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Strategic Project Management in Gsd Scenarios Part 1

By Navneet Bhushan and Karthikeyan (Karthik) Iyer

Increasing globalization indicates that the world will see an increase in global software development. Studying the global software development landscape, this article identifies six different global software development scenarios. These include, in-house – near-shore; in-house – offshore; outsourced – near-shore; outsourced – offshore; collaborative – near-shore and collaborative – offshore. In each of these scenarios the relative project management challenges and priorities are different. This is Part One of a three-part series.

Project Management

Project management is often described as a master balancing act. Given a set of constraints (time, cost and scope) the project manager has to put pieces of the project puzzle together: in space (all things right) and in time (at the right time).1 This is true of any project management activity, but especially true in software projects. Adding the word “global” to “software development” results in more parameters added to the project manager’s plate. Juggling all these parameters requires continuous and comprehensive planning. More often than not, unexpected changes in the project environment result in wholesale changes to the initial plan. Planning, therefore, is a continuous process for adapting to changes. The ability of the project manager to anticipate changes and then quickly and efficiently adapt to those changes often determines success or failure of a project.

To achieve this, the project manager needs to consider the various aspects of project management (based on the collective expertise of others who have been there and done it). Additionally, the project manager needs to be aware of the global angle and its impact on the project. Merging these two dimensions can help determine the impact of specific global software development scenarios and the key aspects of project management.

Global Software Development Scenarios

Organizations interested in developing and selling software products and services have access to global markets and global talent. Software services and products are now widely used in diverse industries resulting in a much broader scope of software application. Cost, time, business strategy and global reach are now critical parameters in determining “who” develops software as well as “when” and “where.” This has an impact on software project management and poses new challenges and questions for the global software development community.

In this context, different relationships have emerged. Software does not need to be developed end-to-end at one place. Chunks of software can now be outsourced to other organizations depending on cost-based, competency-based or market-based strategies. Organizations can also opt to set up shop in multiple, geographically diverse locations to leverage global skills, time and cost advantages and global markets. More than ever before, organizations that used to focus on depth-based strategies for specialized offerings are now looking forward to collaborating with other organizations that offer different sets of offerings to develop newer software products and provide broader service packages.

Software development processes are no longer restricted by the following two traditional boundaries:

1. Geographical Boundaries

Since organizations are multi-located, they can reduce risk (disaster management strategy), employ local talent, reduce costs, explore concurrent developments, gain exposure to diverse markets, expand the global reach of the organization and create a platform for flexible growth strategies.

2. Organizational Boundaries

Networking with other organizations in client-vendor or peer-peer relationships can help organizations leverage global talent, reduce costs, gain exposure to global markets and create strategic partnerships.

The following two geographical possibilities emerge:

1. Near-shoring

Software processes (or parts) are distributed across locations that are relatively close to each other (in a global context this would mean state or national boundaries). Near-shoring ensures a common operating picture in terms of laws of the land, general costs and cultural nuances.

2. Off-shoring

Software processes (or parts) are distributed across diverse locations, typically crossing national boundaries. Off-shoring enables an organization to leverage global skills, costs and markets.

The following three organizational possibilities emerge:

1. In-house

Software processes (or parts) are distributed across different units within the same organization. This can help define clear process boundaries and create opportunities for concurrent development.

2. Outsourced

Software processes (or parts) are distributed across multiple organizations in a client-vendor relationship. This can help leverage specialized capabilities and create opportunities for concurrent development.

3. Collaborated

Software processes (or parts) are distributed across multiple organizations in a peer-peer relationship. This can help build strategic partnerships and create growth opportunities.

Putting the geographical and organizational lenses together, global software development can be categorized into the following broad scenarios:2,3,4

  • Outsourced – near-shoring
  • Outsourced – off-shoring
  • In-house – near-shoring
  • In-house – off-shoring
  • Collaborated – near-shoring
  • Collaborated – off-shoring

Each of these scenarios offers unique opportunities and challenges from a project management perspective.

Project Management Knowledge Areas

The project management body of knowledge is the sum of knowledge within the profession of project management.1 It identifies the following nine knowledge areas as “generally accepted as good practices” or areas of project management that are widely accepted to be of value and use to project management. They are applicable to most projects (most of the time) and given proper thought and correct application, enhance the chances of success over a wide range of different projects.

1. Project Scope Management

Project scope management includes the processes required to define and control the scope of work for the project. Everything that needs to be done and what does not need to be done.

2. Project Time Management

Project time management includes the process required to ensure timely completion of the project.

3. Project Cost Management

Project cost management includes the processes required in planning, estimating, budgeting and controlling costs so that the project can be completed within the approved budget.

4. Project Integration Management

Project integration management includes the processes and activities required to identify, define, combine, unify and coordinate various processes and project management activities.

5. Project Quality Management

Project quality management includes the processes and activities of the performing organization, which determines quality policies, objectives and responsibilities, so that the project will satisfy the needs of what has been undertaken.

6. Project Human Resource Management

Project human resource management includes the processes that organize and manage the project team.

7. Project Communications Management

Project communications management includes the processes required to ensure timely and appropriate generation, collection, distribution, storage, retrieval and ultimate disposition of project information. Project communications management processes provide critical links with people and the information that is necessary for successful communication.

8. Project Risk Management

Project risk management includes the processes concerned with conducting risk management planning, identification, analysis, responses and monitoring and control of the project. The objectives are to increase the probability and impact of positive events and decrease the probability and impact of the events, which are adverse to the successful completion of the project.

9. Project Procurement Management

Project procurement management includes the processes to purchase or acquire the products, services or results needed from outside the project team to perform the work.

Next up: Part Two will explore methodology, analytic hierarchy process and project management prioritization in global software development scenarios with some results.


  1. A Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge, Project Management Institute, 2000 Edition.
  2. Aron, Ravi., Singh, Jitendra V., Getting Offshoring Right, Harvard Business Review, December 2005.
  3. Davidson D., Top 10 Risks of Offshore Outsourcing, Meta Group, November 2003.
  4. Verhoef C., Quantitative Aspects of Outsourcing Deals, Science of Computer Programming, Elsevier, 2004.

About the Authors:

Navneet Bhushan is the founder / director of an innovation co-creating firm, Crafitti Consulting Pvt Ltd. He has worked close to two decades in managing and developing IT, innovation and productivity solutions and has worked in large commercial and government organizations. He is the principal author of Strategic Decision Making – Applying the Analytic Hierarchy Process published by Springer, UK, 2004. His current research interests include complexity, open innovation and globalization. He is a visiting faculty member at Welingkar School of Business Management. Contact Navneet Bhushan at navneet.bhushan (at) or visit

Karthikeyan (Karthik) Iyer is a Founder / Director of an innovation co-creating firm, Crafitti Consulting Pvt Ltd. He has more than nine years of experience in the IT industry and has consulted on innovation in processes, product strategy, technology, intellectual property and organizational innovation capability. His areas of interest include innovation culture and chaos theory, open innovation, inventive principles and technology evolution trends. Contact Karthikeyan (Karthik) Iyer at karthikeyan.iyer (at) or visit