Software Executive Magazine

August/September 2017

Software Executive magazine helps software executives grow their businesses by showcasing the business best practices of our readers, executives from established and innovative software companies.

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Biggie Bank, pay $220 million to a U.S. consulting firm that then used offshore talent to build a lending prod- uct. Within three years, Biggie Bank had to revise the product because it never worked properly. The problem? A lack of ownership by offshore contractors working on the project. While you may envision that you're hiring an offshore firm with a steady employee base, your con- tractor may be subcontracting to lowest-bidder-wins independent contractors in that local offshore market. Those contractors will do the job and move on. They have no ownership in your project and no incentive to create a product that works. You can probably afford one project failure, but accumulating multiple failures is bad for your career and your company. STRATEGIC PARTNERS PREVENT MISSTEPS The bottom line is you need a strategic partner. If you don't have one, you can end up in a frustrating and cost- ly situation. When you form the strategic relationship, don't consider cost without also evaluating quality. Just because you can hire coders for $3 an hour doesn't mean you should. Maybe if you're lucky, that $3 an hour coder will work out great, but in my experience, this rarely happens. If you decide to DIY your foray into offshore talent, ask what the offshore partner brings to the table and the scope of their work experience: ▶ What projects have they completed that are similar to this task? ▶ What is their core skillset? ▶ What U.S. references do they have? ▶ When you hire a whole company, will they do everything for you? ▶ What are their limits? (Be wary if they claim to have no limits.) ▶ What's the percentage of employees versus proj- ect-based contractors? ▶ What if they want your team to do more? Offshoring's most common issues can be avoided with a dose of direct communication and effective partner- ing. With a little extra work, my advice will help make your next outsourcing experience a success. S Few companies will say, "No, we don't have the peo- ple." They'll try to win the work and worry about find- ing staff to do it later. U.S. companies do this frequently. Companies all over the globe do it, too. We prefer to be honest with our clients. We'd rather risk losing business than put the project or relation- ship in limbo. Occasionally when we work with new technologies, we build a prototype that showcases our project delivery capabilities. Clients are receptive to this honesty. Ignoring skill inflation risk can waste time, money, and resources you could have used onshore. Offshore talent can certainly help get projects started, but it's harmful to rely solely on them. WHAT'S NECESSARY FOR OFFSHORE SUCCESS? Now that I've warned you about everything that can go wrong, here's how offshoring can go right. You, too, can have success in offshoring, if you follow these three keys: 1. Find a trusted partner. 2. Communicate clearly. 3. Set expectations. It's crucial to have a trusted partner, even if it adds ad- ditional expenses. Money shouldn't be the bottom line: Every time you move into an unknown market pursuing the cheapest rate, you put your organization at risk of missing a deadline or getting lower quality work. In the U.S., many technology consulting firms have deep ties to offshore markets. We're like the tour guide who knows where to find the best street food in Mumbai, and which stands to avoid. Sure, you could dine without us, but you'll have a better dinner with us. We do most of our offshoring in Valsad, rather than bigger cities like Mum- bai. It's a great family-friendly location filled with talent- ed IT professionals who want to live in a smaller city but still be part of a growing company. By going to Valsad, we get lower turnover than we would in a large city. SET EXPECTATIONS Before committing to an offshore contract, find evidence that the company has the expertise and experience to be your strategic partner. Any size company can get hosed in an offshore market. I watched a firm, let's call them K R I S H N A N A I R , CTO at 1Rivet, has led large- scale integrations of systems and data, managed content across omni-channel platforms and worked with brands including Nike, Western Union, Verizon, Sprint, ADT, and Harvard University. Nair holds an honors bachelor's degree in mathematics and an MBA in information technology from Symbiosis International University, India. He still likes to jump in and write code when challenges arise. Just because you can hire coders for $3 an hour doesn't mean you should. Maybe if you're lucky, that $3 an hour coder will work out great, but in my experience, this rarely happens. SOFTWAREEXECUTIVEMAG.COM 15 AUGUST/SEPTEMBER 2017

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