For the last two weeks we’ve had a ThoughtWorks colleague from the onshore team working with us in Pune and it’s been really cool having someone who has been working on ‘the other side’.
In my time in India there seem to have been many more people going from offshore to onshore than the other way around but based on this experience I don’t think that should necessarily be the case.
The typical argument in favour of someone from offshore going on site is that they’re able to interact with the client and onshore people and pick up any required context which they’ll then be able to share with their colleagues offshore.
The impact of those trips is perceived to be higher than what would be achieved by having someone do the reverse trip.
Having seen the interactions my US colleague was able to have with people has made me realise that perhaps that perception isn’t as true as it seems.
A big part of the success of distributed projects seems to be about the ability for the two sides to communicate effectively and having someone who interacts daily with people that we only know by phone/email is very helpful.
My colleague was able to provide context about our client and what they’re trying to do in a way that I don’t think someone going onshore for a couple of weeks would be able to do.
Sometimes it’s felt like we’re just building something because we were told to do so and my colleague has been able to explain the underlying thinking and what we’re trying to do with the system.
I think he’s also found it a pretty useful experience in terms of learning about the strengths and weaknesses of the team and what the real pain points are.
Everyone offshore now knows one person onshore personally which should be useful for any future interactions.