As many years’ experience shows, one of the essential ingredients for success in software R&D outsourcing is a well-built, transparent communication system between client and developer. Industry analysts have been investigating the key factors that determine the efficiency of the software-development process for a long time. For example, in 2006, experts from Enterprise Systems magazine concluded that most respondents in their research agreed that communication between client and service-provider management and personnel was more important than having previous outsourcing experience, having a properly structured contract and SLA, or even selecting the right vendor.
|Characteristics of Successful Outsourcing Initiatives|
|Communication between client and service-provider management||44%|
|Communication between client and service-provider personnel||42%|
|Selecting the right vendor||41%|
|Having a properly structured contract/outsourcing agreement||38%|
|Having a properly structured service level agreement||33%|
|Understanding the business goals internally||30%|
|Having previous outsourcing experience||18%|
|Note: multiple responses allowed.|
In the context of today’s market, the processes of outsourcing service-provider selection and development-process structuring have become quite sophisticated. Just a few years ago, it was enough to go by price proposals and the technical skills of personnel, which in turn factored into the underestimation of the so-called social competencies or soft skills. But in the end, due to fierce competition between providers, the technical skills of different companies have reached more or less the same level, and man-hours calculation methods are now so complex that it is impossible to predict the final cost of a project. Meanwhile, the ability to understand and pursue clients’ goals; communicate constructively on a daily basis; and build teams that focus on proper engineering culture, responsibility for results, and striving for perfect quality often becomes the only reason for the success or failure of a project.
This is not by chance. Back in 1995, US psychologist Daniel Goleman published the book “Emotional Intelligence” in which he proved that for a successful personal life and career, emotional intelligence (EI) is more important than IQ, technical knowledge, or skills. For 18 months, the book occupied the New York Timesbestseller list; over five million copies were sold. Following the book’s success, Goleman published “Working with Emotional Intelligence” in 1998. The book contained research data from more than 500 companies and confirmed that social competencies (or what we now know as soft skills) are responsible for not only the success of individual employees but also the success of the companies themselves. In other words, there is a direct relationship between employees’ soft skills and the company’s success.
Auriga is a perfect example of practice completely sustaining a theory. In the last few years, our company has been enjoying consistent recognition in top lists of service providers in the category of customer satisfaction according to the world’s leading information-analysis agencies. For example, in 2011, Auriga was recognized as the No.1 Engineering Services Provider by Datamonitor based on the results of a customer-satisfaction survey. Nine criteria that influence customer-satisfaction levels were included in the survey, including such soft skills as requirements awareness, problem resolution, and partnership approach.
And when we ask our clients why they are so fond of us, it turns out that it is mostly because we are on their wavelength. Here, we don’t emphasize the fact that our engineers and management speak to clients in fluent English. The most important thing here is that within the frames of Auriga’s projects, we build a communication model without any missing links, and the information-exchange process goes as quickly and as smoothly as possible.
However, our company does not plan to be satisfied with what has already been achieved. Today, our approach to company communication processes and the development of employees’ social competences has reached a whole new level. At the end of May in the Nizhny Novgorod Auriga office, a new long-term corporate training program with a focus on employees’ communication-skill development was launched. The comprehensive program, drawn up by Auriga experts, employs various study modes, including training sessions, webinars, and online-courses. In this way, Auriga underlines the balance between the importance of soft and hard skills training.
A number of training sessions for Auriga employees aimed at advancing the professional and personal skills required for successful team/client communication are scheduled to be held throughout the year. As a result of regular discussions on the difficulties that emerge in the process of work, we believe our employees will show an increased ability to exchange information in a timely fashion, solve problems before they significantly influence projects, and make wise decisions.