A Small External Enterprise Development Team is Cheaper than Your Own

Time is money in the application development business. We have to get to market sooner so someone else does not gazump us, and pip us at the post. We increase the likelihood of this with every delay. Moreover, the longer your in-house team takes to get you through the swamp, the higher the project cost to you.

Of course, in theory this should not be the case. Why bring in a team from outside, and pay more to support their corporate structure? Even going for a contract micro team ought not to make financial sense, because we have to fund their mark-up and their profit taking. Our common sense tells us that this is crazy. But, hold that thought for a minute. What would you say if a small external enterprise development team was actually cheaper? To achieve that, they would have to work faster too.

The costs of an Enterprise Internal Development Team

Even if you were able to keep your own team fully occupied ? which is unlikely in the long term ? having your own digital talent pool works out expensive when you factor in the total cost. Your difficulties begin with the hiring process, especially if you do not fully understand the project topic, and have to subcontract the hiring task.

If you decide to attempt this yourself, your learning curve could push out the project completion date. Whichever way you decide to go, you are up for paying advertising, orientation training, technical upskilling, travel expenses, and salaries all of which are going to rob your time. Moreover, a wrong recruitment decision would cost three times the new employee?s annual salary, and there is no sign of that changing.

But that is not all, not all by far. If want your in-house team to keep their work files in the office, then you are going to have to buy them laptops, plus extra screens so they can keep track of what they are doing. Those laptops are going to need desks, and those employees, chairs to sit in. Plus, you are going to need expensive workspace with good security for your team?s base.

If we really wanted to lay it on, we would add software / cloud costs, telephony, internet access, and ongoing technical training to the growing pile. We did a quick scan on PayScale. The median salary of a computer programmer in Ireland is ?38,000 per year and that is just the beginning. If you need a program manager for your computer software, their salary will be almost double that at ?65,000 annually.

Advantages of R&D outsourcing

The case for a small externally sourced enterprise development team revolves around the opportunity cost ? or loss to put in bluntly ? of hiring your own specialist staff for projects. If you own a smaller business with up to 100 people, you are going to have to find work for idle digital fingers, after you roll out your in-house enterprise project. If you do not, you head down the road towards owning a dysfunctional team lacking a core, shared objective to drive them forward.

Compared to this potential extravagance, hiring a small external enterprise development team on an as-needed basis makes far more sense. Using a good service provider as a ?convenience store? drives enterprise development costs down through the floor, relative to having your own permanent team. Moreover, the major savings that arise are in your hands and free to deploy as opportunities arise. A successful business is quick and nimble, with cash flow on tap for R & D.

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Saving Energy Step 3 ? Towards a Variable Energy Bill

Do you remember the days when energy was so cheap we paid the bill almost without thinking about it? Things have changed and we have the additional duty of reducing consumption to help save the planet. This is the third article in our mini-series on saving energy. It follows on from the first that explored implementing a management system, and the second listing practical things to implement on the shop floor. These open up the possibility of the variable energy bill we expand on as follows.

If ?variable energy bill? sounds strange to you, I used the unusual turn of phrase to encourage you to view things in a different light. We need to move on from the ?pie chart? mentality where we focus on the biggest numbers like materials, facilities and labour, and zoom in on energy where we can achieve similar gains faster with less pain. But first, we need to see beyond the jargon that governments and consultants love, and get to grips with the reality that we can vary our energy bill and bring cost down.

As executives we recognise this, although other pressures distract us from accepting it as a personal goal. And so we delegate it down the organisation to a level where it becomes ?another crazy management idea? we have to follow to stay out of trouble. I read somewhere that half the world?s organisations do not have energy as a defined objective to monitor in the C Suite. No wonder commerce is only pecking away at energy wastage at a rate of 1% per year.

Find out where you are ?spending energy? and relate this to your core business. If there are places where you are unable to make a connection, challenge the activity?s right to exist. Following the energy trail produces unexpected benefits because it permeates everything we do.

  • Improved product design reducing time spent in factory
  • Streamlined production schedules reducing machine run times
  • Less wear on equipment reducing costly maintenance
  • A more motivated workforce that is prouder of ?what we do?

As you achieve energy savings you can pass these on in terms of lower prices and greater market share. All this and more is possible when you focus on the variables behind your energy bill. Run the numbers. It deserves more attention than it often gets.

Outsourcing

Are you ready to outsource? Do you even need to outsource? We’ll help you answer those and other questions regarding outsourcing and your company.

Once we’ve determined that outsourcing will render your organisation more focused on your core competencies, more cost-effective, and more flexible, we’ll offer you the full spectrum of our services. Our specialists can assist you in every stage of the entire outsourcing life-cycle.

Starting from evaluating what can be outsourced, through finding the right outsourcing service provider, building the contract and agreements, getting everything in place, and managing the outsourcing relationship – we’ll be with you every step of the way.

Learn more about some of the outsourcing services we offer:

Outsourcing Contracts and Agreements

When an outsourcing project fails, both customer and service provider are quick to put the blame on the other party. But in most cases, the actual culprit was really just sitting there since day one – a poorly planned and implemented agreement.

We understand how costly and disruptive a failed outsourcing project can be for your business. That is why we put utmost attention to each contract and SLA (Service Level Agreement) that our customers enter into. This always reduces the likelihood of having unmet expectations, one of the major reasons why some outsourcing relationships fail.

We make sure that each agreement is fair, not only for our customers but also for the service providers themselves. Why? Because a disadvantaged provider will most likely end up delivering poor service as an offshoot of efforts to improve its profitability and ROI.

To accomplish this, we’ll thoroughly assess the infrastructure, resources, and expertise of your potential service provider to ensure they have the capability to meet your expectations. We’ll also make sure that their expectations are realistic and clear to you as well.

Here’s what you can expect from us when we start managing your outsourcing contracts and agreements:

  • A thorough assessment of your specific needs and the service provider’s profile to determine whether you have the right match before proceeding with any agreement.
  • Professional assistance when the time comes for you to discuss the scope of work, expected service levels, and when negotiating for appropriate pricing. We’ll also help you set up provisions for possible changes in the scope later on.
  • Expert counsel during drafting and finalisation of the contract and Service Level Agreements. Whenever applicable, we’ll help you propose penalties whenever service levels are not met and rewards when they are exceeded.
  • Regular reviews to determine whether everything agreed upon in the past, like pricing and service levels, are still realistic or competitive enough in view of current technological advancements and the prevailing social and economic environment.
  • Mediation expertise whenever the outsourcing project appears to be falling apart. We’ll work with you and the service provider to resolve conflicts and avoid the expensive exercise of having to terminate the contract. But if the best solution is to part ways, we’ll make sure you make an exit with the least disruption, missed opportunities and financial loss.

Application Outsourcing

I’m sure you’ve come to realise that to gain competitive advantage these days, you really need to invest in IT applications.

There are applications for enhancing your customer relationships, speeding up production, streamlining processes, advancing collaboration, protecting your systems from malware and many more. Selecting the right application, testing it, implementing it into your system, and then managing it can deviate resources which would have otherwise been used in other areas to build business value, increase profits, and enhance innovation.

Wouldn’t it be nice to unload yourself of the management processes which usually accompany IT applications? Actually, you can – through application outsourcing. Application outsourcing providers possess the expertise to either partially or fully assume responsibility of your IT applications.

Our job is to see to it that you link up with the provider who can best answer your needs. The overall proficiency of these providers spans both proprietary and opensource solutions, allowing them to cater to a wide range of preferences and budgetary limits. At the very least, they can provide professional support for well established applications.

If needed, they can develop applications for your organisation, taking charge of every step in the system development life-cycle: starting from system initiation, requirements analysis, through design, construction, acceptance and eventually to implementation.

Here are some of the benefits you can enjoy once we start managing your application outsourcing initiatives:

  • Freedom from time-consuming tasks such as installations, upgrades, configurations and repairs.
  • Reduced total cost of ownership (TCO).
  • 24/7 support from well-trained personnel. This can substantially cut downtimes caused by inexperienced troubleshooting.
  • The option to have your applications housed in more secure and reliable environments with much higher availability and much lower planned/unplanned downtimes.
  • Dedicated specialists who can focus on providing better regulatory compliance and risk mitigation initiatives.

Infrastructure Outsourcing

Keeping up with the competition nowadays usually requires technological advancements as well as the capability to manage and maintain the infrastructure that has to support them. These undertakings can suck your resources dry.

If you’re looking to reduce costs even while improving the performance of your networks, servers, databases, firewalls, desktops and mobile devices, you might want to consider IT infrastructure outsourcing among your top options. Infrastructure outsourcing service providers have the resources dedicated to a stable, secure, scalable and always available IT infrastructure.

Typical service provider facilities include data centrers equipped with high-speed networks, reliable power, dependable security, as well as provisions for upgrades, consolidation, disaster recovery, or even business continuity.

These providers employ specialists and staff who can manage and maintain all of these for you. While your provider juggles your core IT-related tasks, you can keep your eye on the ball and refocus on your company’s business goals.

Here are some of the benefits you can enjoy out of infrastructure outsourcing:

  • Freedom from time-consuming tasks such as installations, upgrades, configurations and repairs.
  • Since service providers, who are expected to have better horizontal and vertical scalability, will deal with the technological intricacies, your company’s strategic development initiatives can proceed unhampered.
  • Greatly reduced electricity expenses as a result of consolidation.
  • Easier, faster, cheaper, and more reliable disaster-recovery solutions through virtualisation.
  • Lesser risks of disruptions caused by power outages, cyber attacks, or Internet connection downtimes.

Business Process Outsourcing

With the sheer number of business processes your company has to attend to, it wouldn’t be surprising if you rarely have room to innovate.

Through business process outsourcing, we can free a considerable part of your financial and manpower resources which are currently focused on routine activities. With more resources to drive innovative initiatives, you’ll be able to accelerate production, improve customer service, enhance overall business value, and arrive at a stronger bottom line.

Some of the business processes that may be outsourced include data entry, finance and accounting, form processing, procurement, and HR, among others. If you’re interested in finding answers to the what, how, who, and where of BPO, specific to your organisation, we’ll be happy to enlighten you.

Here are some of the benefits you can enjoy once we start managing your BPO initiatives:

  • Professional guidance to ensure that your BPO undertakings will really result in substantial savings and significant improvements to your organisation’s business value.
  • Careful monitoring of service levels to ensure faster turnaround, accurate data, and high quality outputs.
  • Expert evaluation of information handling processes to guarantee full confidentiality.
  • Professional and unbiased management dedicated to establishing a strong, reliable, and fruitful relationship between you and your provider.
IT Systems Implementation

Are you ready to find out how your newly accepted IT system fares in the real world? Although a rigorous Acceptance testing process can spot a wide spectrum of flaws in a newly constructed IT system, there is no way it can identify all possible defects. The moment the IT system is delivered into the hands of actual end users and other stakeholders, it is effectively stepping out of a controlled and secure environment.

Thus, it is during this phase wherein issues having direct impact on the business can arise.

It is our duty to ensure that the Systems Implementation phase is carried out as thoroughly, professionally, and efficiently as possible.

Thoroughly, because we need to include all relevant data and other deliverables, eliminate hard-to-detect miscalculated results, and substantially reduce the probability of business and mission critical issues popping up in the future;

Professionally, because it is the best way to address the sensitive process of turning over a new system to users who have gotten used to the old one;

And efficiently, because we want to minimise the duration over which all stakeholders have to adapt to the new system and allow them to move on to the process of growing the business.

Preparation

Louis Pasteur once said, “Luck favours the mind that is prepared.”

While we certainly won’t leave anything to chance, we do put substantial weight on the Preparation stage of Systems Implementation. We’re so confident with the strategies we employ in Preparation, that we can assure you of an utterly seamless Deployment and Transition phase.

By this we mean that issues that may arise during Deployment and Transition will be handled smoothly and efficiently because your people will know exactly what to do.

Here’s how we will prepare your organisation for Deployment:

  • Identify all key players for the Systems Implementation phase and orient them on their specific roles. We’ll make sure they know what possible hitches may come their way and how to deal with them.
  • Identify all end users and their corresponding functions, then assign appropriate access rights.
  • Draw multi-layered contingency plans to capture and address each possible concern that may crop up during Deployment.
  • Prepare a systematic step-by-step procedure and checklist for the entire Deployment stage. Both of them should have been copied from a similar procedure and checklist used in the Acceptance testing phase.
  • Make all stakeholders understand the conditions required before Deployment can commence.
  • Set the appropriate environment so that all stakeholders know what to expect and when to expect them the moment Deployment commences.
  • Prepare Technical Services and Technical Support personnel for the gruelling mission ahead.
  • Make sure all communication processes are well coordinated so that everyone affected will know who to contact and how to get in touch with them when a problem arises.
  • Plan and schedule training sessions so that they can be conducted “just in time”. Training sessions conducted way ahead of Deployment are often useless because the trainees tend to forget about what they learned when the time comes to apply them. Similarly, training sessions conducted way after Deployment also become useless because trainees are seldom able to internalise instructions delivered during crash courses.

Deployment

There are two sets of issues to keep an eye on during Deployment:

  1. Issues directly related to the technology itself, e.g. application functionality and data integrity, and
  2. Issues emanating from the end users, i.e., their unwillingness to use the new system. One reason may be because they find the interface and procedures too confusing. Another would be due to other inconveniences that come with adapting to a new set of procedures.

Despite all the meticulous scrutiny employed during Acceptance testing, there are just some problems that are made obvious only during Deployment. Issues belonging to the first set are dealt with easily because of the plans and procedures we put in place during the Preparation stage. As an added measure, our team will be on hand to make sure contingency plans are executed accordingly.

While the second set of issues is often neglected by many IT consultancy companies, we choose to meet it head on.

We fully understand that end users are most sensitive to the major changes that accompany a new system. It is precisely for this reason why our training activities during Deployment are designed not only to educate them but also to make them fully appreciate the necessity of both the new system and the familiarisation phase they will need to go through.

The faster we can bring your end users to accept the new system, the faster they can refocus on your company’s business objectives.

Here’s what we’ll do to guarantee the smoothest Deployment process you’ve ever experienced.

  • Employ the procedure and checklist formulated during the Preparation stage.
  • Ensure all end users are well acquainted with any additional tasks they would need to perform (e.g. filling up manual logs).
  • Assess which legacy systems can still be used alongside the new technology and which ones have to be retired.
  • Supervise the installation and optimal configuration of all supporting hardware and software to make sure the likelihood of errors originating from them are brought to near-zero levels.
  • Supervise the installation and optimal configuration of the products themselves.
  • Carry out data migration tasks if necessary.
  • Organise and oversee parallel runs to check for data and report inconsistencies.
  • Conduct training sessions in a professional and well-timed manner to eliminate end-users’ feelings of agitation and to take advantage of memory absorption and retention duration as with regards to their assigned duties and responsibilities.

Transition

Do you often feel uneasy whenever the reins to a newly purchased IT system are handed over to you? Perhaps there are some issues that you feel haven’t been fully settled but, at the same time, find it too late to back out, having already invested so much time and resources.

Alright, so maybe the thought of “backing up” never crossed your mind. However, the concern of being “not yet ready” is raised by many organisations towards the tail end of most Deployment stages. This usually drags the Deployment stage into a never-ending process.

Our team of highly experienced specialists will make sure you reach this point with utmost confidence to proceed on your own.

To wrap up our comprehensive IT Systems Implementation offering, we’ll take charge of the following:

  • Verify that all deliverables, including training materials and other technical documentation, are accomplished and expected outcomes are realised.
  • Make sure all technical documentation are placed in a secure and accessible location.
  • Institute best practices to ensure the IT system becomes fully utilised and to reduce its exposure to avoidable risks.
  • Establish open communication lines with the Technical Support team to enable quick resolution of issues.
  • Ensure complete knowledge transfer has been fully achieved so that your people will spend less time calling Technical Support and more on operations contributory to business growth.

Ready to work with Denizon?