Outsourcing to a software development outfit may be the worst or the best decision your company ever makes. While an ever-growing number of world-leading companies are relying
on outsourcing in search for software services and solutions, a few of them – industry leaders on the lookout for the next big thing – are hoping to find more than just service providers. They are looking for creators, innovation accelerators, and sometimes, even guides to pilot them into the tech world of tomorrow.
Then not all outsourcing IT companies are created equal – one may create a tangle, while another may come to save the day.
In today’s hyper-competitive world, many organizations, big and small, are desperate for
innovation, but too often they are not getting it in-house and they are not expecting it from
their outsourcing partners. However, it does not have to be this way.
In search for innovation leading to competitive advantage
Gap International is a solid case in point. For over 30 years, the company had carved out
an incredibly profitable and highly impactful niche as a business and management consultancy
helping to boost the performance of the C-Suites of Fortune 1000 companies.
However, Gap International was limited by the niche nature of its clientele. For over a decade,
the company had been trying to take a new direction by pivoting to become a software company. Given their enormous base of expertise and accumulated wisdom on how leadership translates into company performance, Gap International realized that by building a suited software, they could speak to a much larger audience.
What they wanted was to transition into becoming a high-tech, software driven performance
review and reporting platform to be able to offer their services to a wider audience and keep
on successfully competing in their field.
Gap International’s first experiences with outsourcing to a software development company
was not all smooth – their partners never seemed to be up to the task. Sure, in the last
decade, they had managed to cobble together a varied collection of executive performance
tools, but their software products were not interconnected or helped the users to see the
bigger, integrated vision.
Taking a new direction to find the right fit
Desperate to right the ship, Gap International turned to Yerevan-based innovation boutique Volo on hearing a recommendation about how they had helped many companies in
similar situations with innovative solutions designed for the future.
Within 12 months, Volo helped Gap International re-architect their solutions and pace towards innovation in ways they never imagined. Today the collaboration has become a solid
partnership that includes continuous support to help the client deliver its services more quickly and efficiently.
Digitizing their services has enabled the company to make their business insights accessible to the broader business community.
Processes really matter
While Gap International was offered truly innovative solutions, the success of the collaboration was largely determined by the efficiency of project management.
A project management process that enables a software development company to dive deep into understanding the client’s business issue is key to ensure a successful, long-term
relationship between the client and the outsourcing company. At the core of such a collaboration are teams that embark on examining business needs, existing products and architectures, and go on inventing ways to stabilize systems, create new ones, improve code quality, fashion them in ways that convey a clear logic, and sustain them so that they would not fail the clients’ demands.
Outsourcing companies’ ability of delivering brilliant and innovative solutions, as well as a faultless back-end quality lies in their teams’ case-by-case approach towards each project. Management, communication, and transparency, if executed efficiently, are the fundamentals of a successful outsourced project.
The project management team plays a crucial role in absorbing the information provided by the client, analyzing it, creating a solid understanding of the client’s needs and then dividing the whole development process into time-boxed iterations. In Volo’s case with Gap International, the team strongly followed Agile engineering practices to enhance built-in quality and fast delivery using Scrum and Kanban as the main methods and framework.
A combination of technical tools (including Visual Studio and TFS for task management, Code Repository, and Sitefinity for Content Management) was also employed.
Volo’s internal QA team – top-level QA ISTQB certified engineers – took the project’s QA to a whole new level. While maintaining manual QA in the initial phase of the project, later on the team initiated automated QA on some project components, thus introducing an automated deployment process to Gap International.
Another aspect of efficient project execution is the long-term commitment of team members, which ensures that a project is delivered with a solid knowledge of and commitment to all its parts. Throughout the lifespan of Gap International’s project, the project team had an amazing 0% staff turnover. Moreover, Volo’s average annual employee turnover is around 7%, which is uncommonly low for the industry, thus allowing the assembly of different experienced team structures based on specific project requirements.
It really matters that clients thoroughly understand the essence of the backend and know how the outsourced team is achieving progress. One of the first things Volo’s team did was creating transparency throughout the processes, so Gap International was always aware of the exact stage the project progress was at. With goals and tactics designed for two-week sprints, the team delivered pieces of the project, while the whole project progress remained always visible with one click in the program management tool. In helping the client get a thorough understanding of the project’s software, the team took on the role of educating the client on all technical specifics related to their own project.
A smooth, two-way communication, including knowledge sharing between a team and a client, is another key to success. Making sure that both teams acquire every bit of information necessary for the deepest understanding of the project should become a requirement. In the case of Gap International, in addition to daily status-calls and e-mail
communication, at the start of the project the company’s Vice President traveled to Armenia to thoroughly present their products and share their vision of company’s future and the changes they would like to see happen through technology. It was through sheer communication that Volo got to the bottom of their needs.
The secret of such level of systematic approach to project management process and innovation that should be offered by an outsourcing company lies in the type of talent they recruit and work with. Through a carefully refined recruitment procedure that aims at hiring only from the top 10% of the IT talent pool, Volo works with the brightest minds that possess the urge of not only for solving hugely difficult challenges, but also thinking of industry changing ideas.
Innovation and efficiency
Ultimately, an effective outsourcing collaboration will benefit the client beyond just the delivery of solutions. A systematized approach to production processes backed by industry talent, next-gen technologies, as well as a passion for keeping the experience of technology humane may be loaded with the potential of a vision that is going much farther than the current business situation of the client.
This article was published in the Armenia Outsourcing Destination Guide. For more interesting articles about the Armenian IT-market, download the guide here:
About the author: For the past 16 years, Daniel Zurfluh has worked in the Business Development & Marketing field for organisations in the San Francisco Bay Area, Switzerland and Armenia. Daniel gained insights about the IT industry when living in California and made
his move into that sector when he relocated to Armenia a few years ago. Daniel speaks German, English and French.
Daniel is the Business Development VP Europe for Volo and Volo Mobile, one of Armenia’s leading innovation outsourcing companies, developing business relations with partners in Europe.
Contact: +374 94 49 49 80,