World Class Development Team
We at DataArt understand that the single most important asset in the software consulting business is people. Throughout 17 years of operations, DataArt has constantly sought to retain top professionals. Most of those who helped us launch the company are now part of senior management and form a solid backbone for intra-company relationships.
DataArt enjoys close to zero employee turnover. We do a lot to foster employee satisfaction and relationship-building, which all helps make for a stronger team.
Our Project Management and Sales teams in New York and London work closely with clients to create clear specifications which address each client’s individual priorities. They interface with the client and the development team to ensure clear communications.
Most of DataArt’s software engineers hold a Master or a PhD degree from top engineering schools and possess over five years of industry experience. DataArt prides itself in the established workflow processes, both with off-shore development and with onsite management and deployment.
All of the team members have at least five years of experience in the field and are certified professionals. Staff education and certification endorsement program are in place. Most employees are English speakers.
Delivery Model: Project Governance Practices
We do not believe that pure offshore model works particularly well, therefore we put a lot of emphasis on live communications. We maintain project management staff in UK and in US as well; we also use a lot of onsite trips of our engineers and encourage our clients to come over to our offices.
In our daily work, we are trying to follow simple rules with our clients:
- We are here. If we are asked a question we should answer it or at least acknowledge that we received it – how else our clients will know that we are listening?
- We care. The answer we provide should be well thought. Just saying something without thinking shows that we do not care much about what is happening.
- We can manage it. Even if we cannot provide an answer to a problem immediately, we should be able to demonstrate how we are going to tackle the problem.
Obviously no complex project can be done without proper control and monitoring mechanisms in place. We use certain regular procedures and administrative function to ensure that there are no nasty surprises in the project. The idea is not to eliminate problems entirely, as we do not think it is at all possible, but to make sure that problems are identified early and corrective measures are taken with damage minimised. DataArt Management Team members review all projects on a regular basis to ensure their stability and health on three levels: routine technical, project management, and business level.
Technical level: Regular technical audit. As part of this approach, DataArt is doing regular technical audits for all projects. Depending on project scale and timeline, they can be done in various intervals, but never less often than once a month. Audit is performed by one of the technical experts not involved with this particular project, and verifies that
- Technical decisions in the project are made based on good judgment and with the big picture in mind
- If compromises are made, the reasons for them are properly evaluated and possible consequences weighed (for example, if a decision to use a third-party open source component is made, we need to be sure that its licensing policy is acceptable)
- All the necessary steps in project process are maintained: regular status reports, centralized issue tracking, proper deployment and delivery procedures etc.
At the project start, there is a kick-off meeting aimed to verify that all team members are aware of the procedures, delivery obligations under the contract, and roles within the team are clear and areas of responsibility are defined.
- Project level: Project health check. On a monthly basis, DataArt management board is reviewing all active projects to ensure that all required procedures (such as audit) are maintained and projects are in good health. One of the important parts of this review is verification that project teams are working normally and there are no internal tensions within them (for example, if one of senior developers within the team feels underrated and not given enough responsibility that can lead to problems in the future).
- Business level: Steering committee. Steering Committee consists of several top executives (COO, CTO) and technical experts. Its area of responsibility is maintaining project audit procedures and being a final escalation point for all project-related problems for both DataArt team members and client stakeholders. Steering Committee members distribute the projects among themselves and take responsibility for them in front of DataArt Board of Directors.
For years, DataArt has been developing a somewhat different approach to software development in general and offshore development in particular. We believe in the following 3 statements that define our approach:
- It is all about people
- It is all about people
- It is all about people
Finding, hiring, and retaining the best talent is our main target and our main competitive advantage. We don’t believe that a pure offshore model, with one person fronting a bunch of developers, works, and try to make our team and our process transparent. We understand that there are many people who know how to code, but only a precious few know what to code, and go to great lengths in finding bright developers, educating them and making sure DataArt would be an interesting and comfortable place to work in.
Building a team for the customer, we pay attention not only to them having relevant skillset and industry experience. An important part of the process is making sure that the client is compatible on a “psychological” level with (at least) key team members. A software development project is in many ways about partnership and being able to solve rising problems (and there are always problems in software projects) in a collaborative and friendly manner. A situation when Project Manager on client side is a “formal”, “do it step-by-step” type, and development partner puts in an all-agile, informal Project Manager – well, this is one sure way to disaster.
Economic crisis has changed the landscape of the outsourcing industry. Companies that have never considered outsourcing at all, let aside going offshore, now are reviewing these possibilities quite seriously trying to cut costs. At the same time, operating on a much tighter budget level, they need much more stability and visibility into the entire process. This is the point when the fact that DataArt historically put a lot of effort into onshore presence becomes very important; we are planning to work in this area further and extend our onshore capabilities without increasing the overall cost of projects.