34 most common outsourcing questions asked by a potential client

The ICT outsourcing services are seen as a rentable investment to achieve a high level of efficiency in the business. The reason for such a huge interest in nearshore outsourcing is the overload, high demand on in time delivery, expertise, and experience that outsourcing companies may complement their clients.

62% of large organizations are outsourcing at least a portion of their application development work. (Computer Economics study, IT Outsourcing Statistics 2014/2015)

Considering that DAS Solutions is using and is integrating the latest technologies, we thought it would make sense to address the questions we hear the most from customers. The purpose of these answers is to simplify the perfect IT outsourcing service provider selection process and give you insights on how to gain trust. Likewise, for companies that are in the selection of the right development outsourcing partner, to know the right answer could be helpful in the selection process, avoiding some of the most expensive pitfalls.

59% of companies outsourced work to reduce costs. (Microsourcing)

A business owner could save around 60% of overall costs with outsourcing. (Outsource Accelerator)

Outsourcing can increase productivity by 10 to 100 times. (Economist)

Continue reading this article, discovering surprising and unexpected juicy details about which you probably did not even know.


Recruitment and Project Management

1. How do you recruit specialists to work on the project? / Where do you find your candidates?

When we have talents available in house, we offer their CVs to the customer with whom we have concluded the agreement. After a detailed examination of all provided CVs, the client invites the chosen candidates to interview, having the right to refuse or to select the best candidate/s.
Once the client needs a specific specialist while is not available in our team, we resort to multi-stage recruitment. It gives us a hand to meticulously review applicants’ backgrounds. The stages of recruiting that we rely on:

CV screening – we analyze the candidate’s expertise;
Technical interview – we exam talent’s English-language competence, his vision, values, experience and we offer tasks which should be completed, verifying the candidate’s technical skills;
Discussion with the CEO.

2. What do you look for when hiring new developers/candidates?

Our primary focus during candidates’ selection is skills and ability to solve problems, here we refer to the solution-oriented value. Likewise, for us, it’s important how they act in different situations, for which we follow multiple approaches. We are delighted to say that a big part of our experts is qualified, certified, and highly experienced.

3. How skilled and researched is your development team?

Many of our specialists are constantly developing their skills and knowledge. Moreover, all personnel undergoes training, certification at a certain time.

4. What is the size of the team that will be involved with my project?

Following the audit and the advanced analysis, we come up with recommendations on the number of talents for each position needful to successfully develop the product. It depends on the project-specific requirements, expected delivery time, and the team configuration that would assure the best result possible.

5. Could one employee handle multiple functions?

Some of the candidates who are involved in providing ITO are trained to handle multiple tasks efficiently. This might be the case for the full-stack programmers, who are able to work on the back-end and the front-end of the project or applied to the golden team of DAS where our Seniors may perform as System Architects/Team leads and regular developers.

6. How do you deal with the rotation of people in projects?

To ensure maximum effective work of developers, we have a backup professional/s who is/are up to date with the project and other useful information, otherwise, we do agree with clients on the recruitment process to ensure that all positions are covered.

7. Will I have to train your employees?

Our experts constantly develop their skills and knowledge, being well trained and coached. The client can train employees at the initial stage, if there are more specific nuances such as particular processes, workflows, management systems, etc.. This training is requisite to align us and avoid misunderstandings in the future. See more details and recommendations in our blog article.

8. Will I have to supervise your employees?

For faster product delivery, an efficient and effective step, avoiding misunderstandings and mistakes, we suggest you get actively involved in the product development process. Online meetings through a dedicated communication channel 2-3 times a week are king advice from our side. In our experience, this method is the most beneficial to save customer’s and provider’s time, effort, and resources, providing a quality product.

9. How will I get to know that your team is working or not?

To ensure the implementation of tasks at the most effective level, we organize daily meetings and monitor the evaluation of tasks. Likewise, the time that is worked by each person is monitored by a special tool predestined for such processes. We also offer a weekly / monthly report of the tasks performed and the worked time by each developer.

10. Will the developers assign to my project work on any other project at the same time?

Every expert who is involved in product development is dedicated at the highest level only to this project and in none other than it.

11. Will the same people be assigned to my project for the length of the development effort?

In order to deliver an excellent client experience in time, we strive to proffer a long-term contract according to the client’s needs in the development and maintenance phase. We understand how important this aspect is.

12. How easy will it be to scale a team by 1/3/5 developers? How much time do you need?

It takes about up to 2-4 weeks to scale a team by 1/3/5 developers, depends on the needed number. If the client felt the need for this, we recommend to communicate as soon as possible.

13. How long does it take to start a project? / Where do I start?

Once we made a deal with the client, usual the kick off takes two to four.

14. How will you manage the project?

In order to manage the project, namely to estimate the implementation time of the activities, it is indispensable to have as much information about the company as possible.

15. What collaboration tools do you use during projects?

All communication with the client takes place through a dedicated communication channel and corporate email, protecting business data by Transport Layer Security (TLS) and Secure Real-time Transport Protocol (SRTP).

16. What is the client’s role in the project, and how much time is needed from the client?

The experiences we’ve had, show that the more the client gets involved in the project and our collaboration, the more successful the result is. Why does it work like that? As a result of the permanent communication, we simply understand the client’s needs. On the other hand, the client is always informed about what is happening with his project and at which stage it is, providing feedback when he deems it necessary. So, we get the final result in the desired time.

17. How do we communicate during a project to surface the progress, plans, and problems?

A regular schedule of online meetings, 2-3 / week, will provide a clear vision of the current situation of the project and problems. During these meetings, both sides will come up with solutions, ideas, and with the next steps of the activities.

18. Do you use decent technology?

We use the latest in regards to technologies, databases, tools, etc.


Documentation and Partnership

19. What are the first steps of cooperation?

Depending on the client’s need, we analyze in detail the requirements, materials, and documentation. Consequently, we offer qualified experts (developers/project managers/quality assurance engineers/business analysts, etc.). Additionally, we prepare the action plan and confirm it with the client.

20. How do you deal with partners in different time zones?

Analyzing our experience with overseas clients, we realize that we have never had problems with the time zones’ difference, while at the same time our experience is not that big with this, our 90% of our clients are from Europe.

21. How do you structure the partnership roles to be efficient and successful?

In order to avoid delays in project delivery, it is essential to discuss from the start the development processes and the attributions of each part that will appear.
Working with the client contains:

  • ultimate transparency;
  • maximum involvement;
  • sincerity and straightforwardness;
  • dedication and availability.

22. How do you ensure software quality?

To guarantee the code’s quality, we rescue to the frontend, backend, and infrastructure code audit. We pay special attention to this stage, accomplishing it in several ways:

  1. Automated code study through scanners that check the code for various parameters for each pull request. Plus, we’re checking issues typical of a particular programming language, for instance, Java often has problems with garbage collection and memory leaks. These language-specific issues should also be monitored during the code audit process.
  2. One more step in code review is based on the examination of code quality, architecture, optimization, the functionality of the code following compliance with the customer’s requirements.
  3. Our QA Engineers conduct stress and security tests, unit and integration tests. These validate complex scenarios and usually require external resources, like databases or web servers, to be present.

23. What will be the cost of my product?

There is no straightforward answer to this question because the final price is affected by many factors, including both your specific requirements and external market factors:

  • project type and app complexity;
  • team;
  • design and UX;
  • technologies;
  • testing;
  • target group size;
  • maintenance and others.

Get in touch with us for an appropriate estimate.

24. How do you support security compliance?

From the outset of the product development, developers are informed related to the client’s policy and regulations. In such a way, only the professionals involved in the project have access to the code, adhering to all standard security and encryption procedures in the process. Therefore, we protect customer data, ensure security compliance, and deliver proper security documentation that includes:

  1. features and components with firewall configuration;
  2. vulnerability patching;
  3. incident response;
  4. intrusion detection systems;
  5. demilitarized zones;
  6. intrusion prevention systems and more.

Once the experts work remotely, we use VPN, so only some people have access to production servers, where they can make changes.

25. How much access should I give to your team?

Usually, in order to get into the essence of the project and to fully understand the client’s needs, values, is necessary to offer:

  • technical requirements (as comprehensive as possible);
  • business process documentation (step-by-step description);
  • mockups.

26. Do you subcontract your services?

Yes, sometimes, though prefer to keep all the work in-house. We cooperate with reputable companies in a similar field. Our understanding has been friendly for many years. When recruiting, we turn to our partners, sometimes subcontracting their talents.

27. Do you provide a service-level agreement (SLA)?

Of course. To ensure a 100% beneficial collaboration for both parties, both customer and provider, we certainly use the service-level agreement (SLA) which includes the list of assistance actions, end-to-end program management, and deliverables.

28. How flexible is the SLA?

Depending on the project’s needs, the number of needed professionals and other resources will change. In this way, the SLA is as flexible as possible.

29. Who will own the source code?

The client is the sole code owner with all the intellectual property rights.

30. Do you provide technical documentation?

Definitely. We offer technical documentation which contains the road map, code, and methodology of the project.

31. What is your reporting process?

The reporting process, which we provide, contains the standard set of reports, a work timeline where is mentioned the date of delivery of each report, we use a well know reporting system.


Experience and Practice

32. For how long are you in the outsourcing business?

We have 8 years of experience in delivering the IT Outsourcing service. During this period, we have successfully helped companies across Europe to find the right IT experts for their projects.

33. What kinds of companies do you typically do work with?

Since 2013, DAS Solutions has gained the recognition and trust of more than 40 customers globally from the following industries:

  • Insurance;
  • Finance & Banking;
  • Ecommerce;
  • Telecommunications;
  • Healthcare and Pharmaceuticals;
  • Transportation;
  • Travel and Booking;
  • Business Management;
  • Retail;
  • Real Estate;
  • Agriculture.

Our team has put a lot of effort into creating, implementing, successfully carrying customers’ projects of different levels.

34. Why are you better than other software houses? What makes you special?

During 8 years of work, in any situation, we remained customer-oriented, offering quality and justified costs. DAS Solutions is a company that has won the trust of customers through receptivity, open mind, dedication, and appropriate actions in stressful situations. We can certainly say that we are among the TOP in the region IT Outsourcing providers.

Wrapping up

We have listed some of the most frequently asked questions in the context of IT outsourcing, whose goal is to help companies reduce their costs and increase their productivity by working with the right customer to win the customer’s heart. Of course, the topic is broad and there are still many questions that others are looking for answers to. We’d be glad to arrange a call to begin answering any additional questions. Contact us, we may be the outsourced IT partner you were looking for.

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    Dedicated Development Team – Efficient work & Motivation

    There is no company in this Universe that would like to be left behind using outdated solutions for the production process.

    Therefore, to cope with changes and trends, even big software engineering players, like Skype, GitHub, and Slack, opt for outsourcing over other models of cooperation.

    A dedicated team helps to get specialists who will be completely immersed in the specifics of the client’s business. In addition, the team is flexible to customer requirements and can scale up if the need arises.

    THE BENEFITS OF A DEDICATED TEAM

    The advantages list can continue days and nights, but we’d like to highlight how our clients took advantages of such a model working with us:

    full involvement in the requirements and methodology of the project;
    adjustment of the work time in accordance with the client’s time zone;
    opportunity to interview all specialists;
    full control over design processes;
    detailed reports and constant collaboration;
    rapid growth and replacement of resources;
    the long-term value of the project due to the accumulation of expertise and preservation of knowledge;
    cost-effectiveness;
    high work efficiency;
    direct communication and monitoring of the team;
    process of software development controlled and managed;
    flexibility in planning and managing changes;
    team scalability;
    transparent pricing system;
    the most reliable model of all.

    By hiring a dedicated team, most clients are not just looking for additional resources for testing, they are seeking to get motivated and interested in the project professionals who will be proactive and will do everything possible to ensure that the final product is perfect. The client needs experts with whom he can communicate, who will be “on the same wavelength” with him. Therefore, the personality of the team members is very important.

    59% of companies believe outsourcing as an effective cost-cutting option.

    For example, we have a team that has been working with a client of us for 6 years. This confirms that a dedicated team really means “dedication” – dedication to the project and dedication to solving problems. From our experience, we realized and noticed many times that in addition to the involvement of the team, there is another main advantage of this model that attracts customers, and now I am talking about the transparency of the process. This gives the client the ability to monitor the progress of work and quickly scale the team.

    WAYS TO MOTIVATE YOUR OUTSOURCED TEAM

    It’s nice to have a dedicated software development team, but the question is: “How to maintain expert motivated during the long-term projects, at the same time contributing to the development of skills without decreasing the efficiency of the work?”. Let’s discover in detail.

    • Communicate clearly. Make sure that you have laid all the cards correctly, that the people on the other side clearly understand what you are planning. In addition to the kick-off document that you submitted at the beginning, additionally, come out diagrams, designs, examples, and requirements. Provide as much information as possible and always ask if extra materials or explanations are needed. You are the leader of this team (PO of the product) and should be involved as well as the rest of the members.

    57% of projects fail due to breakdown in communications.

    • Respect them as professionals. The cause why you chose them, firstly, is due to their knowledge and skills. Consult them about process improvements, request their opinion, ask for suggestions. A dedicated team is not just a team of engineers, communicators, or managers. Beforehand to start a collaboration with you and your business, they were groomed as consultants.
    • Appreciate them as knowledge workers. Considering the opinions of employees, especially regarding organizational issues, serves as an additional incentive for conscientious work. In addition, a fresh perspective will help identify the company’s strengths and weaknesses. Another way to use feedback for motivation is to invite employees to independently choose the criteria by which their work will be assessed, and based on opinions, form an individual KPI system.  Plus, the staff can become a “bank of ideas”, where the management can draw hints and non-standard solutions to problems. It is important to listen to each employee without rejecting the initiative at the very beginning. This method of non-material motivation will give an additional impetus to the development of the team and the company as a whole.
    • Recognize their achievements. A simple “thank you” or “well done” – and now your team member/colleague smiles and does his task in a good mood, and the rest of the employees are imbued with loyalty to you. Plus, it is a simple way to show the employee the value of his work. Gratitude is always appropriate and, as a form of motivation, does not require any expenses.
    • Pay for extended working hours and working shifts. In addition to a good salary, you have to pay for overtime hours, which is a well-known practice across the IT industry. Plus, the employee will feel that by his time and work there is respect and responsibility for the fact that he divides all the work to instill quality and on time.
    • Respect their time. Each of us has a private life, which requires our attention and time. Since it takes 8 hours to work per day and to sleep the same number of time, we have about three hours a day left for us and our loved ones, if we do not consider the time for the trip to and from the office, for preparing before leaving home and various basic little things. Thus, we have very little free time for ourselves and for important things, and accordingly, this time is very expensive and sometimes it is simply priceless. And do not forget about the weekend, there must be a balance in everything. So winning respect for the free time of employees is one of the key factors in motivating a team.

    The essence of motivation is to give people what they most want to get out of their work. The more fully you can satisfy their desires, the more chances you have of getting what you need, namely: performance, quality, service.

    By hiring a dedicated team, you are, in a sense, hiring a well-coordinated organism that is inspired by your goals, follows your directions, and will not leave you halfway there if something goes wrong.

    Contact us and we will show you how a dedicated team can boost your product/project.

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      The danger of legacy

      Today, software development takes place in a highly competitive environment. This introduces several significant risks that may affect business performance and one of the most dangerous is excessive efforts to maintain legacy technologies. Although businesses may be hesitant to make investments in new technology, the true cost of legacy technology far outweighs the investment. Because legacy applications cost more to run and maintain, they make the business highly inefficient, increases operational costs and system downtime. Legacy technologies are also extremely vulnerable, because many of these outdated systems are no longer supported by the manufacturer. Another problem with using outdated technology is that most legacy systems are incompatible with newer systems.

      Risks

      However, scrapping legacy systems and replacing them with more modern software involves significant business risks. Most managers try to minimize risks and therefore do not want to face the uncertainties of new software systems. Replacing a legacy system is a risky business strategy for a number of reasons. There is rarely a complete specification of the legacy system. The original specification may have been lost or not written in sufficient detail. Therefore, there is no straightforward way of specifying a new system that is functionally identical to the system that is in use.

      New software development is itself risky so that there may be unexpected problems with a new system. It may not be delivered on time and for the price expected.

      Keeping legacy systems in use avoids the risks of replacement but making changes to existing software usually becomes more expensive as systems get older. There are several reasons that lead to an increase in the complexity of system maintenance. First of all, different parts of the system may be implemented by different teams. There is, therefore, no consistent programming style across the whole system. Replacement of developers is a completely normal business process, but it is necessary to strictly adhere to the code style and follow the architecture guidelines.

      Optimization

      To eliminate the risk of obsolescence of a programming language or framework, it is desirable to divide the application into separate services with a minimum number of dependencies. If necessary, any of these services can be rewritten using new technologies and this will in no way affect the functionality of other parts. In addition to dividing into separate services, the use of modular architecture and the CQRS principle allows you to divide functionality within a service.

      During the development process, it is necessary to allocate time for creating and updating the documentation so that it does not become outdated. All documentation should be structured and it is advisable to use specialized tools for writing and storing documentation. All business processes should be described in the form of UML diagrams.

      The system may have been optimized for space utilization or execution speed rather than written for understandability. This causes particular difficulties for programmers who have learned modern software engineering techniques and who have not been exposed to the programming tricks that have been used. In the long run, clear and easily modifiable code is always preferable to an optimized but overcomplicated solution.

      Adherence to uniform standards, division into independent services, timely updating of documentation allows you to gradually develop the product without the need to rewrite it completely.

      Drop us a line if you have legacy code/systems, we have the right experience to help you to make the right decision on it’s future.

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        One Sprint in DAS Solutions life

        It’s not a secret that having an Agile mindset is absolutely essential for Business Development.

        Nowadays, everything is changing very fast, we have a lot of challenges, and therefore, it’s all about how fast you can react and how fast you can adapt to changes.

        Changes are inevitable!

        It’s something that we have to welcome, because in this way, we will become less stressed and more powerful, we will see a situation from different angles. The problem is that during years, we were comfortable to work according to plan, without any deviations, because for a lot of people, to change something means that they need to perform some additional work, recalculate costs, they will have some additional communication channels, some additional risks and as a result, another deadline. It’s true. To work according to the plan – is a really great way to reach your objectives and strategic goals. However, it’s not so easy and you always will deal with changes, due to different factors, such as: Business need, Market change, etc.

        First of all, in order to manage a change, we really need to “Accept” the idea that changes are something you can’t control until it happens. This is the critical element that we have always to keep in mind. It’s a long process to capture this idea, however, it is something fundamental.


        From our perspective, we don’t think that sticking just to one approach or methodology is the best way to reach your goals. We really believe that Team need s to be flexible and adaptable to different situations. We prefer to mix methodologies for a better outcome. We want to give our team all knowledge and instruments that will make their work more comfortable and productive.


        So, as an IT company, mostly, we are using SCRUM, but in addition, we add some instruments and techniques from other frameworks, such as Waterfall, to get a better outcome. We are opened to experiments, and always are in the process of continuous improvements of our processes.

        Usually, our Sprint begins on Monday (it’s more comfortable for us) and the duration of the Sprint is 2 weeks or 10 business days. Before we are getting to start our Sprint, we need to perform some activities to make sure that everything that was planned – will be delivered.

        These events include:
        • Backlog Refinement or Grooming,
        • Sprint Planning,
        • Daily Scrum,
        • Retro meeting and Review.

        So, first of all, imagine that you have a list of hundreds of requirements. We all understand that these can’t be delivered in 2 weeks, therefore, we need to prioritize our Backlog to make sure that first of all, we will deliver the most important features from a business point of view. This type of meeting usually is performed with the Product Owner, who is responsible for Ordering Product Backlog items and, ensuring that the Product Backlog is transparent, visible and understood. It’s a very important part of our process, because the team, which consist of 7 people, must have a clear understanding of what needs to be done, its acceptance criteria, estimations and to know the amount of User Stories which will be included in the Sprint according to team capacity. Also, we are assessing additional risks that might or might not happen and track them daily. Risk Analysis is based on the Probability and Impact of an event/risk that might happen in the future, having a positive or negative result.

        A Grooming or Refinement meeting is a meeting where we prioritize all items in the Backlog from those which bring maximum value. To make it happens, we use different techniques for prioritization:

        1. MoSCoW Prioritization scheme — The MoSCoW prioritization scheme derives its name from the first letters of the phrases “Must have,” “Should have,” “Could have,” and “Won’t have”. This prioritization method is generally more effective than simple schemes. The labels are in decreasing order of priority with “Must have” User Stories being those without which the product will have no value and “Won’t have” User Stories being those that, although they would be nice to have, are not necessary to be included.
        2. Paired Comparison — In this technique, a list of all the User Stories in the Prioritized Product Backlog is prepared. Next, each User Story is taken individually and compared with the other User Stories in the list, one at a time. Each time two User Stories are compared, a decision is made regarding which of the two is more important. Through this process, a prioritized list of User Stories can be generated.
        3. 100-Point Method — It involves giving the customer 100 points they can use to vote for the User Stories that are most important. The objective is to give more weight to the User Stories that are of higher priority when compared to the other available User Stories. Each group member allocates points to the various User Stories, giving more points to those they feel are more important. On completion of the voting process, prioritization is determined by calculating the total points allocated to each User Story.
          Our favorite prioritization method is MoSCoW, due to its simplicity and efficiency. Regardless of what method you use during the prioritization phase, all of them offer a simple idea – “To choose items which are most important and valuable for the customer.

        After our Backlog is prioritized, and team understands what is important for the customer for the next Sprint, we have a Sprint Planning meeting. Usually, we are doing this meeting on Friday, because the new Sprint, with prioritized Backlog, estimated effort of User Stories and tasks begins on Monday. Therefore, during the Sprint Planning Meeting we discuss and estimate each User Story in terms of the effort required to complete it.

        Here we can use different techniques to estimate the effort for each User Story:

        1. Planning Poker
        2. Fist of Five
        3. T-Shirts Size
        4. Bucket System
        5. Points for Cost Estimation

        But mostly, we are using:

        1. Planning Poker
        2. Fist of Five
        3. T-Shirts Size

        Planning Poker, also called Estimation Poker, is an estimation technique which uses consensus to estimate relative sizes of User Stories or the effort required to create them.
        In Planning Poker, each team member is assigned a deck of cards. Each card is numbered in a sequence and the numbers represent the complexity of the problem, in terms of time or effort, as estimated by the team member. The Product Owner chooses a User Story from the Prioritized Product Backlog and presents it to the team. The Scrum Team members assess the User Story and try to understand it better before providing their estimate for developing it.

        Then, each member picks a card from the deck that represents their estimate for the User Story. If the majority of all team members select the same card then the estimate indicated by that card will be the estimate for that User Story. If there is no consensus, then the team members discuss reasons for selecting different cards or estimates. After this discussion, they pick cards again. This sequence continues until all the assumptions are understood, misunderstandings are resolved, and consensus or agreement is reached.

        Planning Poker advocates greater interaction and enhanced communication among the participants. It facilitates independent thinking by participants, thus avoiding the phenomenon of groupthink.
        Planning Poker is a really great technique for effort estimation, but how would you do it for people who work remotely?


        We have found an extension for Project Management software that we use for all our projects. It gives us a possibility to estimate the effort remotely, using the same cards with the Fibonacci sequence, but online.

        Mostly, we prefer this technique to Estimate all User Stories, because we believe that communication and agreement between team members – is the key to success.

        Fist of Five
        Is a simple and fast mechanism to achieve consensus in a group and drive discussion. After an initial discussion on a given proposal or a pending decision, the Scrum Team members are each asked to vote on a scale of 1 to 5 using their fingers. The value in using this technique is not only consensus building but also driving discussion because each team member is asked to explain the reason for their ranking. They are also given the opportunity to express any issues or concerns. Once the team has discussed it, a collective decision will be made.
        The number of fingers used to vote indicates the level of agreement and desire for discussion:

        • One finger: I disagree with the group’s conclusion and have major concerns.
        • Two fingers: I disagree with the group’s conclusion and would like to discuss some minor issues.
        • Three fingers: I am not sure and would like to go with the group’s consensus conclusion.
        • Four fingers: I agree with the group’s conclusion and would like to discuss some minor issues.
        • Five fingers: I wholeheartedly agree with the group’s conclusion.

        T-Shirt Size
        Is a technique used for relative estimation and high-level sizing of Items/User Stories. You use this technique of relative estimation as opposed to absolute estimation when you just need a rough estimate or comparison of items. Speed is valued over accuracy which stops people from overthinking and overanalyzing, as you just want people to use their instincts and gut feeling. Information may not be available at this point anyway for detailed estimates.
        You can have as many t-shirt sizes as you like, but best to keep it simple as it’s only a rough estimate.
        The most common amount is 4 – Small, Medium, Large and Extra-Large.

        The main difference between the 2 commonly used techniques (Planning Poker and T-Shirt size) is based on what amount of User Stories will be estimated. In Planning Poker, you can estimate less Use Stories than in T-Shit size, because Planning Poker is about the interaction between people, communication amongst them and reaching consensus. According to Scrum rules, for the Sprint Planning meeting we have no more than 4 hours for 2 weeks of the Sprint. That’s why if you will use Planning Poker, you can’t estimate a lot of User Story (usually you can estimate less than 15 User Story per session). Instead, this type of effort assessment, gives us a clear understanding between team members, many details could be discussed, and a lot of risks could be identified, just because people communicating with each other.


        There is a lot of information about using Scrum Planning meeting and many suggestions on how to use it correctly, but we really believe that we need to use only what works for us better, what brings value for our company, what makes a customer satisfied and a team is happy and productive.

        Just to be cleared at this point, there are several recommendations that the Sprint Planning meeting should be divided into 2 parts :

        1. User Story Estimation and the
        2. Tasks Estimations to complete this User story.

        Our Sprint Planning Meeting includes just User Story Estimation. It means that the effort required to complete each User Story is estimated during this meeting. With regards to tasks, all team members are responsible for decomposing the User Story into small manageable pieces/tasks, as well as estimate these decomposed tasks. This can be done during a Sprint Planning meeting or not. Formally, we don’t have a specific rule for that. Only one point is important: to have as much as possible of Estimated User Stories and Estimated tasks before the start of the next Sprint.
        
        We use several techniques to estimate tasks, based on how accurate an estimation should be given for each task and what information do we have about these tasks. Of course, it is important to give a real estimation, which is very close to reality, that’s why we are using some techniques to make it happen:

        • Analogous estimation means that will be used estimation based on experience from past projects. It’s not so accurate estimation technique, but you can use it for high-level estimation.
        • Parametric Estimation is a more accurate technique for estimating the cost and duration of the task. It uses the relationship between variables to calculate the cost and duration. Parametric Estimation is determined by identifying the unit cost or duration and the number of units required for the project or activity. The measurement must be scalable in order to be accurate. In other words, you need statistical data.
        • 3Points Estimate is a part of the Program Evaluation and Review Technique (PERT). This method based on 3 points to calculated weighted mean or so-called Beta Distribution.

        Formula:

        Most Likely Time is the most probable, therefore, it has the biggest weight.

        Pessimistic Time – the worst scenario. When everything goes wrong, there are a lot of risks, constraints
        Optimistic Time – good scenario. When everything goes according to the plan
        Most Likely Time – most probable. When everything goes according to the plan, but we assume some risks or changes can happen in the future.

        Further, you need to calculate a Standard Deviation, to understand possible deviation from the initial plan.

        Standard Deviation Formula:

        When we know everything what we have to do in the next Sprint, we create the Sprint Backlog.
        The sprint backlog is a Backlog of prioritized Items /User Stories, their estimation, acceptance criteria and Definition of Done.


        Every day we have a Daily Scrum meeting which focuses on understanding what issue or blocking points we have and what we will do with that. This is in addition to standard questions like “What did you do yesterday?” and “what are you planning to do today”. Each team makes their Daily Scrum different, depending on what you want to capture during this meeting, but we believe that: “If it works for you and brings value- do it this way!”. This is exactly what Agile mean s for us. And of course, the duration of this meeting is less than 15 minutes.
        A Sprint is finished with a presentation of the deliverables that were performed in a span of 2 weeks. Of course, we have a situation, when a deliverable is too big and it takes more time to show how it works, however, the goal of each Sprint is to make sure that we have usable increment at the end of the Sprint.


        One of the main points of any project is Lessons Learned, no matter what timeframes you are working on. We really believe that learning makes us better, therefore, after each Sprint, we look at what we can do better, what we are not going to do in the next Sprint and what went well. One of the important points of Retro meeting is to make sure that all suggestions for what needs to be improved are tracked and will be implemented. We are not discussing improvements just for being discussed! We are tracking all team’s feedbacks and the team decided what, when and how it can be improved, so that, each next Sprint gets better.

        In a nutshell

        It’s really safe to say that all Scrum ceremonies and techniques help you manage your projects properly, but if you don’t have a flexible mindset, if you don’t want to change, adapt and respond to challenges- you may never achieve your goals. The first thing we need to do – is just to understand that there is always a way to make you perform better, just open your mind and experiment.

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          Moldova as an IT Outsourcing destination

          There are a number of reasons companies choose to outsource to Moldova. While among the most obvious are the moderate costs, skilled professionals and top-quality project delivery, there are many other factors at play too. To make it easier to understand why to outsource to Moldova and why this destination is bound to be among the top IT industry trends in 2021, I invite you to go through those reasons.

          I love to start with the nutshell cause:

          Highly Qualified Professionals

          Moldova has an impressive educational tradition especially having a very strong IT through industry academia agreements which allows the graduates to experience and strengthen their technical concepts.

          Moldova has a number of technical institutions that provide quality education, creating professionals who have strong foundations and practical knowledge. The Technical University of Moldova and State University of Moldova, among others, are top-ranked universities. They produce talented engineers and developers every year. Most Moldovan professionals are fluent in 2 to 3 languages at least, the most common being English, Russian, German and French.

          International giants like Hewlett Packard, Intel, Microsoft, and Oracle, offer IT certification and other programs that contribute to Moldova’s vibrant IT ecosystem. These certifications allow Moldovan companies to cater to a large list of clients from North Europe, Western Europe, Benelux, North America, and other regions. From the IT outsourcing perspective, Moldova, therefore, provides a huge variety of talent, while offering cost-effective solutions for a large diversity of IT needs.

          Almost 80% of the ~22,000 IT specialists are software engineers, data analysts, software developers, and project managers, according to the IDC CEMA Research. This makes Moldova the perfect destination for those looking to access the talent pool for data analytics, UI design, development of software, application, mobile software development, and even data visualization. It also provides services to those looking at very industry-specific niches, and enterprise application development.

          The Geographic Reason – the one that stands out Moldova from the crowd of outsourcing destinations

          Moldova is located in the Eastern part of Europe, and is well-positioned from a geographic point of view to operate for western customers even with overlapping working hours. The UTC +2 time zone makes it convenient. In addition, it is only 2 to 3 hours away from the major European hubs. Citizens from over 100 countries, including all those in the European Union, have visa-free entry available.

          Even pandemics does not affect this since business trips are allowed and the development process was never stopped.

          In addition to the stated above, Moldova is the bridge between the eastern and western markets. With ICT services and product development increasing over 20 times since 2006, the rate of growth is on a rise in Moldova.

          If the Well qualified reason is my favorite…our clients adore the Competitive Prices we offer

          For regions with traditionally high operational costs and significant payroll costs, Moldova is a great destination with respect to the cost. It allows our clients to collaborate with a larger talent pool but keeping the costs at the level they would love to see. It is feasible to simultaneously optimize business strategy and better manage overall costs.

          This is a surefire way to get ahead in this competitive market.

          With cutting edge technology and an ever-growing workforce available for a very competitive cost, Moldova became the best option for IT companies benefiting from a unique tax policy of 7% from the turnover. This tax has replaced: Corporate Income Tax (CIT); Personal Income Tax (PIT); social security and medical insurance taxes; local and real estate taxes.

          Global Recognition for Moldova

          Moldova has been gaining popularity with companies seeking to outsource their IT projects. It has also gained global recognition for many of its initiatives, including the ease of setting up business and using the talent pool. With a very good technical education system and liberal rules and taxes, it is no wonder that Moldova is rapidly becoming the primary choice for companies looking for options to outsource.

          The World Trade organization places the volume of it and telecom export growth to be from $58 million to $188 million over nine years.

          Moldova has a network readiness index position of 77, and stands at 5th place for broadband availability, making it a prime destination to access talent from without the worry of connectivity issues. It has a Global Innovation index of 33, and a Network Readiness Index of 4 out of a maximum of 7. Their Current Ease of Doing business score is a 74.4, with a standard 1.03 percent growth per annum.

          All this makes Moldova a popular IT hub for companies. You can get great employees who can work remotely without any issues, and can provide services regularly due to the convenient time zone and liberal laws, along with cost-effective work models.

          Our company was founded in 2013 and since that time DAS Solutions builds perfect teams for our clients. We are a software powerhouse that is committed to providing the best IT outsourcing services and developing software products. With dozens of satisfied customers onboarded, we can handle your IT needs, be it eHealth, mobile software, or needs from the fintech industry. With our team of more than 50 software developers, managers and Q&A specialists, we have catered to 32 clients so far, and have successfully delivered 40 projects.

          You will find a fully agile system that enables you to make the best of the tech powerhouse that Moldova has to offer. Contact us right away, and witness the start of a beautiful business partnership that will help you grow.

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            How to Meet IT Project Deliverables?

            At DAS Solutions we often work with our partners on creating a project plan and project-related documentation. One of the first things we do before starting the project is discuss the IT project deliverables.

            A deliverable is an item produced as a part of the project. As the project moves forward, deliverables are further defined and specified. Deliverables can be tangible or intangible. For example, if you need to implement a system that tracks orders, your key deliverables will include tangible (the system itself) and intangible (training sessions for employees) items.

            The most important thing to do to meet the IT project deliverables is to define them.

            Clearly stated deliverables will help you see the project strategically. Once the deliverables are identified, they serve as a foundation for the success of the project. That is why it is crucial that project managers take enough time to gather and analyze all relevant information.

            The deliverables need to meet the following criteria:

            • Have a detailed and clear description for all team members involved in the project;
            • Specify the operations and functionalities that will be performed by the software;
            • Ensure alignment with all requirements provided by the customer;
            • Clearly establish the client’s expectations;
            • Secure the client’s consent and acceptance;
            • Serve as a measurable basis for deliverables’ testing and review.

            Keep the documentation updated

            Updated documentation written clearly will help avoid any confusion. Make sure that all those involved in the project have a copy or can easily access it, because everyone has to be on the same page. Efficient coordination of the information will ensure that the deliverables are met.

            Master the management of IT project deliverables

            • Assign your team tasks that have a work result. It can be a short script that allows to add new items in the bag, or it can be something more complex such as user manual.
            • Be clear about task delivery intervals. A specific date stimulates the team member to focus on the result. At the same time, don’t set too broad intervals, for example a month or two months.
            • Monitor and record the progress of larger deliverables. If something goes in the wrong direction you will be the first to notice. This will give you the opportunity to come up with a different plan.
            • Implement a formal acceptance and review procedure, this will help you avoid misunderstandings.
            • Gather a dedicated responsible team of developers and encourage knowledge-sharing between them. In case someone decides to move to a different project, you need to ensure that all deliverables for your project will be completed on time.
            • Don’t make assumptions. If something does not seem clear enough, discuss it with the team members and the stakeholders.  It is better to spend 30 minutes on making sure that there are no ambiguities left than to spend hours on re-working.

            When you have a reliable and professional partner it is an exciting process of meeting project deliverables.

            We recommend reading the guide on how to build a software development project plan as well.

            Moving forward,
            DAS Solutions Team. 

            5 Benefits of Having an Intranet Portal

            Intranet portals are usually used by big companies, but small and medium enterprises can benefit from having them as well. Even if your company is not big yet, this blog post will show you five advantages of having an intranet portal.

            1. Improved communication

            With an intranet portal both staff members and managers can easily share appointments and alerts. Ideas can be posted on discussion boards along with relevant information. Also, when many people from different departments work on the same project, an intranet portal will help keep the information up-to-date. The intranet portal is a good place to recognize performers.

            2. Streamlined processes

            A good intranet platform improves internal processes. The accessible nature of an intranet portal will reduce questions and phone calls regarding common issues that may not be available (or hard to come by) otherwise.

            3. Managed data

            The intranet portal is a place where you can update corporate documents, procedures, guidelines, protocols, and resources in one click. The intranet website can serve as a place where online training content is hosted and served. You will see that knowledge is easily maintained on intranet portals. An intranet website significantly reduces print and distribution costs.

            4. Cross-platform usage

            Intranet websites can be easily accessed from different operating systems and browsers which is a tangible advantage especially if your IT team uses PCs that operate on UNIX, while your designers use computers that work on Mac.

            5. Gradual growth

            You don’t need to have something sophisticated right from the start. Your intranet portal can grow along with your business. When there is a need you can invest in a robust web-server and have more information and software available on the intranet.

            If your company does not use this tool, think about how it can solve communication or document storage issues in your company. Also consider giving your intranet a different image and structure from your customer-facing website. It will give your internal communications team their own identity and will strengthen the company’s culture.

            It is important to handle the implementation and adoption of the intranet with the help of professionals. Get in touch with us and we will help you go through the process of getting an intranet portal.

            Moving Forward,
            DAS Solutions Team.

            Top Features of an Effective Claims Management System

            Claims are a critical part of the insurance business. Even if your insurance company is not as big as Axa or Allianz, you need to have an efficient claims management system. Clients’ mindset and expectations are different from what they were 10 years ago. A recent survey called Insurance 2020: The digital prize — taking customer connections to a new level  has brought to light some fascinating facts:

            1. 71% of consumers made an online research before buying an insurance product.
            2. 68% of respondents were willing to download and use an app from their insurer in order to access services.
            3. 50% (!) stated their readiness to additional personal and lifestyle information so they can get the best deal for insurance services.

            Insurance must thus move quickly to become more customer-centric and to improve customer experience. For successful communication, your customers and team members need to have access to an intuitive claims management system. In this post, we’d like to highlight some features that would be welcomed by both your customers and your staff.

            Features of a claims management system appealing to customers:

            • A simple submission process from any device

            Users need to have the possibility to complete a short and simple form using their smartphone or tablet. Claimants’ basic info, such as first name and last name (as well as other contact information) should be  filled in automatically when the customer decides to submit a claim. This should be easy to do since the info is already in the carrier’s database. In addition, the claims process will be easier if customers understand intuitively how to attach photos of receipts or invoices to their claim.

            • Tracking claims progress

            Claimants need to be able to track the status and decision of consultants regarding their claim, further steps they have to take, as well as the final outcome.

            • All documents in customer’s pocket

            When the customer uses their insurer’s app, they need to store their paperwork such as copies of their ID, driving license and policy documents on their application.

            • Online claims payments

            Clients can save a lot of time if the transaction of claims can be done online. It also adds transparency to the process because both the customer and the consultant have access to the final decision of the claim.

            • Simplicity and security

            For fast and easy access one can log in with a PIN code that is easy to remember. Any claims information entered must not be lost until submitted. At the same time all personal data must be secured via encryption. It is also useful if most of your app’s features are available even if the user is offline.

            Your team will thank you for the following claims management system’s features:

            • Reminder function

            This is a useful feature because it enables a consultant to stay on top of the tasks that require a timely response. The reminder feature facilitates the service provided by the insurance company.

            • Handling different types of contracts

            It is preferred that the claims management system can handle various types of standard contracts. Furthermore, as the clients and the consultants might introduce amendments to the conditions of the standard form of contract it is critical that the system is able to deal with changes.

            • Keeping documentation up-to-date

            Some claims are more challenging to prepare because more documentation is required. Thus claims managers need to have a system to help them keep an up-to-date documentation, prepare the claims, and prevent them from losing relevant documents.

            • Extended search capabilities

            The agent needs to have the possibility to search virtually any data within the claim, including claimant, address, policy number, phone number, check number, etc. This function makes searching easier.

            • Centralized database

            If you have several offices across the country it is better to have a centralized database so that the management can have access to the files, templates for claims and any other information. A reporting tool will help them analyze the outcome and status of claims.

            So here we are! Ten features that a claims management system should have to improve your company’s performance. All in all, the app has to address your customers’ and your employee’s needs, which is why it is so important to choose a system with a user-friendly interface that fits well with your specific needs. Contact us and lets custom build it for you business. 

            Moving Forward,
            DAS Solutions Team.

            4 Benefits of a Reservation System for Your Hotel

            An online reservation system is a must-have for hotels these days. The booking process must be flawless and user-friendly to attract more customers and increase sales. Consider getting an online reservation system because it will give you many benefits, on top of those mentioned below.

            Ways Automation Can Improve Your Business Processes

            Continuously changing market conditions, high speed in decision-making, multitasking in asset management and the need to reduce risks require modern approaches to the work processes within any business. It allows you to free up precious resources for strategic planning and concentration of management in key areas of the company. Business automation is the partial or complete translation of repeatable, time-absorbing operations and business tasks under the control of a specialized system. As a result, you get to increase productivity and effectiveness of strategic management.

            Automation is usually conducted in two ways:

            – Automation of the basic business processes: for example, sales management or work with clients. In this case, it is carried out to directly increase the volume of sales, the number of products produced and increase the profitability of the entire business as a whole.
            – Automation of supporting processes, such as accounting, reporting, records management. Such automation does not directly affect the increase in revenue, but helps reduce the time and costs of daily work execution.

            The main tasks of business automation are the following:

            – effective support of operational activities of the enterprise, control and organization of accounting
            – preparation of any documents for partners/clients, including invoices, bills and business proposals
            – quick receipt of reports on the state of affairs in the company for any period of time
            – optimization of staff costs, increasing the efficiency of working hours by freeing employees from routine/habitual work
            – minimizing the negative impact of the “human factor” on the most important business processes
            – secure storage of information and data
            – improving the quality of customer service

            Automation of business processes can significantly improve the quality of management in the company and the quality of its product. For the enterprise as a whole, it gives a number of significant advantages like:

            – Increase the speed of processing information and solve repetitive tasks
            – Increase business transparency
            – Increased coherence of staff and the quality of its work
            – The ability to control large amounts of information
            – Reducing the number of errors and improving management accuracy
            – Simultaneous resolution of several tasks
            – Rapid decision-making in repetitive situations

            As a result of automation of the business processes – the management receives much more information for analyzing business processes in the form of detailed analytical reports and is able to direct the company qualitatively taking into account external and internal indicators.

            Find out more about how an automation can help and grow your specific business, or if you have any other software development questions – just contact us at [email protected] or by filling out the Contact Form.

            Moving Forward,
            DAS Solutions Team.