Common Concerns About Software Development Outsourcing

Customer Concerns with Software Development OutsourcingSoftware development outsourcing is something many companies try at some point in time. Large companies may turn to software outsourcing as a way to expedite a special project or to access hard-to-find technical talent in a timely manner. Smaller companies may see software outsourcing as an important way to save money or to easily scale up or down to meet a dynamic workload.

Regardless of a company’s motivation behind trying software outsourcing, the fact is that in 2015 it is no longer something unusual or rare. As technology has transformed the world of work, giving people 24/7 access anywhere anytime, the possibilities with outsourcing for many different industries have rapidly expanded.

Given the fact that more and more companies are trying software outsourcing, it is probably not surprising that there are some common concerns. As a software development outsourcing company, we’ve heard many of these concerns over the years. They often come as a result of a company’s previous experience with an outsourcing agency.

Four Common Concerns about Software Development Outsourcing

Whether you are new to software development outsourcing and have very little experience, or you’ve been doing it for years, these are concerns many businesses have when trying to navigate the world of software development outsourcing.

  1. Ramp-up time – Depending upon the complexity of a given project, ramp up time can be a major concern for companies considering software outsourcing. How long will it take for a software outsourcing company to understand critical business knowledge? How long will it take for a software outsourcing company to assemble a qualified team of developers to work on a project? These are important questions to consider when choosing which software outsourcing company to hire.
  2. Technical skill level – Will it be difficult for us to obtain developers with the level of technical skill we truly need for our project? When it comes to software development, there are several different skill levels. While it is generally quite easy to identify a beginner and someone who is very advanced, people in the more intermediate range may be more difficult to identify. If a company is looking for a senior level programmer and they end up with a junior level it is likely that problems will soon arise. Finding software outsourcing companies that have some certifications in the desired technologies may be ideal. For example, number8 is a Microsoft Certified Solutions Partner.
  3. Language barriers – If we outsource software development offshore, will the potential language barrier become problematic? This is a common concern and sometimes justifiable. Because being able to clearly communicate project requirements, scope, deadlines, and details between team members, it is easily understandable that a language gap could create confusion on a software team. Finding software developers that speak a common language is something an increasing number of firms are looking for when considering outsourcing.
  4. Time zone differences – Software development outsourcing firms are located in many different regions across the globe including places like the Ukraine, China, India, Ireland and Costa Rica, to name a few. Depending on the location of the firm you choose, the time gap between you and your software development team will vary. For example, if you are located in California and you work with developers in Ireland, you are looking at an eight hour time gap. If it’s 10:30 a.m. in San Francisco, it’s 6:30 p.m. in Dublin. If you are in Boston, Massachusetts, the gap is only 5 hours. If you choose an offshore location that is close in proximity to the United States like Costa Rica, the time gap becomes much smaller. Costa Rica is on Central Standard Time or CST. This is 2 hours behind Miami or just one hour ahead of California.

Choosing a good software development outsourcing partner is a major decision and there are a lot of things to consider in the process. If you are interested in learning more about your nearshore options, contact number8 today for more info or give us a call at 502-890-7665. We’d love to hear more about the software services that you need, and to answer any questions you might have about outsourcing software development.

Scrum Master – Barb Seewer

Barb Seewer earns Scrum Master CertificationThe number8 team has just gained another scrum master! Company President David Easterling is already certified in this area, but now Barb Seewer, Delivery Manager at number8, can be added to the scrum master list as well! Prior to joining number8, Barb (pictured second to left) spent 15+ years managing and developing projects. Early in her career, she worked as a Cryptology Mathematician for the National Security Agency. She holds a BA in statistics from the University of Michigan and a MS in Computer Science from Johns Hopkins University.

Barb completed her scrum master training at the Indiana Wesleyan outreach campus in Cincinnati, Ohio. She spent two full days learning and understanding the agile business model to become a scrum master. Barb has become a huge fan of scrum because of the success rates associated with this style of work. The sprint’s success was remarkable even after one or two weeks. Scrum sprints show enormous impacts of the growth of a project, while bringing about deliverable results. Even at six months, Barb has noticed how this can help software developers set mini goals and determine their own achievements.

During Barb’s training she enjoyed a lot of the hands on activities and group work. The instructor was incredibly helpful by suggesting different alternatives and even jumping in with group work. The many participants from several companies came together on the same project to reach their team goal. Because Barb attended this training on her own, she had an opportunity to connect with people from many different companies and backgrounds.

Lessons Learned from Scrum Master Training

One of the most memorable lessons Barb learned was a method called, “Poker Planning.” This activity included understanding user stories and Prosoft Nearshore's Barb Seewer Earns Certificationcreating backlogs. Within this area, Barb understood the need for the product owner to be involved in every meeting. For successful projects, it is important for the leader to always be present to answer any questions or clear up any concerns. During her training, Barb realized how efficient scrum meetings can be, with project critical information summed up in 15 minutes or less. By scheduling daily scrums, the team is able to stay on the correct path and keep every member on the same page.

One specific issue Barb realized through this training was the difficulty in producing a healthy backlog. This is dependent on prioritizing and planning to successfully reach the team’s goal. It is all about fitting tasks in the allotted sprint time. When there is 20 percent in the backlog, it is important to simply begin working on the top 5 percent. It is not as overwhelming if you use this approach.

At the end of the training, each participant has to pass an open book test by at least 60 percent. Barb excelled in this area and is now a certified scrum master. She is a huge fan of scrum and believes in the success of this unique approach to software development. She plans to stay up-to-date on information about scrum and she is excited to see her clients move in the right direction!

Pura Vida and Other Popular Words in Costa Rica

Pura Vida!

While Costa Rica may have gotten its name from its 80 miles of rich coastlines, the meaning of Pura Vida has a special importance in this country as well. This term can be used for anything from a greeting, to a synonym for “excellent.” Pura Vida is not only a common phrase in Costa Rica, but rather a way of life! Many Ticos and Ticas will use this phrase to model a certain lifestyle. In Costa Rica, life is very laid back and the focus is placed on an individual’s happiness instead of institutional values.

While the official language of Costa Rica is Spanish, the strong culture in Costa Rica has also popularized some of its own vocabulary. Here are some of the most common phrases and words used in Costa Rica. Understanding this vocabulary is ideal for anyone traveling to Costa Rica for business or pleasure.

  1. Mae: This term is used when talking to friends or “dudes.” It is also sometimes used to refer to a man or woman.
  2. Soda: In Costa Rica, a soda is not a beverage, but rather a local family-run restaurant! These resemble North American diners and are known for their relaxed atmosphere and authentic home cooking.
  3. Tico/Ticas: These words reference males/females in Costa Rica. These are the colloquial or native terms associated with the men and women of this country.
  4. Gallo pinto: This is a very common meal of seasoned black beans and rice.Pura Vida
  5. Detras del palo: Translating to “behind the tree,” this phrase is often used to describe someone who has no knowledge of a particular subject. In Costa Rica, explaining to someone that you are “behind the tree,” means that you do not understand what they are saying.
  6. Chunche: This word, which directly translates to “thing,” has become the ultimate filler for times when you are at a loss for words.
  7. Olla de Carne: This is a delicious and hearty soup in Costa Rica made of vegetables and meat.
  8. Rojos and Tejas: The direct translation for this phrase means “red” and “tile.” However, most Costa Ricans use this phrase to describe the currency of this country. The “rojo” represents the red 1,000 colones bill (US $2) and the “teja” refers to 100 colones.
  9. Tambito: A unique musical term used to describe musical rhythm that is specific to Costa Rica.
  10. Cien metros: This phrase is often used when asking for or giving directions. This typically describes “one block,” and is completely relative. Do not expect a perfect distance of 100 meters to describe one street block.

Costa Rica has a unique style of language and culture. While this is a short list of phrases and words, it is a helpful start to some of the words you should know when you visit Costa Rica. It is always more fun when you more fully understand the language and culture of the place you are visiting. Before traveling to Costa Rica, you might enjoy researching the country and the Pura Vida lifestyle. Who knows, with a little practice and a little research, you might get mistaken for a Tico/Tica one day!

Project Management: From Good to Great

Project Management for Software DevelopmentProject management refers to the active process of planning, organizing, motivating and controlling resources to complete a unique task that aims to achieve a specific goal. Sometimes a company will outsource software development needs to an outside company. In order for software development work to be completed in a timely and effective manner, project management is a key part of this effort.  The ideal outsourcing partner will deliver the best product available afforded by time, talent and resources. The end results depends largely on how an outsourcing firm manages the project from start to finish.

When it comes to project management, it isn’t a process that is set in stone to which a standard protocol is easily implemented. Instead, project management is a strategic an dynamic application of knowledge, skills, techniques and experience. Effective project managers allow a company to tie project results to business goals, which enables better competitive positioning in the market.

7 Ways to go from Good to Great Project Management

Although there is more than one successful way to implement successful project management, there are certain common factors that tend to be present in most approaches.  Follow along to learn seven ways for project managers to take a project from good to great:

  1. Planning – Most deficiencies in a project may be the result of a poor or improper planning process from the get go. When planning a project, it’s vital to determine the project definition, the project work plan, and the project management procedures.  Having a clear illustration of these three planning criteria will facilitate a more fluid operation of the project from start to finish.
  2. Identify Risks in Advance – During the planning process, it’s important to identify all possible risk that will occur at some point in the project and asses the level of immediacy they will need in order to be fixed. Risk may be defined as high, medium, or low.  Being aware of the potential problems that may arise throughout the project can ultimately save valuable time and money if they are recognized early in the planning process.
  3. Scheduling – Throughout the project, monitoring the work plan to identify what task have been completed and what tasks need to be done will help keep team members up-to-date on the process. Monitoring the work plan schedule will help determine whether the project is and will stay on the determined time budget and allow any necessary changes to be made.
  4. Budget – Similar to the work plan schedule, it’s vital to monitor the budget of the project to determine how much money the project has consumed, and to make sure more than the original cost has not been spent. Keeping track of the budget throughout the project will help foresee any financial issues that may occur and allow the proper adjustments to be implemented to make sure the project stays on budget.
  5. Scope Management – During the process of the project, a stakeholder may request minor or major deliverables to be added that were not part of the original project definition. Being flexible and knowing how to correctly document and categorize the change needed in the project is imperative to overall success.  It’s also important that a manager recognize the smallest scope changes so they do not pile up over time and compromise the project through a phenomenon often referred to as “scope creep.”
  6. Urgent Resolutions – Even when risks and issues are identified early in the planning stages of the project, the product development team may be faced with unseen problems. Issues may become a big problem to the project if they are not taken care of in a timely manner. It does a great service to the entire project if issues are addressed with a sense of urgency to keep the flow of the project as smooth as possible.
  7. Communication – Poor communication may lead to a number of problems throughout a project. Some team members may have different expectations, may not fully know where the project stands, and may not be working on what they need to be. Communication between managers, team members, and stakeholders needs to be at the highest level possible to ensure that everyone on the project is on the same page in all steps along the way. This may be particularly important if some team members are located offshore.

Producing a great end product for a development project should be the main objective of any software firm. And implementing effective project management may be the difference between delivering a good or great end result.  For a company to remain competitive in its respective market, hiring a firm software development firm that uses best practices in project management will ultimately be a smart decision.

6 Red Flags to Watch for with Software Outsourcing

Red Flags with Software outsourcingSoftware development and web design have become popular for business outsourcing in the past decade. Outsourcing these services often saves companies time and money, and it also provides access to hard-to-find technical and creative talent.

With all of this software development and information technology business abroad, what could possibly go wrong? Apparently, a lot of things.

As a software development company specializing in software development in Costa Rica, we’ve heard many different stories from clients who have experience trying a wide variety of offshore services.

Risks of Offshore Software Development – Look Out for 6 Red Flags

Whether you are new to software outsourcing overseas, or are a seasoned veteran, here are six red flags for you to pay attention to when deciding to outsource your software development abroad.

  1. Cultural Issues: Cultural gaps are an obvious potential challenge when it comes to any type of overseas business. This often starts at the level of communication. When building an outsourcing relationship, it’s very important to understand another culture’s values and ideals, including typical work patterns, major holidays, and more. Gaps in communication and understanding can make this particularly difficult. When outsourcing, make sure that you are working closely with someone who shares a common language, or make the effort to hire a dependable interpreter. It may take time to understand another person’s culture, but it is well worth the effort, especially if you are hoping for a long term business partnership.
  2. Managerial Styles: When selecting an outsourcing development firm, it is best to look for a company that shares similar values and styles of management. While you may not be working in the same physical proximity as your offshore employees, chances are you will expect a certain style of project management to maintain project velocity and keep everyone on the same page. Make sure your offshore partner understands and respects the goals and style of your organization. Having a parallel vision for your onshore and offshore team members is very important to the overall success of any project.
  3. Weak Skills: Many outsourcing companies will do whatever it takes to get your business. This includes claiming to have senior or more advanced employees with specific technical skillsets that may in fact be much less experienced. Be wary of companies that claim to excel in every technical area under the sun. Most offshore technology companies do specialize in certain technologies, skillsets, and approaches to software development. If something sounds too good to be true, it probably is!
  4. Large Discounts: Sometimes companies offering offshore software development will try to draw you in with deep discounts. While potentially appealing on the outset, especially to new businesses with lean budgets, these “unbelievable” discounts can be a slippery slope. If the work you receive is not high quality, you end up paying as much or more debugging and fixing the errors.
  5. No “Point Person”: Even the most experienced and professional software development teams need good leadership. If you are thinking about working with an offshore software development company, make sure you have a clear understanding of the people that will serve as your major points of contact. How long have they been with the company? Working with an offshore partner that has good employee retention is highly desirable since turnover in the middle of a project can really slow down momentum and decrease efficiency. How interested are they in your business? Is their communication timely, effective and easy to understand? If this information is vague or simply unavailable, take notice!
  6. Travel Costs: Lastly, since you are looking into a company overseas, it is important to research the travel costs included in the likely event that you might want to visit your offshore partners. Depending on the location, traveling overseas may be quite costly and time consuming. For example, a flight from the U.S. to India will likely cost you over $1,000 USD and may involve multiple days of travel in each direction. In contrast, you can easily visit a nearshore location like Costa Rica in just a few hours’ time from the U.S. for under $500 USD round trip.

Not all outsourcing software companies are alike. Some may never raise any of the red flags listed above, while others will raise most if not all. Starting out in a strong position with your outsourcing partner is essential to the overall success of this business endeavor. Doing your research in advance will help you reduce your risks and increase the likelihood of a positive experience with software outsourcing.