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28Dec/10Off

Do’s and Dont’s in Foreign Outsourcing

Introduction

For over 3 years now, we have outsourced development work on big projects to a foreign based outsourcing company. Over this time, I have experienced the good, and the bad, sides of foreign outsourcing. In this article, I aim to go over the good and bad points, and how they can be avoided in the quest for quality projects on a limited budget.

1. Choose your model

There are many different outsource models, ranging from having a team based in a foreign country, to split models where the outsourcers have locally based offices. Always choose your model wisely and remember that step 2 really applies to this.

2. You get what you pay for

Firstly, I would like to underline the old adage "You get what you pay for". Too much emphasis when sourcing an outsourcing company can be placed on always finding the cheapest possible company. This is not the best way to do it! Cheapest is not necessarily the best! What you are aiming to find is a company that will produce a good quality solution based on your needs not the cheapest!

3. Establish good lines of communication

This is important for all projects, and all the more important for communicating with foreign outsource organizations. There can be many things that can cause problems here such as: language barriers and time differences. It is crucial that all parties can understand each-other, and convey project specifications and issues between both parties without misunderstandings creeping in. As an example, we did initially think that communicating with our partners via the telephone and email was going to be adequate. We quickly realized this was not the case! To aid in communicating, we are now investing in video conferencing systems to enable us to communicate with our foreign partners easier. And the most important point to remember is if it takes a morning to explain a simple aspect of your project to your partners then your communication is not working!

4. Work with, do not impose

Now, this is an interesting one that one of my colleagues said to me. We put extensive work into imposing our own work standards on our partners, without realizing the pitfalls. If you make someone work in the way you want them to work, they may produce a lower quality solution than if they worked in their own tried and trusted method. To this end, we decided to impose two important standards on our partners. Firstly, we imposed a standard specification document which contained a minimum level of information that would be required to initiate a project. Secondly, we imposed a minimum Documentation and Handover requirement. This importantly gave each party an indication of what to expect from the other party.

5. Always meet your team

Even if it means flying out to their offices or having them fly to your offices. Always meet your Team. It puts a face to a name, and gives the external team less of the feeling of being "Detached" from the company and the decision making. It may seem like a chore, but it makes both sides feel less detached.

6. Never outsource your maintenance

We have found that outsourcing is best suited one off projects. Maintenance requires a in-depth knowledge of your systems and procedures. It also requires a high degree of availability. By all means, outsource maintenance if your company desires, but if your outsource team is only available from 7am to 2pm, always ensure you have someone to call upon outside those hours!

7. It's not just about saving on the balance sheet

Too many companies look at the bottom line and perceive outsourcing as a means of saving money on the balance sheet. You may find that savings on the balance sheet are eaten up by other costs, the big one being time. If you poorly manage your communication with your outsource organization, you may find your time being eaten by additional communications/work that may be required because of poor specifications or communication. This of course is not a visible cost on the balance sheet, but it does have a large bearing on your company.

8. Do not outsource all your IT team

You will always need a core of in-house knowledge unless you have total faith in your outsource team's abilities. Unless you have a top-notch outsource firm, you will always need a core IT Team to analyze your users' requirements and provide support to projects.

Conclusion

This article is not intended to knock foreign outsourcing, it aims to give advise and pointers based on experience of the best ways to handle offshore outsourcing. Offshore outsourcing will always be with us and we have to live with that, but we also have to ensure that it is managed effectively and efficiently and that we draw on mistakes made in the past by other companies, to ensure projects and services are delivered with the highest quality.

Collected from: Code Project

28Dec/10Off

Nissan Techno Vietnam Invest $15 million

Nissan Techno Vietnam will invest $15 million in building an automobile research and development centre in Hanoi this year.

Under the plan, Nissan Techno Vietnam will start construction of the centre’s first phase this month and is scheduled to put it into operation in July 2011.

Nissan Techno Vietnam was established in 2001 and is a 100 per cent equity subsidiary of Japan’s Nissan Techno, which is a subsidiary of Nissan Motors.

Nissan Techno dispatches engineers to Nissan bases in the United States and Europe, but Vietnam represents the first case of its establishing its own base overseas.

Nissan Techno Vietnam’s outsourcing of software and technology development to Asia has increased significantly during the past years with the aim of utilising intellectual human resources. According to Fujitsu Research Institute, there were more than a few companies considering the utilisation of Vietnam’s human resources.

“Japanese companies are expected to accelerate the shift of manufacturing capabilities to Vietnam while also increasing the outsourcing of development,” according to the institute.

Nissan Techno Vietnam has 1,500 employees, up from 100 people at the beginning. It is expected to have 80 per cent of employees at the centre specialising in research.

This firm is operating separately from Nissan Motors Vietnam, which was established in December, 2008 focusing mostly on automobile assembling and distribution of Nissan cars in Vietnam.

According to a Nissan Motors Vietnam executive, the company has received no technology transfer from Nissan Techno Vietnam since the latter’s products are advanced technologies, which have not been applied in products assembled by Nissan Motors Vietnam.

"Nissan Techno Vietnam is currently providing its R&D products to Nissan Motors bases in other countries, particularly in the Asia-Pacific region," the executive said.

Nissan Vietnam launched the first locally-assembled automobile vehicle, the Grand Livina multi-purpose utility, in April 2010. Last week, the firm announced to introduce another model to the Vietnamese market by late December, 2010.

The firm was built as a joint venture between Nissan Motors Corporation and Kjaer Group A/S of Denmark in 2008.

In November 2010, Kjaer sold its 74 per cent stake in the joint venture to Malaysian Tan Chong Motor Holding Berhad to concentrate on the African market.

From: Vietnam Net

16Dec/10Off

Ajax: A New Approach to Web Applications

If anything about current interaction design can be called “glamorous,” it’s creating Web applications. After all, when was the last time you heard someone rave about the interaction design of a product that wasn’t on the Web? (Okay, besides the iPod.) All the cool, innovative new projects are online.

Despite this, Web interaction designers can’t help but feel a little envious of our colleagues who create desktop software. Desktop applications have a richness and responsiveness that has seemed out of reach on the Web. The same simplicity that enabled the Web’s rapid proliferation also creates a gap between the experiences we can provide and the experiences users can get from a desktop application.
That gap is closing. Take a look at Google Suggest. Watch the way the suggested terms update as you type, almost instantly. Now look at Google Maps. Zoom in. Use your cursor to grab the map and scroll around a bit. Again, everything happens almost instantly, with no waiting for pages to reload.

Google Suggest and Google Maps are two examples of a new approach to web applications that we at Adaptive Path have been calling Ajax. The name is shorthand for Asynchronous JavaScript + XML, and it represents a fundamental shift in what’s possible on the Web.
Defining Ajax
Ajax isn’t a technology. It’s really several technologies, each flourishing in its own right, coming together in powerful new ways. Ajax incorporates:

  • standards-based presentation using XHTML and CSS;
  • dynamic display and interaction using the Document Object Model;
  • data interchange and manipulation using XML and XSLT;
  • and JavaScript binding everything together.

The classic web application model works like this: Most user actions in the interface trigger an HTTP request back to a web server. The server does some processing — retrieving data, crunching numbers, talking to various legacy systems — and then returns an HTML page to the client. It’s a model adapted from the Web’s original use as a hypertext medium, but as fans of The Elements of User Experience know, what makes the Web good for hypertext doesn’t necessarily make it good for software applications.

This approach makes a lot of technical sense, but it doesn’t make for a great user experience. While the server is doing its thing, what’s the user doing? That’s right, waiting. And at every step in a task, the user waits some more.

Obviously, if we were designing the Web from scratch for applications, we wouldn’t make users wait around. Once an interface is loaded, why should the user interaction come to a halt every time the application needs something from the server? In fact, why should the user see the application go to the server at all?
How Ajax is Different
An Ajax application eliminates the start-stop-start-stop nature of interaction on the Web by introducing an intermediary — an Ajax engine — between the user and the server. It seems like adding a layer to the application would make it less responsive, but the opposite is true.

Instead of loading a webpage, at the start of the session, the browser loads an Ajax engine — written in JavaScript and usually tucked away in a hidden frame. This engine is responsible for both rendering the interface the user sees and communicating with the server on the user’s behalf. The Ajax engine allows the user’s interaction with the application to happen asynchronously — independent of communication with the server. So the user is never staring at a blank browser window and an hourglass icon, waiting around for the server to do something.

Every user action that normally would generate an HTTP request takes the form of a JavaScript call to the Ajax engine instead. Any response to a user action that doesn’t require a trip back to the server — such as simple data validation, editing data in memory, and even some navigation — the engine handles on its own. If the engine needs something from the server in order to respond — if it’s submitting data for processing, loading additional interface code, or retrieving new data — the engine makes those requests asynchronously, usually using XML, without stalling a user’s interaction with the application.

Who’s Using Ajax

Google is making a huge investment in developing the Ajax approach. All of the major products Google has introduced over the last year — Orkut, Gmail, the latest beta version of Google Groups, Google Suggest, and Google Maps — are Ajax applications. (For more on the technical nuts and bolts of these Ajax implementations, check out these excellent analyses of Gmail, Google Suggest, and Google Maps.) Others are following suit: many of the features that people love in Flickr depend on Ajax, and Amazon’s A9.com search engine applies similar techniques.

These projects demonstrate that Ajax is not only technically sound, but also practical for real-world applications. This isn’t another technology that only works in a laboratory. And Ajax applications can be any size, from the very simple, single-function Google Suggest to the very complex and sophisticated Google Maps.

At Adaptive Path, we’ve been doing our own work with Ajax over the last several months, and we’re realizing we’ve only scratched the surface of the rich interaction and responsiveness that Ajax applications can provide. Ajax is an important development for Web applications, and its importance is only going to grow. And because there are so many developers out there who already know how to use these technologies, we expect to see many more organizations following Google’s lead in reaping the competitive advantage Ajax provides.

Moving Forward

The biggest challenges in creating Ajax applications are not technical. The core Ajax technologies are mature, stable, and well understood. Instead, the challenges are for the designers of these applications: to forget what we think we know about the limitations of the Web, and begin to imagine a wider, richer range of possibilities.

It’s going to be fun.

Ajax Q&A

March 13, 2005: Since we first published Jesse’s essay, we’ve received an enormous amount of correspondence from readers with questions about Ajax. In this Q&A, Jesse responds to some of the most common queries.

Q. Did Adaptive Path invent Ajax? Did Google? Did Adaptive Path help build Google’s Ajax applications?

A. Neither Adaptive Path nor Google invented Ajax. Google’s recent products are simply the highest-profile examples of Ajax applications. Adaptive Path was not involved in the development of Google’s Ajax applications, but we have been doing Ajax work for some of our other clients.

Q. Is Adaptive Path selling Ajax components or trademarking the name? Where can I download it?

A. Ajax isn’t something you can download. It’s an approach — a way of thinking about the architecture of web applications using certain technologies. Neither the Ajax name nor the approach are proprietary to Adaptive Path.

Q. Is Ajax just another name for XMLHttpRequest?

A. No. XMLHttpRequest is only part of the Ajax equation. XMLHttpRequest is the technical component that makes the asynchronous server communication possible; Ajax is our name for the overall approach described in the article, which relies not only on XMLHttpRequest, but on CSS, DOM, and other technologies.

Q. Why did you feel the need to give this a name?

A. I needed something shorter than “Asynchronous JavaScript+CSS+DOM+XMLHttpRequest” to use when discussing this approach with clients.

Q. Techniques for asynchronous server communication have been around for years. What makes Ajax a “new” approach?

A. What’s new is the prominent use of these techniques in real-world applications to change the fundamental interaction model of the Web. Ajax is taking hold now because these technologies and the industry’s understanding of how to deploy them most effectively have taken time to develop.

Q. Is Ajax a technology platform or is it an architectural style?

A. It’s both. Ajax is a set of technologies being used together in a particular way.

Q. What kinds of applications is Ajax best suited for?

A. We don’t know yet. Because this is a relatively new approach, our understanding of where Ajax can best be applied is still in its infancy. Sometimes the traditional web application model is the most appropriate solution to a problem.

Q. Does this mean Adaptive Path is anti-Flash?

A. Not at all. Macromedia is an Adaptive Path client, and we’ve long been supporters of Flash technology. As Ajax matures, we expect that sometimes Ajax will be the better solution to a particular problem, and sometimes Flash will be the better solution. We’re also interested in exploring ways the technologies can be mixed (as in the case of Flickr, which uses both).

Q. Does Ajax have significant accessibility or browser compatibility limitations? Do Ajax applications break the back button? Is Ajax compatible with REST? Are there security considerations with Ajax development? Can Ajax applications be made to work for users who have JavaScript turned off?

A. The answer to all of these questions is “maybe”. Many developers are already working on ways to address these concerns. We think there’s more work to be done to determine all the limitations of Ajax, and we expect the Ajax development community to uncover more issues like these along the way.

Q. Some of the Google examples you cite don’t use XML at all. Do I have to use XML and/or XSLT in an Ajax application?

A. No. XML is the most fully-developed means of getting data in and out of an Ajax client, but there’s no reason you couldn’t accomplish the same effects using a technology like JavaScript Object Notation or any similar means of structuring data for interchange.

Q. Are Ajax applications easier to develop than traditional web applications?

A. Not necessarily. Ajax applications inevitably involve running complex JavaScript code on the client. Making that complex code efficient and bug-free is not a task to be taken lightly, and better development tools and frameworks will be needed to help us meet that challenge.

Q. Do Ajax applications always deliver a better experience than traditional web applications?

A. Not necessarily. Ajax gives interaction designers more flexibility. However, the more power we have, the more caution we must use in exercising it. We must be careful to use Ajax to enhance the user experience of our applications, not degrade it.

To get essays like this one delivered directly to your inbox, subscribe to our email newsletter.

Jesse James Garrett is the Director of User Experience Strategy and a founder of Adaptive Path. He is the author of the widely-referenced book The Elements of User Experience.

Other essays by Jesse James Garrett include The Nine Pillars of Successful Web Teams and Six Design Lessons From the Apple Store.

(Collected from Adaptive Path)

Filed under: AJAX, ASP.NET No Comments
5Dec/10Off

Discusses the IT Future for Vietnam

The Danish-Vietnamese ICT club discussed the way forward for Vietnam as a competitive ICT nation at a roundtable lunch meeting at the Embassy of Denmark in Hanoi on 22 November 2010. They agreed that human resources, the quality of education, and international outlook were key challenges.

Ambassador John Nielsen welcomed the club members by stressing that Vietnam was a country showing great opportunities in ICT, which was illustrated by more than 20 active Danish companies in Vietnam today. However, challenges like human resource management, the level and quality of education, intellectual property rights, and continued efforts to strengthen the legal framework were key areas to further develop the industry.
Vietnam Software and IT Service Association (VINASA) President and FPT Chairman mr. Truong Gia Binh stressed that the lunch guests were lucky to be part of Vietnam’s booming ICT industry which presently demonstrated a rapid development of mobile, television, communication, and infrastructure technologies. He encouraged Danish companies to contribute with those ICT solutions that were required to develop important sectors in Vietnam like transportation, health, and education where applying ICT could make a big difference.
Director of VINASA mr. Pham Tan Cong together with Vice-Director of the Social Science Institute mr. Vu Manh Loi shared their preliminary findings of an ongoing study on Vietnam’s ICT Landscape 2010. When VINASA was established in 2002 the sector’s revenue was USD 50 million and consisted of a work force of 5,000 people, whereas in 2009 these figures had increased to USD 1.5 billion and 105,000 ICT workers. Mr. Loi stressed that the Vietnamese home market showed great potential as more than 80 pct. of the youth from 14-25 years of age were very active in their use of internet, mobile, and new technologies. To obtain success in Vietnam foreign companies needed strategies for the booming domestic market.
Chairman of the Policy Advisory Committee on Software Industry (PACSI) mr. Bui Manh Hai stressed that good incentives were in place to develop the ICT industry, but that more efforts were needed, and that a continued close dialogue between the business community and relevant authorities was very important.
The club members discussed how Vietnam could improve the ICT sector’s competitiveness. To be on the cutting edge Vietnamese companies should to a higher degree obtain an international outlook by participating in international conferences. In order to continue and improve growth and competitiveness companies should also be better at linking up with universities, and from the government side there should be a larger focus on the quality of ICT educations to meet future demands.
The Danish-Vietnamese ICT club was established in 2009 and consists of 27 Danish, Vietnamese and joint-venture companies meeting regularly to discuss business opportunities and challenges in Vietnam’s ICT industry.

From: http://www.ambhanoi.um.dk/en/menu/AboutUs/News/ICTClubDiscussesWayAheadForVietnam.htm

5Dec/10Off

Vietnam strives to become a strong IT nation

Vietnam aims to be among the top 15 nations in providing software processing and digital content services by 2015, said Deputy Prime Minister Nguyen Thien Nhan.
Mr Nhan made the statement at a conference in Hanoi on December 3 to review 10 years of implementing the Politbureau’s Directive 58 on applying information technology in the national cause of modernization and industrialization and implementing the project to turn Vietnam into a strong IT nation.

Do Trung Ta, deputy head of the national steering committee for Information and Technology, said that over the past ten years, Vietnam’s IT sector has become a key technical industry which contributes 6.7 percent of the country’s GDP.

Deputy Prime Minister Nguyen Thien Nhan asked the Ministry of Information and Communication to direct localities and telecommunications businesses to strive to train 30 percent of IT students in professional skills and foreign languages so they can become involved in the international labour market by 2015.

The national rate of internet use is expected to reach more than 50 percent while around 80 percent of businesses and social organizations will use IT in the educational and medical sector.

Mr Nhan said that to fulfil the targets, Vietnam should reform state management in the IT field to facilitate the operations of telecoms businesses, and help them improve their competitive edge under the supervision of state management agencies.

From: VOV

1Dec/10Off

IBM official: Great potential for Vietnam’s software development

Vietnam has a huge amount of potential for the development of the software industry, according to Charles Manuel, director of IBM Asean Strategic Initiatives.
IBM introduces smart solutions to Vietnam’s different economic sectors
Manuel made the statement at a press conference in Hanoi on November 18 when his group held a forum and an exhibition to introduce new smart solutions for different economic sectors in Vietnam.
The large population of 86 million people and fast growing development of internet and mobile broadband connectivity are advantages for the country’s software industry development, he added.
He noted that banking, one of the most fastest-growing economic sectors in Vietnam, is attracting many foreign IT giants who come here to bring local banks with advanced technologies for financial risk management. They see much potential untapped in the Southeast Asian market where there is only a modest number of people using ATM cards.
Vietnam is among the top choice of big groups, including IBM, for its advantages, which include a cheap and abundant labour force and various incentives, particularly those offered for hi-tech projects.
Manuel, however, mentioned challenges that Vietnam are facing on the way to develop the software industry. “Vietnam is still in the middle of two choices: becoming a software outsourcing market or a place to produce value-added products”, he highlighted.
To stand steady in the market, software firms have to make products of real value and that cannot be copied by any rivals.
He also said that Vietnamese enterprises’ IT capacity is very limited, particularly small and medium-sized enterprises, therefore, they are unable to make use of the benefits of IT solutions.
The IBM official urged Vietnamese businesses to take advantage of their knowledge of the domestic market, have wise investment strategies and chose right partners for software development. This will help them to stand firm in the competition with foreign rivals.
The exhibition of IBM on November 18 introduced the group’s latest improvements of intelligent storage systems such as the IBM Storwise V700, business analytics solutions Congnos 10 and many other advanced solutions designed for different economic sectors in Vietnam only.
According to the Vietnam Software Association (Vinasa), revenues of Vietnam’s software industry are estimated at USD2 billion this year, up 40 fold compared to that of 10 years ago. The industry’s human resource number has increased by 20 fold in the last decade. The local software industry posts an annual revenue growth rate of between 30 percent and 40 percent. – Dantri