Ci&T, a provider of software product engineering and application development, announced the opening of a new nearshore delivery center in Argentina. The center, with its near-local proximity, will solve the time zone issue that can be a major challenge when North American countries work with Asia.
Ci&T practices Agile and Lean development, which typically promotes co-location. I asked Cesar Gon, CEO of Ci&T, whether addressing the time zone would be enough to allow for strong communication between the development team and the client. What about language barriers and cultural differences? He answers:
Of course we need to be attentive to these issues, we cannot downplay it. However, we cannot forget that cultural differences between North America and South America are far smaller than those between Asia and the Americas, especially in those countries with a large contingent of immigrants from several different places in Europe, like Brazil and Argentina. Still, companies from the region that do business in the U.S. should be concerned about programs that provide an opportunity to build their own “melting pot.”
At Ci&T, we have brought Americans to work at our headquarters in Brazil for extensive periods of time. We’re currently hiring dozens of Americans to spend a year in Brazil. Later, these people will be key personnel in the U.S., with knowledge of both cultures. Our local team is comprised of both expats and local hires, so everyone can learn about the cultural differences. As for language, we also have corporate programs for English proficiency improvement, which is part of our annual strategic goals. Communication goes far beyond just language, and our clients frequently praise our team members as “strong communicators” — not because our English is better than anybody’s, but because we ask when we don’t understand and we speak up when we disagree or see a better way — contributing to the generation of business value.
I asked how frequently the development team met with the client, wondering if the meetings could be as effective in this type of distributed environment.
We establish daily, direct communication with our clients. That’s the beauty of Agile and Lean: the focus is on people and how they interact, rather than processes and how documents are handed off. The whole dev team “meets” the client once a day (which is possible only because of nearshore), then the ScrumMaster (Ci&T) and the Product Owner (the client) talk to each other as many times as necessary during the day. Every two to three weeks, there’s a demo meeting with all stakeholders, including project sponsors and business users, where the software developed during those weeks is shown. We use teleconferences, web conferences, and telepresence features, as well as, of course, our lean onsite teams, with key personnel such as Project Managers and Senior Software Architects.
Perhaps nearshoring is a new trend in the industry? Communication barriers are being removed, thanks to technologies, but solving the time zone issue has been a problem. However, with nearshoring, we are one step closer to creating distributed Agile teams that are able to communicate as effectively as co-located teams.