Why Northern California Tech Companies Turn to Nearshore Outsourcing

Northern California: A National Tech Hub

The tech industry is one of the most important contributors to the Northern California economy. In order to continue developing high paying jobs, information and technology companies outsource operations to streamline processes and cut down on costs. Traditionally, Silicon Valley managers have looked to India for their outsourcing needs. However, there are various cultural issues when outsourcing to India.

Drawbacks of Offshore Outsourcing

     

  • Communication Issues – It’s hard enough translating programming concepts to clients and establishing milestones. You are bound to run into issues communicating with programmers who speak a different English dialect on top of that.
  • Time Loss – There is almost an entire day’s worth of time lost between San Francisco and Mumbai. When working with developers in India, take the loss of time into consideration when establishing project parameters. While the idea of planning a day ahead of schedule sounds great in theory, in practice we know that unexpected issues always require up-to-the-minute communication with programmers.
  • Spaghetti Programmers – The vast majority of coders in the Indian outsourcing market train to churn out work as quickly as possible. The term “spaghetti programming” refers to the code they produce; it loops round and round into a jumbled mess and if anything goes wrong, it’s very difficult to trace steps back and fix it.
  • Hidden Costs – An abundance of cheap, quick labor produces systems without structural integrity od proper checks. A system like this will eventually crash, leaving people in charge of small to medium-sized projects scrambling to fix it. Project managers end up spending the same amount of manhours they originally outsourced fixing the problem, sometimes doubling the cost of operations.

 
 

Nearshore Outsourcing: Solving Offshore Issues for Silicon Valley

 
northern californiaDespite the issues that come with offshore outsourcing, Northern California businesses still need to reach their demands for tech talent. The United States systematically fails to produce homegrown programmers and coders. Without these workers, operations halt and business growth stagnates.

Operations managers in Silicon Valley are turning to nearshore outsourcing to bridge the gap between the lack of tech talent and their business’s needs. Nearshore outsourcing finds talent in countries close to the U.S. such as Honduras and Costa Rica. There are various advantages to nearshore outsourcing.

Benefits of Nearshore Outsourcing

       

    • Smaller cultural margin – The culture in India is very hierarchical; because of this, workers tend not to take initiative on projects. They hesitate to think beyond their instructions. In many ways, the culture in Latin American culture closely aligns to that of the United States. Additionally, the English dialect studied in Central America is closer in line with that of the United States, whereas in countries like India they learn the British dialect. It may seem like a small difference, but the difference in dialect is a major barrier to effective communication.
    • Less time overlap – While there is an entire day’s difference between Silicon Valley and Mumbai, there is only an hour difference between San Francisco and Costa Rica.
    • Agile development – Nearshore programmers in Central America train in the methodology of Agile software development. Under the values and principles of agile software development, operations evolve though self-organizing cross-functional teams and collaborative effort. That means when something goes wrong, there’s no starting from scratch. Agile development is about motivated individuals working in real time and creating working software that evolves with business needs.
    • Lower costs – Nearshore combines the cost efficiency of outsourcing with the convenience of real-time communication. Higher productivity cuts down on overall costs and requires less backtracking.  Furthermore, with nearshore outsourcing, supervisors in charge of development projects are able to directly oversee their teams. Flights from Northern California to Central America are quick and relatively cheap.

     

    At Number8, we help Northern California tech businesses connect with agile software developers in Central America. Our teams–both foreign and domestic– provide cost-effective services minus the difficulties and risks that come from offshore outsourcing. If you’re interested in learning more about Number8 and what we do, give us a call at (502) 890-7665, or check out our information page here!

My Xamarin Experience

xamarinDifferent Options

When developing software, whether it’s for a fun project or a formal business project, a requirement can be met by many different options and technologies. After a while of looking at many, it is natural to think which is the best option for the requirement.

Let us consider the options for building a mobile application.

Sometimes the best option is determined by the compatibility of the implications of the option and the technical strengths of the development team. (I’ll cover implications a little later)  The first option to consider when building a mobile application are native applications, but it immediately raises a warning – when the code for a platform is done, the code will need to be transcribed to another platform.  Second, every native technology has its own implications. So to have a successful mobile experience in all native platforms, a developer for each platform is needed.

Even if there was a developer for each platform, is it worthwhile to develop a native mobile application for each platform instead of modifying a web page so it can be viewed in any device?  This is an important question to consider so here is a comparison chart for key characteristics.

CharacteristicNative ApplicationWeb Page
InternetAfter downloading the app, it can work in offline or online modeOnly works with internet connectivity
PerformanceNative components are lightweight and fastPages tend to be heavy and work somewhat slower
Push NotificationsCan send push notificationsCan’t send push notifications
Hardware AccessAccess to camera, speaker, flash, etc.Does not have access to hardware
AccessibilityOpening the app with a clickOpening browse and typing URL
User ExperienceNatural feels and smoothUnnatural and, in some cases, slow

Based on this comparison, it appears that a native application offers a wider range for creativity and service options. If the development team handles all the implications for every platform then it might be a good idea to develop a mobile app natively for each platform, considering that native applications have the best performance and assuming the business is willing to pay a higher cost.

Let’s talk more about those “implications”.


Implications

When dealing with software frameworks and APIs, each framework works naturally with the programmer at least interacting with (in others mastering) certain technologies or programming languages. This comes naturally if the framework is an extension for another technology.

For example, consider Node.js, a JavaScript runtime. When using Node.js, being a JavaScript runtime, the code will naturally be programmed in JavaScript language. Therefore, working with Node.js framework implies the programmer knows, or can at least interact with, JavaScript language. We’ll call these framework dependency implications.

Following are some implications for some mobile application frameworks.

Mobile Application TechnologyImplications
Native Android Mobile App• Java
Native iOS Mobile App• Objective-C or Swift programming language
Xamarin• .Net (C# programming language) • Extensible Application Markup Language (XAML)
Appcelerator• JavaScript • Titanium SDK
Phonegap• Hypertext Markup Language (HTML) • JavaScript Language • Cascading Style Sheets (CSS) Language
Ionic• Hypertext Markup Language (HTML) • JavaScript Language • Cascading Style Sheets (CSS) Language • AngularJS
React Native• Hypertext Markup Language (HTML) • JavaScript Language (ES6 Syntax) • JavaScript XML (JSX) • Document Object Model (DOM)
Sencha Touch• Hypertext Markup Language (HTML) • JavaScript Language • Cascading Style Sheets (CSS) Language • Sencha SDK • MVC Architecture

There is another cost that is not visible at first glance.  Even though the different platform projects have the same core and logic, ultimately they are individual projects. Each project has a different language and application lifecycle and SDKs, so each project will also need its specialized maintenance. This can all add up.  If creating the application natively appears to be too expensive or the development team does not handle all the implications, another strategy can be used.

Using a cross-platform technology has become very popular as a hybrid solution for mobile development, so you can write one set of code that can be used on multiple platforms and can give the user a native experience. There are many cross-platform mobile app technologies, each with it’s own implications. The strategy is to pick technology that has an implication that the development team masters, plus another consideration. Since this is cross-platform, it is important to choose a solution that has a large percentage of transcribing code; the code that can be written once and run natively across the platforms.


xamarin developerMy Experience

When I decided I wanted to develop mobile apps, my first thought was “What native technologies do I know?”

I had used Objective-C for an iOS application.  If I wanted to make a native android or windows phone application, I’d have to learn about project structure and app lifecycle and hope I could program in the language they used. Since I only knew one native technology (iOS) I decided it was better to invest time learning a cross platform technology.

I then thought “Now if I’m going to use a cross platform technology, what implications can I handle the best?”.  Xamarin was a natural choice for me, thanks to the language and application structure.  C# is one of the languages I handle the best, plus the structure was intuitive. An .xml page with its back end code, the application lifecycle was also C-like. I managed to learn XAML and the app structure and lifecycle quickly.

Later, I discovered that Xamarin generated native apps that shared 95% of the common code. I also got to an acceptable level of understanding in android and iOS native applications. Then I decided to test Xamarin’s generated native projects. It seemed that the native applications were greatly structured and coded. I thought “Wow. In theory, it is possible for someone to develop a full native Android app without knowing Java or the android app structure or even having the Android Studio”. Another plus for cross-platform technologies comes from the abstraction layer.  When using Xamarin, the code handles mobile events (like Swipe) in Xamarin’s way.

I can code once and use these events without even knowing how to do it the native way.

I decided it was a good idea to take full advantage of these generated projects and tried making everything in Xamarin, because some things are not implemented on the framework. For example, Xamarin has no radio button tag for iOS applications. Instead of modifying the generated iOS application and using Apple’s radio button, I decided to implement my own radio button in Xamarin, which rendered natively in iOS. This seemed like a good choice that would become an advantage, but I also found a disadvantage, when making a minimum change on a Xamarin project, it must be recompiled to see the changes on the device. This can be time consuming if one wants to test various changes.


Conclusions

I decided to use Xamarin to build mobile apps because it was cross-platform. So most code would only have to be written once. And the projects generated by Xamarin were native. This is not the case on every cross-platform technology. The fact that the final projects are native is an advantage since mobile characteristics can be used.

Still, I studied native projects for Android and iOS to be able to modify the generated projects if something can’t really be done on Xamarin (I realized Xamarin does not support everything for every platform). Again, this can be done because Xamarin generates native projects.

In other words, I take advantage of Xamarin to reutilize code and generate fully native platforms to the extent it permits me, but I also know how to do it without Xamarin in case I really need to modify a native project. Xamarin’s implications are my strengths in programming. This is how I determined Xamarin was the best option for me when it comes to developing mobile applications.

It is important to note that the best option is a balance between the technical strengths of the development team and the implications of the technology. Xamarin with native platforms background was the best option for me, but I have a C# background.  Another developer could have worked faster with Ionic if, say, the developer is a master in AngularJS.

Nearshore Outsourcing: Why Texas Businesses Choose Nearshore Over Offshore

When it comes to meeting the United States’s demand for tech talent, the country comes up short. This presents a problem, especially for growing Texas tech companies. How do businesses fulfill the needs presented by growth when the manpower simply isn’t there? The answer is nearshore outsourcing.

Many Texas tech companies choose nearshore outsourcing to bridge the gap. Nearshore combines the benefits of onshore outsourcing with the affordability of offshore. For Texas businesses, in particular, using tech developers in Central America is more convenient than doing business between states. Flight costs for Houston to Costa Rica rival those of interstate flights– and flight time is only 3 1/2 hours. Team leaders can easily travel from the home office to developers when they need to. Nearshore developers also work in the same time zone, which allows more effective communication and eliminates the challenges of working on different schedules. These are just a few of the benefits of nearshore development outsourcing for Texas businesses…

Nearshore Outsourcing Alleviates Communication Challenges

When it comes to IT development, communication can make or break a project. Clear and effective communication is essential for project success, but when working with offshore developers that communication can become muddled. Not only do you have to take language and cultural barriers into account, the loss of inflection in digital messages means one simple sentence can be interpreted various ways.

Of course, working with nearshore developers doesn’t mean you’ll be speaking face-to-face with your team on a daily basis, but the proximity of nearshore outsourcing means there is less of a cultural gap– less room for interpretation. Clear and effective communication is crucial for web design. With nearshore developers, communicating is simpler, easier, and more effective.

nearshore outsourcing

Focus on Core Business Functions

As the leader of your business, focusing on the core functions is crucial. Your business’s core functions are the new things that create differentiation– the things that make your business stand out from competitors. When you outsource contextual functions, it allows your company to exponentially grow. The key is outsourcing with people that specialize in the practices your business needs help completing. Nearshore outsourcing provides greater efficiency and productivity in context projects so you can spend your working hours focusing on the bottom line.

Reducing Overhead Costs with Nearshore Outsourcing

Offshore outsourcing is affordable– there’s no denying that. However, there are hidden costs when you work with offshore developers:

  • Hidden transition costs
  • Productivity lags
  • Team management
  • Ramp-up costs
  • Contract management

Nearshore outsourcing is as affordable as offshore, but the benefits of working with people closer to your home office reduce the hidden costs. For instance, you are less likely to suffer from productivity lags when you work with people with whom you can communicate effectively right off the bat. Additionally, managing a nearshore team is much easier and travel costs are significantly more affordable.

 

At Number8, we help Texas businesses optimize their operations with nearshore outsourcing. Our teams–both foreign and domestic– provide effective communication and service that allow your business to grow at a rate that keeps up with your market. If you’re interested in learning more about Number8 and what we do, give us a call at (502) 890-7665, or check out our information page here!

 

 

What to Expect at IdeaFestival 2017

ideafestival 2017Technology conferences occur all over the world every year from Mobile World Congress – the largest mobile industry gathering in the world – in Barcelona, Spain to Amazon re:Invent – a conference hosted by Amazon that educates the global cloud computing community. With so many technology conferences, it is easy for someone in tech to find a conference that piques their interests. IdeaFestival 2017, located in downtown Louisville, Kentucky, is the next technology conference on the calendar.

The technology conference/festival pitches itself as “a celebration of the curious, with the goal of inspiring all people to embrace the excitement and danger of new ideas” and promotes thinking in different and innovative ways.  IdeaFestival will run from Tuesday, September 26th thru September 28th, 2017 starting with a full day event on the 26th – Thrivals 10.0. This year’s conference is hosting plenty of events and attendees will see a plethora of presenters. Read in detail what to expect at IdeaFestival in Louisville, KY this year and how to get involved.

4 Things to Expect at IdeaFestival 2017

1. Opportunity to Expand Your Festival Experience

IdeaFestival itself is a two-day festival that runs the 27th and the 28th of September; however, there is an opportunity to add another day onto your festival experience with Thrivals 10.0. For an extra $49 become a part of the full-day conference on “finding your algorithm for the future”. This fall, the conversation is focused on living in a digital age that is constantly changing. It will also cover the combination of GRIt, humanity, and artificial intelligence. Thrivals 10.0 will feature 10 presenters including Janelle Monae – an American musician and one of the leading ladies in “Hidden Figures”.

2. A Packed, Fun-Filled Day-to-Day Schedule

IdeaFestival released the day-to-day agenda for the 2017 conference and each day is full of presentations and classes. The two-day festival starts at 8:00 a.m. each day and includes different presentations as well as several 10-minute classes. Class topics have not be announced yet, but you can stay tuned on the Agenda portion of the IdeaFestival website.

The first day of the festival, after Thrivals 10.0, kicks off at 8:00 a.m. and ends at 5:30 p.m. or 8:00 p.m. depending on your festival access. If you have a festival pass, you’re invited to join sponsors and presenters for Taste: The Culinary Artists of the Region – a networking experience with food sponsored by Copper & Kings. The Thursday of the festival runs from 8:00 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. with no additional presentations available afterwards.

3. Inspirational Speakers and Presenters

On top of the 10 presenters that will be at Thrivals 10.0, there will also be 25 presenters at IdeaFestival. 2017 presenters include: Ann Carlson – a performance artist and performance curator; Hannah Drake – lead artist for Louisville’s local Project HEAL; Tom Eblen – a Western Kentucky University alumni and columnist for the Lexington Herald-Leader; Peter Gray – an American psychologist and research professor at Boston College; John King – CNN’s chief national correspondent and anchor of Inside Politics; and more.

4. Coverage Over a Variety of Topics

The presentations at IdeaFestival 2017 cover a wide variety of topics and, as a result, guarantee something for everyone. The first day of the festival opens with a presentation by Joe Geoghegan titled “Field Notes: The Untapped Power of Diversity in a Fractured World”.  His presentation will cover his experience traveling to over a dozen countries using only his wits and he’ll be sharing his notes on and impressions of his travels while taking a break from his adventuring. Throughout the first day, festival-goers will be able to listen to presentations on the future of our economy, the prevalence of cyberpunk, the relationship between humans and the planet, the science behind whiskey, and much more.

The second day of IdeaFestival will get kicked off with a presentation by Emily Dreyfuss – senior writer at Wired – during which she will discuss some of the biggest pieces of technology emerging and disrupting business, design, science, and culture. Festival attendees can participate in presentation on polarization, the art of food as medicine, and the mind and music of Chopin before IdeaFestival concludes.

IdeaFestival is going to be an informative and inspirational technology conference this year as it has in the past.

Be sure to buy a ticket to the two or three-day event depending on your interest in Thrivals 10.0! The festival will be held at the Kentucky Center  at 501 W. Main Street, Louisville, Kentucky. IdeaFestival is an opportunity to collaborate with others interested in technology and get inspired to think outside the box.

At Number 8, we embrace innovation and, furthermore, we pride ourselves on exercising formative thinking in every endeavor we chase. IdeaFestival 2017 has the same values, so we encourage any and everyone to attend the 2017 technology conference if possible. Interested in learning more about Number 8 and how we employ innovative technologies and schools of thought while living our day-to-day lives? Contact us today. Call us at 502-890-7665 today or visit us online.

 

Working Remotely: Five Tips to Make it Easier

Home Office for Working RemotelyAccording to a recent study conducted by Gallup, more employees are working remotely now than ever before. Out of 15,000 adults surveyed, over 40% said they spent time working from home. We also published a blog post last month that details the various changes occurring in our current work force. The traditional work-week schedule is adapting to better suit employees’ lifestyles.

To help usher in this new style of employment, we have gathered nine tips that we believe can aid in adapting to working remotely.

Find the right job

First, and maybe most importantly, you should be at a company that understands and supports employees who work remotely. If you are already in a position and you’d like to transition into working out of the office, strike up a conversation with your superiors as soon as possible. If they won’t budge, then perhaps it’s a sign you should begin looking elsewhere.

Establish and maintain a private work area

Having your own space to work is extremely helpful when it comes to productivity and focus. You should have an area that is solely dedicated to work, with an actual desk and no distractions. If possible, a home office is ideal when it comes to working remotely.

Connect with your team

Physical distance should not inhibit your relationship with coworkers, or your managers. It is vital to maintain constant communication from all sides to ensure you are staying on track, and that your fellow employees are all up to speed with your projects.

Work around your energy, not the clock

One of the major benefits of working remotely is that you don’t have to follow the typical 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. timeline. While you shouldn’t use this as an excuse to sleep the morning away, it can be incredibly useful for when you’re feeling particularly motivated. Our most creative moments don’t necessarily come within that 8-hour window, so take advantage of the flexibility.

Dress for success

You wouldn’t wear pajamas into the office, so don’t do it when working remotely either. It is certainly tempting, however maintaining a well kept appearance even when working from home will make you feel more successful and productive. Suit and tie not required, but stay away from the sweatpants at least.  

Because our employees are located both in Louisville, KY and Costa Rica, many of them work on Number8 projects remotely. We support this method of work, because we know our employees are able to produce the highest quality products no matter where they are. If you’re interested in learning more about us and what we do, visit our information page here. And if you’re looking for IT services, or software development assistance, give us a call today at (502) 890-7665!