Extended Team Model in Global Software Engineering

Distributed development of software has become a fact of life. Companies adopt different models of Global Software Development (GSD) paradigm based on their needs and the opportunities available to them. Apart from some of the well known models of GSD such as outsourcing, offshore development centers, global sourcing and virtual teams, companies are experimenting with new models that are more focused on collaborative approaches. One of the emerging models is Extended Team Model (ETM) that is based on cross-organizational partnership that can be justified by the need of having access to a pool of technical experts while having limited resources for outsourcing governance and fluctuating demand for developing software needs.

Mansooreh Zahedi, and I have started exploring the implementation of ETM in Small-to-Medium Enterprises (ETMs) involved in GSD. Part of this research will be incorporated in Mansooreh’s PhD dissertation. Mansooreh and I define an ETM as a customised offshore outsourcing model aimed at building an extended arm of a client by having continuous access to software development resources of a vendor by forming a long-term partnership.

ETM differs from typical offshore outsourcing by going beyond client-vendor relationship and emphasizing forming a unified team. In this model, vendor’s team is dedicated to client to be leveraged in any upcoming demands. From description point of view, an ETM may sound like a Virtual Team (VT) strategy by forming a team across geographical, temporal and organizational boundaries and dominantly using technology-mediated communication. However, unlike a VT, ETM-based teams are not dissolved after a single project or program. The staff from vendor side is completely integrated in client’s team with access to technical training and mentoring from client’s staff. ETM provides clients with higher visibility and control of ongoing tasks.

Whilst the ETM is an established terminology in industry, there is little empirical knowledge about this model and what is the most appropriate strategies and logistics to implement it. Hence, we assert that it is important to systematically gather and widely disseminate knowledge about different aspects of this model. We are very excited to find a unique opportunity to study a few implementation of this model in the context of GSD using a mixed method approach. We assert that the findings from our project will provide useful insights for practitioners and researchers. We have published some findings based on preliminary analysis of the data we have gathered so far. Our first paper and associated poster are here.

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