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Preparing for the Remote Work Culture

If you’re making the transition to remote work after working in an office from 9-5, 5 days a week, you’ll quickly learn a notable difference in the work culture. Whether you’re looking to work from home or are an employer wanting to outsource tasks, getting familiar with the customs of those who work remotely will help you know what to expect.

Here are 3 unwritten rules of remote work:

1. Everything starts on time.

Because you’re not sitting in traffic during your morning commute, there’s really no excuse for being late. In the remote world, meetings start on time down to the minute. One of the biggest benefits of working from home is that it allows you to better manage every minute of your day. Couple that with the fact that you could be collaborating with someone in a different time zone, and every minute really starts to count. To make sure you don’t experience a technical delay, get used to checking your equipment early each morning.

2. Communication is key.

Sure, communication is key in any work situation. But when you’re communicating with someone who isn’t sitting in the next cubicle, it becomes even more prudent. In fact, 90% of how we communicate is nonverbal, so if you’re working remotely online, it can be easy for a few things to get lost in translation. Expect to over communicate by being prompt in your responses and utilizing the many tools available to you. Remember that the tone of online communication tends to be straightforward and casual. When it applies, provide links or visual examples for full transparency. Shared calendars and collaborative applications can help to keep everyone on the same page, whether it be project deadlines, tasks or vacation days. 

3. Nurture workplace relationships.

Yes, workplace relationships are still a thing when you work from home. While they can be hard to cultivate because of language barriers and time zones, a good workplace dynamic is an invaluable asset and can help ensure a project’s success. Taking the time to build camaraderie through friendly correspondence can go a long way. When possible, opt for an in person meeting, video or phone call, and consider using a chat app for water cooler talk.

As an employer, think about implementing a remote work policy to help establish standards and keep everyone accountable. A company mission can help communicate your vision and values, and as a result keep remote employees motivated.

At Number 8, we help companies connect with qualified remote employees to help with software development. We also focus on helping companies improve their internal IT processes. 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!

3 Things That Set Number8 Apart

With so many options for IT consulting and agile software development, why choose Number8?

1. We offer a blended model.

At Number8, we offer all the benefits of typical offshore tech support with nearshore capabilities. Our headquarters are based out of Louisville, Kentucky and we have technical professionals throughout the U.S. We also have more than 100 associates in a total of six countries including our offshore team in Latin America and nearshore office location in San Jose, Costa Rica. Whether the need is local or can be handled off-site, we are able to work with our U.S. clients in their timezone and language with the best possible mix of development assistance.

2. We treat our employees differently.

It’s our mission at Number8 to give our associates and IT contractors the opportunity to develop a rewarding and challenging career while enjoying the best possible work-life balance. We pride ourselves on our employee retention rate and value building long term partnerships with our clients as a result of it.

We also understand just how important family is and the ability to have a flexible work schedule is a major benefit of working remotely. For example, one of our Junior Developers John Lewis, who came onboard about a year ago, has recently decided to shared his story with the Number8 family. After the passing of his wife last April, he now lives in Costa Rica with his three children.

“N8 is an incredibly unique company and I think that comes from its foundations. The entire team as well as my clients have been incredibly supportive during what has been a depressive period for me. I couldn’t work for a month, and though I thought I would lose my job I didn’t. I can’t even count the number of times someone has asked me if I needed anything. Though Christmas was particularly hard for us, as it was my wife’s favorite holiday and our gifts from the U.S. were stuck in customs, Number8 surprised us again. Literally the only things under the tree were the gifts that Number8 gave to my children. I am so grateful to Number8 for all the resources that they’ve put at my disposal. I honestly cannot express it any more because it is so emotional for me. To everyone who has supported me, I can’t say thank you enough.”

3. We are experienced in a breadth of programming languages.

Having been in the custom software development business for several years, our professionals specialize in a full range of programming languages and skill sets including:

-Microsoft .Net     -ASP.Net     -Javascript     -LINQ Visual Studio

-C++/C#         -MySQL       -Oracle       -OO Development

-Microsoft SQL Server        -Ruby         -Agile Development and Scrum.

Additionally, we do a considerable amount of Java development, and a lot of front-end development using javascript MVC frameworks like Angular, Knockout, Ember and Backbone. We also have software development teams working in PHP (Aura, Yii, Zend, Laravel, Symfony, Phalcon, CodeIgniter, Cake).

At Number8, we connect companies with IT talent and software developers that are fully trained in product development. By encouraging talent to come up with creative solutions, they remain motivated and positively contribute to a healthy company culture. If you’re interested in learning more about Number8 give us a call at (502) 890-7665.

The Top 3 Locations for Outsourcing Software Development

Outsourcing software development has become an increasingly popular path for startups and small businesses alike. Instead of taking on the overhead of hiring employees in house, utilizing a remote workforce allows you to focus on your core business functions while growing at an affordable rate.

When it comes to outsourcing, there are a myriad of options available. One can opt to go Offshore, Nearshore or Onshore in terms of finding a remote workforce. Countries farther away are Offshore, those nearby are considered Nearshore, and Onshore means operating within your own country. Depending on your company’s origin, there are many pros and cons that come with selecting a specific location to outsource your software development needs.

While the U.S. and Canada each have tech reliant economies, the cost associated with doing business there tends to be higher and the demand for skilled workers has resulted in a shortage. Therefore, most businesses are left with the option to take advantage of the resources of a more global market. Here are the top 3 countries for software development in terms of quality and cost:

Latin America

While many South American countries including Peru, Brazil, Colombia and Bolivia are becoming increasingly adept in the tech world, Costa Rica is a popular choice when outsourcing software development work. Their top notch IT programs produce good programmers and their culture has embraced innovation in technology as well as the agile methodology of project management. 

Asia

While India and the Philippines are known for their IT services, China is the leader when it comes to the outsourcing industry in Asia. China produces twice as many graduates as the United States, and as a result has a vast tech advanced work force. Coupled with it’s growing economy, China is a hot bed for outsourcing software development tasks. 

Eastern Europe

In Eastern Europe, Poland and the Ukraine dominate the field of outsourced software development work. Both have an abundance of educated software engineers as a result of rich STEM educational programs. 

Before outsourcing your company’s software development, you’ll want to properly vet each agency to ensure a high quality of work. Take language, cultural barriers and possible travel expenses into account as well. Countries with a stable and supportive government offer a more favorable business climate to operate in, and a difference in time zone could reduce the time to market or make communication difficult. 

At Number8, we help businesses optimize their operations with onshore, nearshore, and offshore 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!

5 Myths of Working With an Offshore Development Team

Working with an offshore development team is becoming a popular alternative staffing solution in the software industry. Not only does it reduce operating costs, but it allows a company to build a team at their own pace. However, offshoring work comes with it’s fair share of misconceptions.

Here are a few common myths about the pitfalls of working with an offshore development team.

  1. The quality of the work will be poor.

    While trusting remote workers is reasonably hard for any employer or company to do, reputable offshore development teams have proven to help tech companies advance within the industry. As long as a partnership and relationship is established, and industry standard benchmarks are relied upon, the quality of work received will not be lacking.

  2. It takes jobs away.

    The fact of the matter is that U.S. based tech companies are facing a shortage of IT professionals. Offshoring some of the workload actually frees up current staff to work on reaching their goals. Developing the company’s end products is always more worthwhile than working on lesser routine and task oriented maintenance.

  3. It’s a security risk.

    Depending on the type of work that is being offshored, data privacy and intellectual property breaches can be a concern. Unfortunately, these security risks are just as likely to happen onshore as they are off it. Detailed contracts outlining who is liable can help curb risks and ensure everyone is compliant in terms of security needs. 

  4. We won’t be able to communicate with one another.

    In addition to the possible language barrier that comes with having offshore employees, there are also varying idioms, gestures, customs, and behavior norms that can throw communication off kilter. However, it is in no way impossible to find an offshore team that is either fluent in english, comfortable with a specific dialect, or capable of communicating through the right channel. In today’s world we are all connected online, and the agile project management method is specifically known for enabling more transparency between working partners. The idea that one cannot work in unison with those from other cultures is at most an antiquated idea as email, video chatting, and instant messaging allow for those from around the world to communicate with one another better than ever before.

  5. The time gap will mean a lag in productivity.

    In the IT world, completing projects quickly is crucial as ideas and and new technologies are always evolving. Depending on the geographical location of overseas partners, offshoring can often mean a difference in time zones and work day hours between teams. While this understandably seems worrisome, it’s important to remember there are many countries where part of the work day overlaps. Therefore collaboration can take place. If this isn’t the case, many companies make the difference in time zones work for them with round the clock support between both countries and teams.

Finding the right partners to grow your team and business is an essential ingredient for success. Why not utilize resources from around the world and open your company up to the best the industry has to offer?

At Number8, we help companies create software products with the help of offshore development. If you questions about our consulting process and why we are the right offshore software development company for your team to work with, then give us a call at (502) 890-7665 today!

Business Process Outsourcing Most Startups Should Consider

Sometimes hiring full time employees can actually slow you down and prevent your business from growing. That’s why so many startups are looking to business process outsourcing for help. Instead of bogging employees down with clerical work, outsourcing could enable your organization to grow faster by focusing it’s talent more on the core of the business.

What is business process outsourcing?

Business process outsourcing (BPO) involves contracting out certain operations and responsibilities that either take place in the back or the front office to a third party.

Responsibilities such as billing, human resources, and finance usually make up the back office or internal business functions of a company. Back office contracted work encompasses the following: purchasing, payment processing, insurance, retirement, hiring and recruiting, accounting, payroll, and general bookkeeping.

Marketing, administrative duties, as well as tech and customer support, are operations usually performed by the front office. These are more external, customer and client related business functions. Any social media, telemarketing, app testing, help desk support, customer interaction via phone or email, scheduling, and data entry that needs to be done would entail front office outsourcing.

Companies can outsource to a variety of locations.

Offshore outsourcing occurs outside a company’s country, nearshore outsourcing is in a neighboring country, and onshore outsourcing happens within one’s own country but out of the state. There are pros and cons depending on the location of the contractor. For example, a dollar can go further in other countries, but time zones and language barriers may prove problematic. 

BPO is a popular startup growth hack in that it saves valuable time and money.

Outsourcing to skilled and flexible personnel allows a burgeoning business to build a team as they need to. This is ideal when compared to time spent searching for and interviewing the right candidates. Contractors are also flexible in regards to workload.  Additionally, they are an affordable solution in terms of benefits and the costs of training as well. Obtaining remote workers through an agency means they are already qualified and require less of a financial investment. 

Both back and front office functions are integral to keeping any company running smoothly. By outsourcing business processing, tasks can be completed with the utmost speed and efficiency. 

At Number8, we help fast growing companies find quality remote workers that creatively contribute to your business’s success. 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!

5 Things Top Project Managers Do To Stay Organized

project managersProject managers have to juggle the needs of various team members in order to keep the whole machine running towards a company’s eventual goal. It can get very hectic, very quickly, and it’s easy to drop the ball every once and awhile. The thing is, when project managers drop said ball, they are likely setting back the overall project and letting down someone on their team.

To be an effective project manager, you have to be organized. Not JUST organized– we are talking type-A-Virgo-Batman-meets-Leslie-Knope organized. Most of us don’t have those kinds of innate organization skills on our own, though. Here are some of our best tips from top project managers on how they stay organized in order to reach their goals.

Organization Tips for Project Managers

1. Set Milestones and Expectations

Sometimes when you are on a long journey, it’s best to focus on one step at a time. If your team is all working towards a long-term goal, it’s easy for certain members to get ahead of themselves while others may become stuck getting bogged down in the details. Setting weekly or even bi-weekly milestones everyone has to work towards will create a steady pace. It will also encourage others to work as a team.

2. Communicate Often

Even if you work with a remote team, it’s important to talk as a group on a regular basis. Thanks to chat applications, it’s easier than ever to connect with those you work with. While not everybody can be plugged in for the whole 8 hours a day, set aside at least an hour a day where everyone can discuss what they are doing, questions they have, and ideas on how to improve operations.

3. Delegate Tasks

Chances are, there is someone on your team who is dying to take on something that helps them stand apart. Delegating tasks to people on your team is a great way to free up your time so you have more flexibility to address issues as needed.

4. Get Your Least Favorite Task Done First

Every day before you start the rest of your work, evaluate what needs to be done and choose your least favorite task. The first thing you should accomplish is that task. Once you have your least favorite thing completed, the rest of your day is easy in comparison.

5. Encourage Questions

When your team hesitates to ask questions, they’re more likely to complete operations in a way that requires future corrections. Being open and inviting to questions encourages the people you work with to approach you. This can help you and your team correct problems as you go, so you have a more organized process altogether.

At Number8, we help project managers connect with highly trained and efficient IT support to help reach company goals. 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!

7 Tips to Position Fast Growing Gazelle Companies for Success

gazelle companiesJust like a herd of gazelles moves quickly over the Savannah, gazelle companies grow swiftly over a short period of time. Investopedia defines gazelle companies as businesses that “double its revenues over a four-year period” while “starting from a revenue base of at least $1 million.” That’s a 20% increase each year… quite a feat!

When a business booms this quickly, it can easily get caught up in its growth. Following these nine simple tips can help position gazelle companies towards success, so they can continue to expand for years to come.

Tips for Success Among Gazelle Companies

1. Practice Consistency

When your operations are consistent, it’s easier for employees to notice an abnormality that needs to be addressed. Furthermore, consistent operations make it easier for new team members to acclimate to the company. This factor is a must for a growing business.

2. Focus on Client Service

It’s paramount that a company never forgets the people who got them to this point of success — the clients. Therefore, don’t let the rapid growth distract account managers and other employees from providing excellent service at all times.

3. Instill a Teamwork-Driven Company Attitude

An employee should never respond to a manager with “that’s not my job.” If something needs to be done, it’s every team member’s responsibility to do what is in their power to meet the objective.

4. Foster Creativity

Not only will your employees appreciate a work environment that allows them to stretch their creative muscles, a company that encourages creativity is better able to solve problems that arise with rapid growth.

5. Pay Attention to Competition

Your company doesn’t need to live and die by what your competitors are doing, but ignoring them opens up a giant blind spot that can be taken advantage of in the future.

6. Be Painfully Organized

When it comes to growth, it’s easy for a company to set certain things aside for them to get lost in the shuffle only to realize down the road that having that certain thing on hand could be a real help. When it comes to operations, over-organize just to be safe.

7. Outsource When Needed

The more your company grows, the more big picture ideas you need to stay on top of your market. Make sure your big picture people have enough time to follow through with their ideas by outsourcing work where needed — for instance, in software development.

Gazelle companies and their speedy growth are becoming more and more common. At Number8, we help gazelle companies stay on top of their growth by connecting them with top tier outsourcing talent. 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!

 

5 Team Building Exercises for Agile Developers

team building exercisesTeam building gets a bad rap. While employers are open to implementing team building exercises into the workplace, they are often met with resistance. Employees sometimes see team building exercises as a waste of time that they can’t afford and won’t enjoy. This is especially true of team building exercises that occur over a weekend when employees are enjoying time off.

Team building exercises are meant to be productive, fun, and meaningful. Going into team building with a negative attitude negates a lot of the exercise’s benefits. This is a shame, considering the plethora of benefits team building exercises have including:

  • Improved communication
  • Develop team roles
  • Better interpersonal relationships
  • Maximize profitability
  • Inter-team networking
  • Improved morale
  • Help improve skills
  • Shared learning
  • Encourage mission focus

If you manage a remote agile development team, these benefits are probably sounding very appealing. So what is a project manager to do when they want to improve cohesion in their agile development team? Team building exercises, of course. Employees do not have to be in the same office or even away on a weekend together to practice these exercise.

The activities outlined below can involve developers who work both on-site and remotely. All it takes is video chat capabilities and a block of time where you can all meet. These team building exercises are proven to help strengthen communication skills and team productivity! Considering they are all free and can be done in-office with remote workers, they are worth giving a shot.

5 Team Building Exercise to Try with Agile Developers

 1. Two Truths and a Lie

Each person participating writes down their name, two things about them that are true, and one thing that is false. All three things should be relatively believable. As each person reads their two truths and a lie, the rest of the team has to figure out which facts are real, and what is the lie.

2. Find the Common Thread

Developers are split into groups and must figure out a commonality that runs through each member. The first group to find the common thread wins.

3. Show and Tell

This one is pretty much the same as the old school time activity. Each team member gets a day to bring something in that allows the rest to get to know them a little better. This can be a live demonstration, or it also works through the written word.

4. Blind Drawing

Split the group into small teams or pairs. Have one person blindfolded and the other team must instruct what the blindfolded member must draw, but they can only use abstract descriptions… nothing concrete. This is a great communication exercise perfect for long distance developers.

5. What’s on Your Desk

Have each member bring an item from their desk and instruct them to transform it into a new product for the company. Have each member give a two minute presentation “selling” the product to the rest of the group.

As stated earlier, these team building exercises will help build trust, strengthen bonds, and enhance communication skills. They also work to get creativity flowing among team members and could result in new processes, projects, or products! Have you ever participated in, or run, a team building exercise that you found beneficial? We’d love to hear about it!

At Number 8, we promote team growth and development with both our on site workers and nearshore developers. 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!