- PROJECT: RakuRaku Seisan
- NAME: Nagata Koichi
- POSITION: Offshore Team Leader – RakuRaku Seisan Development Department, Rakus Japan.
After graduating in the major of information science at a science university in Tokyo, he joined Rakus Japan in 2019 as a fresher. After about 1 year experience in designing and implementing Rakuraku Seisan, he was transferred to the Offshore development team. Currently, he is the leader of the Offshore team with 2 Vietnamese Bridge SEs in Japan and nearly 20 engineers from Rakus Vietnam.
Offshore Development plays an important role in promoting the development of RakuRaku Seisan. We interviewed the leader of the Offshore team, the team that is connecting the Japanese team and Rakus Vietnam (hereinafter referred to as RV), about their environment and daily working style.
—– Please tell us about the role of offshore development in proceeding with the development of Rakuraku Seisan.
For a few years before I became leader, the Offshore team was primarily responsible for relatively small tasks, external collaboration, bug fixes, and technical investigations, rather than the core functions of RakuRaku Seisan.
Since I became the leader, a Japanese engineer was assigned as Project Manager (hereinafter referred to as PM) for overall functional development, I worked with PM as well as expanded the role of Offshore development. While continuing previous projects, we also partially carry out functional development tasks corresponding to legal adjustments, tasks related to RakuRaku Seisan’s main business flow, and tasks that require an understanding of the business logic, not only the implementation, such as troubleshooting …
Offshore team has created good communication conditions between the Japan side and RV, both understanding the teams and the content of different tasks as well as doing basic reviews and responding to questions, …
Currently, RV is in charge of nearly 40% of RakuRakuSeisan’s development volume. Offshore team is growing together with RV and also aiming for more important and higher levels.
—– What kind of organizational structure do the team have and how do you proceed with development?
Currently, Rakuraku Seisan is developing under the following organizational structure. I am in charge of PMO and Bridge Engineer (hereinafter referred to as BrSE) of the Offshore team.
This is the form of work “establishing a PM position for the overall project in Japan, BrSE will be the intermediary with RV, RV performs part of the design, implementation, unit testing, third-party testing, and BrSE will receive their deliverables.
There are about 5 PMs on the Japan side, the current Offshore team is included 3 members, and RV’s RakuRaku Seisan team has a total of nearly 20 people.
RV’s mid-term plan is to innovate the architecture, improve the performance of each function, and mainly optimize the system so that even customers with a larger number of users can be use it stress-freely.
BrSE members of Offshore team
—– Please explain the basic work flow.
In particular, accurately communicating the thoughts of the Japanese PM and RV to each other is one of the important jobs as well as capacity of the Offshore team. There are many differences in culture and perspective between Japanese and Vietnamese people, so if we just translate normally, it will only express about 30% of what the two sides want to share with each other. Therefore, by unifying the understanding between the two parties, including what we want to express and what we want to confirm, we have minimized the time spent on risks such as misunderstanding each other and having to do it again.
In particular, BrSE plays an intermediary role such as explaining technical specifications and following up the implementation, helping the project go smoothly, thanks to agreeing on a more detailed understanding among Vietnamese engineer members together. Compared to when I was the main contact person, the differences in understanding were significantly reduced. That’s why BrSE plays a very important role in performing many different tasks.
—– Please tell us how to conduct the meeting between the Japan side and RV.
Every day, we will hold a meeting to confirm progress and expected completion date in each phase of each task. For about 15 minutes every day, we conduct meetings in a fun atmosphere while exchanging gossip. Meetings are mainly to confirm the progress of the teams, confirm the number of members with empty tasks and when this takes place, confirm plans to take leave, and other announcements from Japan and RV. The Japanese side will speak in Japanese, the RV side in Vietnamese, and RV’s interpreter members support the meeting.
Online meeting with RV
In addition, when there are contents that you feel worried about in terms of text, such as questions or things that need urgent confirmation, etc., we also hold a reasonable meeting at that time. I think it’s not much different from mob programming.
—– Do you have a language barrier?
I don’t know Vietnamese and I’m not fluent in English either. However, there is a strategy that we are applying, which is that RV’s communicator members are very excellent, able to translate at the same time between Japanese ⇔ Vietnamese as expected and confirm the understanding with Vietnamese BrSE in details and clearly.
—– How is communication outside of meetings being carried out?
Mainly we are communicating using chat tools, spreadsheets, etc. similar to engineers in Japan. We use chat tools as a communication method, and when discuss details we will use spreadsheets and Redmine.
—– Is there anything you need to pay attention to when communicating?
In order for both the Japanese and RV teams to feel comfortable and work at their best, we are trying to express necessary information clearly and communicate with each other in a positive atmosphere. It was reassuring to see RV proceed on the project every day, and we tried to motivate each other through sharing thank you notes from other teams.
Communicating by chat between Japan and RV
Besides, in order for Japan and RV to understand each other better, we are also trying to make the document more “concise”, “comprehensive”, and “straightforward”. In communication between Japanese, we still have the situations such as we did not uncover all points and unable to convey all our necessary thoughts. There are also many different ways to communicate accurately, for example, when using honorifics is too formal leads to misunderstandings, so communicating politely is just enough, …
—– Have you ever been to Vietnam on business?
Every night after work, everyone will take me out to have dinner. On weekends we also go sightseeing together and pick fruit. In addition, because I went on a business trip at the same time as the company trip, I also joined in. With the mindset of “work hard, play hard”, I had the opportunity to experience many things that I could not experience in Japan.
By communicating with each other through work, I feel that the Offshore development team is growing positively, which makes my work full of joy.