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Do Dedicated dev teams suit Start-Ups?

Outsourcing of the part of work was thought to be the preserve of large multinationals. But not any longer. In fact even fledgling Start-Ups can benefit from outsourcing aspects of their business to a third party and it may be even more appealing due to the specifics of the stage and size that the start-up is currently in.

How to decide?

Few businesses are not reluctant to let any work leave the office in the beginning, being like control freaks. But what is soon realized is that behaving that way is actually taking time and competitive advantage away from business. The reasons for outsourcing for IT companies are multiple: to avoid random hire when inquiries are urgent, to show up a high quality level when the skills required are too specific or non-core, to provide a fuller range of services to loyal and long-term customers, to be lean and cut off some expenditures that crowd the company’s balance sheet, to stay internally focused on core functions like business and strategy development and communication with customers.

Where to draw the line?

Definitely, the key areas of control should be retained in-house to protect brand image or intellectual property and to keep up-to-strategy and quickly adoptive communication with customers, but as for software development outsourcing, with careful planning and management and good communication not only non-core aspects but virtually any development aspect can be sourced out.

Where to look for talents?

At the end of the day, that’s people who really matter. Nowadays using LinkedIn or other portals specific to your industry can indeed help you find proper people. Have you recently paid attention how many companies are now emphasize their company profiles in social networks, not web-sites? Probably the best talents are hanging around somewhere here too. Also tap into your network for word of mouth, or when contacting a potential outsourcing vendor ask for references, from your geo-region as well.

What to pay attention to while selecting team members?

To assess technical expertise ask for previous work examples, usually described in CV, run an interview with candidates and test-drive them with some quick test tasks. Also it makes sense to have a short trial period, of a reasonable time and paid one still with a possibility of quick cutting off of team member(s) if you’re not happy with them. As for communication skills, it encompasses broader than just level of English; enthusiasm and desire to express and explain the point are of important matter as well.

How to start working with a Dedicated Dev Team?

Start out small and build up gradually according to a pre-agreed schedule. This is mutually beneficial: you will have some time to feel the team’s work speed and abilities and pivot with team size and composition accordingly; at the same time you will also see how your internal project manager manages to distribute tasks to a remote team, if in the full volume necessary and on time. Also organizing a video conf-call with the team members is an efficient team-building step, and it is good to have such one in the beginning as a kick-off meeting as well throughout the cooperation.

Is strong management by the customer a must-have?

In order to keep your project lean and effective, be in regular communication and manage progress closely so you set specific goals and expectations along with realistic deadlines and get regular updates from the team. Decide on a point person to manage the work if you don’t cope with this yourself. Also you should absolutely provide feedback, whatsoever positive or negative, to your team, including but not limited to their work results and updates to the project/product strategy.

If an inquiry doesn’t look like to fit a standard dedicated development team (DDT) concept?

Not so long ago DDT model was considered a long-term, continuous, stiff cooperation approach. Still we are no longer in the era of neither large system projects prevalence nor large companies domination. Today’s reality dictates new standards for cooperation approaches. And outsourcing is adapting to newly arising demand specifics as well.

For instance, your request for DDT set up may be for a mixed team in terms of techs; or for combination of a dedicated core team and floating resources on a project need basis; or for permanent key team and highly specialized expert on a timely basis to resolve highly specific issues; or one-project-purpose DDT when dealing under fixed-price approach for the project is inconvenient. Also DDT can be formed quickly, even within 1-2 weeks, and can be or start as small as 1-3 team members. All these cooperation possibilities may be highly interesting for Start-ups.

And what’s your point about the potential of dedicated teams outsourcing for Start-up companies?

Kind regards,
Helen Boyarchuk – Business Development Manager (LI page)
Helen.Boyarchuk@altabel.com | Skype ID: helen_boyarchuk
Altabel Group – Professional Software Development

In IT world everybody knows what Dedicated Development Team approach implies. Right now take half a minute and try to describe your associations with DDT:
Hmmm…5 developers… more?.. big project…half a year or longer… long negotiations…administrative formalities…we will start in a month?…Hmmm…maybe we are too small for this… That’s what most probably has come to your mind first.

Indeed, not so long ago DDT model was considered a long-term, continuous, stiff cooperation approach. That’s how it classically looks like. Still now we are not longer in the era of big-big system projects prevalence and large companies domination. Large basic systems have already been developed, the majority of companies in the market are SMBs and start-ups. It’s evident that today’s reality dictates new standards for cooperation approaches. And outsourcing is adapting to newly arising demand specifics as well.

Since average project looks differently now, DDT model is undergoing changes too. Today the dialogue between customer and vendor runs like this, at least at Altabel:

- We’ll need 3 Java developers for the server part. There will also be iOS mobile client part, so 1 iOS developer? And Android client will follow…Also our target audience has demand for Windows Phone….Yeah…
- Ok, let’s agree on an approximate schedule for these assignments. We will pick candidates for you.

-Maybe testers for active testing before releases…
-From time to time? On a short notice, that’s Ok.

- What if we start with one developer only?
- No problem. Decide when.

- Have work in 1-2 weeks already…
- Review CVs please and we’ll arrange interviews. Simultaneously, let’s discuss contractual terms.

-Oops, we need to integrate with a highly specialized service. We need to add specific skills to already established core team. Great to have it all together…
- Which skills? Will try to find them too, in our or partner’s pool.

-Our product needs new technology. In-house team is taking on this strategic task, but they can’t keep up with supporting the current system… Still our users need decent level of support service!
-We may assist with maintaining your system working stably.

- Have a project vision, but details are still emerging. Looks like elaborating an accurate spec will take ages, but need to start soon since the market won’t wait…
-We may assign a dedicated specialist to elaborate all the details along with you and perhaps prototype for you. Then approach may be changed if you still wish so.
-But the developer’s engagement will be for this project timeframe only?
-Why not :)

I guess flexibility becomes an inalienable characteristic of Dedicated Development Team approach. Now it’s just “folk” and is adaptable to a particular company, project or condition.

Let it be a womanly sounding comparison, still this is like with clothes: casual is popular nowadays :) so dress your company in a new comfortable “casual” DDT style!

Thanks for attention. Your comments are appreciated, as usually :)

Kind regards,
Helen Boyarchuk – Business Development Manager (LI page)
Helen.Boyarchuk@altabel.com | Skype ID: helen_boyarchuk
Altabel Group – Professional Software Development

The debate on the success of outsourcing as an industry seems to last endlessly. Over the years outsourcing contracts underwent a lot of changes – as the result we now see more multi-sourcing engagements and smaller focused contracts. In fact outsourcing contracts shrank in length or value per contract, but the relationship with the client has endured. Indeed, it’s relations, not size that matters. So, recently the issue of a choice of a right vendor for an outsourcing contract has become even sharper and vital for a larger number of companies in IT industry.

Many organizations that want to outsource IT services are intimidated by the task of determining which location in general and vendor in particular would best suit their requirements. Many researches in the field have been made. If in the early days of outsourcing price level was the weightiest criterion, now determination of an outsourcing partner and their geo-location is based on a whole system of criteria including not solely cost competitiveness based ones but key statistics on resources and skills level, country’s business and economic environment. Among them you may see English (French, German, etc) language skills, educational system quality, cultural compatibility, political and economic environment, global and legal maturity, and data and intellectual property security and privacy.

Historically such low-cost locations as India for instance were very popular offshore outsourcing destinations, still recently with the maturation of IT domain and with recent wage inflation and educational challenges these locations have receded their position as outsourcers now expect more “added value” to their projects and business. In this respect more attention is paid to Eastern European region, especially by Western and Northern European companies. Germany, Switzerland and Austria along with the Nordics in particular perceive Eastern Europe as a favored nearshore destination. Eastern Europe ranks high in terms of efficiency of technical education, work ethics and cultural sensitivity adding to the region’s geo-attractiveness as a base for outsourced activity.

Many respectable researchers think in the next ten years it is likely that Eastern Europe will move out from being an ‘emerging destination’ to a ‘key destination’ for outsourced activity: even though facing continued cost pressure from Indian market and despite being largely ‘overlooked’ by US based outsourcing providers, it is expected to proceed receiving its share of traditional high end software engineering and other IT services, from Western and Northern Europe. Many who experienced outsourcing there are characterizing Eastern Europe (Lithuania, Russia, Belarus, Ukraine, etc) as [a good place to find low cost, technically superb coders,.. generally hard workers, honest in answers to any your questions and strategically thinking].

Anyway, all these ratings of outsourcing locations are just generalization – anywhere you may find good and worse executors. As Gartner tips: “Don’t just seek the leaders – determine which vendors are the right fit for your organization”.

Well, perhaps very generally it would be a bad idea to hire designers from South East Asia if you expect a Western looking result :), still efficiency of an IT service provider should be checked in each particular case. There are a couple of advises helping to choose a good provider:

- Choose companies who have good feedback, ratings and recommendations. If a company follows market trends, makes marketing and technical researches, has good recommendations, especially from the companies from your geo-region, these all mark quite a solid level of credibility.

- Be careful about generic responses. This mostly concerns a stage when particular project details/requirements are already discussed. The tip considers both parties actually :)

- Start cooperation with a relatively small test/pilot project to evaluate provider’s competences. Altabel Group’s experience shows it’s natural for our clients to develop a pilot project with us to confirm our competences and then organically move on to Dedicated Development Team model for further cooperation.

- Try to meet your partners personally at initial stages of cooperation. Arrange short trips to visit a provider and especially meet your team members face to face.

- Think “potentially”. Keep contact information of those companies whose responses you liked for future references even if they do not fit your current project requirements.

And what are tips from personal experience? When does outsourcing have the best chances to succeed or fail? Do you have any preference in terms of a region to outsource from?

You are welcome to share your opinions here.

Kind regards,
Helen Boyarchuk – Business Development Manager (LI page)
Helen.Boyarchuk@altabel.com | Skype ID: helen_boyarchuk
Altabel Group – Professional Software Development

Over the past several years, offshore outsourcing has really seen an upsurge. Leading companies have felt that appointing an offshore service provider who has an experienced team of developers, was an excellent way to get their projects completed without commitment to the salary, benefits, and obligations that go along with hiring an in-house employee.

Altabel Group is an EU software development and consulting company specializing in creating dedicated teams for customers. For a few years already our company has been practicing this model by creating core teams with customer requirements and project specifics in mind and ensuring that each team becomes a virtual extension of a customer in-house software team. As we see this model seems to be working nicely both for large businesses and start-up companies.

The Altabel Group model is offering the following opportunities:

  • Increase of the company by virtually extending it but with almost zero hiring effort without incurring the costs of a full-time employee;
  • Meeting the budget constrains by providing lower prices for development;
  • Fexibility to obtain full or part-time resource solutions on demand and to have access to highly specific software technologies expertise on demand.

Currently this is one of our most heavily requested services to provide a full team to cover ongoing development, bug fixing and support. This service gives maximum flexibility to our clients and allows them to optimize the teams’ activities to suit their current business requirements. By being free to expand or reduce the team by necessity a client defines the project workload and thus pays for effective hours only and avoids idle hours. The customer defines the team composition, its structure and technical experience needed specifically for a concrete project. It should be mentioned that the team could start from 1-2 developers and try a pilot project first so that a customer could make sure of our services quality and developers performance and experience.

At the moment our company is offering its services at discounted rates, therefore it could be just the right time for considering our proposal and starting with a test project to evaluate quality we provide.

Hope the above makes sense to you. If our company approach and software development services seem interesting to you, you are free to contact us or leave your comments here.

Best regards,
Natalliya Beliayeva
Natalliya.beliayeva@altabel.com


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