Blog posts on the subject of outsourcing and offshoring by management and developers at Optimus Information Inc.

When done correctly, outsourcing, both onshore and off, can provide substantial cost savings. A good outsourcing partner will deliver higher quality service in a shorter time-frame than bringing the skill in-house.

However, this is all presuming that you are outsourcing the right kinds of tasks and that you are working with a good partner. The below posts will help you choose what to outsource and what to look for in an outsourcing partner.

Work/Life Balance: Stop Trying to Achieve It

Work/life balance: a concept that’s been drilled into our brains and pushed on us for years, yet a majority of people struggle to achieve it.

In today’s fast-paced and ever-changing technology environment, the idea that someone can balance their work life and personal life with a perfect 50/50 split is a tough goal. Maybe it’s time we ditch the traditional “work/life balance” concept and move towards something more realistic.

Do You Feel Guilty? 47% of Us Do

A recent Randstad US engagement study1 shows that 45% of employees feel obligated to check their emails after working hours and 47% feel guilty if they miss a day of work for being sick. Another 26% feel guilty using all of their granted vacation time.

What does this tell us? Thanks to advancements in technology, we’re living in a world where checking your work email before bed, on the weekend and on vacation has become normal, and those who don’t do it will feel the pressure. Companies and employees have normalized the idea of working after office hours. As a result, work/life balance has become impossible to achieve.

Optimus Takes a Different Approach

All You Need is Love

A 2014 Harvard Business Review article2 states that the more love co-workers feel at work, the more engaged they are. One of the most valuable lessons I learnt working at Optimus and living in India is to show compassion and care for everyone around you. Just because you work with them doesn’t mean you need to keep it “professional” all the time. Creating an emotional culture at work and taking the time to play, laugh and bond with co-workers are key to a happier, more productive workplace.

Companies today will tell us to leave our personal lives at home. This is obvious to a certain extent, but what if employers took a different approach and instead told us to merge our personal lives with our professional lives? Sounds crazy, right? Well, this is exactly what innovative tech company Optimus Information did, and it is the leading cause of their businesses success today.

Four months ago, I was given the incredible opportunity to travel to India and work at Optimus Information as their newest marketing intern. I worked with top-talent software engineers and happily immersed myself in the company’s unique office culture. This is what I observed:

Employees Treat Each Other Like Family

IMG_40701-e1526593016128-154x300 Work/Life Balance: Stop Trying to Achieve It

Within the first few days of my internship, I noticed something very interesting about the office culture at Optimus: employees treated each other like family. They referred to it as “work/life integration”, a concept which involves combining both work life and personal life together into one setting.

I know what many of you are thinking: “what an unprofessional way to run a business”, “how on earth does this work?” and “how are employees productive?”. The truth is, it does in fact work and Optimus Information is living proof. As a highly driven business student who was born and raised in Vancouver, Canada, I had never experienced or heard of this type of office culture before. I was always taught that personal life was separate from work life and to keep my personal life at home. I never knew that sharing personal experiences with your co-workers and treating them like family could increase your overall productivity. My perception of how a company should be run completely changed.

Work/Life Integration > Work/Life Balance

To clear things up, work/life integration isn’t about sharing your whole life story with everyone at the office. It’s about having the flexibility to work the way that you work best. Sometimes things come up and you need to leave work early. Sometimes you have an appointment and need to start work late. Some of us are morning people, while others are most productive at night. Work/life integration gives you the freedom to optimize your day so that you can perform at your absolute best at work without having to sacrifice much of your personal life.

With work/life integration, you can leave work early to catch the last train home or go see that band you’ve always wanted to watch live. If you’re not feeling well, you can go home early, and if your husband or wife isn’t feeling well, you can work from home to take care of them.

This sort of flexible workstyle came as a surprise to me, since I grew up with the mindset that unless you’re really sick (or even on your deathbed), you should always make it to work. At Optimus Information, this is not the case. Health comes first and nobody wants you in the office if you’re sick. As long as you make up the work that you missed, they have no issues with employees taking sick days.

It’s Important to Take Time to Play

Optimus employees demonstrate this by working really hard and taking frequent breaks to socialize over a game of table tennis or carrom (a South-Asian tabletop game). During cricket season when the weather’s not too hot, you’ll see about half of the office walk out to play an outdoor game of cricket! These small activities allow for bonding time between co-workers and are a great way for employees to recharge during office hours.

It’s not unusual for an Optimus employee to be at the office until 12:30-1am because they had a call with a client in Canada and were catering to that client’s time zone. Working crazy hours at a high stress job where you’re sitting at a computer all day is bound to take a toll on your body at some point. By taking these small breaks to “play” with your coworkers, you’re creating an emotional culture at work and this leads to happier, more productive employees.

 

IMG_26221-1030x523 Work/Life Balance: Stop Trying to Achieve It

It’s a Win-Win for Everyone

At Optimus Information, employees know about each other’s personal lives and they don’t see a problem with it. If an employee wants to leave work early to attend their nephew’s birthday party, no questions are asked because everyone knows that this individual will make up his or her work at some other point during the week. Some might consider it unprofessional to talk about personal life at work, but Optimus employees see it as a way of building trust and strengthening relationships.

When you connect with someone on a personal level, you work better together; it’s as simple as that. As a result of working better together, productivity in teams increases, and increased productivity usually leads to more profits for the company. It’s a win-win for everyone.

Creating Better Companies

This internship gave me much more than the work experience I was hoping for. It gave me a clear vision of what kind of culture I’d like to create for my own company some day. I want people to understand that if more companies operated like this they would have higher retention rates, better quality deliverables and happier, more productive employees. Employees benefit, companies benefit, customers benefit and the economy benefits.

If I could say one thing to the Canadian workforce, it would be to treat your co-workers with the same respect and care as you would a family member. Nothing beats the feeling of coming into work with a sense of belonging and just knowing that you’re surrounded by people who love and genuinely care for you.

Want to know more about Optimus Information? Check out the video below to see what goes on behind the scenes at their delivery centre in Noida!

 

 

About the author:

Optimus_Headshots_Lucy-180x180 Work/Life Balance: Stop Trying to Achieve ItLucy Morrow is a second-year Bachelor of Business Administration and Marketing student, nearing the end of her 4-month co-op work term at Optimus Information in Noida, India. Lucy came to know about this opportunity while sitting in class one day when her teacher gave an informative presentation regarding The India Connect Scholarship Program offered at Langara College.

The India Connect Program is the first in a series of country-specific scholarship programs that gives students a chance to gain valuable work experience while developing intercultural skills at the same time. With her passion for business and curiosity about foreign culture, this was a no-brainer for Lucy; she knew she had to jump on the opportunity. The application process was long and competitive but ultimately worth it when she was selected as one of the two students to participate in the program.

“In an increasingly globalized world pivoting on Asia, young Canadians must seize the opportunity to live, work and play in other countries and cultures,” said Pankaj Agarwal, Managing Partner, Optimus Information Inc. “Optimus Information is one of Canada’s fastest growing IT firms and our India office is bustling with young people who are eager to introduce Canadians to their culture and the Indian way of doing business. I am excited to be able to partner with Langara College and The Asia Pacific Foundation of Canada to offer this lifetime learning opportunity to Canadian students.”

 

See if Optimus is Right for You

For more information about working at Optimus, visit the link below:

https://www.optimusinfo.com/careers/

__________________________________________________________________
1 https://www.randstadusa.com/about/news/engagement-study-work-life-balance/
2 https://hbr.org/2014/01/employees-who-feel-love-perform-better

Behind The Scenes at Optimus: My Experience as an Intern

Excited and afraid, I boarded a plane, leaving my family, friends and city life behind. I was about to embark on what would be the most challenging, educational and rewarding experience of my life: a four-month internship at one of Canada’s fastest growing IT firms, Optimus Information. The interesting part, however, was that my internship was not to take place in Canada. Instead, I was being sent to work at the company’s delivery centre in India.

After a grueling flight with multiple layovers, I was finally halfway across the world in the land of India. A friendly Optimus employee greeted me at the airport and, from that point onwards, the journey began. During my 4 months at Optimus, I was living and working in a place called Noida, also known to be the fastest growing urban city in the country. Noida is a tech hub for global firms outsourcing IT services. This was quite apparent, since almost every young person I spoke with had a degree in computer science and was working at one of the many IT centres here. Bustling with millennials and computer engineers, I knew that this city was a haven for techies.

Culture Shock

Initially I was shocked; the Bollywood movie I had watched on the plane did not prepare me for this. With the insane traffic, constant honking, weird smells and overpopulation, it all seemed like one big jumbled mess. I began to think, “What have I gotten myself into?”  This thought disappeared immediately after stepping foot in the Optimus office. Not only were the people incredibly friendly and welcoming, but they also treated me like family. Within the first week, I was completely blown away by their unique office culture and how it differed from a typical Canadian office. It didn’t take long for me to fall in love with this company, and I was truly fascinated by the different approach they took when it came to managing their employees.

Not Your Typical Delivery Centre

Optimus Information operates under a relatively flat corporate hierarchy. The Co-Founder and Head of India Operations is one of the most humble guys I’ve ever met. He works from a cubicle just like the rest of his subordinates and expresses personal interest in all of his employees. He even joins them for lunch on a daily basis. With fewer layers of management, Optimus employees are empowered, and expected to take on managerial decisions. The result? Greater employee satisfaction and deliverables which usually exceed management’s expectations.

Endless Opportunity

At Optimus, they want you to have the opportunity to work on various unique projects that will challenge your professional skills and force you to think outside the box. Weekly meetings are hosted in the cafeteria, where employees are given the chance to showcase their side projects or share any new technology findings with the team. The company is built on learning, so they encourage all of their employees to explore new ideas, push personal boundaries and invest time in developing new skills. They also have mentoring support programs to facilitate things for the newbies.

 

The-Noida-office-having-a-little-bit-of-fun Behind The Scenes at Optimus: My Experience as an Intern

My Internship in a Nutshell

From the beginning of my internship, it was clear that this place was more than just a delivery centre. Optimus is a family, a second home, a place where entrepreneurship is encouraged and new ideas are always welcomed. Working at Optimus has taught me the importance of global communication and how it enables businesses to operate on an international scale. Optimus has helped further my education by giving me a chance to work with industry-leading clients in today’s fast-paced and ever-changing technology environment. They’ve brought me outside of my comfort zone, and pushed me to go further in the professional world of business. I can’t even express how grateful I am to have been given this opportunity. It’s been an incredible journey working at Optimus and I feel extremely lucky to have been able to be part of the Optimus family during my 4 months in India. 

If you’re curious about the different approach Optimus takes when managing their employees and would like to learn more about how this innovative tech company operates… 

Check back in later this month when I’ll be talking about work/life balance, why it doesn’t work, and what Optimus Information is doing instead. It is the leading reason for their businesses success today and I’m incredibly excited to share it with you!

 

The-author-with-Noida-employees-observing-a-fun-local-custom Behind The Scenes at Optimus: My Experience as an Intern

About the author: 

Lucy Morrow is a second-year Bachelor of Business Administration and Marketing student, nearing the end of her 4-month co-op work term at Optimus Information in Noida, India. Lucy came to know about this opportunity while sitting in class one day when her teacher gave an informative presentation regarding The India Connect Scholarship Program offered at Langara College.  

The India Connect Program is the first in a series of country-specific scholarship programs that gives students a chance to gain valuable work experience while developing intercultural skills at the same time. With her passion for business and curiosity about foreign culture, this was a no-brainer for Lucy; she knew she had to jump on the opportunity. The application process was long and competitive but ultimately worth it when she was selected as one of the two students to participate in the program. 

“In an increasingly globalized world pivoting on Asia, young Canadians must seize the opportunity to live, work and play in other countries and cultures,” said Pankaj Agarwal, Managing Partner, Optimus Information Inc. “Optimus Information is one of Canada’s fastest growing IT firms and our India office is bustling with young people who are eager to introduce Canadians to their culture and the Indian way of doing business. I am excited to be able to partner with Langara College and The Asia Pacific Foundation of Canada to offer this lifetime learning opportunity to Canadian students.” 

 

 

Want to know more about The India Connect Scholarship Program? Visit the link below: 

https://langara.ca/news-and-events/langara-news/2017/170809-india-connect-program-apfc.html  

 

For more information about internships at Optimus and The India Connect Scholarship Program, visit the link below: 

https://langara.ca/news-and-events/langara-news/2017/170809-india-connect-program-apfc.html  

Outsourcing Your Software Testing: When Does it Make Sense

One of the biggest challenges facing any organization that produces software is testing it. Using in-house testing methods may lead to a number of issues. Insiders often have a particular feel for how a program works, and this can lead to them miss problems. Also, many organizations simply don’t have the experience dealing with testing as a specific trade. It’s not usual, therefore, for operations to outsource their software testing efforts. Here are a few key ideas to keep in mind as you face that choice.

Automation vs Manual Testing

Some tasks in testing are simply too hard for a human user to truly duplicate at a scale large enough to produce meaningful data. For example, companies trying to test the functionality of APIs will have a difficult time hitting servers with enough requests to simulate the load that millions of real-world users will produce in employing a fully deployed version of the software. This is a case where automation of testing efforts might prove to be highly advantageous. Similar cases often emerge when a company needs to test the scalability and endurance of software, and automation is also a common choice for testing how well spikes are handled.

Conversely, automated systems often struggle to fully reproduce usage behaviour. User interface issues are especially hard to detect by any means other than real-world use by actual humans. In instances where the user interaction with the software is more important, it may be wise to look toward a manual testing solution.

For companies using automated models, many are turning to Agile processes. This approach allows them to focus on providing support in shorter sprints. In environments where frequent releases are anticipated, an Agile model using functional and regression testing helps to see that nothing is broken. This also limits the leak of issues into production models, since the process has multiple redundancies built in.

In-House vs Outsourced

There is often a strong temptation to test software solely in-house. In the early phases of a project, this can produce cost savings. It also has the potential to speed projects up, but this swiftness may be paid for later if in-house testers aren’t able to identify potential problems early on. Unless an organization has the resources required to effectively build its own independent, in-house testing division, there are huge possible downsides to handling the task that way.

Outsourced solutions for testing are common. Not only do outsourcing firms bring greater independence to the process, they also are capable of a level of specialization that may actually speed projects up. For companies overhauling legacy products, outsourcing options are often very helpful, as they often have competencies in the use of older systems and programming languages.

On-Shore vs Off-Shore vs Hybrid

The question of outsourcing software testing also leads to questions about exactly how close to home the testing provider needs to be. On-shore firms tend to be much less cost-effective upfront, but they often carry with them some added advantages. Foremost, employees of on-shore firms are more likely to be native speakers of your company’s language. They also are more likely to work in a time zone close to yours, and that can make scheduling of conferences and consultations simpler.

Off-shore firms tend to bring one specific advantage to the table: price. Work that might cost hundreds of thousands of dollars to perform in the U.S. may cost less than $10,000 to do overseas. That said, many off-shore companies can deliver surprisingly impressive results for the price. If you’re comfortable handling conferencing in a flexible manner, off-shoring often can yield major savings.

This is another case where companies often pursue a hybrid approach. Working with a consulting firm to determine what tasks are better to do on- or off-shore may also be beneficial.

Determining Qualifications and Expertise

The most widely recognized governing body in the industry that grants qualifications is the International Software Testing Qualifications Board. The ISTQB offers two tier, certifying engineers who have beginner-level experience of less than 5 years and those who have more. In many instances, it may be simpler to look at technical qualifications, like programming and administrative certifications from Microsoft and Oracle, to establish competency.

It’s wise, however, to not overrate the value of qualifications when dealing with software testing. When possible, you should ask services providers to supply case studies and references.

Conclusion

Software testing, especially once an organization has expanded to the point that it expects a large user base, is important to perform. The question that each company faces is how to divvy up the workload. Some tasks are ideally suited to automation, while others are best handled manually. Likewise, it may make more sense to employ an outsourced firm or even an off-shore company to deal with these aspects of the job. With a little forethought, you can see that your software will be tested thoroughly and without breaking your project budget.

 

If you have questions about outsourcing or are interested in outsourcing your software testing activities, give us a call. We’re always happy to answer any questions.

Optimus Breakfast Series: The Do’s and Don’ts of Software Outsourcing Recap

The most recent installment of the Optimus Breakfast Series took place yesterday morning, Oct. 5th, 2017. This event hosted an engaging discussion on when and how to outsource software projects effectively. If you missed it, stay tuned to the Optimus blog for the complete video recording!

For those that attended, there were excellent networking opportunities with attendees from some of Vancouver’s top brands:

Screen-Shot-2017-10-06-at-11.46.36-AM-copy-1030x618 Optimus Breakfast Series: The Do's and Don'ts of Software Outsourcing Recap

Panelists:

Moderated by Pankaj Agarwal – Founder and Managing Partner at Optimus Information

Ralph Turfus – Technology Entrepreneur

Ally Bharmal – Partner, Fasken Martineau

Tejinder Basi – Former Partner, Deloitte; Director, Blockchain Society of BC

We would like to extend a big thank you to those who joined us! If you missed it, join our mailing list in the right pane of this page to get notified about our upcoming events.

Highlights from the Morning

IMG_4343-1030x687 Optimus Breakfast Series: The Do's and Don'ts of Software Outsourcing RecapIMG_4348-1030x687 Optimus Breakfast Series: The Do's and Don'ts of Software Outsourcing Recap

IMG_4341-1030x687 Optimus Breakfast Series: The Do's and Don'ts of Software Outsourcing RecapIMG_4345-resize-1030x687 Optimus Breakfast Series: The Do's and Don'ts of Software Outsourcing RecapIMG_20171005_081550-1030x773 Optimus Breakfast Series: The Do's and Don'ts of Software Outsourcing RecapIMG_20171005_090131-1-e1507317449330-1030x672 Optimus Breakfast Series: The Do's and Don'ts of Software Outsourcing RecapPANO_20171005_08430301-1030x529 Optimus Breakfast Series: The Do's and Don'ts of Software Outsourcing Recap

Pros and Cons of Pure Onshore, Pure Offshore and Hybrid Model Outsourcing

North American companies contemplating outsourcing some or all of their software development have more options than ever before. They can choose from among onshore outsourcers close to home, offshore services halfway across the globe or a blend of these in unique combinations.

In a few situations, which model to choose may seem straightforward, however, each has its advantages and disadvantages to consider, especially in relation to an enterprise’s capital resources, in-house resources and business priorities.

Onshore

Advantages

Onshore outsourcing may work if your definitive goal is to add a seamless extension of your team with expertise not currently present in-house. An onshore outsource partner is also advantageous if you prefer a partner in your time zone and want to work within the same legal jurisdiction.

Communication is typically a lot easier and more streamlined when your outsourcing partner is geographically close by, and the possibility of visits or personnel assignment on your site is greater with an onshore provider.

Disadvantages

The cost of outsourcing is mainly related to the economic environment in the locale of the provider. Despite certain other advantages of onshore providers, their cost is generally multiples of an offshore provider.

Problems such as cultural or language barriers will be markedly less with an onshore outsourcing firm, but there is still the potential for miscommunication due to corporate cultural factors, differing technologies or business practices with an onshore outsource partner.

Offshore

Advantages

Whereas an onshore outsourcer may have the same difficulties you have acquiring much needed talent, offshore providers pull from an entirely different talent pool and may have a ready pool to tap. Furthermore, their resources are likely to be working under different creative constraints, which can lead to new solutions to fulfilling your development goals.

In contract to pure onshoring, offshoring can be significantly less expensive.

While an onshore provider will share much of your cultural, technological and legal context, offshore providers can offer additional benefits to companies desiring to globalize their products. Choosing one or more offshore outsourcing firms in select markets could, at least indirectly, transport your presence to a new foreign market. This situation would be especially important if your company needs local customer support there, values insights into cultural modifications of the product or requires maintenance of local infrastructure.

Disadvantages

The architecture, design, development, testing and deployment of your project are the essential aspects of your software process, and the degree of control over what you hand an outsourcer is inversely related to their distance from you in space and time. Most companies prefer to keep architecture and design phases close to home. This is something to keep in mind when deciding how much process control to cede to an outsourcer.

It’s possible to run into difficulties if you use an offshore outsourcer in a country whose native language and customs do not align well with yours. Add on top of those potential difficulties the additional inconvenience of vastly different time zones. If such difficulties are present, and especially if the offshore firm will have interactions with your clients or stakeholders, much more effort is required to smooth out rough spots or you may be better off not going with the offshore provider at all.

 

Download our Strategic Guide to Technology Outsourcing eBook

 

Hybrid Model

A hybrid model will have technical teams overseas, but an onshore office in your area that you will primarily communicate with. It gives you the access the global delivery and skills of an offshore model, but with the local presence and communication access of an onshore model.

Advantages

Years ago, outsourcing was relegated mainly to mundane tasks and chosen solely on a cost basis. Fortunately, many hybrid outsourcers are beyond competing solely on cost and now offer quality and innovation as benefits. North America no longer has a corner on the market for the most skilled and innovative software developers, and the global talent pool can be quite deep.

Many organizations prefer to keep architecture and design phases close to home, which is why a hybrid model can be so effective. These core functions are kept in geographic proximity to the client where team members are available for face to face meetings or phone calls in the same time zones, and only the development or testing delivery is done offshore.

Having a local office also offers legal protections by having an office or headquarters in your jurisdiction.

With a hybrid model, organizations get the cost efficiency of offshoring, but with the convenience and seamlessness of onshoring.

Disadvantages

While a hybrid model gives you additional convenience and local access to personnel, it often can’t compete on cost with a purely offshore model. If your primary concern is getting the lowest price possible, then a pure offshore may be a better option.

Conclusion

Typically, pure onshore or offshore outsourcing rarely supply an ideal match for every enterprise’s software development efforts except in cases where the project’s duration and scope are significantly limited. That is why most companies seeking an outsource partner like a hybrid approach like Optimus’, which includes onshore presence with offshore delivery resources.

These companies have found that by working with a hybrid model and using a reliable, trusted outsourcing partner like Optimus, they are obtaining better quality, more timely production and the ability to scale operations up or down at a reduced cost.

If you have any questions about the right outsourcing model for your company, you can contact us here.

Daily Huddles: How to Keep Your Team Connected

Every afternoon at 3:56 our team stops what they are doing to gather in a common area. Here we meet for no more than 10 minutes and summarize our day by sharing an update on the following four items: good news from the past day, an update on your top one or two metrics, any stuck points that you need help in and the top priorities for the next 24 hours.

The Team Huddle is nothing new, innovative or revolutionary. They became widely popular around 2002 when Verne Harnish’s ‘Mastering the Rockefeller Habits’ was released and became a go to management resource. Since then many companies have come up with their own versions of a daily team huddle. While there are a few things to follow to make your daily huddle consistent, the important part is to continuously figure out what works best for your team.

When

Many teams start their day with a huddle and get their huddle in as early as possible. It’s a great way to check in at the start of the day, connect on trouble areas and encourage each other. Another tip is to start the huddle at an odd time because this can help people to remember and they are more likely to show up a little early. The length of your huddle should be only between 5 – 15 minutes depending on the size of your team. Keep things brief and on topic so that you don’t lose momentum during your huddle.

Who Attends

Take time to consider which team members should be a part of your team huddle. Ideally to keep your huddle quick keep it to no more than seven people. If more than that, you may want to consider splitting up your teams into groups that work closely together and would benefit most from connecting on a daily basis. However, this rule is not mandatory. Some teams break these rules and will have a company wide huddle. If you take this route you will want to consider how updates are handled since there will not be time for every team member to give an update.

Where

Will you hold your huddles in person, over the phone, or some combination? Make sure to set clear guidelines for your team members so they know how to show up. Does your office have a meeting room, common area or other space that you can use for these? Keep in mind if there are other people around that may not be involved in a team huddle that could be distracted. You also want to make sure your team members are as comfortable as possible to give updates and have their voice heard in the huddle. If some team members work remotely try to accommodate them as much as possible too. Adding in technology can end up taking time to setup or troubleshoot so keep that in mind as well when deciding the logistics of your team huddle.

What

This is the part you can really have fun with and can bring out the best in your team. The important part is that the huddle agenda is the same every day to create routine. There are a lot of different opinions out there on what makes for an effective team huddle agenda. Some things are really important to connect on daily, but for your team some things may not matter as much. Take some time to consider the things that are important in your team’s success and that you want team members to be thinking about every day. Harnish recommends the following three items to address:

  • What’s up: Check in on what has or is happening over a 24 hour period.
  • Daily measurements: Cover some critical metrics that are important and relevant to each team member’s role.
  • Bottlenecks: What’s getting in the way? Where are team members stuck and what do they need in order to move forward?

When it comes to the bottlenecks, this is the piece that can be the most beneficial because team members can have a place to vocalize what they are stuck on and other team members have a chance to help problem solve. Be careful here though, this is where your team huddle can be derailed. Make sure to allow team members to identify who can help and when, then move on to keep the meeting on track.

Some teams also like to add in a piece that is connected to their culture’s values. Giving ‘props’ to a team member that recently went above and beyond is common. Think about what makes your culture unique and how you can incorporate that into your team huddle. Your team may even want to come up with a name for your team huddle that aligns with your business to set it apart from other ‘Team Meetings’.

How

Another aspect that will set your team huddle apart from other meetings is that everyone stands up. This is effective for a couple different reasons; it will keep everyone energized and keep the meeting from going too long. For some teams, the team huddle is mandatory and team members will even step out of meetings to attend their team huddle. Make sure to assess if that aligns with your business and culture. If it is part of your culture to put customers and clients first, then forcing team members to leave a meeting right in the middle may not work for you. In deciding to make the team huddle mandatory, you may also want to consider the time of day of the meeting. When is a time that team members are most likely in the office? For some teams that may be in the morning, lunch or later afternoon. You may also want to consider assigning one person that leads the meeting or a specific order that the meeting will go. It is important to create this consistency as well to keep to the brief time line.

Try it Out

Try it out for a week and get feedback from your team. What is working, what is not working? This is the most important part of the team huddle. Keep adjusting and tweaking your team huddle until there is a good flow and it works for your team. This is not a one-size fits all recipe so don’t be discouraged if the first few tries are not working out. It will take a little time for your team to get into the habit and feel comfortable.

Our team members enjoy the opportunity to learn about what other team members are working on, time to celebrate successes and the ability to help support fellow team members.

At Optimus we work in a lot of different team environments with clients across time zones. We work as an extension of our client’s software teams. Contact us today and let us know how we can help your team.

4 Common Misleading Beliefs about Outsourcing

Many people can find outsourcing topics misleading, as many folks do not have all of the facts or they are only looking at an industry that stands out and is giving the rest of the outsourcing crowd a bad name. We will go over a few points that will show you that many of the outsourcing techniques employed today use good practices and actually make sense for business and the economy.

Outsourcing--300x181 4 Common Misleading Beliefs about Outsourcing

FALSE: Outsourcing takes jobs away from Americans

Not all outsourcing projects are outsourced to other countries. Outsourcing simply means bypassing the in-house hiring process and hiring an individual or a business that does not work in your office.

FALSE: Outsourcing takes away employment from less skilled American workers

With the American economy the way it currently is, many Americans have been out of work and are willing to train to learn new skills then work from home at a very competitive rate. Again, jobs and money remain in America which include instructors required to train these new outsourced employees keeping people employed in America. This is a popular option many are taking rather than moving to a minimum wage position.

FALSE: Outsourcing hurts small businesses

Small business accounts for the majority of job creation in America and what we are seeing is “out with the old and in with the new”. Those small businesses that can no longer keep up with modern technology will be replaced by new businesses who started as an outsourced employee working from their living room and developed a successful business due to competitive rates and quick turn around. These newly developed businesses often employ like minded young people willing to work hard and spend their money on their new families keeping money in America with mortgages, car payments, raising children, etc…

FALSE: Outsourcing only leaves minimum wage jobs for the rest of us

Companies are waking up and have realized that they have been duped into paying someone $100,000 a year to type a few lines of code. This is when the layoffs start and instead of asking you to take a pay cut of $50,000 a year then advertising that position with a wage that would historically pay top dollar for nowhere near the industry standard, they have no choice but to outsource. Many of these employees who are now out of work are not willing to work for less than $100k. Times are changing and you need to change with the times. This often means working for less than what you are used to working for.

As you can see, not all outsourcing fears are valid, and many beliefs are simply not true. Outsourcing has been a touchy subject for many but when we take a few steps back we realize that we are all just looking to save a few bucks.

Questions to ask when outsourcing technology services

global-outsourcing Questions to ask when outsourcing technology services

In almost two decades of dealing with clients in the IT outsourcing industry, I have answered almost every hard question imaginable for prospects worried about finding the right IT outsourcing partner.

Based on my experience, I would like to share the top five questions you should ask outsourcing vendors like us before making a decision.

Do you have demonstrated capability in providing similar solutions?

The key word here is similar because finding an exact match will make your search overly difficult and rule out well-qualified vendors.

Specific points to consider include:

  • size
  • team dynamics
  • process
  • technology
  • industry

What can go wrong? What are the possible risks to achieve the desired objectives?

The purpose of this question is to test the vendor’s ability to think through the project, anticipate risks and create a plan to mitigate them.

The answers don’t need to be perfect, just demonstrate the vendor’s intelligence.

What does the vendor need from you?

Any outsourcing arrangement is going to require some effort on your part to make it work.

Depending on the project, the vendor may need some of your time, artifacts like documentation, a governance structure and access to your infrastructure among other things.

Clearly understanding the needs of both parties beforehand will help ensure the partnership succeeds.

How does communication between two teams work?

Many outsourcing projects fail not due to individual capabilities, but more due to process and communication.

Ensure that communication aligns with your process through daily scrums, weekly meetings, informal Skype-based meetings or whatever works for your organization.

How do both sides have skin in the game?

The vendor should be prepared be penalized if they miss key milestones and rewarded if they meet them ensuring that they are invested in your success while strengthening your relationship.

These questions discussed in face to face meetings and phone meetings lead to a common understanding of objectives, comfort between two teams and can be used as the basis for 90 days plans.

Once the relationship begins, it is important to review the actual results against the expectations set in pre-sales.

With a little extra caution and effort, the results of your outsourcing partnership will be cause for celebration.

Are there any questions that you think I missed? Share your thoughts in the comments.

Mid-Year Review from Optimus

2012_flickr_photojenni-150x150 Mid-Year Review from Optimus

Mid Year Review at Optimus

As we approach mid year, a lot of good things are happening to outsourcing in general and Optimus in particular.

Today, with more than 40 clients, most of them in a long-term relationship with us, we are looking forward to the second half of 2012 where we expect to see a continuation of the following trends.

First, clients are looking for vendors who are keen to work in a collaborative mode and are ready to be part of one team. Secondly, clients are looking for vendors to deal with some of the ambiguity which they face in their day-to day business lives. This needs thought leadership and proximity to clients. At the same time, clients are looking for cost efficiency. All of this fits well with our integrated delivery model where part of the execution is close to the client’s location and part of the execution is in lower cost geographies.

Another trend is occurring in regards to user’s expectations. Due to their exposure to social media (eg. Facebook) and mobile devices (eg. the iPad), clients have become more demanding in terms of usability, user interface, social media integrations, and mobility. This is challenging many traditional vendors who are used to only offering back-end support services. Our approach of providing a strong front-end, social media integrations, and mobile capabilities, coupled with our enterprise-grade software development and testing experiences, are helping us in this emerging trend.

Last but not the least, with so much data being produced through increased availability to external sources and the cost of computing coming down, there are interesting possibilities for each company to gather more data and go deeper into analyzing it. This is again becoming a mainstream need.

I look forward to hearing your views on some of the trends and how we can succeed together.

(image credit: photojenni)

5 Case Studies on Outsourced Report Development

MS-Gold-Partner-Data-Platform-1024x432 5 Case Studies on Outsourced Report Development

As the only Microsoft Gold Partner on the Data Platform in Western Canada, we have helped many clients outsource report development.

Since companies use multiple systems for different business functions and each of these systems have a database, data needs to be gathered, combined, and compared. This provides an opportunity to gain valuable insights into the market, the customers, and the core business.

Here are five case studies describing the outsourced report development services we’ve provided in the last few months:

  1. See how we developed reports for Microsoft Dynamics AX using Microsoft’s SSRS (Case Study).
  2. See how we helped a client migrate reports from Crystal Reports to SSRS (Case Study).
  3. See how we used SharePoint, PerformancePoint, and SSRS to create a web-based reporting portal (Case Study).
  4. See how we helped a client extract more data from their system by building an external reporting solution (Case Study).
  5. See how we partnered with a software development company to enhance their reporting offering (Case Study).
[space height=”15″]

How Does Outsourced Report Development Work?

Report development as a managed service means our clients have on-demand access to a diverse reporting team. Although we are a MS partner, we have extensive expertise on other proprietary and open source platforms.

As explained in my previous blog on “Benefits of Report Development as a Managed Service” our clients receive the following benefits:

  • Overhead cost control
  • Agile report development process
  • Access to experts on multiple platforms
  • No risk of losing skills from staff turnover
  • Continuous availability and on demand bandwidth
  • Industry standard IT governance
[space height=”15″]

Due to the advancement in technologies these reports, dashboards, and scorecards can be:

  • Published to smart phones and tablets
  • Published to emails as attachments
  • Published to a web portal
  • Published within a third party application
  • Scheduled to run automatically
  • Run on-demand

[space height=”15″]

These days IT department in big organizations are seen as service centres. Whether they provide services in house or outsource to a vendor, IT departments charge back the expense to the divisions or departments for which the services are performed.

Business Intelligence vendors like Optimus provide managed services to provide benefits to these organizations. If you would like to learn more about our report development process and experience, please feel free to contact us. We will be happy to sit down and discuss your needs.