July 20, 2015

I’m skeptical about outsourcing

If you are experiencing doubt and second thoughts about offshore outsourcing of your software development needs and startup, worry not - it is completely understandable. As an entrepreneur it is acceptable to have positive paranoia about everything that might make or break your business. We certainly feel the same. Political economist Adam Smith wrote in his treatise The Wealth of Nations, "If a foreign country can supply us with a commodity cheaper than we ourselves can make it, it is better to buy it of them." Although there is an increased amount of buzz around outsourcing lately, it is merely the progression of an idea that existed since the early days of trade.
Now lets continue looking at 5 common and legitimate concerns about outsourcing. Let’s look at how Bitsapphire performs at each point.

1.Communication differences

When communicating feature requirements details can be lost in translation. A login system is a login system, however does it include registration? Forgotten password option? What about “remember me” when I login? Details seem to be lost in translation when communicating feature requests even in everyday software development settings let alone in a Skype call 2000 miles away.

As software developers we understand how painful a project can be when misunderstanding feature requests and specifications. Feature creep can interfere and take the project out of scope, risking it all. We engage this issue on our Sprint 0 that is a requirement of any project we undertake. There we lay out all the possible features in a series of brainstorming events and we rank them based on how important they are for the client. Secondly we limit the scope in a boundary that makes sense and leaves the software functional. Thirdly we make sure to understand each and every feature well before we even get to coding.
We reconfirm the accuracy of our implementation in each of our iterations and we pingback with the client as often as necessary. These measures enable for us to develop software within the scope, and fully inline with initial requirements.

2. Accountability

It is hard to make firms working overseas accountable or pressure them to get something done when you are 10,000 kilometers away especially when travelling is not an option.

Bitsapphire is a company that is here to stay and we have built it to stand firm since the first day. The majority of our operations are located in Kosovo and we have managed to penetrate and gain market share in the United States. The effort put behind this achievement has been monumental. Our reputation is all we have and every person on our team understands that profoundly. Therefore we have given an abundance of our time and resources in several projects to protect our reputation globally. We will never place a client's project into jeopardy because we understand that a client’s failure represents a failure for us as a company. Just as a broken mirror is hard to be put back together, the same goes with reputation.

3. Working conditions

Offshore companies can be located in locations where power outages are frequent. They provide bad working conditions for their employees including long hours, low pay and no benefits thus hurting motivation and quality of work.

Our office is located in Prishtina, the capital of Kosovo. Power supply is stable throughout the year and we also have a backup power generator that powers up in case of a planned outage. It is seamless and we don’t remember the last time we had to use it.
Our employees have fixed working hours, equivalent to a 9 to 5 job in the US. They rarely have to work for longer hours but when they do we have an overtime pay system in effect because it is required by law and we know that our main resource is our staff so we want them to enjoy working with us.
In addition we offer the normal benefits that are required by law such as insurance, contract and pension fund. Our employees’ satisfaction is high and we constantly receive applications from people who want to work with us.On the fun side, we have team events bi-weekly where the staff decides on a vote of what we would like to do. Activities include paintball, dinners, bowling, movie night, hiking and BBQ.
Photo: Part of our team on Paintball eventPhoto: Part of our team on Paintball event. Follow our Facebook page for more

4. Ethics

Remotely located firms do not share the same values when it comes to intellectual property, non disclosure agreements, etc.

Our services would make no sense without trust and we would fail miserably if we did not adhere to the non disclosure agreements we sign. We have an unbreakable rapport with clients in this field. We have signed and fully respected roughly 30 non disclosure agreements to date and we are currently working on two projects that are patent pending. We’ve even written patent technical descriptions for our clients which they went on and filed with their lawyers.

5. Timing and time zone

Outsourcing companies do not respect the deadlines set and they do not share your concern on meeting them. Being in different timezones can create difficulties for meeting times and cooperation time slots.

In our estimations at the beginning of the project we will provide project completion time as well as a margin of error in the form of a percentage. We understand that some of the projects are very time specific and the whole success of the project depends on whether it is submitted in time. For this reason if there are many unknowns in the development process, such as when developing a new technology, or when a part of the project is dependent on third party software, we closely calculate any deviations that these factors might bring to produce a clear estimate we can live up to.
At the same time we are open to including time factors in our contract.
In time zone terms we have representatives in US and in Europe and few of them work in the evenings (EU time) so it can be matched with US normal daytime.