A good friend of mine, Alexey, is an “offshore manager” for a mid-sized technology company with offshore offices in Ukraine. After reading my last post he decided to sent me his daily routine. I put “offshore manager” here in quotes since it’s my friend’s role, not the title. Anyway, in his case ODC is wholly owned by his company, and he has a full time job of overseeing development and QA activities performed by the offshore team.
Interestingly enough, Alexey is not an engineer, but for all intents and purposes is a project manager, very good one. His team in Ukraine is over 60 people and is responsible for product that generates at least 50% of his company revenue. Alexey’s offshore team is doing exceptionally well and is considered one of the key ingredients of the company’s success.
I think in a large degree offshore team success is due to Alexey’s work, leadership and unyielding dedication to quality. And now without further ado let me present slightly edited Alexey’s daily routine –
- 15 min Categorize (not read) emails received
- 90 min Participate in up to 3 daily SCRUMs (high risk projects)
- 30 min After SCRUMs I usually have 1 or 2 one-on-one meetings with my team members scheduled at this time. My goal is to follow up with each tech / QA lead at least once a week, with every other member of the team – every other month. Most often via Skype. Meetings are scheduled in advance as recurring appointments.
- 15 min Take a short break – read something related to technology, outsourcing, project management.
- 120 min Empty email in-box. I work category by category, keep emails extremely short, utilize reminders, etc. I block at least two hours on my calendar and do not allow interruptions during this time. I typically put Outlook in offline mode while doing that. I often can finish my email activities in allocated time, I stop them anyway.
- 15 min Check current metrics and KPIs. Update reports.
- 60 min Lunch (sometimes brown bag meetings, sometime social, rarely alone)
- 15 min Update my to-do list, setup meetings and tasks in Outlook.
- 120 min Execute as many tasks from my to-do list as I can squeeze into 2 hours. In my case it’s a magic number, usually I do not have too much of a backlog remaining after that. However even if not all tasks are done I stop here, most of the time I can catch up with my backlog in a day or so.
- 60 min Another round of email activities. Things that came in during the day, remainders from yesterday.
- 15 min. Clean up. Review schedule for tomorrow, make adjustments.
Couple notes about sticking to the routine –
I try to stick to the time allocated for the tasks
- All unavoidable interruptions (e.g. external meetings, etc.) should be treated as tasks and dealt with in 2 hour task window
- I try to stick to the order of activities as above, and keep them all in outlook (some as busy, some as tentative) if I have to reshuffle it due to external constraints I update outlook.
- I do my best not to extend my workday beyond 9.5 hrs (with lunch) and do not bring work home – which is highly unusual for offshore manager, but somehow I managed to get to this point…