Nearshoring – the Good And the Bad

Nearshoring? Offshoring? Rightshoring

Certainly, the benefits of having a team of in-house IT specialists are that it is subject to internal control from beginning to end, it is possible to maintain direct contact with employees, and also to build and maintain the relationships necessary to ensure an appropriate level of quality and innovation. In other words – employees who know their business, their employers, as well as their vision and goals, are by definition more involved. Outsourcing IT services can mean breaking this bond. In addition, if it comes to transferring part or all of the IT processes to remote regions of the world, such as to powers of outsourcing like India and China, it may be that we lose the possibility of restoring links under the new terms and conditions – whether for reasons as mundane as the time difference, or more complicated ones – such as cultural differences.

There is another way. Nearshoring is the concept of outsourcing processes to less distant regions – both geographically and – and perhaps above all – culturally. This model allows you to maintain contact, to create an understanding and a connection, without having to adapt to a different mentality and organizational and legal culture (differences in the latter, especially, carry a big risk for the company).

‘Do you speak English?’

How does it work in practice? The British are probably the best people to ask about this, as they have been taking advantage of the benefits of nearshoring for years. For obvious reasons, they choose the regions where English is common among potential employees. Not surprisingly, Poland is often the chosen country, and indeed in this year’s EF English Proficiency Index 2015 report was in the Top 10 countries in terms of whose citizens are most proficient in English as a Second Language.

 

A very interesting example of nearshoring in practice is the cooperation between one of the British startup and JCommerce. Startup came up with the idea to create a portal on which available offers from bookies are gathered in one place, covering many different disciplines. The application enables the comparison of rates and special bookmaker offers as regards cashback, as well as estimating the expected winnings. A brilliant idea, but it required a team ready to take on the challenge of creating this innovative platform and putting the idea into practice. In the absence of specialists on the UK market and the high costs which resulted, they turned to Poland in the search for a partner. And they hit the bullseye!

 

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So then why Poland?

According to startup decision maker, the selection of a Polish outsourcing company resulted mainly from his first impression. After sending the initial enquiry, the response from JCommerce came back quickly and was the most competent response. His initial doubts pertaining to the language barrier vanished very quickly. The ice was broken through openness, communication skills and highly proficient contact with the customer service personnel. It quickly became clear, too, that the company had experience in such projects, knew what was expected and how to fulfill the expectations of the client. They proposed a team of programmers who were not only able to perform their assigned tasks, but show initiative and thus propose the best solutions.

After signing the contract, which gave each party a sense of security from a business standpoint, and provided for a five-month trial period, the team got down to work. To cut a long story short, after that period of time, both sides were so pleased that they decided to continue working together.

Critical success factors

We asked both the client and developers which factors were decisive in ensuring the success of cooperation. Both sides mentioned, among other things:

  • openness on both sides;
  • the first face-to-face meeting, having started from a knowledge transfer workshop over several days;
  • the use of scrum methodology in the project, with a high level of involvement on the customer side;
  • the flexibility of two-week sprints in the project;
  • daily stand-ups, meaning 15 minute on-line meetings, during which the most important issues for the upcoming days are covered;
  • joint game planning – a game involving programmers in decision-making; the client, seeing the vast knowledge of team members, attaches great importance to their ideas and suggestions; decisions are taken jointly by the owners and JCommerce experts, which gives both parties a sense of unity, teamwork and contribution to the project.
  • Both sides were able to get very involved due to the fact that a strong relationship between the team and the client was created. The client treats the team like an integral part of the company, while developers have the feeling of significant influence on the project, which increases their motivation.

 

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So it turns out that remote cooperation can have significant advantages for both parties. On one hand, the customer gets true professionals at a reasonable price, while on the other hand, specialists are able to develop and work on interesting projects using the latest technology. The need to organize meetings online ensures regularity and consistency, which means – paradoxically – that such contact is often more regular and effective than if the IT department was “in the next room”.

Nearshoring cooperation can bring significantly more unexpected benefits. Opening up to other regions and new markets could lead to the emergence of entirely new business possibilities, opportunities and points of view.

Outsourcing After Brexit – a Central / Eastern European View

Let’s start with what we have to lose. Piotr Zyguła, CEO of JCommerce SA, is moderately pessimistic. “The share of profits from the UK market in terms of the total export earnings of our company is about 7%, so any problems with maintaining this figure will not significantly affect the financial position of JCommerce. However, in recent years this share of earnings has consistently increased, and we saw further cooperation agreements as an opportunity to build a strong position on Western markets. For our employees, who of course are key stakeholders, it’s an opportunity to work on interesting international projects. It would be hard to give all that up.”

In theory, not much will change in the near future. Until completion of the “divorce” from the EU, which will probably take a few years, the United Kingdom remains a member of the Union and all parties are obliged to abide by the existing rules. In practice, however, they may be “lost years” because Brexit is inherently associated with great uncertainty about the future form of relations between the EU and the UK, which in turn has a negative effect on the markets and can stifle business relations, which do not take kindly to risk. Among other things, it is why EU officials have already called on the British government to begin the Brexit process.

Currency risk

The strength of the pound to date has made IT outsourcing to the countries of continental Europe, especially Central and Eastern Europe, as well as to Asia, very profitable for the British. Brexit brought about a sell-off of the pound, while the dollar, the euro and the Swiss franc became relatively more expensive. The cheap pound makes services abroad, including outsourcing, more expensive. The pound is also cheaper in relation to the Chinese yuan and Indian rupee (both are popular markets for outsourcing IT services). In our region of Europe the countries that stand to lose most of all are those that have adopted the Euro, such as the Baltic countries, Slovakia and Slovenia.

What does all this mean for Poland? “Just like the currency of Hungary, and the Czech Republic, the zloty is getting cheaper. Paradoxically, these problems act to stabilize the position of domestic outsourcing companies – a cheaper currency allows you to remain competitive. Outsourcing in Estonia, Slovenia, India, and China is more expensive because of the cheaper pound, so Poland is becoming more attractive for British business partners. The only question is whether the mood associated with Brexit will lead them to avoid cooperating with us?”– wonders Piotr Zyguła.

Life after Brexit – the new legal reality

Some of the major advantages of outsourcing IT services to other countries of the European Union for British companies were the similar legal systems and the universality of EU standards. British companies collaborating with business partners – for example from Poland – can count on the same treatment as Polish companies, so they can claim damages without major problems, as guaranteed by EU law.

After the UK leaves the EU, depending on the model of further cooperation, the systems might become more and more different. Piotr Zyguła expresses his doubts: “Will the United Kingdom continue to participate in the single EU market, which implies the free movement of goods, capital, services and workers? If so, to what extent, if not, what barriers will arise, and how much will they cost? In this context, will we be able to remain competitive?” Business abhors a vacuum, so sooner or later, both sides will be forced to find new business partners. But will it bring them increased benefits? And how many companies will go under in the meantime? It is difficult to estimate at this point.

A weaker union, a weaker market

The outlook for the outsourcing industry could be adversely affected by a potential economic slowdown. Some estimates say that Britain could lose up to 5% of its GDP within the first few years, during the process of its exit from the Union. On the other hand, the economy of the Community will also suffer, although the effects will be spread more evenly throughout the individual member states. The EU budget also stands to suffer losses, which will mean fewer resources to support innovation and new technologies, which will probably affect the entire IT industry, indirectly at least. Years of uncertainty, falling investor confidence and – most likely – price increases will probably reflect negatively on the level of IT investment, both in the UK and other European countries. A domino effect will probably arise that could affect Polish companies as well.

Will a Polish plumber replace a fellow Pole?

Perhaps, however, these problems will not dissuade British companies from outsourcing, especially if it turns out that the lack of suitable staff will begin to further strangle the British economy. After leaving the EU, the British labor market may be (although not necessarily) closed or restricted. This doesn’t just affect the proverbial Polish plumbers, as it will also complicate matters for the IT industry, and as a result the number of vacancies for engineers may increase. During this year’s London Technology Week, analysts predicted that about 850,000 more IT specialists will be needed in Europe by 2020, of which 180,000 will be required in the UK alone. One may have doubts as to whether these specialists will be found on the local market, which is already saturated and which is already straining under the weight of a lack of manpower (not only in IT, but in other industries as well). This can lead to an increase in the salaries of specialists on the local market, and de facto push British companies to take advantage of outsourcing to a greater extent, in order to fill staff vacancies.

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The British view

Brexit itself is of course not universally popular with the British people, 48% of whom voted Remain.  Andrew Kirby, a teacher for Dynamic English in Katowice, Poland, which has been co-operating with JCommerce for three years now, expresses uncertainty about how the British decision will affect his countrymen, having voted by proxy in the referendum. “It is scary to think that 1.3 million people” – the difference between the number of Leave and Remain voters – “can determine the fate of not just our country, but the entire continent of 500 million people.” However Kirby stresses that nobody really knows at this stage just what the effects will be.

Andy Gillin, CEO of Dynamic English, is also unsure of what to expect. “Nobody knows what’s going to happen, that’s what people are afraid of.  I don’t think Brexit will be an easy process, but all we can do is hope that business is not affected too dramatically.  Perhaps it could even bring about some unforeseen opportunities in business – we’ll see! But we just don’t know.”

Conclusions

The coming years will see great uncertainty and an unpredictable level of risk. The IT outsourcing industry will have to learn how to operate under such conditions. As we have seen, Brexit involves significant risks, but also brings opportunities for development. Some companies can run into trouble, but those which are most flexible and ready to take risks may turn this situation to their advantage – as usually happens in times of crisis. So what can be done today? I guess – along with the rest of the world – we can only look at what is happening in Downing Street and keep an eye on developments.

Agile Process & Team Setup

How to build an expert nearshore mobile app development team, part 2

Agile development

The Agile process of development is the preferred way of developing mobile apps. With Agile, we use the so-called sprint – it’s a set period of time during which specific work has to be completed and made ready for review. The length of the sprint is fixed and chosen at the start of the project – for example 2 weeks. Then, at the beginning of each sprint, we set goals – what we want to implement and function – and, after the sprint, that part is ready. After the sprint we can evaluate the current state of our product, and can redefine priorities or even the design of the application. Each sprint is designed to have relatively small, but fully working functionality added or modified. Thus we make use of Agile methodology to maintain the flexibility to make changes after each sprint. There is freedom for the client to make changes during the development to react to the market, user opinions or changing business priorities. Changes can be made at the beginning of the sprint (planning phase), but not during the sprint itself (development phase).

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The above description is true for all software development, but is particularly important in the mobile world. Current distribution platforms (App Store, Google Play, and Windows Marketplace) make it very easy to publish an early version of the product, and even easier to update it often without any effort from the end user. This, along with the agile development flow, allows clients to publish the app early, see user reviews and reactions, and iterate functionality with each sprint, publish new versions and get feedback from the real market. Feedback from real usage makes it possible to set priorities that benefit users the most, and to alter the original vision so as to make the most attractive product. Agile, along with the frequent publish model, makes it faster to iterate toward a polished, functional product.

Product owner in the Agile development model

The product owner represents requirements in terms of software development. The client should select a single person for this role, who will be the main contact responsible for providing a vision of the product from the client’s side, for cooperating with the team which will transform this vision into the product design process, and then for implementing this design. The product owner is not responsible for the technical details of implementation (unless the client so desires), but is responsible for understanding target audiences and desired functionalities, answering questions about projects, and the ongoing process of selecting the priorities for the next sprint. The product owner doesn’t need to have programming experience, but it’s good if he has some understanding of the market, knowledge of similar solutions and possibilities, as well as a basic level of technical knowledge. The product owner should have enough time to be available for communication with the development team throughout the process.

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Scrum development team

The Scrum team is responsible for executing the product owner’s vision and requirements. This team creates the technical architecture for the application, implements it, and tests it. The Scrum team is in constant communication with the product owner during development. At the beginning of the sprint, the product owner is responsible for selecting the most important tasks to implement, and the team is responsible for estimating how many of those tasks they are able to do within the confines of this sprint. They consult on the details of requirements with the team owner throughout the sprint process, and the results of their work is tested, then submitted for review at the end of each sprint.

Depending on the cooperation model, the entire team (except the product owner) can be from the service provider, or composed from among both the client’s and service provider’s specialists.

Team setup

Setting up the team can be done after defining the requirements and scope of the project, as well as defining the expected deadlines for project development. The typical composition of such a team is as follows:

              -> Native development

Team leader/Scrum master – responsible for managing the team, tasks, and overseeing development
iOS/Android/Windows Phone developer(s) – at least one developer for each platform, responsible for the implementation of mobile apps
Server developer(s) – responsible for integrating existing data sources or creating new ones
Testers – responsible for testing the app, finding and reporting quality issues

             -> Cross-platform development

Team leader/Scrum master – responsible for managing the team, tasks, and overseeing development
Front-End HTML/JS developer(s) – responsible for the implementation of the mobile app for all platforms
Server developer(s) – responsible for integrating existing data sources or creating new ones
Testers – responsible for testing the app, finding and reporting quality issues

The exact size of the team depends on the scope and complexity of the application, as well as deadlines, and should be determined after consultation with the service provider.

Setting the requirements and the final team are important when starting a project. After that, the next step is to set the testing strategy, which we will dive into in the next article.

Setting the Requirements for an Expert Nearshore Mobile App Development Team

How to build an expert nearshore mobile app development team, Part 1

The mobile app development market has exploded in recent years, but it still takes careful effort to create and manage a perfect team to accomplish your business goals. ‘Mobile development’ can encompass a wide range of products: from a 1.5” smartwatch screen, to smartphones, tablets, cars, up to 100” smart TVs. Whatever you want to develop your app for major smartphone platforms like iPhone and Android smartphones, or to use the mobile market to its fullest, it all starts with business requirements.

 

Client needs and requirements

The first part of the process is always to define the needs and goals of mobile development. Those requirements have a variety of details – some clients can define exactly what system they want and can create a detailed specification of their expectations. Other clients only have more general business goals. That’s ok – there are appropriate models of cooperation for each of these cases.

The process of creating and updating project requirements is often split between the client and service provider. If you have a detailed requirements and want to directly control your development team – use the team extension model and use the provider’s developers as your own team. If you have requirements, but want to make use of the experience of the service providers to improve and refine them – use a development outsource model to have the analysis, design and project development done by the service provider. If you only have business goals – use the project outsource/managed service model, in which the service provider will take over the entire process – starting with designing a business model and proposal for your project(s), refining it, implementing it, and continuously supporting and further expanding it over time.

Read more about cooperation models.

 

Baseline requirements

To start defining the project requirements, we need to answer a few questions. The first one is about platforms – does the client want to release the app for iOS, Android, Windows Phone? Depending on goals, you can pick all of the above, if you want to have almost 100% market coverage, or only some of them to save on expenses. Every platform is different, and each one requires a slightly different approach to designing certain features. This is specific to the mobile world – projects typically have exactly the same requirements, but the resulting apps are slightly different on each platform. They are customized to the UI standard of each platform, tailored to services offered by each platform owner, and designed to be familiar to the target audience of each system. Those differences lead to the biggest question in mobile projects: Native or cross-platform development?

mobile-development-poland-native-cross-platform

Cross-platform development makes it possible to create apps for every platform in one go, so typically it’s less expensive and requires smaller teams. But this technology often creates problems relating to implementing features, performance, stability and quality. It works great for apps for which the primary requirement is to present the user with information; but features like GPS, camera, advanced use of maps, layered animations etc. can be problematic.
Native development allows the team to achieve everything that is possible on each platform, offer the highest quality and level of performance, as well as perfect customization for the UI and design patterns of each platform. Native means that each platform has its own team of developers (at least one per platform), so there are more developers and the cost is higher, but it yields the best results.

Your service provider should always help to decide between cross-platform and native, because this impacts both technical implementation and limitations, team setup, and the budget.

If you only need the app for one platform – for example you are making an application for internal use in your company, and you only use iOS – always choose native, because there won’t be any difference in cost, but the quality will be higher.

 

External integration

Mobile apps are rarely stand-alone. Usually the data in the application is downloaded from the Internet – by means of a mechanism called API or webservice.
The client may already have some system and database which can be integrated with mobile apps. Alternatively, the service provider can design a web-based CMS (Content Management System) that makes it possible to easily edit mobile app content in the web-browser.

 

Defining app logic and functionality

After setting the baseline requirements and deciding on the external webservice, it’s time to define the core of the application – features, UX and UI. Depending on the cooperation model, this can mostly be done by the client, or the client can just define the business goals and the overall idea, and the service provider can design the exact features, UX and UI.
These are the typical phases of app design:
1. Functional specification – defining what should be in the application – which features are essential and which are optional. ‘Target audiences and devices should be kept in mind throughout the process..
2. Interactive mockup/wireframe – this stage defines UX and the overall layout and screens of the application. At this stage, the UX designer focuses on designing screens, transitions, and placing UI elements like buttons, images and text etc. However this stage doesn’t include the final look – only the layout. Preparing this stage allows the client to click through the prototype, and see how the application presents data, whether it is sufficiently intuitive etc. Making changes at this stage is far less expensive than making them after the application has been finished. Therefore, iterating the design and gathering feedback from potential users is essential.
3. Graphics – when the mockup is accepted, the next stage is to design final graphics for the designed mockup. This defines the final look of the application.

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Having functional specification, the mockup and graphics concludes the requirement-setting phase. The next step is to define the team required for the project and the process of development, including quality assurance and testing. We will describe all this in the following articles. So stay tuned!

The Onboarding Process in IT Services

Onboarding as the key process in the interaction between the Service Provider and the Client

If there is any phase of working with the client, which I could assess as the key one and as the one that is likely to radiate and influence every single element of the subsequent relation between the Service Provider and the Client, it would undoubtedly be the onboarding phase.

Why?

Given that the sales cycle and contract execution complete a certain stage in the negotiations with the client – the phase in question can certainly be classified as highly theoretical (as it involves assumptions, expectations, the planning of high-level activities, etc.). This phase is immediately followed by the most pivotal stage among all the stages I have already encountered and still continue to encounter on the entire map of interactions with the client. This very stage is the onboarding process for a new client because it taps into the pure practice of co-operation between both parties.

What is onboarding?

It is a representation of an internal project that transforms into action after completing the theoretical phase (of “prototyping” and setting the “rules of the game”). At the same time, this is the first opportunity for both parties to be able to build trust (the importance of which cannot be overestimated in any form of co-operation between two entities): it is when what was contractually agreed upon between the service provider and the client will now be translated into practice and reflected in it while the Service Delivery Team will be providing IT services.

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Key roles and the scope of responsibility in the client onboarding process

The clear and transparent creation of roles during the onboarding phase is an element of critical importance. One of the critical roles that will be needed from the very beginning is the one which has been known in the industry as Customer Success Manager, i.e. a specialist who will be assigned to an existing client right after the completion of the contract execution phase. Such a person will be the “owner” of the onboarding process on the part of the service provider and will be responsible for guiding the new client through this phase successfully. The CSM will also be responsible for:

– holding meetings with the client (direct/online);

– documenting the roles present in the client’s structures;

– identifying the client’s key employees and defining their roles during this phase.

The CSM will be responsible for providing information on the scope of client-oriented undertakings in the onboarding process. Another responsibility of the CSM will also be to introduce the Project Manager (a person responsible for the technical course of the onboarding phase), who will directly take on the role concerning the allocation of engineers and the control over the key milestones in the project on the part of the provider.

What stages can the onboarding process consist of?

The key stages of the onboarding process may contain such key elements as:

– Defining the scope of the services provided;

– Installing and configuring the operating environments;

– Preparing documentation;

– Quality Assurance (QA);

– Acceptance.

Once these stages are completed, there is another very significant element that forms part of the onboarding process, namely the tuning phase on both sides: the Client and the Service Provider.

Conclusions

The onboarding phase is a bit like playing chess. The game makes sense and is satisfying on condition that both parties not only know the rules under which the pieces move on the board, but also strictly observe these rules under all circumstances. The client onboarding process shows in a micro-scale whether both the Service Provider and the Client are ready to co-operate with each other (and they get their only chance to verify it!). A properly created micro-culture of work and interaction between the Service Provider and the Client ensures success in the form of safe co-operation based on trust and quality. A properly conducted new client onboarding process leads to a long-term relationship and makes it possible to build more complex solutions or vice versa. If the service provider does not take care to guide both their own team and the client’s team through the onboarding phase properly, it may turn out that not only do they lose the possibility of developing their services on the part of their client (by implementing the project with a considerable amount of randomness involved), but they are also likely to be unable to expand in the market with their service portfolio for anyone at all (because such co-operation will pose considerable risk to both parties).

PS #1 You can find my article also in the IT INDUSTRY LEADERS Business Report that will be published by Gazeta Finansowa later on this week, concerning: “The key aspect of the new client onboarding process during co-operation in providing IT services”.

PS #2 Curious about JCommerce practical approach when onboarding new client? I’m more than happy to get in touch with you and share our thoughts & experience. Meet us at one of our offices in Poland!

Security Standards for Cooperation with an External IT Service Provider

Perhaps many people have come across this notion or taken advantage of services of this type, being provided by external enterprises. Arguably, the circle of readers of my article will include both outsourcing opponents and the ones who see it as an alternative and a chance for strategic development of an enterprise. However, in order to face the starting topic in as an objective way as possible (without effectively stirring the recipients) and provide the readers withan opportunity to confront themselves with the topic of this article, this broad issue should be placed in an appropriate context and its boundary conditions should be established. Without an action of this type, all pros and cons would be a graphic abuse on my part, thus reducing the topic to a multi-faceted polemic that adds nothing profitable to the issue.

Assumptions

In the first part of my article, I would like to focus your attention on the assumptions I have made, i.e. on the elements that will contribute to an assessment of the service itself and the reasonableness of its use. While writing this text, I am making use of my own experience, which I have gained during many years of cooperation with clients (partners) in international markets, as well as in our local Polish market. As a person who manages outsourcing cooperation, having completed a series of projects with a highly diverse scale of undertaking, I think I can venture to single out a recurrent aspect that can be observed before any decision leading to the beginning of outsourcing cooperation between a potential provider and a potential customer is made.

The sourcing strategy of a given enterprise

A sourcing strategy requires a holistic approach to the issue of using IT outsourcing services. Therefore, it will naturally force one to find the answers to the key issues inside the enterprise, i.e.:

– setting of business goals of the enterprise (including financial performance strategy and data sheet),
– an analysis of the internal potential of the enterprise (maturity, resources, core business, etc.),
– estimation of the possibilities and market potential in a given area (the fact that we wish to outsource does not mean that the market will have a valuable proposal forus in this regard),
– alternatives and sourcing models (contrary to what is believed, there are quite a number of possibilities and an outsourcing contract may not be the best solution in all cases),
– sourcing management (analysis, selection of the tenderer and the negotiation of the contract are most often only the beginning – drawing on our own experience, we observe that only 50 per cent of client-enterprises implement governance structures defined in the contract, which results in the contract diverging from the original assumptions).

Inappropriate use of outsourcing

The components of the sourcing strategy of an enterprise, which I have presented selectively above, lead to a rather not too original conclusion that the disadvantages of outsourcing often result from an inappropriate use of an outsourcing service and the opportunities that appearin a cooperation of this type. Reckless getting rid of functions that may prove important for the activity of the enterprise and delegating them to external entities may result in losing the competitive advantage in the market. Too much involvement into the reduction of the enterprise’s expenditures may lead to balancing on the border of profitability for the contractor, which naturally has an influence on the quality of the service provided. Both examples show that a significant factor which classifies outsourcing as a dubious form of service, is an inappropriate approach to the issue or, in other words, a bending of requirements that condition the success of using a solution of this type.

Client – provider

As a representative of a software engineering and technological outsourcing enterprise, I am very often being invited to (or take part in) seminars, panel discussions and conferences, where the main subject is IT outsourcing process management, as well as risk minimisation and performance maximisation during cooperation with the provider. Conclusions drawn from confrontations of this type between a client and a provider are interesting observations that allow understanding the issue to a considerable larger extent and specify the advantages and challenges that await potential beneficiaries. There are recurrent opinions that define IT outsourcing as a significant elementof an enterprise’s operation, where such aspects as: focus on business, access to a specialised group of professionals and technology, as wellas expenditure planning and control, are just some of the advantages of cooperation withan outsourcing partner.

Mutual trust

It is no accident that I use the phrase ‘outsourcing partner’ here, for partnership, just as sincerity and trust, is a basis of every business (or it should be, at least), hence outsourcing proper is a symbiosis between the customer and the provider, which relies on mutual trust. Both parties begin an act of cooperation, having become thoroughly acquainted with the scope of activity of each party beforehand. The best outsourcing enterprises are those that participate in the relation as a partner and notas a service provider. If we are perceived as a partner in our relation, we will soon become worth as much as an internal IT department that operates directly on the ordering party’s premises. Otherwise, would Polish branches of international corporations have been providing outsourcing services to the largest Polish enterprises and institutions for so many years? Certainly not. Owing to their status of partners, they are able to safely position themselves and develop their business in a stable, mutual relation.

Security and know-how

A significant element that has been gaining importance in recent years is the broadly defined security of cooperation and data protection during cooperation with an external service provider. Increasingly often, enterprises looking for outsourcing partners strongly prioritise information security. The very process of ensuring security is highly complex and requires several factors to be synchronised: appropriately adapted technological systems, tight infrastructure and, first and foremost, competence. The dynamics of IT technology development makes the classic security paradigm – everything is stable and tight as long as I have control over it – grows out of date. Therefore, it is so important for the notion of security in the cooperation between a client and a partner to be defined properly. According to the majority of reports on outsourcing, over 70 per cent of enterprises decide to cooperate with an external provider precisely because of the access to specialist knowledge about security and know-how. A key requirement for an enterprise that provides outsourcing services is to employ someone as an information security administrator. Such a person takes full responsibility for supervising and observing data protection rules. Particular emphasis within the scope of security should be put on such aspects as: detailed clarification of SLA contracts with the partner, data encryption (which involves appropriate software and equipment) and the use of an external hosting centre (which compensates for all kinds of network and equipment failures). Another significant security factor is also the awareness of the staff and clearly defined rules of operation in both the area of the enterprise and beyond it. It should be remembered that the weakest link in relational business is a human; therefore, the awareness of the value of information and its security should constitute the fundamental aspect of operation of every enterprise that defines itself as a service provider. To exhaust the topic related to the use of IT outsourcing services, as well as to security standards related to this type of business activity, on several pages is little short of miraculous. However, I hope that I have managed to provide at least some basic insight into the significant elements that may prove useful during the verification of actions aimed at starting cooperation with a potential partner – service provider.

Scandinavian Relations

Thanks to the dynamic development, increasing knowledge and skills of the employees and also use of the newest technologies, we are able to provide more sophisticated ideas. International experience in implementation of QlikView, Microsoft BI and Liferay tools guarantees our strong position on Scandinavian market.

Currently, we co-operate with our Finnish partner and plan another project concerning Business Intelligence solutions. It will be customized for the producer of medical devices in Copenhagen. There is a possibility, that in the same time we begin other project in Oslo, the capital of Norway.

Now we are highly engaged in the one of the most famous running events in Poland – the Silesia Marathon, where we act as a technological partner and also we have our own representation. Moreover, our specialists created the mobile app on  iOS, Android and Windows Phone system, which supports competitors while running.

Sweden is a Business Intelligence Development Area for JCommerce Professionals

We informed you in March, that we hosted Acando representatives, this time the Swedish partner invited us to come to Västerås, where Acando and the target Client have their headquarters.


During our stay, we participated in the four day training, where we learned about processes and principles which we have to carry out. We agreed detailed steps and actions, also acquainted with the system report errors and modifications related to the QlikView platform. As a part of the training, we solved examples of notifications which we will struggle with in the coming weeks. Consequently, we became a first line support in incident management.

Especially important was the day on which representatives of the target customer came to meet us and better know JCommerce. Our presentation met with a genuine interest, so we receive the opportunity to present it again for the Acando employees in Västerås.

Acando employees were very friendly, willing to help us and answered all questions. Along with them we created positive atmosphere that accompanied us until the end of our visit. Moreover, the Swedes kept us entertained in our spare time. They took us to places worth visiting in Västerås. One day we went bowling where … we do not have too much to boast about, but we are sure in the future we take a revenge 🙂

Piotrek

Guest Lecture in the Beautiful Franconia Region in Germany!

More closer look at Bamberg

Before the day I had my keynote speech, at Thursday January 16th I was invited by the lounge of Scientists (Prof. Dr. Tim Weitzel, PD Dr. Daniel Beimborn, M.Sc. Alexander von Stetten) for a dinner which was located in the old town of Bamberg (close to the Old Town Hall dated 1386). We went to the typical Franconia brewery, with local served food (based on pork meet) and local beer – part of the Franconia culture (there is special tradition in designing the building dedicated for Franconia brewery – there must be a place, where people are able to drink local beer, smoke and see the sky – there is no roof above them).

While the dinner I had a very interesting discussion together with Tim Weitzel, who explained me the history of the region. I did not know that close to the famous Cathedral place, dated 1004 there is a place remaining that for a short time Bamberg was the centre of the Holy Roman Empire (on the market square there is a central point informing tourist about this historical fact). It was also very interesting to discuss with all of the scientists in the brewery about the local responsibility for the place we live in, how the geographical factors are impacting the culture and mentality of the inhabitants. Tim Weitzel even shared with us his hypothesis that he strongly believes that people connect with each other by the values they represent (not the geographical, culture or language affiliation). I must admit that this was one of the most interesting discussion I had in the past years 🙂

Last but not least. I much appreciated the time I have spent with Alexander von Stetten (working as an Assistant professor at the University of Bamberg) the day before my lecture speech. He shown me the University Campus, Gügel church (on the top of the mountain close to Geisfeld village) and the surroundings of Bamberg city.


Lecture time

On Friday, January 17th on behalf of Polish IT provider JCommerce, where I’m responsible for the near-shoring department activities including technology services outsourcing and building international strategic partnerships with Western European and North America companies, I gave a lecture on “Outsourcing and Near-shoring Strategies – Collaborating with IT Outsourcing Providers from Eastern Europe” within course of IT Controlling. I accepted the invitation from Prof. Dr. Tim Weitzel who is leading the Department of Information Systems and Services at the University of Bamberg. The general idea of my keynote speech at the Faculty of Information Systems and Applied Computer Sciences was to share my knowledge and practical experience around strategies and challenges in near-shore domain, with a special focus on the Pan-European near-shore cluster. While the lecture I provided detailed insights into several projects where JCommerce collaborates with clients from DACH region, Scandinavia, Benelux and North America. The audience including students, and lounge of the University Scientists where very interested in the near-shore delivery model we developed at JCommerce, keen to ask questions around project success factors, risks, and collaboration methods.

I had a great time with the students just after my lecture, where I was able to answer all the questions related to the presentation I gave them, but also the questions regarding JCommerce itself. They were very interested in the internship program and the way how they may develop their carrier and connect with our Company.

I will remember this trip as a great lesson of history and culture. I’m amazed how the European region is developed and how much we need to know about the roots of each area to know how to plan our future steps.

Whenever you are a beer lover, football fan or at least an ordinary tourist. Bamberg definitely should appear on your top destination list!

Made In Poland – a Synonym of Quality Not Only in Germany

Let me use the example of my last visit at our western neighbour’s.

On 17-18 October 2013, the Polish-German Chamber of Industry and Commerce (AHK) in cooperation with the Chamber of Commerce of Upper Bavaria (IHK) invited the Polish IT companies to a bilateral meeting with representatives of IT industry from Bavaria.

The aim of the meeting was to introduce opportunities of cooperation to Polish software companies, explore the potential of this market and establish contacts that may someday turn into a business partnership.

Each time whether it was during the tour around the Smart Mobile Labs (innovative mobile applications laboratory in Munich), an BMW plant or directly during conversation with companies such as REC Global, I realized how much we contributed, we Polish people, to the IT culture of the European market, in this particular case in Germany.

During the second day in the capital of Bavaria the brief presentations of Polish IT representatives, also JCommerce, took place.  I had a “five-minute” exposé to present the range of services and expertise of JCommerce (I mentioned the expansion of nearshoring, development of our Microsoft, .NET, JAVA, and Business Intelligence departments, methodologies of design: Agile, Scrum, and partnership with companies such as QlikTech and Microsoft). Of course,  I did not neglect to mention the important value, which is the result of the work of our local IT professionals, that is the Quality of software development! I was surprised, when the moderator of the conference said after my presentation: “Here in Germany, we are convinced of the high quality of Polish IT services. Here, You are well-known for that, and you do not have to prove anything to Europe … “

Finally I want to say few words. If we are witnessing the changing the generational stereotype of “Polish drunk and thief” to “Polish IT specialists  and Polish software quality” it means that we have reached the point where we have a national treasure of which we are known and respected in the world and certainly at our neighbour’s (which has been shown even this year by CeBIT and the Polish role in the project).