Case Study: Visiprise, Inc.

Enabling Growth: Building an Offshore Development Centers for Visiprise

Company Background

With more that 15 years of industry experience and proven success, Visiprise is the leading solution provider to help manufacturers define manufacturing excellence throughout the global enterprise. Visiprise software, services and expertise work in tandem with their customers to manage and control manufacturing operations to improve product quality and compliance management. Over 150 leading manufacturers in industries from electronics and aerospace & defense to automotive and medical devices are managing and controlling manufacturing operations with Visiprise. Atlanta-based Visiprise hase more than 150 customers worldwide, including BAE Systems, Celestica, Philips Lighting, Sun Microsystems and Textron.

The Business Need

In order to realize the full advantage of offshore resources, Visiprise sought to expand its offshore presence by creating a dedicated offshore development center. Having worked with other project-based providers, Visiprise wanted a firm that could help them manage and grow their own dedicated offshore team. Because the Visiprise product is deployed globally and requires industry expertise for development, the company needed a partner that could customize their services to meet Visiprise's unique needs. Visiprise had the following requirements:

  • The main driver for Visiprise's offshore initiative was cost savings. Management wanted a partner that could provide low-cost labor without sacrificing important skill sets and product quality.
  • Because Visiprise has deployments throughout Europe and Asia, they wanted to take advantage of offshore resources in two additional ways. The first way was to create a 24/7 customer support organization. The second way was to have a support group geographically close to their European deployments to facilitate onsite support and installations.
  • Visiprise's product is an enterprise solution that requires in-depth industry knowledge and product training in order for a software engineer to effectively contribute to product development. Because of this, they needed a partner that has the knowledge and processes for effective product training.

The management team understood the benefits of offshore development from a cost standpoint. What concerned them was the ability of an offshore partner to execute on their project needs and effectively manage the offshore process. Visiprise selected Augmentive as a partner because of our ability to execute on project requirements and to manage their offshore growth using our distributed development methodology.

The Solution

Augmentive's first step in creating an offshore development team was to assign a project team to Visiprise. This team included a dedicated HR consultant and a project manager who were responsible for understanding and fulfilling the needs of Visiprise. The project team worked with the Visiprise management to select a location for their dedicated offshore center. Three main factors led to the selection of Kiev, Ukraine:

  • Kiev's time zone (GMT +2) is only an hour different from Western Europe, enabling the development center to act as the main support group for European clients. Being in this time zone also provides a 4-5 hour window of direct communication each day between the development teams in Kiev and the development team in Atlanta. During this time, the Visiprise team could schedule conference calls, videoconferences and direct communication with their offshore team. Visiprise realized that this location would both facilitate their ability to support customers and increase team communication leading to better product quality and team cohesiveness.
  • Augmentive recognized early in the process that the Visiprise product would require both initial and ongoing training for the offshore team. For this reason, accessibility to the development center and the ability of offshore team members to arrive onsite in Atlanta became a key factor. The Ukraine offers a distinct advantage over locations such as India or China because it is a 2.5 hour flight to several European hubs including Paris, Frankfurt and Amsterdam. Not only does this contribute to significantly less travel time for team members, but it also reduces the often-overlooked cost of travel between the US and the offshore center.
  • Recruiting was the final factor for selecting Kiev for their dedicated offshore development center. Because of the availability of highly skilled, low-cost labor, Kiev met the requirement for cost savings without sacrificing quality. In addition, the turnover rates in the Ukraine are lower that of India, China and even the United States.

With the location decided, Augmentive worked with Visiprise to review their existing development processes. The goal was to identify which processes needed to be modified for a distributed development environment and which roles would be best suited for offshore resources. The review yielded three major results:

  • Augmentive worked with Visiprise to clearly define the development roles and responsibilities. By better defining each role and the handoff points for each process, the Visiprise development organization was able to expand development offshore and to create a more scalable management structure.
  • While Visiprise already used a modified version of the Rational Unified Process (RUP), it was necessary to modify the associated documentation. The increased focus on detailed requirements and functional design documents allowed for a cleaner handoff of project requirements in a distributed environment.
  • The final step was to analyze the current in-house resources, expertise and project needs to determine which roles would be best suited for the offshore team and which roles would remain onsite in Atlanta. For Visiprise, this mean creating functional and technical design teams in Atlanta while building construction and quality assurance capabilities in Kiev.

Having determined which roles would be included in the offshore team, Augmentive began recruiting personnel based on the Visiprise HR requirements. Augmentive assisted Visiprise in the initial screening of candidates and managed the hiring process. Knowing that Visiprise was likely to scale the offshore group over the next year, Augmentive designed a management structure that was ready for growth. Initially, the Visiprise team consisted of 10 members: 1 team lead engineer, 6 staff engineers, 1 QA lead engineer and 2 QA staff engineers. By ensuring that the team leads were extremely experienced and qualified, Visiprise was able to seamlessly add resources under the existing management structure.

Once hired, the new Visiprise offshore team was plugged into the existing Augmentive infrastructure. Visiprise immediately made use of the office, Internet and communications infrastructure in place in Kiev. One of the challenges often overlooked by offshore providers is the global development infrastructure required for distributed development teams. Visiprise was able to take advantage of Augmentive's proven, secure and reliable web based software infrastructure for accessing and exchanging development code and associated documentation. As a final piece to the infrastructure, Augmentive also provided total HR services including payroll, tax filing, labor law compliance and insurance.

After the core offshore team was in place, Augmentive worked with Visiprise to design the initial training for the new project team. Augmentive arranged for onsite training for team members and also coordinated Visiprise team members' trips to Kiev for offshore training. The program that Augmentive designed had three main purposes:

  • Because the distributed development process was new for both the internal and offshore teams, Augmentive worked with Visiprise to ensure that every employee understood their role within the total development organization. Team leads became responsible for managing their group and the process was built to encourage proper communication and handoffs between the Atlanta development team and the Kiev development team.
  • During the training, the new offshore team members learned the required industry information necessary for effective development. Team members received extensive product training to get a "big picture" understanding of product functionality. They also worked with the Visiprise product management group to understand the product road map and the short and long-term goals of their development effort.
  • The final objective of the Augmentive training was to form a good working relationship between the offshore development group and the existing Visiprise development team. This relationship has been instrumental in the continuously communication between the core development team and the offshore team.

The Results

Within 3 years working with Augmentive, Visiprise grew their offshore development team from the initial 10 engineers to 80 engineers based in Kiev. In addition to this, Augmentive has established and runs 2nd Eastern European office for Visiprise in Minsk with 25 engineers. Now with the fully trained offshore team, Visiprise has realized a 60% reduction in labor costs associated with development and product customizations. Since its inception, the offshore team has contributed to three base release cycles of the Visiprise product and has successfully completed 14 custom projects for Visiprise's European clients.

For a more detailed analysis of Visiprise's ROI from their dedicated offshore development team, contact and request a copy of Visiprise: Inside The Numbers. This whitepaper analyzes the costs, productivity and savings of launching an offshore development team by using Visiprise's actual experiences.