This Industry Viewpoint was authored by Venkatesh Murthy, Executive Director Engineering at VCTI
Most successful business leaders and organizations are in a constant pursuit of excellence. They know that the world has become more competitive and that customers are more demanding. Frictionless, digital experiences, always on-always available-always high performing service and support, product information attune to individual preferences…these have become the standard by which consumers and B2B customers measure the value of the companies serving them.
The gap between the need for digital transformation and the reality of the software services and programs to deliver on time, on budget, with high quality is particularly acute in the telecommunications industry. Being rocked by disruptive new players and services while also responding to lockdown driven booming demand for high speed broadband has placed unprecedented pressure on service providers to ramp up digital experiences for their customers and the automation in their operations to deliver successfully.
The irony is that these frictionless, digital experiences have been made possible by sophisticated software and standardization of services, yet the software development industry itself is notorious for its consistency in failing customer expectations.
For example, when is the last time you heard a program manager talk about how the development team delivered on time, on budget, and without narrowing the scope? Ever?
Sad to say, you’re more likely to be greeted by incredulous looks or rueful laughter if you even suggest that on time, on budget with quality could be the norm…despite significant improvements introduced with DevOps and Agile.
Bottom line, the business leaders have become conditioned to accept that software projects will always be late, will always be over budget, will be full of bugs and will only deliver a fraction of what was originally requested.
It’s time to raise the bar. It’s time to demand excellence from your delivery partners.
Here are 5 questions you should ask of prospective outsourced software delivery teams if you want to operate in a better paradigm:
- What is the structure of the team and commitment of the senior leader supporting you? Don’t get caught by the industry equivalent of “bait and switch”. Too often, that senior leader is only around for pitching the program and the actual delivery is left to a junior team. The price tag might look attractive at first, but you’ll wind up overpaying at the back end. Make sure that the senior leader has end to end responsibility and accountability and a commitment to your ROI.
- How deep is the domain expertise of the leader and the team? Can they go deep on both relevant legacy technologies as well as current and emerging to assure scalability and forward use?
- What are their hiring and retention standards? What is the average tenure? Do they have established processes for onboarding into their company and into a new customer program?
- Do they invest in skills ahead of customer demand, such as assuring everyone is highly competent in the latest architecture standards and technologies, such as microservices and Kubernetes?
- Are they transparent about their performance metrics and program reporting?
The bottom line is that the technology building blocks of digital transformation such as cloud services and microservices, do not get deployed in a vacuum. The answers to these questions will help you assure that your software delivery partner is not only equally vested in your success but has the domain expertise and experience to deliver.
Venkatesh Murthy serves as executive director engineering at VCTI, a world-class provider of software products and technical expertise for communications services providers and the equipment vendors embedded in their networks.
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