Tag Archives: outsourcing

Top Challenges in Software Application Development

outsourcing software developmentWhen introducing software systems to your company there are some key things to keep in mind. Software application development is a complex process that is not everyone’s cup of tea. Not only is it vital to have more than a basic understanding of computing processes, but anyone solving programming problems should be able to think analytically and have the ability to troubleshoot.

Software Systems Are Intangible and Complex

Whether you’re creating a software system of your own or using one that has already been created, it’s important to understand that the system is going to be intangible and complex. Most professionals across the world design and develop the software conceptually which makes it abstract and difficult to grasp immediately. There will likely be a learning curve in either creating the software or in learning how to navigate it once it has been installed and customized to fit your needs. In fact, you may not even be able to customize the software until you’ve learned to navigate the bare essentials of the software.

Don’t let this complexity overwhelm you, especially if you’re using purchased software. There’s a good chance the company that created the software also created resource materials to go along with it that will help you overcome the learning curve. If you’re creating software of your own, it would be prudent to create resource materials so you and others can become experts in using the software.

Interaction With Other Systems

Whether you’re using your own company’s software or that of another company, you’ll want to make sure the software will interact well with any other systems you might have in place. If you’re developing your own software systems, it will be much easier to implement interaction with other systems you already have in place. You can simply write that interaction into the code of the software. When using software from other companies, you may need to teach the software to interact with the other systems.

Once you figure out how to get the software to interact appropriately with the other systems, write those processes down so that they can be used in the future if the software gets updated. This is where training and testing will also play a role.

Changes In Software Requirements and Designs

Keeping up with changes in software requirements and designs is one of the most common problems you will face, particularly when you’re developing your own software. You’ll want to keep team members and other end users updated on any changes in usage and design that you make to the software. Developing software is not a static endeavor; rather, software should be updated consistently. Implement a plan for letting users know about updates to the software and how those changes might affect the design and usage of the software.

Is Your Software Application User-Friendly?

When creating software, it’s important to make sure it’s user-friendly. Don’t make it any more complex than it needs to be. Provide both end users and your team with the resources they need to learn how to use it optimally.

Do You Have The Right People To Do It?

programming problems software developmentWhen developing software of your own, be sure you have the right people to do it. Look for people who have a strong understanding of basic computing and software, but who are also willing to learn any new skills necessary for creating the software. If someone on your team is interested in getting their feet wet in the software development realm, invite them to join the team as an observer.

Let them know up front they might not be able to get hands-on with software development this time around, but be open to the fact that they’re willing to learn new skills. By observing the other developers, they can see where their strengths might lie and work on those, either through company supported training or on their own time. It says a lot about an employee who is willing to step up and learn new skills to stay sharp on the job.

If you don’t have the right employees for a particular software development application, then outsourcing your software development to the right software development company can be an effective and relatively inexpensive solution.

Don’t feel too overwhelmed by software development. While there is a definite learning curve, there are plenty of resources available to help you achieve success in that aspect of your business.

Be sure to check out our e-book, Best Practices for Software Outsourcing. This book will provide a number of ways for you to successfully outsource your software development. We consider ourselves passionate about software innovation. We are here to help you and your company succeed.

software outsourcing practices agile methodology

What to Consider When Hiring a Software Development Company

software development

It can be challenging to find the best software development company to meet your needs. There is often more to outsourcing that meets the eye, and choosing the wrong firm can cost you time, money, and your project’s position in the marketplace.

What are your project requirements?

Do you need to make a web application or a conventional website? Will the most complicated feature on this site be a blog or shopping cart, or will your project need to be integrated with a customized back-end system, such as an ERP or payment system? Do you have a maximum budget or a strict delivery timeline, or is having features your customers will love your biggest priority?

If your needs go beyond what can be found in a plug-in or a ready-made program, you need to find a software development firm with a wide range of expertise, such as software engineering, user interface optimization, web analytics, traditional web design, and more.

Furthermore, with many technical services, compromising on price may lead to a compromise in quality. If your application or project must be created from scratch, then the firm will probably need to construct something that the developers have never created before. Investing in a team with creative, flexible, experienced professionals increases your chances of getting the details right earlier on, allowing you to enter the market much sooner.

Here are a few tips to keep in mind to help the process of outsourcing your software development project go as smoothly as possible.

Proven track record

Although a firm’s portfolio may be impressive, it’s essential to know more about what happened behind the scenes. Even if the projects and web applications themselves look great, you have no way of knowing if these endeavors were delivered under budget and on time. The final project may have come to fruition only after constant conflicts between the software developers and the client. Asking for references now can lessen the chance of unpleasant surprises later, and an established company should have at least a few satisfied clients who would be willing to speak with you.

If a firm’s portfolio or client list is attracting you to a particular firm, you need to know whether the same software developers and engineers would also be assigned to your project. Make sure to ask about the specific developers who would be a part of your development team. When possible, ask for a reference from a client who has worked with these individuals before.

Maintain constant communication

Transparency is key in any client-provider relationship, especially if you are considering outsourcing a project to people you may never meet in person. In this digital era, the channels to maintain communication are as numerous the people who need them.

If you want to receive occasional updates and follow the progress with a project management tool, make sure the team and project manager are willing and able to use these tools. If you need frequent updates with details along the way, make sure that the project manager knows this and budgets time for these conversations. If the software developers use their own particular process, consider using their tools to ease the process.

Regardless of the exact process and tools of communication being used, your team of developers should be able to provide clear milestones and delivery dates, as well a list of their requirements from you.

As your project and relationship with the firm are coming to an end, determine what type of assistance, if any, you will need once the final project has been delivered. Will you be able to contact the firm once the application is up and running? How many iterations are included in your package? Will you be given the source files once the project is over?

The source files, such as descriptions of your database structures, access to code repositories, login credentials for site hosting, and Photoshop and Illustrator files, are essential to maintaining full ownership of your project. If you hope to make even one slight adjustment to your project in the future, ensure that your contract is transparent about the delivery of the source files upon completion of the project.

Finding the best software development company for your needs should not be taken lightly. In our e-book, “Best Practices for Software Outsourcing,” we elaborate on the factors that your company should take into consideration when looking to contract your project or web application to a software development firm.

At Santex, our software technology professionals abide by the values of participation, trust, passion, and courage when building a relationship with our clients. Our multidisciplinary teams are constructed with the goal of having “the best talent in the right moment,” and our business model prides itself on being able to provide flexible, creative solutions to meet your needs.

Software Outsourcing Santex

QA, A Misunderstood Role

By Gabriela Chaves – QA Analyst at Santex

Why it is important to fully understand the role and it’s benefits

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If you have been close to the software development process, chances are that you have experienced working on agile projects where it is common to conduct a small waterfall model in which the QA runs tests on late stages of development or perhaps there’s no QA assigned at all. In my experience, I find that this reveals only a slight notion of what a QA does and the impact his or her work has on an agile project. I believe it’s beneficial to share deeper insight on the responsibilities of this position.

The QA applies an analytical mindset throughout the complete process with this concept in mind:

“Are we building the right product, and, if so, are we building it correctly?”

A person in this role is someone who constantly questions all parts of the development process to ensure the team is producing the desired output. Kenny Cruden indicates this in his article “The QA Role – What Is It Really?” It is also referenced in international quality norms and standards such as ISO 9000 and CMMI dev with the name “Verification and Validation”.

Adding detail to the already known activities, a QA also thoroughly analyzes the product to be developed, and from sprint zero starts suggesting improvements and changes, polishing unclear aspects, detecting possible discrepancies and bugs, and bringing attention to items that may have been overlooked, with the aim of avoiding issues before they come up. Working side by side with Business Analysts and Developers, a QA and his or her team will not only develop an usable product, but they will also deliver one that suits the client’s needs. By constantly keeping in mind the business and the user perspectives, the QA helps build a better, stronger, and more reliable product, resulting in a satisfied customer and a greater appreciation for the company’s work.

There’s an internal benefit as well as Stephanie Dedhar points out in her article “Six irresistible benefits of real quality assurance.”

‘A focus on QA helps to develop a culture of continuous improvement. Colleagues will help each other develop, challenging things and preventing complacency setting in and leading to carelessness. In my experience, high standards are infectious – if one or two members of the team set the right example and pick up even the littlest things, these good habits will spread and you’ll develop a true QA culture.’

From all of this we can infer that the work performed by quality control specialists has a bigger impact than assumed by the people outside the project, providing an increase in quality and helping make the client happy with the end results. It can also be noted that starting the work early as previously described can result in increased client satisfaction and a reduction of rework, in turn reducing the total costs of the project.

About the Author – Gabriela Chaves is an experienced QA Analyst at Santex,  passionate about her work. Great analytical skills and quick learner.

Sources

Kenny Cruden – https://www.thoughtworks.com/insights/blog/qa-role-what-it-really

Stephanie Dedhar – https://stephaniededhar.wordpress.com/2012/01/24/six-benefits-of-real-quality-assurance/

5 WWDC ’16 Announcements Every Software Development Company Needs to Know

By Coleman Miller – iOS Developer at Santex

wwdc16

Apple made a lot of announcements last month in its annual World Wide Developer Conference, and introduced the latest versions of its operating systems and developer tools. Here is a breakdown of the most important announcements that will affect software development companies moving forward.

1. SiriKit

In my opinion, this is the most sought-after functionality developers and clients alike have requested over the years. Well, its finally here. Apple is providing a public API so third parties can develop iOS extensions that trigger in response to Siri. The only drawback is that it is limited to the following categories:

  • Audio or video calling
  • Messaging
  • Payments
  • Searching photos
  • Workouts
  • Ride booking

In addition to these new features, its worth mentioning that Siri already supports automotive control features with CarPlay, and HomeKit has allowed allowed Home Automation with Siri since iOS 8. This new API is going to help usher in a wave of innovation and new categories of mobile apps we haven’t seen before. It will also greatly improve the UX of existing apps like Uber and WhatsApp.

2. Swift 3

Although this should be #1 on this list, I believe Swift will bring more changes to software industry in the long term, but short term, Swift 3.0 is a huge improvement from 2.3. One of the biggest breaking changes is Apple adding “Swift Overlays” to its frameworks (some of which were originally written in Objective-C in the 90s) to make Swift a first-class citizen for iOS development. Another breaking change that will affect every single iOS app (with any Swift code), is the move by Apple to forgo classes in favor of structs and value types in its Foundation framework. This is more than a simple API change, it’s in fact, a huge paradigm change for current Apple Developers and programmers coming from other languages like Java, C#, and JavaScript. C developers should feel at home though. Unlike last year, Apple is letting developers chose between Swift 3.0 and Swift 2.3 for publishing apps to the App Store, so developers can take their time migrating to the new version of Swift.

3. Home App

When HomeKit was announced in iOS 8, it took a while for companies to make their existing IoT products HomeKit-compatible. Fast forward 2 years, and now HomeKit is a first-class citizen of iOS, even shipping a beautiful `Home.app` on your home screen. HomeKit’s goal is the unification of IoT and Home Automation products by adopting an Apple-defined protocol so they can easily talk to each other. This allows you to control the lights in your house via Siri, and setup home automation rules (Apple calls them “Scenes”) similar to what IFTTT does with apps. While Apple has accomplished this goal protocol-wise (by providing both HTTP and Bluetooth variations of its HomeKit Accessory Protocol to encompass all manner of devices), besides the Siri integration, Apple provided no user interface for HomeKit, and on the app side, that experience was fragmented. With the new Home app, centralized home automation is easier than ever, and you won’t need to download the specific third-party apps for each HomeKit accessory you purchase. This should boost HomeKit’s popularity and demand with hardware developers.

4. WatchOS GPU-accelerated Games

WatchOS is in a special category of iOS development due to the lack of native APIs like OpenGL and UIKit. While most attribute the App Store’s success to the proliferation of mobile games, that innovation and boom would have not been possible had the iPhone only allowed Web apps like Steve Jobs originally planned. Due to the issue of battery life, the Apple Watch provides a very limited API for native apps, in fact, its more limited then making an average website. One way Apple wants to lure developers to its WatchOS platform is by allowing them to make OpenGL accelerated 2D and 3D games with its SpriteKit and SceneKit frameworks. Since this is what many developers have asked for since day one, it will promote a boom of WatchOS games, like we see on the iOS and tvOS platforms. One drawback is the fact that those platforms can use OpenGL and natively port their code from Android, to iOS. WatchOS game developers will have to rewrite their rendering code for Apple’s platform.

5. Message and Map Extensions

With the introduction of iOS extensions in iOS 8, Apple has allowed third party apps to embed a part of their app in Apple’s stock apps (e.g. Contacts, Photos) and other third party apps. Now in iOS 10, developer’s can write extensions for the Message and Map stock apps. This will allow users to use apps like Uber and Yelp in the stock `Maps.app` without having to switch between contexts. The Message extensions allow all manner of custom content in the stock iOS messaging app, again, allowing for a new category of mobile apps.

About the AuthorColeman Miller is an experienced iOS Developer at Santex,  passionate about his work.  Coleman is continuously learning and training to investigate new technologies.

How Agile methodologies mitigate cognitive biases that lead projects to failure

By Walter Abrigo, Managing Director at Santex

I want to emphasize in this article how the existence of two cognitive biases, which are almost always present in our daily lives, position agile methodology practices as one of the most adaptable frameworks for project monitoring and management, in general. This is especially true when the context of the given project development is complex, has changing requirements that are poorly defined, and where innovation, competitiveness, flexibility, and productivity combined are critical to achieving the desired results.  

Cognitive biases

  1. The emotional aspect of our decisions and choices.

  2. The fallacy of planning.

By reviewing each of these biases, we are able to see how people’s behavior fits better and more consistently within the structure of Agile methodologies.

Our decisions and choices are emotional

The following cases demonstrate how, in our every day decision making, we often forget the Base Rates (or the true distribution of events). Additionally, we strive to make sense of representative stereotypes, we seek causes and explanations, and we have a natural aversion to losing whenever there is something at risk.

First Case: Forgetting the Base Rates (the true distribution of events)

Tom is extremely intelligent, although he lacks true creativity. He needs order and clarity, and prefers systematic organization. He has a strong competitive drive and seems to have little interest and sympathy for others. He does not enjoy dealing with other people. Although he’s self-centered, he has deep moral awareness.

Let’s order the following nine areas of expertise according to the probability that Tom would be a student in any of these fields. We’ll use one for the most likely and nine for the least likely.

  • Business Administration

  • IT

  • Engineering

  • Humanities and Education

  • Law

  • Medicine

  • Physics and Biology

  • Social Sciences and social work

Most will agree that Tom fits well with the stereotypes of smaller groups of students, like IT and engineers, but would fit poorly into larger groups, like humanities and education, social sciences and social work. This is an example of how we substitute the probabilities of the Base Rates for representative stereotypes.  

Second Case: Prejudices based on stereotypes

Linda is thirty-one years old. She’s single, outspoken, and very bright. She majored in Philosophy and, when she was a student, she was very concerned about the issues of discrimination and social injustice. She participated in several anti-nuclear protests. Given this information, which of the following scenarios fits best with Linda’s personality?

  1. Linda is a bank teller.

  2. Linda is a bank teller and activist for the feminism movement.

Most will agree that Linda is well suited to the role of “bank teller and feminist.” The stereotypical teller may not be a feminist, so including this detail adds more emphasis to the description. Nonetheless, both feminist bank tellers and regular bank tellers share the common fact that they coexist in the world of ‘bank tellers.’

P(teller)=P(feminist teller) + P(teller not feminist).

Third Case: Seeking causes

Take the genders of six children born one after the other in a hospital. The sequence of boys and girls is random. Each event (birth) is independent of the other, and the number of boys and girls born in the hospital in the last hour has no effect on the gender of the next child. Now consider three possible sequences (M = male, F = female):

  1. MMMFFF

  2. FFFFFF

  3. MFMMFM

Are these sequences equally probable? The intuitive answer is, “of course not!” but that is false. Because each event is independent and the results M and F are both (approximately) equally likely, all possible sequences for the six births are as likely as any other. Now that we know that this conclusion is true, it seems counterintuitive because only the third sequence appears to be completely random. Our minds are built with associative machinery that continuously seeks causal relationships, and this tendency leads to serious error in our evaluation of sequences that are truly random.

We are hunters of patterns, believers in a coherent world in which regularities (like a sequence of six girls) are not accidentally produced, but rather the effect of a particular cause or someone’s intention.

Fourth Case:  We are willing to risk more when it comes to losses than gains.

Situation 1: Imagine a group of people where each one has $3,000 and you give them a choice between:

  1. Receiving another $1,000, or

  2. Flipping a coin and playing the $1,000 for double or nothing: if they win they’ll receive an additional $2,000, but if they lose they get nothing.

What would you choose?

Situation 2: Imagine a group of people where each one has $5,000 and you give them a choice between:

  1. Giving up $1,000, or

  2. Flipping a coin to play $1,000 for double or nothing:  If they lose, they give up $2,000, but if they win they don’t lose any money.

What would you choose?

Most of us in situation one prefer option one and most of us in situation two prefer option two. The interesting thing here is that the odds of the four options are identical, but differ considerably in our minds. We are more willing to take a risk when it comes to LOSSES and are more reluctant to take a risk when it comes to GAINS.

The fallacy of planning

The fallacy of planning is one manifestation of an omnipresent optimistic bias. Almost all humans see the world as less harmful than it really is, our skills better than what they really are, and our goals easier to achieve than they really are. We also tend to exaggerate our ability to predict the future, which exudes optimistic overconfidence.

When we complete a successful project, we assume that it was due to our accurate and detailed planning of controlled variables. We forget the random variables that impacted us positively. We assume the cause of success was within the plan, and we are the performers.  

When we finish a project and it is unsuccessful, we assume that this was due to the presence of external uncontrollable variables, not foreseen from the beginning which affected us negatively. The cause of failure is out of our hands, and we are not the performers.   

Agile methodologies mitigate these biases

Having raised the existence of these two cognitive biases (the emotional side of our decision-making and the fallacy in our planning), we see two aspects of Agile methodologies that make them in the most effective way to mitigate the biases: valuing people and response to change.

By realizing that our decisions are more emotional than they are rational, we place more value on individuals and their interactions than we do tools and processes. This allows us to communicate more empathetically and understand the emotion behind our choices.

Regarding the fallacy of planning, by putting more value on response to change, rather than following a plan, we can better detect the random variables that may arise and impact the results.

In this way, we can realize the importance and value that Agile methodologies have in reducing the noise and deviations that may occur during the development of a project.

Sources

KAHNEMAN, D. (2011) Thinking, Fast and Slow. Debate Editorial.

About the Author Walter Abrigo is a Managing Director at Santex. In addition to his large academic career, he possess market expertise in several organizational processes such as management control, change and strategy, recruiting and staffing as well as performance and engagement.

You can read the spanish version of this article published in “Pulso Social”.

Three steps to making communication more effective

Do you feel you aren’t heard or that people don’t respond the way that you expect?

Here are three areas that I have tried to focus on even more since the beginning of 2015. I hope it will make me more successful in both personal and professional situations.

Communication can always have glitches and we need to always be mindful of ways to improve.  Improvement is incremental and continuous. Step by step means we can always do better. Whether the communication is in the same office or long distance, making sure that you consider these points should help in making communication more effective. In the case of Santex, we have both company offices and customers who are a long distance apart.  So getting this right is important all the way around.

I think of these three incremental steps as questions that I ask when I am actively communicating.  

Am I providing context or a framework to the messages that I send to people?  

Providing context doesn’t necessarily mean using more words to explain something. In fact, it’s actually quite the opposite. It is providing a simple, understandable framework so that the person receiving the message understands why you are communicating the message and what your expectation is regarding your response. If this is done in a consistent way, your audience can anticipate what they will get for a message and be better prepared.  

Context also means how the message is being received. In these situations, timing can be extremely important. Sending a message in the middle of the night and asking people to respond within the next day may not be reasonable for people who plan ahead. It may make you appear disorganized and demanding even if your intent is to show energy and enthusiasm.

Do I have their attention? People experience so much stimulation of all senses that a message, whether audible or visual, can be missed because they just weren’t paying attention. Don’t assume that because you sent something that the person has received the message and they understand the significance of the message. Trust is okay but still verify that what you communicated was actually understood.

Is there a feedback loop for both the listener and the speaker to use and is it working? It really isn’t enough that you know that someone received the message. What’s the response to your message and does it have the intended consequence of having received this message? Making sure that you understand the consequences makes the message more effective. It’s also easier to reinforce positive behavior.

We all have room for improvement and I’m always looking to improve myself.  I hope this will help you.

About the Author – Doug Lewis is a Manager of Inside Sales and Business Development for Santex.  Throughout his career, Doug has developed high value sales and business relationships for companies seeking international markets.

Outsourcing: Overcoming the cultural gap

By Eduardo Coll – Santex Operations Director

In the past, outsourcing was a business dynamic only related to major multinational companies. However, nowadays, small and medium firms are able to take advantage of this global trend as well. The software industry is no stranger to this tendency. The traditional approach of face-to-face in-house software development has been shifted to a more virtual nature using cutting-edge communication technologies and applications such as instant messaging, teleconferencing, videoconferencing (Skype & Google hangout), and NetMeeting.

But outsourcing does not end with the signing of a contract and letting the services run. As the business world becomes increasingly interconnected, new problems are bound to affect the internal structure of organizations, including software factories. The success of a project is highly dependent on the quality management of the outsourcing relationship and cultural differences are one of the biggest issues that companies face when externalizing their projects overseas.

Outsourcing fairy tale stories have led people to think that we all live in a globalized world where distance, borders, place, and time no longer matter.  However, according to a study made by Accenture in 2008, more than 60% of all outsourcing deals fail, completely or partially, mainly because of a lack of cultural compatibility between the vendor and the client. Therefore, it is critical to understand that large gaps still exist and they have a genuine impact over performance. Time zone differences, language barriers, distance, differences in customs, diverse decision-making styles, as well as occasional face-to-face meetings, all add up to a series of intangible challenges that companies must deal with when outsourcing.

A great example of cultural difference can be observed when applying diverse software methodologies. In India, China, and Southeast Asia there may be a focus on well-defined instructions and structured processes. Work usually proceeds more comfortably in Waterfall and V-model processes. On the other hand, Latin America and Eastern European cultures are similar to that of Western Europe and the United States of America and may be a more conducive environment to accepting the flexibility and proactiveness of Agile methodologies and direct communication.

Another example that shows the importance of the cultural gap is communication. Software development is a communication-intensive industry, especially during the requirements stage which is relied on to remove uncertainty from the process. Because of language barriers, many times conversations lose effectiveness and critical information is missed. When addressed incorrectly, the problems encountered during this phase can create further delays which have an impact on the project schedule.

The above mentioned facts prove the importance not only of cultural compatibility but also of cultural adaptability. In order to be successful on this global trend, companies need to develop cultural intelligence, which is a form of organizational capacity in functioning effectively in culturally diverse situations. Today, firms can no longer choose their outsourcing providers and destinations only from a cost-effective perspective; other criteria should be introduced to a company’s outsourcing strategy.

How we address the cultural gap at Santex

Outsourcing involves relying on global virtual project teams where managing across cultures is recognized to be a critical factor and a major managerial challenge that requires significant time and effort.

Initiatives for Staff: Fostering international openness  

  • Team members travel back and forth to participate in different activities and local venues from our different offices in Peru, Argentina and the United States
  • Everyone at Santex takes English classes twice a week with native English speakers in the United States 
  • Hold monthly tech-meetups with our offices in Lima (Perú), San Diego, and Iowa (United States of America)
  • Team building activities: Sport days, Santex changemakers program (volunteering group)

Initiatives for Clients: Managing expectations

  • Set realistic expectations
  • Provide internal visibility
  • Define a successful and appropriate working framework to facilitate the flow of ideas and various initiatives for maximum added value
  • Communicate effectively throughout
  • Consider a face-to-face configuration meeting to bridge the differences

What are the Best Practices for Software Outsourcing? Download our eBook and discover the answer.

About the AuthorEduardo Coll is a natural born leader. He used to be a Master Java developer for the company but his communication skills opened him a different professional path as an Operations Director.

Sources

Expectations of an American businessman– How to sell in the US Market

by Doug Lewis

Who am I?

I am an American businessman with over 30 years of experience selling and buying products in Asia, Australia, Europe and the U.S and Canada.  I have worked for technology companies in software and processing and in economic development in International Trade and entrepreneurism.

Where do I come from?

I’ve lived most of my life in the middle of the US but I have traveled throughout the US and in many other countries and I’ve lived in Japan and Sweden.  I understand quite a bit about international business but not a lot about doing business in South America and not a lot about Argentina.

Why is it worth selling to me?

Because I’m really not trying to sell to you.  I work for Santex.  Over 90% of our revenue comes from the US market.  I have nothing to sell you. I say this because unfortunately too many times the first connections between businesses who want to sell are people who are trying to sell to each other.  They are the people in international sales for each company or sometimes even the CEOs themselves. They just shouldn’t try to sell to each other.

So let’s suspend reality for a moment and assume in this case that I am buying from you.

MapaUSblog

I’m buying and I’m buying services in an economy where services are close to 80% of the economy.  That economy is 17 trillion dollars according to the Worldbank.  Trillion is 1 with 12 zeros behind it.  That means people pay 13.6 Trillion dollars per year for services in the US.  I’m buying for many reasons but here are a couple of them.  I am buying because after dealing with the rest of the world for a long time, I’m concerned about places and countries closer to home. I’m concerned that bigger countries than the US will have even more influence that will affect the future of my kids and their kids.

And because I’m really tired of dealing with 12 to 15 hour time differences with Asia.  It always means that someone is working in the middle of the night.  I want to find sources closer to home but I am also accountable to my stakeholders and customers to get a good price or provide a good value for them.  Price is a factor especially if I can get it somewhere else easily.

Just a word about competition.  If you are in software development services like I am, Your competition is not in this room.  Your competition isn’t in Cordoba.  It really isn’t even on this continent.  It is any place on the planet.  Because the software code can be developed wherever any one has a portable computer and can delivered when and wherever it’s needed.  Competing on price alone will leave you starving.  You need to deliver value to your customer.

If I’m going to buy from you then you are probably asking “what do I expect from you?”

I expect solid and simple communication the way that I want it.  Please don’t take me on a walk through the forest.  I don’t want to sift through information to try to find what you are trying to tell me.  I really don’t know what I’m looking for.  Get yourself organized.  Group your products into categories and name them.  In other words, I need your information presented in a context and it needs to be complete.

Don’t expect me to ask questions about something that I don’t know.  You know your product and you need to be able to communicate with me in my language. So I need your help.

I do expect you to have any material that you present be in standard American English.  I don’t expect you to speak perfect English but I need to be able to understand you.  If you need a translator then you need to provide it.  I don’t think you want one of my employees who studied Spanish in school and drank rum or tequila drinks on a beach in the Caribbean to be your translator.

As an American, I expect information to flow freely to me.  When you hold something back or I find out something later that I thought I should have known. I feel one of two ways, I am suspicious of your motives or I think you don’t know what you’re doing.

I’ve done business in around 40 countries but I really don’t know much about Argentina and so you will need to explain a little bit about your country and I want to learn.  I know there are the positives of doing business with you and I want you to get that point across but there is one factor that is more important than anything else.  I only deal with honest people. It makes my buying decisions much easier.  You just won’t get another chance if you don’t deliver what you promise.

I’ve heard about the government and the economy but I’m a business man.  I’m willing to buy a good product for a fair price.

I will do my research on you before we meet so I will expect to find you on LinkedIn with a profile in proper English.  I will expect some information on your website.  If you only have a Spanish website, I’ll let the browser do the translation but you never know what I will get that way.  I can tell you that in Hong Kong, Singapore and many other countries I will not only have websites in English but a lot of information for me.

I know enough about international business and dealing with business people around the globe to know that cultures are different.  I know that things like jokes and stories don’t always translate well so I personally avoid them.  I don’t like to confuse matters by being misunderstood by a joke and I certainly don’t want to explain a joke fearing that I mistaken the lack of laughing for misunderstanding the punch line.

Time is important to me.  I like to use it well and expect others to do so too.  I have a lot of people who make demands on my time.  Face to face meetings are so productive that I don’t want to have them be wasted.  I like a meeting agenda ahead of a meeting and I will come prepared and I expect that you will too.  I like to concentrate face to face meetings at places where I have meetings anyway.  International trade shows and conferences when I attend are places I can do this.

By the way, sometimes the easiest and most relaxed time to meet with me is at breakfast and it’s best before 8. I can take time with you not distracted by others in my com palm texting or calling me.  On occasion, I’ll have a business dinner but I coach my kids sports teams and have family activities after 6 so evenings are scheduled for me and I like to be in bed by 10.  Golf is good for those who play well but I don’t play.

Are you believable?

Will you really do what you say you will?  How would I know?  That’s why I expect that you have customer references. You are certified in quality standards and you belong to US and International industry and Professional groups.  It doesn’t matter where you are in the world; you only have one chance to make a good impression.  I may be dressed casual but I’m always impressed by someone who is dressed to sell.

How much do you really know about the US?

Do you know that there are at least 4 geographic markets in the US?  There are two that most people know and they still put them together.  There is the West Coast or Left Coast as we call it.  It’s fast paced but casual.  High tech but also Hollywood.  It’s where everyone from around the world takes their idea and their movie script to sell it.  Competition is fierce. Making a splash is nothing unusual.  It’s on a big ocean and people do it every day.  Money flows in and out easily until there isn’t anymore and then it crashes.

Then there’s the East Coast.  It’s traditional.  Money has been there a long time and they want to keep it that way.  They don’t give it up easily.  They are skeptical of everyone, even people they grew up with.  You can imagine how important it is to be credible.  There are more people squeezed into the land between Philadelphia and Boston than there are in Argentina.  That distance is 100 kilometers less than from Cordoba to Buenos Aires. And know your baseball teams.  Don’t wear that baseball cap you bought at Yankee stadium in Boston.

Moving along to the South.  They haven’t had money since the 1800’s.  There are pockets of wealth like Atlanta, Miami and Dallas.  Overall, it’s conservative but it’s changing.  People are moving in but people are still paid less and the infrastructure isn’t as good as other parts of the country.  People don’t part with money easily and especially not for products that don’t look like they are from home.  It’s the headquarters of Walmart, where  the company slogan is “Always the low price. Always.”

And then there’s the Midwest.  In the Midwest, there are two natural resources.  One is land and the other is people.  Both are becoming more scarce and therefore more valuable.  The land of 12 states is one fourth the size of Argentina and there 67 million people.  The largest city is Chicago.  It’s a world class city that considers itself in a league with Buenos Aires.  One hundred dollars will buy what 160 dollars buys in New York City.  The second largest city is 2 million people.  It’s Indianapolis and is a lot like Cordoba.

Energy production– wind, biofuels and oil and natural gas is the new industry in the Midwest.  Agriculture is changing from old to new to feed the world and manufacturing is finding its way in a new global market.  And what about the money?  The money is here.  It’s stable.  Midwesterners like to pay cash and they like to own what they buy, not borrow to pay for it.  They have experience taping into the east and west coast and once you are partners, they will take you with them.  You may just want to take a look.

So what’s the place where people are the wealthiest?  It’s in the Midwest.  It’s in fact Des Moines Iowa.

Here’s a video that makes that point.

So things are not always as they seem.  Sometimes unlikely places have more potential than at first glance.

For more information check out Doug Lewis’ presentation on Slideshare.

Doug Lewis is a Manager of Inside Sales and Business Development for Santex.  Throughout his career, Doug has developed high value sales and business relationships for companies seeking international markets.   Prior to joining Santex in 2012, Doug was with the Iowa Department of Economic Development  where he worked in the Innovation and Commercialization Division in entrepreneurial development. He was program Manager for the Iowa Demonstration fund which helps companies commercialize innovative products in three targeted industry sectors– Advanced Manufacturing, BioScience and Information Technology. Over 100 companies received close to $12 million in state funding to launch new, innovative products.

 

 

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Software Outsourcing: Case Study Argentina

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