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19 Aug 2011

The corner office is a lonely place – how to reduce your BIF

Posted by jasonmyers. No Comments

You’ve worked hard to build your company and have met with success. You’ve got vision, courage, determination. You have hired people and built a team, hired people who were your friends.

But no one told you about the downside – employees, who were friends before they were hired stop talking to you. You have to make tough decisions that affect people’s lives, and often times, have do it alone. You can’t discuss difficult issues with your own staff because it could potentially have a negative effect or you might be misunderstood (especially in a down economy where everyone is on edge about stability). Anything you say can be interpreted many ways.

It’s no wonder that leaders can often get very isolated in their own company even when you have hundreds of people working for them, constantly surrounded by them and busy attending all those meetings and conference calls. It very paradoxical.

We call it the Business Isolation Factor (BIF). If you find yourself in this position, finding a peer group with proper support can really reduce the BIF. With reduced BIF, you can actually communicate more, focus and make good decisions. When choosing a peer group, look for the following:

Does the group contain your peers? In other words, are there other CEOs and business leaders in similar size companies (not competitive) that have been around the same length of time or longer as your business?

  1. Is there an opportunity for one-on-one mentoring? Someone to hold you accountable is critical for helping you keep your focus.
  2. Is the group confidential? All discussions with peers about company issues must be held in a confidential environment so you are free to discuss openly.
  3. Does the group meet regularly? Even though it may seem like a big commitment (and it usually is) setting aside time on a monthly basis with a peer group forces you to work on your business, as opposed to always being in your business.
  4. Is the group open and trusting? Are the members comfortable giving and sharing with no fear of being judged?
  5. Does the participation fit your budget and time commitments? Do you have to make a long term commitment?

In our Vistage group, many all of our members have reduced their BIF and are experiencing improved growth. They are suddenly talking more openly and discovering ideas within themselves, ideas which were struggling to get out all those years.

So go out there and find a peer group and get rid of that ugly BIF. There are many options out there, paid and free, voluntary and professional, religion-based, industry based, and geography based. Pick one and stick to it. One is right for you.

12 Aug 2011

Can Mexico help meet the demand for mobile application developers?

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With the boom in mobile applications across fields such as retail, media, video games, marketing and more, software engineers in mobile technologies are in short supply. Since so many companies are scrambling to add development staff, or even outsource their development, the right talent pool is not growing fast enough to meet the demand.

It’s not just in the US; technology companies in countries such as India are experiencing talent squeezes across the board. The  demand for mobile application development has emerged too quickly for workforce education to keep up. Companies, therefore, have had to increase expenses to train their staff and increase the wages to retain existing talent. This is also resulting in high employee attrition rates and talent poaching, as companies struggle to meet demand.

For companies in North America that choose to outsource development in leading and current technologies, we are recommending looking to Mexico as an alternative to India, not only because the near-shoring economics work in the favor of U.S.-based companies, but also because its emerging market of software engineers are focusing more on mobile and other current technologies like cloud based software. Companies in  the U.S. and Mexico are aggressively training the new breed of software engineers to meet the growing demand. These initiatives are being supported the government, as they realize the opportunity to grow their economies and create new markets.

For example, ITexico, recently conducted a certification training course in building cross platform mobile applications using Titanium.  The two day class was sponsored by the State of Jalisco and was oversubscribed. There are plans to conduct similar classes in other cities and even make it a part of the college curriculum in leading education institutions.

We expect to see more initiatives like these not just in Mexico but other developing IT markets and it’s opening up opportunities to business that provide training services–especially certification training. We are also seeing a trend in hiring young college graduates and equipping them with the right skills early on in their careers and paring them with experienced mentors.

I would like to hear from you about your experience. How is your company dealing with this growing demand for mobile software developers?

29 Jul 2011

Preparation is key to outsourcing software product development

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Outsourcing has become the trend of the last decade as many technology companies have been able to get their product development done at a significantly lower costs without compromising quality and delivery schedules. But there can be substantial risks involved if the process is not handled correctly costing the company significantly.

One of the largest risk with any offshore project stems from communication and collaboration challenges, especially when outsourcing to a different continent or geography with different time zones and distance separation. Language barriers, cultural differences and the lack of face-to-face communications may significantly delay your timeframe and add unanticipated costs including travel and training, resulting in lost opportunities in the marketplace.

The preparation phase should address these factors prior to working with an offshore outsource partner:

Cultural Differences: Culture in general is difficult to assess because of issues relating to language, traditions, values, beliefs, and distance. Awareness of these differences is key in reducing communication gaps and preventing misunderstanding. Over time, we have seen this barrier decreasing due to increased awareness, exchanges, directional travel and training.  A good example is the national holiday schedules.  Every country has its own set days of holidays and we have seen many schedules disrupted because of the gap.  Make sure your deadlines take into account the holiday schedules of all the teams involved in the project.  This will avoid the last minute rush, surprises and project delays.

Organizational Differences: U.S. organizational structures are generally flat with greater access to leadership. Employees can frequently make more independent decisions. Employees in many other countries (including India) usually have a more hierarchical structures which may slow decision making and delay product development. It is important to understand the management structure and decision making process up front. Communicating through the project manager assigned to the team is always a good idea.  For example, in India, programmers are generally shielded from communicating directly with the clients.  Reasons may include language barrier, lack of visibility to the big picture or inadvertently making unrealistic commitments.

Educational BackgroundDifferences: This might be controversial.  Our system of education defines our way of thinking and addressing problems. In some countries, following a predefined learning process is actively encouraged whereas in others, especially US, critical thinking and innovation is the norm. We have seen many instances of misunderstanding and project delays because of these differences. In general, we encourage communication and work directions to be as specific as possible to avoid  any confusion.  When critical or innovative thinking is required, it is best to communicate as early in the process as possible. Going back to cultural differences, an innovative solution for one geography may not be applicable in another due to different context, background or simply different way of problem interpretation.

Outsourcing is not off-loading and if these challenges are not addressed early on, the projects can fail or not not deliver as expected in terms of quality, functionality or timeliness.  Some of these challenges can be addressed by working with partners who have close geographical proximity with existing teams. For examples business in US may want to consider working with partners in Mexico and Canada.

27 Jul 2011

ITexico July 2011 Newsletter

Posted by Anurag. No Comments



 

July ITexico Newsletter

software-development
ITexico Newsletter
News You Can Use
Volume VII, July 27, 2011
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Enterprise & Mobile Apps: A Match made in Heaven

Mobile devices are quickly becoming the replacement for the enterprise Desktops and that trend has corporate IT departments and software vendors scrambling to put together some enterprise applications working on selected mobile devices.

Mobile apps in the business sphere is the future. Decision makers now see that these tools increase productivity, reduce paperwork, and increase revenue in ways other devices simply cannot.

How and why businesses are using mobile

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IT Outsourcing: Is Mexico the new India?

The IT sector in Mexico is mature, & globally competitive. Because of its close proximity to the US, same time zone, and ease of travel (over 300 flights go from the US to Mexico every day) American companies can more easily work with their IT teams in Mexico.

Mexico has positioned itself as highly competitive and the Government is motivated to increase their share of the tech industry.

Guadalajara_Mexico's Silicon Valley

 

Image Matters: The Latin America Perception Shift

Enterprises are re-assessing their outsourcing portfolios, and looking for locations that offer them more stability and minimal risk. When examining geopolitical risk, business decision-makers do so with partial information, rather than accurate assessments of the situation on the ground.

This report is intended to be tool for decision makers  interested in comparing the real Latin American safety situation with what is being perceived in the market at large.

See full report

Map Trends Show Mobile And App Growth Outpacing Browsers

Map Trends Show Mobile App Growth Outpacing Browsers Location-based services and increasing smartphone sales are leaving their mark on the mapping world:  Mobile-based map access is up significantly, while access from stationary points (i.e. desktop and laptop PCs) actually dipped slightly.

mobile_maps

 

Need an IT Partner nearby?

ITexico provides custom hired, dedicated, expert IT teams as extensions of your own teams.  Exceed your SLAs and bring solutions to market faster & at reduced costs! Scale your project teams and save on all HR issues including recruiting, on boarding, benefit management, training and people management.

Contact us for your next project

Follow us on:

    

ITexico – Your Near Shore partner in building and managing mobile and technology solutions

Tel:  (512) 410-4273

Toll Free:  (855) 501-0100

Email: support@itexico.com


 

20 Jul 2011

Four Entrepreneur Focus Factors

Posted by jasonmyers. No Comments

Entrepreneurs are generally ambitious and have a lot of great ideas. They are people with vision and often set out to accomplish a lot of things. But the fastest path to success actually comes by doing a few things very well.

In working with entrepreneurs as a CEO Chair with Vistage, mentor with TIE, angel investor and business coach to small businesses, I’ve found the following four areas of focus that are very important for entrepreneurs to pay attention to–losing sight of these areas can be destructive to their company.

Focus on customers versus the product – Many entrepreneurs fall into this trap–they have some initial success around their  product or service  and naturally, they think about extending those products to meet the assumed additional customer needs. But often times, they end up with a solution that is looking for a problem. The right question to ask is “what needs or wants do our current clients have and will have in future that we can solve for them?”

Focus on sales process – Any organization without a sales process is wasting time, effort and money and producing fewer opportunities with less profitable results. The sales process should be your road map. It should adequately define the goals and objectives and hold people accountable to tasks that they are committed to. The only way to determine if you’re on the right track is by having metrics to compare against so you can measure progress along the way.

Focus on bringing the right team members – Many startups and small companies take too many short cuts in their hiring process. And it’s no secret as to why–it’s an expensive, labor intensive and complex process. As a small company, however, you do not have the luxury of “taking a chance” on an employee as it can literally cost you the company. It’s important to hire the right people from the beginning.  It is also important to take remedial action quickly if the new team member is not the right fit both in terms of skills and aptitude

Identify and work on non-producing employees – Onboarding employees and integrating them with your existing team take time, effort and money. You want to get the maximum return on your investment in employees. If you have employees that are not meeting expectations, the first step is to ensure that you review the situation with them one-on-one.   Before scheduling time with the employee, make sure you have documentation ready to demonstrate your employee’s production rating versus your requirements. Be prepared to offer  feedback that is constructive and will help to motivate them to achieve more. It’s also important listen to your employee’s responses as the leading cause of low productivity is a misunderstanding of the basic job functions. Finally, if the situation cannot be resolved easily, take quick action, you will be doing a favor to your employee!

20 Jul 2011

IT Services – Is Mexico the New India

Posted by Anurag. No Comments

Over the last decade, with the explosive growth in outsourcing to India, many
daunting new challenges have arisen. Not only is India no longer the least
expensive option, but also  the talent pool there is rapidly diminishing, rates
of attrition are spiking dramatically, and the time zone difference once
considered an asset, is now widely seen as a liability in today’s Agile
development environments.

These challenges have created a shift in the demand of IT services to “near shoring” – to the countries of Central & South America; services, that India became famous for: software development, engineering, maintenance, tech support, quality assessment, bug fixes, and so on.

While companies have focused on Costa Rica, Argentina & even Chile in the past, they are rapidly discovering the closest, & most obvious choice: Mexico.   The IT sector in Mexico is mature, & globally competitive.  Because of its close proximity to the US, same time zone, and ease of travel (over 300 flights go from the US to Mexico every day) American companies can more easily work with their IT teams in  Mexico.  NAFTA membership provides an added advantage, in that intellectual property rights are protected along with a free flow of goods and services. Additionally, there are no travel restrictions between the USA & Mexico, as there are with India (foreigners can only make one trip every 60 days).

Mexico has positioned itself as highly competitive and the Government is motivated to increase their share of the tech industry. In 2002, they launched a program to promote Mexico’s technology industry and the goal  was to increase it to over $15B annually by 2013. Since that time, they’ve built three technology parks: Monterrey Technology Park for multinational companies; Apodaca Technology Park, and Guadalajara Software Center, which is located in the center of Mexico’s “Silicon Valley.”  This move has already paid dividends, as evidenced by several new companies that have formed, focusing on everything from Game development & Animation to Enterprise Software, Cloud Computing, & IT Services

Unfortunately the constant news of drug violence that permeates our media has negatively impacted our perception.  The fact is that the violence is localized to mainly border areas, while the IT outsourcing hubs have not experienced anywhere near the level of violence that plagues the border cities (Juarez, Nuevo Laredo, Nogales, etc.). In fact, only Juarez made the top 25 most dangerous cities for off shoring according to
CIO Magazine (and note that two cities in India are in the top 10).

Our company (ITexico), with headquarters in Austin has a software delivery
center in Guadalajara –a refreshing trip as opposed to India–trust me. Mexico
has emerged as a viable option for outsourcing IT, and is worth further
consideration.

About Anurag Kumar

Anurag Kumar is  the CEO of ITexico.  He is a serial entrepreneur, angel investor, and business  coach.  Over the least 29 years he has founded 4 technology companies in US, raised venture capital and has been the CEO of two IT services companies based in India. In addition, he has held management positions at IBM, Dell and KPMG He lives and works in Austin, TX. . He can be reached at akumar@itexico.com