Towards Genuine Virtual Collaboration: Designing the Use of Mobile Remote Presence in Offshore-Outsourced Projects

Wende, Erik
Alt, Rainer
King, Greg
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Informal communication between work team members is critical for collaborative tasks, building relationships and coordinating group activities. Achieving informal communication and collaboration is particularly challenging in in offshore outsourced projects. Supporting informal communication is difficult for most collaboration technologies. One approach is the adoption of mobile remote presence technologies (MRP). Such systems comprise a video conferencing system mounted on a user-controlled, mobile robotic base. \ This paper seeks to design the deployment of an MRP system in an offshore-outsourced software development team (located between Germany and India). The design process involved observing the use a MRP system in a distributed team in Germany. \ We observed the influence of the mobile remote presence system on types and frequency of team interaction over a 12-month period. It supported a wide range of collaborative interaction, including planned and unplanned meetings and social interactions. After an adjustment period of several weeks, local and remote users worked almost as if they were co-located. \ The paper concludes with plans for deploying the mobile remote presence system in an offshore outsourced team, which include an extended adjustment period and daily scheduled meetings to ensure usage and enable a range of interaction types. \
MRP, offshore, outsourcing, software
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