Last October, I wrote a blog entry titled “Off-shoring software development.” It was a cautionary description of some experiences I had with a previous company. I concluded with a paragraph that said:
“Bottom line: communicating effectively with an off-shoring organization, especially for small and evolving organizations, can be challenging. When considering the economics and time involved in managing such an effort, build cushion into your budget expectations to account for these inevitabilities, before deciding what’s right for your organization.”
Well, we at ExpertCEO have just finished migrating our development partner from a local (San Francisco) organization to one located in Costa Rica. We also moved our hosting service to “the cloud.” We’re now up and running after a successful migration, and I thought it would be useful for me to share some of what we’ve accomplished.
First, our primary reason for this transition was cost. We carefully manage our expenses, but we have a long list of features and capabilities we want to add to ExpertCEO. These represent our own strategic direction as well as customer-requested features. We felt by off-shoring the development, we could dramatically reduce our hourly development cost, thereby enabling us to add needed capabilities for our members while controlling our expenses. However, we didn’t want to fall into the communication trap I had previously experienced using development resources located halfway around the world. And we certainly did not want to spend long nights on conference calls with an organization many time zones away.
Avantica (www.avantica.net) in Costa Rica is our new partner, and we selected them because they are roughly in the same time zone as California, and their team speaks excellent English. It turns out they’re great developers, too! We’ve found by using Google Sites for our Wiki, Skype (for chat and video conferencing), and Unfuddle for bug tracking that we’re able to work with the people in Costa Rica as closely as if they were next door, say Palo Alto or Mountain View. The combination of similar time zones, no language barrier and web-based communication technologies has streamlined our interactions.
The ExpertCEO site has been developed using Ruby on Rails, and Engine Yard seemed the logical choice for hosting our site. Their SOLO offering (based on Amazon’s EC2) offered us the growth flexibility we required, at a cost that was appropriate for our size.
We’ve also now working with Open Mountain, located in the Bay Area, which provides engineering management and oversight services to insure that all of the technical, architectural and operational aspects of our technology are synchronized.
We’re now positioned with excellent, cost-effective development resources so that we can execute our long range plan to make ExpertCEO the premier site for senior executives to confidentially exchange ideas with peers, locate trusted resources, ask questions of experts across a range of disciplines, and quickly solve real-world business problems.