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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.

Dos and Don’ts of Software Outsourcing

Outsourcing software development can be a great way to save your company or organization time and money. However, if done haphazardly, it can also become a source of great headaches. It’s easy to make common mistakes, such as not clearly defining goals or expecting the process to magically produce results. It’s much harder to manage the process and see that it achieves the results you desire. Here are some dos and don’ts for you to consider as you get involved with software development outsourcing.

Do Define Your Goals and Metrics

One of the hardest things for any outsourcing services provider to deal with is a moving target. It’s important that you have clear planning documents in place that outline the goals for each project. Likewise, you also need to use clearly understood and widely trusted metrics to measure the success of a project. If you and your outsourcing provider agree on the measures of success, there’s a much better chance you’ll hit your target.

Don’t Fire and Forget

Handing a pile of specs to an outsourcing firm does not count as passing the project along. The process is inherently collaborative. It’s important that everyone on your side, the client side, stays engaged. When mockups come in, check them. When requirements are reportedly fulfilled, verify them. If errors occur, correct them. Do not plan to hand off the specs and just come back months later expecting to see a finished product.

Do Put Processes in Place

Every aspect of your project should have a clear process in place to ensure that both you and your outsourcing company understand what it means for a step to be considered complete. This means verifying that mockups are passed along and that both parties sign off on each step. Requirements for each stage should also be outlined clearly, and all parties involved should agree to them. Nothing dooms a project as fast as an ambiguous understanding of what it means for a step to be truly completed.

Do Communicate Well

This can be trickier than it sounds. Even if you’re running a North American firm that’s outsourcing to another firm on the continent, time differences matter. If your vendor doesn’t have flexible hours, then you’re likely losing collaboration time. For example, if a company in New York City is outsourcing to a firm in Vancouver, it’s important to know that the Vancouver folks are prepared to have someone show up early on some days to touch base with the New York crowd before the work day gets rolling.

Don’t Judge on Price Alone

One of the greatest temptations of outsourcing software development is to simply take the lowest price offered. This is a terrible idea. There are many tradeoffs required to get to the lowest price. Will you be dealing with people who speak your language natively? If the vendor is on the other side of the planet, will they even be able, at that price point, to have someone communicate with you live at a convenient time?

Do Expect a Performance Curve

If you’re beginning your first project with a specific vendor, it’s unrealistic to assume they will be able to just hit the ground running. Every outsourcing firm requires time to make sense of your company’s culture and figure out the best way to achieve the results you seek. Getting frustrated by this process can be very costly. There’s little benefit that can be expected by bouncing from vendor to vendor. Give vendors time to acclimate.

Don’t Outsource Core Functions

Some parts of your company just have to work. The best way to see that your operation works the right way is to ensure that core functions stay in-house. For example, if you ran a vinyl sign company, it would be insane to outsource your graphic design work. On the other hand, it might be perfectly reasonably to outsource backend coding for your website.

Do Prepare for the Future

No matter how strong your relationships may be with your current set of vendors, you need to know the market and be prepared for the future. If the day comes that your preferred vendor can no longer handle the scale of your work, you want to have a list of vetted alternatives in place. You can lose months of project time trying to find a new vendor.

Don’t Use Outsourcing as a Stopgap

Adding an outsourced software development team to your organization means incorporating it on a long-term basis. If you drop a project on an outsourcing company and then turn around expecting in-house people to maintain or even expand it, the results will be rubbish. It will may foster discontent among the in-house team. Look at long term partnerships where certain projects or tasks stay with your outsourcer and others stay with your in-house team. Your guys handling the outsourcing on your software will then become comfortable dealing with your in-house people handling core functions, and vice versa.

Don’t Rely on Technology Alone

There’s a lot to be said for getting in at least one face-to-face meeting, ideally more as required. Your vendor and you can both demonstrate commitment to the project. You also can interface more quickly. If at all possible, try to make in-person meetings part of the process.

Conclusion

Outsourcing is an amazing tool for any company to have access to. It is important, however, to appreciate that it’s not magical. It’s a process that your organization has to fully accept and integrate. With the right checks and balances in place, you can ensure that your outsourced software development efforts achieve the results you want.

Ultimately, successful IT outsourcing comes down to finding the right partner that fits with your organization and IT needs. Optimus Information has become a trust partner to companies of all sizes and in all verticals; we know what works and doesn’t work when it comes your your IT challenges and working with your organization. 

Contact us today for your next IT project. We’re always happy to help.

Start outsourcing effectively. Download our How to Overcome IT Outsourcing Challenges whitepaper.

What to Look for in an Outsourcing Partner

Bad experiences with outsourcing providers are often traceable to badly designed selection processes or the use of deficient selection criteria. Whereas, you can find ample guidance online on how to build a robust selection framework, we will share the most important vendor attributes for comparing and contrasting outsourcing companies to ensure you select one right for you.

Sizing a Vendor to Your Project

When optimizing the capabilities of an IT provider to your project, size matters. If your organization can fund nine-figure deals, then the number of companies to field such a deal is not large, whereas for smaller projects you have a lot more choices.

The key is to find a provider of a size that will consider your deal to be a big deal. This significantly increases the odds that your project receives the attention it deserves by having their most talented staff assigned to it. Additionally, right-sizing usually provides meaningful accommodation in contract terms and professional treatment from the executive staff.

The risk of choosing an outsourcing company that is too small, however, is that they may not have a sufficient level of technical capabilities, skilled staff, certifications or experience to deliver what you hope to accomplish.

Local Presence with Global Delivery

If your company is based in North America, then choose an outsourcing vendor whose headquarters there. They will better understand your industry, business model, goals and processes since you are working within a similar cultural context.

Your company also benefits from local contractual protections should your project hit a serious speed bump. It also provides the distinct possibility that they can provide onsite staff at your site, which improves communication and timely escalation of critical issues.

However, vendors that also provide delivery from offshore will save you money. Furthermore, vendors with a global presence could directly interact with your own global sites and offer the possibility to add shifts in other time zones that work collaboratively with your local staff, which provides you with 24-hours a day of development.

Consistency in Quality and Delivery

Until recently, the majority of IT outsourcing firms sold themselves mainly on cost and based contracts on hourly rates. These days, more companies compete on their ability to produce results. Those results should include both timely delivery and measurably high-quality products or services.

During your due diligence, evaluate the vendor’s past work and pursue references to gauge how well the vendor has delivered on their promises. Have a detailed discussion with their senior staff about how their corporate culture reinforces the importance of on-time delivery and high quality throughout the ranks.

When you are convinced they will deliver what they say they will, it is still prudent to start the relationship with one or more smaller projects of a few months in duration to validate their work and timeliness for yourself.

Communication Capabilities

Well-planned, thorough and frequent communication is critical when using an IT outsourcing vendor. This goes double if the company you select has offshore resources, since both time and language may present communication barriers.

How much, when and how you each of you communicates with the other should be driven by the client. Both sides must identify primary contacts for specific areas. These people must have seconds in cases where the primary is unavailable. Daily meetings with program and development managers are not unreasonable as are weekly meetings with BDMs or department managers. To gauge frequency, ask yourself how much time you can afford to lose should a process go astray.

Vendors uncomfortable with your communication plan should raise a red flag with you, since this is such an essential element in your business relationship.

Their Range of Skill Sets

Except for the largest IT organizations, most companies do not have all the personnel with all the right skill sets for every project. When evaluating vendors’ technical and process capabilities, strike a balance between broad and deep skills that align with your business and project needs.

If you hope for the vendor to work on more than one type of project or you wish to establish a long-term relationship, then one with a broader range of skills may work out better in the long run. A possible drawback is that a project comes along that is a mismatch for the vendor’s skills and quality suffers.

Many enterprises today recognize that one size does not fit all, especially when working with small to mid-size IT outsourcing companies, so they choose to multi-source these services. This can complicate internal management of vendors, but often the point solutions that smaller vendors provide are of higher quality, with faster delivery and at the same or lesser cost.

Conclusion

Proper selection of an IT outsourcing vendor will significantly augment your company’s strategy and operations. Lack of due diligence, however, often leads to negative consequences plus lost time and money.

Use the selection criteria above along with a robust process comparing business requirements against each company’s pros and cons. This will lead to asking the right questions and building a seamless working relationship with a talented development provider.

The Optimus Information model is designed to allocate the right mix of local and offshore resources in order to optimize expertise, speed and cost. We provide the ability for development teams to quickly add specialty skills to a development team without incurring long-term costs.Our successful track record speaks for it’s self, and we love to share past work we’ve done. Our global team is made up of a diverse range of experienced professionals, allowing us to work on complex solutions requiring a wide variety expertise. The result for our customers is the capability to far better manage resource capacities and outcomes.

Contact us if for your next IT project. We’re always happy to help.

Contact us now

Effective Project Management While Outsourcing Software Development

online-project-management Effective Project Management While Outsourcing Software Development

How to Manage the Outsourcing of a Software Development Project?

Choosing to outsource software development instead of managing it in-house is often a decision that takes a lot of work off your plate. At the same time, you need to be concerned with the managerial role that you adopt to handle an outsourced project. Here we look at some tips to help you do that.

Outsourcing the development of your software involves a lot of risks. Right from the integrity of your intellectual property to the quality of the finished product, you need to be constantly on guard with an outsourced project. Project managing outsourced software development is a bit different from in-house, in the sense that you have lesser control over the operational management of the project. The key to a good vendor-client relationship is good vendor management. The management process begins right from choosing the right vendor to successfully handling the deployment. We have already touched upon the key aspects of the software development outsourcing life cycle. Let us look at what can be done to make an outsourced project a success.

Strategize Your Outsourcing Requirements

A careful ROI analysis of your project will tell you which areas of developments can be outsourced to better fiscal benefits. Depending upon the strength of your in-house team and the expected development costs, strategize which processes need to be outsourced, automated or developed in-house. This is the first step.

Find a Good Match

Once you are clear upon which of your projects you wish to outsource, find a good vendor. This is easier said than done, but the key is to look for a vendor with whom you can start a mutually beneficial relationship. Look for a compatible match and make sure that the vendor has the required expertise, technology and integrity to handle your project.

Product Specification

This means a careful visualization of the structure and functionality of your intended product. Document all your mark-ups, right from the initial brainstorming phase to the more nitty gritty architecture. Your product is only going to be as good as you specify it to be. Make sure you own the key product decisions in your contract, like the version updation and perfective maintenance.

Involvement during Development

Be actively involved in the development process through iterative wireframing and strategizing. Even though you are not involved in the actual development process any more, you are very much the part of the timeline and budget related deliberations. Clearly specify your needs to the vendor in detail. One way of doing it is the so called ‘connextra’ format – ‘As a <role>, I want <feature>, so that <benefit>’. This makes sure that there is no discrepancy in what your goals are.

Deliverables and Result Orientation

Make sure you get timely updates and deliverables as specified in your contract. You can now afford to keep a result oriented outlook with respect to your project. Keep a clear track of the vendor’s progress and make regular assessments and tests to check ts credibility.

With a clear-cut and conscientious approach, you can be a good project manager for your outsourced software developments.Get in touch with OptimusInfo for help regarding your software projects. With years of experience and industry expertise in dealing with clients, we can make sure that your deployment is a success.