Development Corp. that may have the current edge. Rally launched its first product in June, an on-demand Web service for tracking development, requirements, testing and defect and issue management. At $65 per user per month, cost shouldn’t be a major problem. A team of eight developers and two managers working a year on a project would pay something like $7,800 at that rate, less than half a year’s salary for an Indian IT staffer, to keep in sync with each other. It seems a small price to pay.