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Dr. Shah will present his Doctoral Dissertation on Distributed Agile  

Assessments of Agile Methods in Overcoming Offshore Software Development Challenges (Advisor: Dr. Fred Grossman, Pace University, USA)

Software design and development activities are conducted in many organizations in United States (US) and the world using internal or external resources, as well as those from overseas. Further, "offshoring" of software development option has attracted attention due to some relative and perceived benefits of cost effectiveness, timely services, and rapid access to various technical capabilities for increased productivity.

As reported in the literature the traditional software development approach is still preferred by many offshore organizations where requirement and/or design details are sent offshore to be constructed. These projects face multiple offshore challenges such as lackof direct communications, cultural misunderstandings, difficulties in managing and communicating requirements, and language/jargon misunderstandings. These challenges negatively affect the software development activities and produce lower quality proeuct, schedule delay, lack of trust between team members, and lower customer satisfaction. An alternative methodology termed "Agile", encompassing frequent and relevant communications linked to project iterations, is increasingly becoming popular.

Although currently no single approach is favored in the literature to solve all of these challenges, the important part is how to increase the odds of overcoming them successfully given the complex nature of offshore software development practices. The objective of this study was to explore the effectiveness of agile methodology in the context of the traditional software development approach to overcome some of the challenges associated with the offshore software development practices.

In this study, first, a literature review was conducted followed by a semi-structured survey and follow-up discussions with industry professionals currently involved with offshore software project development to understand the above listed offshore challenges. Additionally, this thesis presents two distinct experiments, performed under comparable conditions and relative complexities due to offshore software development, intended to determine potential impact due to using the Agile software development methodology (Agile approach) over the use of the traditional software development methodology (Non-Agile approach).

The experiment with Non-Agile approach (traditional) was conducted with the guidance of industry experts, and thus was designed to simulate how the majority of "real-world" software development projects are conducted at present. The Agile approach experiment was designed carefully so that most parameters of operational conditions remained comparable with the Non-Agile experiment. These two 12-week long experiments were conducted within simulated "real-world" offshore environment of developing two separate business software applications, Asset Tracking software using the traditional approach, and Help Desk Management software, using the Agile approach. In both experiments, customers from US engaged software development teams in India providing specific requirements for the experiments. The development teams in India were charged to complete the technical development and testing related work.

The results and observations from both projects were limited to project execution phase (coding, testing, and change management handling by the development team) and the implementation phase (final delivery by the development team, product assessment by the customer) activities. Data measurements in the areas of communications, cultural differences, managing and communicating project requirements, and language/jargon as well as additional observations in the context of typical project management and offshore parameters were used to compare the two methodologies and draw conclusions about their relative impact in an offshore environment.

Details of the event:

Date : Wednesday 6th Feb 2008

Time : 6:00 PM - 8:00 PM

Location : Mukesh Patel School of Technology Management & Engineering, Mumbai

Cost : Free. Open to all.


6:00 - 6:30 PM : Welcome and Introductions

6:30 - 7:15 PM : Presentation by Dr. Samir

7:15 - 8:00 PM : Q & A

Target Audience

CxO's, Software Development Managers, Project Managers, Program Managers, Product Managers, Team Leads, Business Analysts, Trainers, University Professors, Students, and many more.
During this discussion we'll avoid technical implementation details.

About Dr. Samir Shah

Samir Shah is serving as the Director of Penn State Commonwealth Campuses India Initiative program as well as an instructor of the College of Information Sciences & Technology (IST) at The Pennsylvania State University, York , PA (USA). Shah has an extensive portfolio of over 15 years of technological management and development experience gained throughout his career in USA . His emergent record of scholarship, grounded in his experience in the academy and in the public sector is an illustrative of the vital intersection of people, information and technology.

Shah was recently honored by the Technology Council of Central Pennsylvania as the 2006 Technology Educator of the Year award. This award was presented during the council's 14th annual awards gala in Harrisburg . The council is a nonprofit organization dedicated to the growth and success of the technology community with a 24-plus county region of central Pennsylvania . Shah was also the recipient of the University-wide Information Sciences & Technology award (2005) by Penn State University . This award recognizes outstanding faculty members for their teaching and research as well as their efforts to foster leaders for the digital, global economy.

In his leadership of the Penn State York Information Sciences & Technology advisory board, Shah has successfully forged a partnership between industry, government and Penn State that has benefited all parties concerned.

Shah's commitment to internationalizing both his discipline and his campus has characterized his tenure at Penn State York. He played a key role in developing a Penn State's first 2+2 Information Sciences & Technology (IST) Commonwealth Campuses degree program with an affiliated college of Mumbai University, which beginning in 2008 will bring a cadre of Indian students to Penn State where they will complete a Penn State's IST degree.

Another most significant contribution to international education is the cutting edge work that Shah has undertaken in his teaching where he provided a unique opportunity to both Penn State and students from India to work on an international collaborative software development projects. In this project students from both India and USA learned key skills and more importantly, this experience allowed American and students from India to discover strengths of each other's educational system and to build a unified approach to the problems set by these "real-world" projects that enabled them to develop solutions that showed a blend of American and Indian pedagogy. The plan is to continue these experiences in the future.

Prior to Penn State , Shah enjoyed employment at various government agencies within Pennsylvania State Government and was continuously recognized for his innovative approaches to information technology solutions. His responsibilities included providing a comprehensive leadership for the development of the IT strategic directions; application development; IT policy and formulation; and IT project management for the department. Throughout his managerial experience. Shah collaborated with various government agencies for improved communication an aspect critical to successful information technology problem solution.

Shah has also co-authored (with Mr. Art Stephens, Deputy-Secretary of Information Technology, Pennsylvania State Government) a chapter titled, "IT and the Agile Government: The Role of Information Technology in Improving the Efficiency of Government Functions".

In keeping with the university's emphasis on consulting for its faculty, Shah has also assisted several profit and non-profit organizations by providing them innovative information technology solutions to their business problems and in the area of global IT project management and software development.

Shah's research interest is in the areas of Global Information Technology Project Management and improving ways to reduce Offshore Challenges using the Agile Software Development methods.

Throughout his career Shah has served on various committees and boards in public, private and academic organizations.

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