Saturday, April 08, 2006

Building China Office

Flew in China on Feb. 22nd, I got myself busy right away. The experience is still very exciting and sometimes the tension is killing me.

So these are what we have been doing in China office:

Building the China Website

We were finally able to translate the ThoughtWorks website into Chinese and started hosting it on our China domain ( Arguing about how to translate a sentence or even just a term has been very much fun and educational at the same time.

On the principle of "Fixing the Windows", we improved the staging environment by reducing the downtime from 30 minutes every hour to 5-6 minutes every hour. Tests were also written for two bugs that we have found during the translation test.

Building the Awareness

ThoughtWorkers in China have been pretty active in getting in touch with the local communities. We have made arrangement with several universities in Xi'an to give the student some exposure of agile software development.

Other ThoughtWorkers working on projects in the other cities are also presenting to the local universities and communities.

As for me, I am going to give presentation to BEA user group meeting this month at Shanghai (, titled "Agile in Practice" (originally "XP in Practice").

I think this is an interesting topic to give presentation to. Whenever after someone giving the presentation about agile development, there was always a long session of questions and answers. This presentation can serve as a follow-up by targeting those questions.

With the help from other ThoughtWorkers, I have collected feedback from the projects that we have worked on in China, grouped and categoried them, so that we can show what agile is from yet another perspective. The more I work on it, the more it reminds me of the book "XP Installed".

So I am concentrate more on the photo shots and project samples. It already has over 30 slides and over 10 megabytes in size. Maybe I will have to cut it a bit to fit into the 60 minutes that I have for this presentation.

Distributed Project

Of course, the one and only activity that leads directly to revenue in ThoughtWorks is working on a billable project. Since the first day that I entered Xi'an office, I have been assigned to a distributed project.

The client's headquarter is in UK, and this project involves their offices in Spain and France. So we have two BAs working in Europe gathering requirement. The development team was originally in our Bangalore office. Due to the lack of resource, another small development team was formed in Xi'an office and some of the work has been shifted here.

As you can imagine, the communication has been identified as a risk from day one. We have taken various measures to make sure that the developers understand the code base as well as the requirement, and that everyone is update to date on the project status. This includes Yahoo! IM configuration so that everyone can tell which story each other is working on, daily standup meeting through iChat between Xi'an and Bangalore, and daily BA meeting conference, etc. Of course, Campfire made by 37 signals helped a lot on this issues, gaining more of my already established respect for them.

Just within a month, there has already been a change of direction from the customer, which proved one more time that change is constant and planning is an on-going activity. The expats in the China team left, except me, Jake who knows the code base, and Sagar who knows the business requirements.

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